12 suitable shows for an educational trip to the West End
Wow schoolchildren of any age and bring they’ve what learned in the classroom into the real world with a trip to the West End. Whether it’s musicals like Fiddler on the Roof or Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, or seeing a literary classic like War Horse and The Woman in Black, embracing the very best of what London theatre has to offer can make for an exciting day that’s both inspiring and educational. Check out our guide to suitable productions for a theatre-filled day to delight adults and children alike.
Shows for an educational day out
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Take a trip back to school at Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, an upbeat musical based on the true story of a 16-year-old from Sheffield. Living on a council estate, Jamie New has always felt different from the crowd – and deciding to wear a dress from his high school makes him stand out. Supported by his incredible mother Margaret, Jamie overcomes the prejudice that he faces and decides to make his dreams come true. Nobody can tell Jamie that he can’t, and soon his drag persona Mimi Me takes centre stage. Teaching audiences to accept all people in society, you’ll be talking about Jamie once the show’s over.
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery
A hilarious, comedic play in the heart of the West End, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery offers audiences a masterclass in comic timing. Set at a city bank in Minneapolis in 1958, follow an escaped convict as they try to get their hands on a valuable diamond without anyone catching on. With mistaken identities, love triangles and hidden agendas, even the most reputable can’t be trusted. In a town where everyone’s a crook, who will end up bagging the jewel?
The Woman in Black
One of the West End’s longest-running shows, The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre has been scaring audiences with its spooky goings-on, and its dimly lit, eerie scenery for almost three decades. Just two actors perform in this ghost story, as Arthur Kipps tells of his experiences at Eel Marsh House to an actor, who tries to erase the memory of a young, ghostly woman dressed in black. Written by Susan Hill and adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, this haunting play will stay in the minds of all theatregoers who dare enter the auditorium showcasing a masterclass in atmosphere, illusion and controlled horror.
Fiddler on the Roof
The 1905 Russian Revolution comes to the West End with Fiddler on the Roof at the Playhouse Theatre. Andy Nyman and Judy Kuhn lead the cast as Tevye and Golde, a pious Jewish couple whose religious values are tested under the scrutiny of Russian fighting forces sweeping through their small community of Anatevka. Make a new “Tradition” in the West End with tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof and immerse yourself in an all-singing, all-dancing history lesson. Take our quiz all about the songs in Fiddler on the Roof and see if you know the song titles!
Matilda Wormwood is born special. Reading books at the library by age five, her desire to learn as much as possible is impressive. But, her astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers don’t please everyone, especially her headteacher Miss Trunchbull. Adapted for stage by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, the Roald Dahl story continues to charm audiences at the Cambridge Theatre, with Matilda staging a revolution by being a “little bit naughty”.
It may be the longest-running musical in the West End, but the undeniable charm of Les Misérables makes it a must-see production that’s both educational and a theatrical icon. Follow Jean Valjean in an epic struggle from chain-gang convict to fighting on the barricade, with timeless songs including “Bring Him Home”, “I Dreamed a Dream” and “One Day More”. There’s nothing like experiencing an original production for yourself in the West End, so if you’re looking for an educational lesson in musical theatre and history, you’ll want to book tickets for Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre.
Come From Away
Nominated for nine Olivier Awards, be swept away in the heartfelt, true stories told in Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre. Inspired by the residents of Gander and the 7,000 passengers stranded on 38 flights immediately after 9/11, see how the “come from aways” dealt with their newly-found surroundings, where stories of romance, resentment and a community spirit grow. 12 cast members play 84 characters of those who suddenly found themselves in Gander, so if you’re looking for an educational show that’s heartwarming and fast-paced, you’ll want to see Come From Away.
Let you and your children feel like kids together at Big, making its West End premiere at the Dominion Theatre. Starring The Wanted band member and Strictly Come Dancing winner Jay McGuiness, join Josh Baskin who wakes up in the body of a thirty year old after a carnival wish came true. Filled with plenty of toys and coffee, don’t miss your chance to see Big.
The Lion King
Journey to the heart of the Serengeti at The Lion King, a Disney musical that’s been wowing audiences since 1999. Follow Simba from young cub to becoming king of the Pride Lands, guided by his father Mufasa. Along the way, audiences will see 200 puppets bring the animal kingdom to life, as well as spectacular costumes to bring out the best of beloved Disney characters including Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. Heavy with the haunting sounds of Africa, you’ll want to take your children to see The Lion King.
School of Rock
Looking for a production that will inspire your children to take up an instrument? Then head no further to the Gillian Lynne Theatre to see School of Rock. When Dewey Finn finds himself as a substitute teacher for a class at Horace Green, will he be able to show the children how to have a rocking time? Forming a band out of their musical talents, see them compete at Battle of the Bands, bringing the kids closer to their parents and a community spirit at School of Rock.
Albert and Joey return to the London stage, as the stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book War Horse plays at the new Troubadour Theatre in Wembley Park. Set in the outbreak of World War One, see Albert travel to France in order to save his horse Joey, sold to assist the frontline of the British Army. Risking his life for his horse, Albert embarks on a death-defying adventure to be reunited with the animal. With puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company bringing the equine character to life, enjoy a theatrical and educational feast at War Horse.
The Prince of Egypt
The tale of Moses as told in the Book of Exodus will be told on the West End stage at The Prince of Egypt, opening at the Dominion Theatre next year. When Moses learns of his past life, he is compelled to free his people, saving millions from persecution. In a musical embodying kindness and what it means to be spirited, see Moses change the course of religious and social history. Featuring a soundtrack by Stephen Schwartz including the Academy-Award winning song ‘When You Believe’, there is nothing quite like The Prince of Egypt.