Our favourite happy musicals from the West End shows to make you smile
We love theatre, especially when it makes us feel good. Whether it’s chuckling at characters in certain scenes, or wishing we could have a party up on stage, there’s lots of happy musicals that have entertained us over the years. Here’s our top picks of the happiest musicals ever that have been performed in London’s West End. How many of them have you seen?
Happy musicals in the West End
Packed with some of ABBA’s catchiest songs including “Dancing Queen”, “Take A Chance on Me”, “Waterloo”, we can’t help ourselves but get up on our feet and start dancing at Mamma Mia. There’s an original story too, as a young bride dreams of finding out who her father is, but she’ll have to find out which one of three potential dads will earn the honour of walking her down the aisle. Having been in the West End for over twenty years, join those on the West End’s sunniest island. Here’s a special performance of the Mamma Mia cast performing alongside ABBA at the 2014 Olivier Awards.
Come From Away
If you’ve not seen Come From Away, then where have you been? It’s the multi-Olivier Award-winning musical based on the courageous lives of those stranded and living in Newfoundland after 9/11. There’s heartbreak, hope and hilarity all rolled into this 100-minute musical, commemorating the compassion of those who were in Gander. Here’s the original West End company of Come From Away taking to the stage at the 2019 Royal Variety Performance.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Since Jamie Campbell’s story was told in a BBC documentary, the inspirational teenager has gained a legion of fans thanks to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The musical follows the real events of Jamie, as he tackles prejudice in his local community to overcome all odds and wear a dress to his high school prom. With heartfelt ballads, as well as catchy numbers and a history of star casting including Bianca Del Rio and Layton Williams, Jamie really has been the name on everyone’s lips. Here’s the original cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the 2018 Olivier Awards, with the show still at the Apollo Theatre.
You can’t stop the beat with Hairspray, especially when Michael Ball’s in town. Based on the 1980s movie, the musical sees Tracy Turnblad, a teenager with passions for social progressivism and dance earn a coveted spot on the Corny Collins show. But, will Tracy be able to take the crown, or will Amber von Tussle win once again? Ahead of Hairspray coming to the London Coliseum in September 2020, watch Michael Ball as Edna Turnblad in a Royal Variety performance and look forward to the musical’s return!
Priscilla Queen of the Desert
What do you get when you cross bright, colourful costumes with pop songs and plenty of fun? Priscilla Queen of the Desert! When two drag queens and a transgender woman head west from Sydney on a lavender bus, the trio encounter a barrage of homphobic comments. But, as they find new horizons, they’ll welcome in a new audience. There’s songs including “It’s Raining Men”, “Hot Stuff” and “Like a Prayer”, but here’s the West End cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert cast in a televised performance of “Go West”.
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John set the world alight as Danny Zuko and Sandra Dumbrowski in Grease. But, it’s also a West End musical that’s had audiences longing for even more “Summer Nights”. When boy meets girl, they immediately fall in love, but can they stay together? Here’s Debbie Gibson as Sandy singing “You’re The One That I Want” in the West End, and get ready to take a trip back in time to Rydell High.
Sheridan Smith took home the Olivier Award for best actress in a musical as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and once you’ve watched this performance of “So Much Better”, you’ll understand why. Based on the 2001 film of the same name, join the sorority girl as she enrolls at Harvard Law to win back her ex-boyfriend, finding love in unexpected circumstances along the way. The musical made its West End debut in 2010, playing at the Savoy Theatre for over two years.
A cast of over 60 highkicked eight performances a week at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, winning best musical revival at the 2018 Olivier Awards. It’s a glossy, Golden Age musical where Peggy Sawyer finds herself on a rags-to-riches story to entertain Broadway audiences. But, will she take to the stage? The musical’s full of jawdropping dance routines, but we love this televised performance from the cast at the London Palladium.
Puppets don’t come any better than Avenue Q. Written by The Book of Mormon creator Robert Lopez, as well as Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, this Sesame Street parody follows Princeton, a young American man whose trying to find his purpose as he moves into a new neighbourhood. The West End production played at three West End theatres in its five-year run, nominated for best new musical at the 2007 Olivier Awards. If you’ve never seen Avenue Q before, then you’ll love this televised clip of the original London cast at the Royal Variety Performance, starring Jon Robyns, Julie Atherton and Giles Terera.
Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, the all-singing, all-dancing kids of New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts bring their a-game in Fame. The musical follows the lives of students striving to make it big, including fame-obsessed Carmen, dancers Tyrone and Iris and Serena, an actress dreaming of her name in lights. There’s well-known songs including “Bring on Tomorrow” and “Think of Meryl Streep”, but it’s a musical which really has lived forever. Here’s the trailer from the 30th anniversary touring production, which starred Jorgie Porter and Keith Jack.