13 of the best jukebox musicals from the West End
Catalogues of songs released by musicians are often the inspiration for a musical’s soundtrack, with the term “jukebox musical” coined to describe this type of show. From the songs that will get your heart racing in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical to the calming soundtrack of Girl from the North Country, it’s clear that West End audiences enjoy going to see a jukebox musical. Listen to the soundtracks of some of the best jukebox musicals in recent years.
Jukebox musicals in the West End
Girl from the North Country
20 of Bob Dylan’s hits are featured in Girl from the North Country, which made its world premiere at the Old Vic in 2017. After critically-acclaimed performances, the musical set in 1930s America transferred to the West End and will soon be revived at the Gielgud Theatre. The sounds of Bob Dylan will also be heard on Broadway for the first time, as the musical will receive its premiere on the Great White Way. But, don’t miss out on seeing the production in the West End in 2019!
What would have happened if Juliet had never taken her own life in Romeo and Juliet? Putting the young Capulet at the centre of her own story, & Juliet is set to bring a concert atmosphere to the Shaftesbury Theatre with a soundtrack including “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears and “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. The musical features songs by songwriter Max Martin who has penned hundreds of chart-topping hits, so get ready to tune in to one of Shakespeare’s most-known characters with the songs of today.
Mamma Mia is a feel-good jukebox musical, filled with the songs of Abba including “Dancing Queen”, “Waterloo” and “The Winner Takes It All”. The story sees Sophie Sheridan, a young woman soon to marry her fiancé Sky. For Sophie to make her wedding day feel complete, she dreams of her father walking her down the aisle. But, with three potential fathers, Sophie invites them all to the island to finally learn who her real father is. From its official opening in April 1999, Mamma Mia has played in three West End theatres and has played at its current location, the Novello Theatre since September 2012.
Stunning audiences at the Lyric Theatre for 10 years, Thriller Live is the ultimate celebration of Michael Jackson. A jukebox revue all about the King of Pop, see his songs performed by a West End cast as they take audiences throughout his entire discography. From his lead vocals in “ABC” and “I’ll Be There” with the Jackson 5 to a solo career with records including “Billie Jean”, “Man in the Mirror” and “Smooth Criminal”, Thriller Live is an unmissable production for Michael Jackson fans around the world.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Since its official opening in April 2018, people have flocked to the Aldwych Theatre to see the world premiere production of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. The musical is a whirlwind dramatisation of her life story, with audiences learning about the humble beginnings of Anna Mae Bullock through to Tina Turner at the peak of her career. In the musical, Adrienne Warren encapsulates the spirit of Tina’s rise to superstardom and with a soundtrack including “Let’s Stay Together”, “Nutbush City Limits” and “Proud Mary”, it’s no surprise that Tina: The Tina Turner Musical with its charm and ability to look at Tina’s highs and lows. A cast recording of the musical is to be released, but don’t just sit patiently awaiting the soundtrack. Book your tickets for this stellar production!
On Your Feet
The London Coliseum will welcome the West End premiere of On Your Feet in 2019, a musical based on the lives of Latin performer Gloria Estefan. In the musical, you’ll be able to learn about Gloria’s rise in the industry, blending the sounds of Latin America and American pop to form her own style. Eventually going on to win three Grammy Awards and be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, rejoice with the music of Gloria Estefan as the musical captures her greatest and lowest moments at the height of her career. Filled with Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s most-known songs including “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and “Conga”, On Your Feet is sure to be an exciting jukebox musical to see in Theatreland.
Motown the Musical
The Shaftesbury Theatre has been home to Motown the Musical since 2016, bringing the soulful sound of 1960s America to the West End. Throughout the show, audiences can hear over 60 of Motown’s greatest hits by a range of artists including Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5 as the musical charts the growth and success of Motown. Motown the Musical offers audiences the chance to hear a jukebox full of songs they grew up with, musically travelling back in time to learn just why these songs are so special.
We Will Rock You
Individuality is rendered a virus for the characters throughout the story of We Will Rock You, a jukebox musical packed with the songs of Queen. Created by Queen and Ben Elton, the musical concerns Scaramouche and Galileo as they meet the bohemian community on a way to find their individuality and assess who they truly are. The original cast included Tony Vincent as Galileo and Sharon D Clarke as Killer Queen, with a soundtrack including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Somebody to Love”. The show got audiences participating along to the trio of claps in the title song, with the show going on to play for over 4,500 performances from 2002 to 2014.
Bat out of Hell
After We Will Rock You closed in 2014, productions of Elf and An American in Paris played in the venue. However, Bat Out of Hell’s return to the West End shook the Dominion Theatre once more, with the songs of Meat Loaf echoing around the auditorium. Set in the post-apocalyptic world of Obsidian, audiences meet Raven on the eve of her 18th birthday. Having lived a sheltered childhood, Raven wanted to explore an underground community called “The Lost”, especially when her and group leader Strat fall in love. The musical’s soundtrack is exhilarating, featuring loved smash-hits including “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” and a rousing rendition of “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”.
Beautiful: The Carole King
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical illustrated the life and career of Carole King, an American recording artist. Filled with her songs that lit up the 1970s, audiences revelled in her music performed by a West End cast including “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman” as well as songs she recorded with writing partners Gerry Goffen, Barry Mein and Cynthia Weil. Nominated for best new musical at the 2015 Olivier Awards and Katie Brayben winning an Olivier Award for best actress, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical played at the Aldwych Theatre for two years, with Cassidy Janson playing the esteemed musician in the final performance on 5th August 2017.
The music of Green Day was transformed into a musical in American Idiot that last played at the Arts Theatre in 2017. The band’s songs are used to illustrate flashpoints in the fictional stories of three friends, as they consider the meaning of life after 9/11. Having released their “American Idiot” album in 2004, it’s clear that this Green Day album is still cherished years after, with songs including “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” performed by a cast including Newton Faulkner and Amelia Lily during the show.
Bringing the sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to West End audiences, Jersey Boys played in the West End for over nine years, with audiences falling in love with Frankie Valli’s falsetto. Presented as a pseudo-documentary musical, the show showcased the band’s rise to superstardom. With the iconic red jackets and sharp, synchronised movements performed by the foursome, Jersey Boys has gone on to entertain audiences around the country in a touring production, allowing many more to hear songs including “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man” sung live.
Rock of Ages
From 2011 to 2013, the West End rocked out to 1980s hits by Bon Jovi, Europe and Journey in Rock of Ages. This jukebox musical brings together the sounds and sights of the decade, in a story between small town girl Sherrie and Drew Boley, a Los Angeles rockstar. The original West End cast included Oliver Tompsett, Justin Lee Collins and Shayne Ward, performing to a fun-filled soundtrack including “I Wanna Know What Love Is” and “The Final Countdown”. Since the final performance at the Garrick Theatre in 2013, the show has gone on two national tours, currently playing in theatres around the country until July 2019.