9 West End shows based on past decades and events
Decades and events gone by can often inspire and generate ideas for a production. Whether it’s the essence of the French Revolution in Les Misérables or championing girl power in Six, the West End is home to shows that are jam-packed with historical inspiration. In these shows, you’ll notice how every detail has been considered to ensure that everything is historically authentic, celebrating the era gone by.
If you’re wanting to see a West End show which delves into the past, then look no further. Head to one of these shows based on true events so you can learn with live entertainment!
West End shows based on real-life and mythical stories
Touching The Void
After a world premiere in 2018, Touching the Void transfers to the Duke of York’s in November 2019. Real-life events as told in Joe Simpson’s best-selling memoir are brought to life, as two intrepid explorers journey across the Peruvian Andes in a story of human endurance. Climbing mountains isn’t the only uphill battle, but making it to base camp proves to be testing.
See Stephen Fry take to the stage in his first solo tour since the 80s at Mythos. Split into three shows, enjoy a trilogy of plays performed over a weekend at the London Palladium and laugh out loud at the stories of Greek gods, heroes and men. Led by the formidable actor, whose West End credits and television performances have entertained audiences for decades, enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Stephen Fry and feel the world come to life at this incredible event.
Although the play is based on recent history and social events, Sweat examines what it means to live in one of the poorest towns in the United States. Written by Lynn Nottage after interviewing residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, the play starts with a parole officer, two ex-convicts and three childhood friends coming together at a bar, as their friendships and relationships are torn apart at the seams. Winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017, Sweat is one of the most recent plays to dramatise political events affecting the United States and how this ricochets into global events.
Having played in the West End for over thirty years, Les Misérables has entertained millions of theatregoers with the hard-hitting tale of Jean Valjean. After serving 17 years in a chain gang, audiences can follow the story of Valjean as he begins a new chapter in his life, trying to turn everything around while police inspector Javert continually tries to track him down. At the same time, see the young revolutionaries of France including Marius Pontmercy fight on the barricade, where political battles can be thwarted by romance and lust.
After the success of the 2012 film and the ongoing television series, the Victor Hugo novel has become the basis for one of the most successful productions to be performed around the world. See the ideals of the French Revolution come alive with a soundtrack including the rousing “One Day More” to the poignant “Castle on a Cloud” and don’t miss out on this West End legacy.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Louis de Bernier’s World War Two inspired novel receives the stage adaptation treatment at Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. When a captain is posted to Cephalonia, he’s immediately ostracised from those around him. Life begins to change when he meets Pelagia, a beautiful young woman, and the pair discover the true course of love isn’t always easy.
Turning the Tudor dynasty on its head, Six is a girl-power, all female show that puts Henry VIII’s six wives in the spotlight. Throughout the concert, meet the six wives as they tell you exactly what happened to them from their perspective. It’s a perfect show for audiences young and old who want to learn about the past, boasting catchy songs and a girlband sound that will stay in your head for a long time. Just make sure you don’t lose your head with these ladies!
The Lehman Trilogy
A play on the downfall of one of the largest financial corporations in American history, The Lehman Trilogy offers a dramatic insight into where everything went so right and so wrong. Follow the story of Henry Lehman, a young Bavarian man who travels to New York City in the hopes of starting a new life. When joined by his brothers Emanuel and Mayer, the three eventually set up Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, later becoming one of the biggest US companies. Told in three parts, the story documents how the company changed, consequently falling from great heights to ending up with the largest bankruptcy claim in history. Starring Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, Ben Miles and directed by Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy is your opportunity to learn about the banking system away from a corporate environment.
Want to find out more about The Lehman Trilogy? You’ll want to read our guide that’s packed with everything you need to know on the show.
Come From Away
Recent historical events can form the basis for some of the hottest productions to grace the West End. When 38 international aircraft are diverted to Gander airport after 9/11, the townspeople of a small Canadian welcome in 7,000 stranded people. In Come From Away, you’ll hear the real-life stories of some of those who found themselves in Canada, where compassion and kindness is at the heart of what happens after such a tragic event. Join the legion of fans around the world who have fallen for the stories of the “come from aways” when the show makes its West End premiere in early 2019.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Portraying the career of pop diva Tina Turner, audiences have been flocking to the Aldwych Theatre to see the musical legend brought to the West End stage in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. If you’re a huge Tina Turner fan or you only know a few of her songs, it’s the perfect musical for audiences young and old to learn about events that impacted the musical starlet. As the show walks you through her career, you’ll hear some of her greatest hits including “Nutbush City Limits” and “Proud Mary” as this show makes it clear that Tina Turner is “Simply the Best”!