What famous musical premiered the year you were born?
Every year, theatre audiences look forward to seeing the latest shows opening on Broadway and in the West End. Whatever side of the ocean you live on, it’s likely you’re interested in what’s happening on the other side too. Broadway musicals and West End musicals often transfer, so it’s likely that you can fulfill your musical theatre wishes.
But, do you know what famous musical premiered the year you were born? We’ve listed the biggest hit (or miss) from the West End or Broadway from 1970 – 2011. Find your birth year by scrolling down and discover more about the West End musical or Broadway musical that opened in the first 12 months of your life.
1970 – Company
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 6, 1970
Tackling relationships head on, Company really did drive Broadway audiences crazy when it premiered at the Alvin Theatre (now Neil Simon Theatre) in 1970. The topic of conversation definitely got people talking; a single man named Robert turning 35 surrounded by married and engaged couples, trying to decide what to do with his life. Stephen Sondheim’s wordy lyrics were also praised too, winning Best Score and Best Lyrics at the Tonys (the only time both musical parts were honoured separately).
In 2018, Company was spun on its head in the first gender-swapped production, approved by Sondheim himself. Rosalie Craig became the first woman to play Robert, renamed “Bobbie,” in the West End production, with the show winning Best Musical Revival at the Oliviers. Above, you can watch the original Broadway cast taking on Sondheim’s score.
1971 – Godspell
Off-Broadway Premiere: May 17, 1971
Before Stephen Schwartz wrote Wicked and The Prince of Egypt, he wrote Godspell, adapting Christian parables and hymns to the stage. There’s no blasphemy in this musical though, as the show honors religious fables while sticking to its rock music core. Godspell brought faith back to stages across the country, with the musical’s message reaching London’s Roundhouse in the same year. Unfortunately, critics weren’t strong believers and Godspell never won any awards.
The musical was last seen on Broadway in 2011, starring a congregation of actors including Telly Leung, Uzo Aduba, and Lindsay Mendez. Why not listen to the original off-Broadway cast recording of “Day by Day”?
1972 – Pippin
Broadway Premiere: Oct. 23, 1972
Continuing the Stephen Schwartz theme, Broadway audiences were invited to the big top courtesy of Pippin. With acrobats flying, budding artists walking tightropers, and fire breathers, this musical really is a sight to behold. Its “Leading Players” have enjoyed a top billing too, with Ben Vereen (1973) and Patina Miller (2013) both winning Tony Awards for their performances in their respective productions.
The West End’s only been home to Pippin once, but it didn’t get the warm reception like its Broadway counterpart, only playing for 80 performances. Above, you can watch the full cast from the 1972 production at the Tonys.
1973 – The Rocky Horror Show
London Premiere: June 19, 1973
Fans across the globe know the cult film, but did you know the stage production came first? Yep. Audiences first saw this “Science Fiction/Double Feature” at London’s Royal Court before a seven-year run at theatres throughout the capital. This experimental musical sees newly engaged Brad and Janet accidentally end up at a mad scientist’s home, belonging to transvestite Frank-N-Furter. But once you’ve seen the show multiple times, you’ll know what to say and shout at specific moments.
Thanks to the film adaptation, productions of The Rocky Horror Show are regularly performed worldwide, including 11 UK tours. Why not listen to “Sweet Transvetite” sung by the original Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry.
1974 – Mack and Mabel
Broadway Premiere: Oct. 6, 1974
The number eight is pretty important for Mack and Mabel fans. Nominated for eight Tony Awards, it seems surprising that the original Broadway run only lasted for eight weeks too. The budding romance between a Hollywood director and a waitress didn’t hit it off with critics, often considered to be Jerry Herman’s biggest musical flop.
Mack and Mabel enjoyed limited success at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, but the show is pretty much confined to Broadway’s filing cabinet. Why not listen to Bernadette Peters singing “Look What Happened to Mabel” and make up your own mind?
1975 – The Wiz
Broadway Premiere: Jan. 5, 1975
Based on The Wizard of Oz, this musical isn’t so much of a sequel, but a soulful retelling that’s rooted in African-American culture. Dorothy and her pals eased on down the road in this show, with a subsequent film adaptation even starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Wishes were clearly granted for The Wiz, as the musical nearly enjoyed a clean sweep at the Tonys.
There’s also plenty of earworms in the show too, including “A Brand New Day” written by Luther Vandross and the now anthemic “Home.” Listen to Stephanie Mills, the original Dorothy, sing “Home” above.
Honorable mention: A Chorus Line had us all walking down the sidewalk counting “5,6,7,8”, and the musical opened on Apr. 5, 1975. A Pulitzer Prize and over 6,000 performances later, A Chorus Line definitely made it to the Broadway spotlight.
1976 – Pacific Overtures
Broadway Premiere: Jan. 11, 1976
1976 wasn’t exactly the year for Broadway musicals. Many of the shows that opened seemed doomed for failure, closing before they really got going. Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures seemed to buck the trend. Set in 19th-century Japan, the original production honored Japanese performance styles; gender-swapping and stage hands moving the set. Due to its demanding casting, Pacific Overtures has never been revived in its original format, instead cut down to a 90-minute musical. Enjoy the 1976 production above in its entirety.
1977 – Annie
Broadway Premiere: April 21, 1977
Audiences have been falling for little orphan Annie for over 40 years. Although the musical’s been revived numerous times and adapted for film twice, the story remains the same: a little girl in an orphanage is eventually adopted by billionaire Daddy Warbucks. During its six-year run at the Alvin Theatre (now Neil Simon Theatre), child stars found their fame as the lead role, including Andrea McArdle and Sarah Jessica Parker. Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin’s Tony Award-winning score includes some of musical theatre’s most known songs, including “Tomorrow” and “It’s A Hard Knock Life.”
Annie was last seen on Broadway in 2012, with Jane Lynch, Lilia Crawford, and Sadie Sink all appearing in the run. It’s also a popular musical in London, last seen in 2017 with a male, Craig Revel Horwood as Miss Hannigan. Watch the original cast above at the Tony Awards.
1978 – Evita
West End Premiere: Jun. 21, 1978
Born as a rock album, Evita follows the Argentinian leader Eva Perón. Created by musical theatre maestros Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the musical explores her legendary rise in the political sphere, set to songs including “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “High Flying Adored.” Audiences definitely didn’t cry for Argentina though, instead whooping and hollering at over 3,100 performances at the Prince Edward Theatre.
For the Broadway transfer, Patti LuPone played Eva Perón, with the production enjoying similar success like its London counterpart. If you’re wishing you could visit “Buenos Aires,” why not listen to highlights from the original London production?
1979 – Sweeney Todd
Broadway Premiere: Mar. 1, 1979
Although Sweeney may have served up the “Worst Pies in London,” this thrilling musical brought Broadway punters in for over 500 performances, all wanting a slice of the action. The eight-time Tony Award-winning musical famously starred Angela Lansbury as Mrs Lovett, with the barbershop quickly opening up in the West End too.
Recent productions which have stunned audiences include the 2012 London revival, starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. In fact, the roles of Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett have seen their respective actors nominated in three separate Oliver Awards. There’s no creaky chair quite like the original though, so why not relax and watch the 1979 Sweeney Todd above?
1980 – 42nd Street
Broadway Premiere: Aug. 25, 1980
We couldn’t have a round-up of musical birthdays without a nod to “those dancing feet.” The glossy, Golden Age film tapped its way to Broadway from Aug. 25, 1980 at the Majestic Theatre. In the show’s original tryout, reviews weren’t exactly positive. But, to the audiences, this song and dance fable was destined to become a Broadway great for the ages. 42nd Street went on to enjoy a nine-year Broadway tenure in three theatres, closing at the St. James Theatre on Jan. 8, 1989.
Above, you can watch “Lullaby of Broadway” from the Tony Award-winning musical, starring Wanda Richert as Peggy Sawyer and Jerry Orbach as Julian Marsh.
1981 – Cats
West End Premiere: May 11, 1981
This purr-fect musical really clawed its way into the West End history books. Based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum Books of Practical Cats, the sung-through musical tells of all the cats who dream of a new life once they’ve ascended to the Heaviside Layer. Yes, we really do mean all the cats. All 28 of them.
Cats premiered at the now-named Gillian Lynne Theatre on May 11, 1981. The musical’s nine lives meant it ran for over two decades, closing on May 11, 2002. Above, you can watch the original cast greet audiences at the top of the show: the Jellicle Ball.
1982 – Little Shop of Horrors
Off-Broadway Premiere: May 6, 1982
Can you believe that we all got down on Skid Row from as early as 1982? Audrey II wouldn’t take over Broadway for another two decades, but the flesh-eating plant made a big snap from 1982, going on to become the highest-grossing production in off-Broadway history. As well as its dark comedy tropes, its catchy songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman had audiences wanting to stay “Somewhere That’s Green”.
1983 – La Cage Aux Folles
Broadway Premiere: Aug. 21, 1983
The six-time Tony Award-winning musical tells of Georges and his drag artist partner Albin as they host shows in their St. Tropez nightclub. La Cage Aux Folles rocked the boat as one of the first Broadway musicals centered on a homosexual relationship. However the act one closer “I Am What I Am” has become a pop anthem, covered by Gloria Gaynor and Shirley Bassey.
On Broadway, the original production ran for over four years, but the musical’s London transfer only knocked up just over 300 performances. Above, you can watch the La Cage Aux Folles cast at the 1984 Tony Awards, where the show won Best New Musical.
Honorable mention: The original London production of Blood Brothers opened at the Lyric Theatre on 11 Apr. 1983, where it ran for six months. Upon Blood Brothers’ return to the West End in 1988, the show became a long-running hit, playing from 1988 – 2012.
1984 – Starlight Express
West End Premiere: Mar. 27, 1984
The concept for Starlight Express isn’t what you’d call naturalistic by any stretch. Rusty, a young steam engine, wants to impress a first-class carriage, Pearl. To do so, he’ll have to wear his go faster stripes and zoom around the racetrack. In order for Starlight Express to really come to life, the Apollo Victoria Theatre was renovated to accommodate for the set, with tracks extending into the auditorium.
Over the course of 35 years, new songs have been written for different productions, including original music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s son, Alistair. There’s also lyrics by The Band’s Visit Tony Yazbek too. The show went away from the Oliviers empty handed, but the audience clearly loved it as Starlight ran for 18 years and is the ninth-longest running show of all time in the West End. Watch the original London production in full above.
1985 – Les Misérables
West End Premiere: Oct. 8, 1985
Arguably one of the greatest musicals of all time, it’s hard to imagine a West End without Les Mis. The world premiere came in 1980, but a sung-through musical entirely in French was hardly going to make the people sing in London. Les Misérables began previews on 28 September, formally opening on 8 Oct. 1985, starring Colm Wilkinson and Patti LuPone. High expectations were met with critical reviews, but London audiences loved it and the rest is history.
The musical has been represented in London ever since its Barbican days, with performances at three West End venues. An all-star concert was performed at the Gielgud Theatre in 2019, marking the only time a full production hasn’t been staged in the West End.
1986 – The Phantom of the Opera
West End Premiere: Oct. 9, 1986
Have you heard the Angel of Music? It’s been calling at Her Majesty’s Theatre since 1986. It’s one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most successful musicals of all time, centering on a love triangle between Christine, Raoul, and the elusive Phantom himself.
If you’ve never even seen a musical before, you’ll still know songs from this show. “All I Ask Of You” was released as a single in 1986, reaching the top 10 in the UK music charts. The show is so big around the world that it’s currently Broadway’s longest-running musical of all time, having been performed over a staggering 13,000 times! Above, you can watch video footage of the original cast, including Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford.
Honorable mention: Chess lost out to Phantom for Best New Musical at the 1986 Olivier Awards, but we definitely know this musical so well.
1987 – Into The Woods
Broadway Premiere: Nov. 5, 1987
Children definitely have been listening to this fairytale musical for generations. It’s a complex musical to get your head around — a witch has cursed a baker and his wife, meaning they can’t have a family. It’s up to Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella help the Baker to lift the spell, joined by storybook characters along the way. As well as the intricate storylines, there’s wordy lyrics by Stephen Sondheim to wrap your head around too.
Nominated for 11 Tony Awards, Into the Woods got itself into the history books. The musical found similar success in London, starring Imelda Staunton as the Baker’s Wife. In 2014, a Disney adaptation was released, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, and James Corden. Above, you can watch the original cast in rehearsal, including Bernadette Peters as the Witch.
1988 – Carrie
Broadway Premiere: Feb. 13, 1988
First seen in Stratford-upon-Avon, Linzi Hateley made her acting debut in the titular role at just 17 years old. She played Carrie, a mysterious young woman with telekinetic powers, unleashing hell on all who cross her path. Carrie transferred to Broadway’s Virginia Theatre (now August Wilson Theatre). It’s considered to be one of Broadway’s biggest flops though, running for just 16 previews and 5 performances.
Hopes to revive Carrie from the dead were attempted with an off-Broadway revival in 2012. But, with a three-month run, it’s pretty much confirmed now there’s no turning back for Carrie’s life. Above, you can watch the Stratford-upon-Avon production from 1987.
1989 – Miss Saigon
West End Premiere: Sep. 20, 1989
As well as Les Miserables, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil enjoyed even more musical success with Miss Saigon. Inspired by Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, the show sees Chris, an American GI fall in love with the young Vietnamese woman Kim in Saigon. There’re heartwarming moments and heartache a plenty, especially in songs like “Why, God Why?” and “The American Dream.” But it’s full of spectacle too, so it’s no surprise that Miss Saigon played for a decade both at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Broadway’s Broadway Theatre.
Miss Saigon last took over London in 2014, with casting including Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, and Rachelle Ann Go. Like before, the musical transferred to Broadway again, closing in 2018. Above, you can listen to “The Last Night of the World,” sung by original cast members Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman.
1990 – Once On This Island
Broadway Premiere: Oct. 18, 1990
Imagine if you were on a faraway island. You behave in line with what the island’s gods want you to do; they have total control over you. That’s what happens to Ti Moune in Once on This Island when she falls in love with Daniel Beauxhomme. But in this Caribbean-inspired Romeo and Juliet musical, it’ll take a lot for their cultures to become accepting of each other. Can the Goddess of Love, God of Water, and Mother of the Earth change her world, or will the Demon of Death be too powerful?
Once on This Island may not have won any Tonys, but it inspired a generation of theatregoers to dream big. The musical returned with thrust performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre, winning Best Revival of a Musical. Casting also deviated from the original show, with Alex Newell playing Asaka. Above, you can watch the Once On This Island cast at the 1991 Tony Awards.
Honorable mention: Assassins made its off-Broadway debut in 1990. Stephen Sondheim’s musical explores what happens when U.S. Presidents are assassinated.
1991 – The Secret Garden
Broadway Premiere: April 25, 1991
It’s not uncommon for shows to be based on fictional stories, take A Christmas Carol and The Phantom of the Opera. But, The Secret Garden invited audiences into a whimsical British way of life. Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel of the same name, the musical follows Mary Lennox who is forced to move away from India to Yorkshire. Daisy Eagan currently holds the record for the youngest female Tony Award winner, securing Best Featured Actress in a Musical at just 11 years old!
Audiences visited The Secret Garden at the St. James Theatre for over two years. It’s not been seen on Broadway since, but we’re looking forward at our chance to return. Above, you can watch the cast perform at the 1991 Tony Awards.
1992 – Jelly’s Last Jam
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 26, 1992
The life and career of ragtime performer Jelly Roll Morton was at the center of Jelly’s Last Jam. It tells of Morton’s decisions to perform the blues, even if his family weren’t best pleased. Hearing the syncopated jazz live at Broadway’s Virginia Theatre (now August Wilson Theatre) made audiences feel as if they were in New Orleans. Critics agreed too, and Jelly’s Last Jam was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Original Score.
Jelly’s Last Jam has only been seen on Broadway, but we’re sure that the West End and theatres around the world could definitely do with a bit of jazzing up. Above, you can watch a 1992 commercial for performances of Jelly’s Last Jam.
Honorable mention: Originally created at the time of the AIDS crisis, Falsettos explores the different family structures and relationships in the early 1990s. Falsettos was on Broadway in 2016 and at London’s The Other Palace in 2019.
1993 – Sunset Boulevard
West End Premiere: Jul, 12. 1993
This ’50s film noir had been on the receiving end of theatrical treatment; Stephen Sondheim, John Kander, and Fred Ebb had all tried to put Norma Desmond on stage. But it took over 40 years for Sunset Boulevard to be seen as a musical, thanks to Don Black, Christopher Hampton, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Patti LuPone originated the role of Norma, a has-been Golden Age star who uses screenwriter Joe Gillis to get back on the big screen.
Even though reviews were mixed, Sunset Boulevard wowed London audiences, running for over 1,500 performances at the Adelphi Theatre. The musical enjoyed greater success on Broadway, where Glenn Close starred as Norma, winning eight Tony Awards. Listen to Patti LuPone above as she performs one of the stand-out songs, “With One Look”.
1994 – Beauty and the Beast
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 18, 1994
The “tale as old as time” isn’t as old as you might expect. Just three years after the Disney animation stole our hearts, the French fairytale made its Broadway premiere. Challenges like how to bring a dining table to life were met with ease, with the show winning Best Costume Design at the Tonys. It’s clear that Broadway audiences lapped up this Disney magic too, as the show ran for 13 years with performances at the Palace and Lunt-Fontanne theatres respectively.
Belle, Gaston, and co. also made their West End debut at London’s Dominion Theatre in 1997, winning Best New Musical. It’s rumored that Beauty and the Beast will return to the West End in the future, so keep checking TodayTix for the latest information. If you can’t wait, why not watch the 1994 Broadway cast in the video above.
1995 – Fame
West End Premiere: Jun. 27, 1995
You may think a high-energy musical about the lives of performing arts kids would have premiered on Broadway? Nope. Fame hit the big time in the West End, and has since become one of the most revived musicals of all time. The original cast of high schoolers who dreamed of a life on stage included Noel Sullivan as Nick, alongside teachers played by Barbara Dickson and Miquel Brown.
Productions of Fame are well known for their bright legwarmers, unbelievable dance routines and powerful renditions of ballads like “These Are My Children.” Staggeringly, there’s never been a Broadway production of Fame, so maybe we can “Bring On Tomorrow” and wish for it?
1996 – Rent
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 29, 1996.
Puccini’s La Boheme was transformed into a musical, courtesy of Jonathan Larson’s rock musical, Rent. Set in 1980s New York with the HIV/AIDS crises a shadow, the musical tells of free-spirited artists as they build a life for themselves. The night before the musical’s off-Broadway premiere, the creator Jonathan Larson passed away. Yet, the social and cultural impact of Rent would only continue to grow, with Larson awarded Best Book and Best Original Score at the Tonys and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Rent was last seen in London in 2016, starring Layton Williams and Lucie Jones. Watch the original cast of Rent at the 1996 Tony Awards above.
1997 – The Lion King
Broadway Premiere: Nov. 13, 1997
Kiss Me Kate is based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, but did you know that The Lion King is influenced by Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Yes, the story of Simba finding his way in the African savannah to become King of the Pride Lands takes inspiration from a play. It was no surprise that The Lion King would find its way on stage, having been one of Disney’s highest-grossing films.
The musical has definitely roared its way into the history books too. Since its Broadway premiere in 1997 and West End premiere in 1999, over 100 million people have been a part of the “Circle of Life” and heard the love (tonight). Director Julie Taymor also made history too; she’s the first woman to win the Tony for Best Director of a Musical. Above, you can watch the original cast at the 1997 Tony Awards.
1998 – Ragtime
Broadway Premiere: Jan. 18, 1998
After a world premiere in Toronto, the people called it Ragtime at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts (now the Lyric Theatre) in 1998. Based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, different societies at the turn of 20th century America are all presented in the show; Harlem musicians, white middle-class families, and European immigrants. Audra McDonald won her second Tony for her performance as Sarah, with the show picking up 13 Tony nominations.
Its cutting social commentary is backed up by presenting American figures like Henry Ford, Booker T. Washington, and Harry Houidini. There’s even been a concert performance of Ragtime at Ellis Island, but the musical hasn’t found similar influence in London, having only played for three months at the Piccadilly Theatre. Above, you can listen to the original cast at the Tonys.
1999 – Fosse
Broadway Premiere: Jan. 14, 1999
Having choreographed Chicago and Cabaret, Bob Fosse’s stylistic, sensual choreography is often a muse for theatre choreographers today. So a decade after his passing, the revue-musical Fosse was born in honour of his legacy. Commemorating musical numbers like “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity and “Steam Heat” from The Pajama Game, Fosse’s simplicity was praised, with the show even winning Best New Musical.
Fosse really did inspire a future generation. The original cast starred the Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and Memphis choreographer Sergio Trujillo. Above, you can watch a commercial for Fosse.
2000 – The Wild Party
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 13, 2000
Why wait for one when you can have two? Two productions of The Wild Party had their New York premiere in 2000. There’s the off-Broadway production by Andrew Lippa, starring Idina Menzel and Brian D’Arcy James. But, the vaudevillian-inspired musical by Michael John LaChiusa detailing life in Prohibition-era America is perhaps considered to be the wildest party of all.
The Wild Party was tamed by critics, and didn’t win any Tonys. Audiences weren’t queuing for an invite either, as the show closed after 68 performances. Above, you can watch one of the only recorded performances of The Wild Party.
2001 – The Producers
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 19, 2001
A musical about putting on the worst musical ever doesn’t seem like a good idea. But, in an ironic twist of fate, The Producers swept the board at the Tonys, winning 12, and still holds the record for the most Tony wins. Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan’s adaptation of Brooks’ ’60s movie made theatre stars out of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, with the show breaking box office records at the time.
The Producers has yet to be revived on Broadway, but the musical’s often performed in the United Kingdom, with comedians Jason Manford and Phill Jupitus starring in the show. Watch the original Broadway cast above at the Tonys.
2002 – Hairspray
Broadway Premiere: Aug. 15, 2002
The “Nicest Kids in Town” came to Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre in 2002, with the Corny Collins Show broadcasting eight times a week for over seven years. In the tradition of casting a newcomer as Tracy Turnblad, Marissa Jaret Winokur originated the stage role, starring alongside Harvey Fierstein as Edna and Matthew Morrison as Link.
Although it’s set in Baltimore, London audiences took to the show too, running for over 1,000 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The show is set to return in 2021 too, giving theatregoers the uplifting theatrical experience we all need. For a blast from the past, check out the original Broadway cast singing “Without Love.”
2003 – Wicked
Broadway Premiere: Oct. 3, 2003
We all know the story of The Wizard of Oz. But what about the witches that Dorothy meets? Tying up all the loose ends, Wicked has become one of the most “Popular” musicals of the modern era. It’s helped by its original casting that can be heard on the soundtrack — Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth as Elphaba and Glinda respectively were both up for the Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award (Menzel won).
After turning Broadway green, London audiences were able to become Ozians in 2006. Over 10 million people have seen the show in London alone, with Elphaba continuing to defy gravity in productions around the world. Check out the original Broadway cast in the video above.
2004 – Mary Poppins
West End Premiere: Dec. 15, 2004
Set in Edwardian London, Mary Poppins had its world premiere in the UK. In fact, it’s the only Disney musical to have transferred from London to Broadway, playing for over three years at the Prince Edward Theatre. The musical isn’t directly based on the film, but combines elements of the movie and the original P. L. Travers books to create a practically perfect show.
Sadly, Julie Andrews didn’t reprise her role as the titular nanny, but we still saw Mary fly with her umbrella onto Cherry Tree Lane to tunes including “Step in Time” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.” Americans savored their own spoonful too, with the Broadway production running for five years. Mary Poppins returned to the same West End theatre in 2019, starring Zizi Strallen and Charlie Stemp. Watch the original cast perform “Step in Time” above.
2005 – Billy Elliot
West End Premiere: May 11, 2005
The tale of a boy ballerina escaping his life in northern England had already wowed audiences when the 2000 film was released. Then, when Billy Elliot came to the West End, the story took on a life of its own. The “Electricity” lit up performances for 11 years, with the original Billys winning Best Actor in a Musical at the 2006 Oliviers. Did you know that when UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, audiences got to vote on whether “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher” would be performed — they said yes.
American critics loved Billy Elliot too, taking home 10 Tonys and every single Drama Desk Award it was nominated for. We’ve shared a performance of Billy Elliot above from 2005 that you can enjoy.
2006 – Spring Awakening
Broadway Premiere: Dec. 10, 2006
The 19th-century German play of the same name was given a musical spin by Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater. Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff led the cast of teenagers and adolescents as they navigate their sexualities, accompanied by a folk/rock soundtrack. Even with its potentially controversial discussions, reviewers praised the show and Spring Awakening was met with eight Tonys. Watch the original cast of Spring Awakening at the 2007 Tony Awards.
2007 – Legally Blonde
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 29, 2007
Harvard Law? On a Broadway stage? Omigod! That’s what Broadway audiences said when Elle Woods spruced up the stage with a touch of pink. Legally Blonde gained lukewarm approval in the States, but was highly praised in the West End, winning three Olivier Awards. During its Broadway run, a reality TV show looked for the next Elle, with 20-year-old Bailey Hanks making her professional debut.
In 2007, the entire musical was filmed professionally and screened on MTV. If you’re missing your “Bend and Snap” fix, then check out Legally Blonde above.
2008 – In The Heights
Broadway Premiere: Mar. 8, 2008
Before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton came In The Heights, a blend of salsa, rap, and hip hop all set in a Washington Heights bodega. Like Hamilton, Miranda played the lead role, in this case Usnavi, a convenience store owner. When the musical transferred to London, it was played at King’s Cross Theatre with audiences either side, making it feel as if we were at a street junction on Washington Heights.
A movie adaptation of In The Heights is due to hit our screens in 2021, but if you can’t wait until then, watch the original cast at the Tony Awards above.
2009 – Next to Normal
Broadway Premiere: Apr. 15, 2009
If you like Dear Evan Hansen, you’ll love Next to Normal. The musical was originally called Feeling Electric, focusing on a family that’s rocked by their mom’s therapy. But, the show’s title was eventually changed to reflect an array of themes; mental health and bipolar disorder at the forefront. Next to Normal ran for over 700 performances on Broadway, winning Best Original Score for songs including “I Miss the Mountains” and “I’m Alive.” The show is also the rare musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Next to Normal is yet to make its London premiere, but we’d love to see the Goodman family on stage. Why not watch the original Broadway cast above?
2010 – Love Never Dies
West End Premiere: Mar. 9, 2010
The sequel to The Phantom of the Opera saw Christine and The Phantom transported to Coney Island. Yet again, the Phantom’s characteristics were based on a Gaston Leroux novel, but that didn’t guarantee commercial success like its musical predecessor. Midway through its short run at the Adelphi Theatre, Love Never Dies closed in order to rework on the production. International transfers on Broadway and in Canada were cancelled.
Even though Love Never Dies seemed to be doomed, Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess’s performances as the Phantom and Christine were highly praised. Listen to them in the world premiere production above.
2011 – Matilda
West End Premiere: Nov. 24, 2011
From page to the silver screen and then to the stage, Matilda currently holds the title as the longest-running show at the Cambridge Theatre. Tim Minchin’s spritely score injects a new lease of life into the precocious schoolgirl, who uses her ingenuity even if she has to be a bit “Naughty.” In 2012, Matilda broke records by winning seven Oliviers, with the original Matildas jointly winning the Best Actress in a Musical category.
The Broadway transfer played for five years at the Shubert Theatre, but the show is still running in London. Check out the original Matildas above, interviewed by the BBC.