The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) refers to a distinct region of Central London, west of the City of London and north of the River Thames, in which many of the city’s major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues, including West End theatres, are concentrated.
Along with New York City’s Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.
“Theatreland”, London’s main theatre district, contains approximately forty venues and is located in and near the heart of the West End of London. It is traditionally defined by The Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west, and Kingsway to the east, but a few other nearby theatres are also considered “West End” despite being outside the area proper (e.g. The Apollo Victoria Theatre, in Westminster).
Prominent theatre streets include Drury Lane, Shaftesbury Avenue, and The Strand. The works staged are predominantly musicals, classic and modern straight plays, and comedy performances.
The length of West End shows depend on ticket sales. The longest-running musical in West End history is Les Misérables. Other long-runners include Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, Lion King and Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers which have also subsequently overtaken Cats. When visiting the UK take a look at your visiting dates on the box office to see what productions are currently showing.
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