The West End; A vibrant combination of beautiful historic buildings, extreme talent and a great track record of producing stars, musicals and composers from all different walks of life. I think it’s fair to say London holds its own in the world of theatre. In fact, arguably (in line with Broadway) London is the best in the world. However over the past year I’ve been living away from this marvellous city, and on my journeys backpacking I have been surprised by the masses of stunning theatres around the world. So here’s my list of amazing theatres trips I have been to or heard of while travelling. This isn’t technically MUSICAL theatre, but if you are about in the city, who would want to leave having missed such amazing art?
Centre for the Arts, Melbourne.
If London and New York were the leading competitors in a race, Melbourne would be that surprising underdog that no one expected to swoop third. Although it may not share the hustle and bustle of its iconic neighbour Sydney, it certainly has a brilliant taste for the arts. Whether it be a trip to see graffiti on Hosier lane, a snoop around the NGV or a trip to any other theatre to see a musical (Regents Theatre, Princess Theatre). Something cool about Australia is all shows run on a tour. So while the musical geeks of down under are STILL waiting for the Book of Mormon (poor souls) they get to watch random classics in the meantime. You never know what’s going to come. This particular theatre was picked because of its underrated element. Everybody knows Sydney opera but no one thinks of Melbourne. When I walked in I was surprised to see such a high standard of theatre. The quality was all perfect. The best bit about it is that due to the nature of the tours whatever you watch will come as a surprise. I came and saw “Lungs” by Duncan McMillan and certainly left impressed. This is an underrated theatre in a city full of art.
Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, Kuala Lumpur.
Home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, this is an amazing trip for lovers of classical music. Situated in the 88 storey skyscraper- the Petronus towers, (how almost Harry Potter, right?) the orchestra is also the home of a shopping centre, busy food court, water fountain show, and is host to what is said to be the best view in all of Kuala Lumpur. So if your significant other doesn’t share the same passion for theatre as you do, I’m sure they’ll find something to entertain themselves in the process of you absorbing hours of music in the heart of KL.
The Ubud Royal Palace, Bali, Indonesia.
If you’re into history then this will be completely up your street. This wasn’t always a theatre. It was a palace that belonged to King Tjokorda Putu Kandel who died in 1823. It has a fascinating history, playing a part in cementing Hinduism into a culture that is followed to the present day. The intricate multi tasking building goes from being a temple and palace by history, to a market by day, to a theatre at night. You can be treated to the traditional Indonesian dance show in some of the evenings for under £5. Considering this show hosts an entire orchestra of Indonesian instruments, full costumes and trained dancers, and lighting, it’s a pretty cool investment.
The Globe, London
Speaking of history, I am genuinely surprised by the volumes of my theatre friends that have failed to enter South Bank’s coolest (literally sometimes freezing) theatre. Reopened in 1997, this building was a replica of one of Londons greatest and oldest theatre achievements- SHAKESPEARE! It gives people the chance to experience some good old fashioned British heritage and see how far British theatre – and subsequently musical theatre, has come from its routes. The best part? If you’re prepared to stand – which can ironically be the best seats in the house when it’s sunny, you can see theatre for £5. A policy which The Globe has stood by for many years. Bring a raincoat though, there’s no roof!
Sydney Opera house, Sydney
Does this one even need mentioning? This 14 year project which had its design based on an orange peel was supposed to be budgeted at £4.1M. When Queen Elizabeth opened the Opera house in 1973 a ridiculous total of £60M had been spent on that project- talk about overspending. Since then it has bared witness to many of the greats of our generation and I’m sure it will continue standing strong in the world of theatre.
Any Broadway theatre , New York.
If you’re into musical theatre, watching a show from across the pond is a must. While in New York, I was extremely lucky to see Chicago at the Ambassadors theatre, Matilda at the Shuburt theatre, and Jersey Boys at the August Wilson theatre. Like London, there is so much talent in those theatres. Weirdly, there were some differences though. Firstly they didn’t sell programmes when I was there. Granted you got a free playbill, but no programmes as far as I could comprehend. Am I being stupid here or??? Also when you go you got these really amazing cups when you order a coke in these theatres. I was going to show you guys a picture but unfortunately my mother has put my cups in the attic! Sorry guys, you’ll have to go and find the magic of those cups for yourself!
Overall the world outside of London has some great amazing places. But in my humble opinion, no corner of the earth, Broadway show, or city could ever match the magic of your first West End show.
Did I miss anything? Did you enjoy? Feel free to tweet me @Merrynknowles or leave a comment on the page.