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Photo credit: Mazz Murray as Donna in Mamma Mia (Photo by Brinkhoff/Mogenburg)

West End shows to see for Mother's Day

Book tickets to shows for Mother's Day in London.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, March 27: a time to celebrate all those amazing mums and everything they’ve done for us. The UK’s version of this annual holiday grew out of the Mediaeval Mothering Sunday tradition – the day on which Christians visited their ‘mother church’, or the church where they were baptised – which is why it’s always held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. After Anna Jarvis campaigned for a national Mother’s Day in America in the early 20th century, the tradition was revived in the UK as well.

Whether or not you associate it with religion, Mother’s Day is a cherished time for many to reflect on family bonds and to celebrate their loved ones. Happily, there are many ways to mark that celebration in London – including numerous shows in the West End that would make for an unforgettable Mother’s Day outing.

Why not treat your mum to a musical featuring her favourite hits, or to an uplifting family show, or a side-splitting comedy? You can share that live experience together, which is what this day is really all about, and make it a special treat by adding a meal out or a glass of fizz at the theatre. So, here are some of the best Mother’s Day shows in the West End that you can book now.

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Mamma Mia!

Of course we have to begin with the ABBA-tastic Mamma Mia! It’s a story built around the relationship between a mother and daughter: Donna and Sophie Sheridan. Donna runs a dilapidated inn on a Greek island and worries about money; she’s also perplexed by her young daughter’s hasty decision to get married. Plus there’s a big secret between them that Sophie is determined to solve: who is her biological father? She invites three of Donna’s exes to her wedding, hoping to spot her dad.

But the main focus here is on the bond between mother and child as they try to understand one another. Donna reflects on their relationship in the beautiful “Slipping Through My Fingers”, which will have you in tears. And you and your mum can also bop along to the incredible ABBA hits like “Mamma Mia”, “Take a Chance on Me,” “Does Your Mother Know” and “Dancing Queen”. There’s nothing like a Mother’s Day boogie.

Book Mamma Mia! tickets on London Theatre.

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Matilda the Musical

This brilliantly anarchic family musical is perfect for kids – and mums – of all ages, particularly if you enjoyed reading Roald Dahl’s book as a child. Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s brilliant adaptation for the Royal Shakespeare Company captures Dahl’s mischievous spirit, and Minchin’s songs also have their tremendously poignant moments, especially Act II number “When I Grow Up”, which encapsulates both a childish longing and an adult wistfulness.

It’s also a fun one in terms of good and bad parenting models: let’s hope you escaped grown-ups like the tyrannical Trunchbull and horrendous Wormwoods! Minchin also has some teasing fun with the overindulgent parent in the opening song “Miracle”. The best parent is actually an adoptive one, the kindly Miss Honey, who learns as much from Matilda as she does from her. The whole show is also a wonderful celebration of collective storytelling – a pleasure you can share with you mum on this Mother’s Day and throughout your lives together.

Book Matilda the Musical tickets on London Theatre.

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Witness for the Prosecution

Is your mother a big Agatha Christie fan? If you’ve spent hours curled up on the sofa with her watching Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple dramas on TV, or whizzing through the Queen of Crime’s novels to find out “whodunit”, then make a beeline for this thrillingly immersive Agatha Christie play. It’s staged at London County Hall, making it feel like a real courtroom – and you’re the jury. How will you decide?

On trial is Leonard Vole, a young man accused of murdering the wealthy Emily French. She just so happened to have made Leonard her heir before her sudden death. Leonard’s wife Romaine agrees to testify in order to give him an alibi – but then she’s called for the prosecution instead. Who is really telling the truth, and can the court unravel this fiendish mystery? This Mother’s Day, you and your mum can test your wits against the greatest crime writer ever.

Book Witness for the Prosecution tickets on London Theatre.

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Jersey Boys

Yes, the boys are back in town: the beloved musical telling the tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is now playing at the revamped Trafalgar Theatre. The clever twist of this jukebox musical is that the slippery story passes between the four band members – Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi – with each giving a different account of events. And they’re dramatic events, involving mobsters, rivalries and money trouble.

But beyond that compelling tale, you and your mum get the enormous pleasure of hearing a talented cast perform hit after hit after hit: “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”, “Can't Take My Eyes Off You”, “Sherry”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Bye Bye Baby”, “Big Girls Don't Cry”, “Beggin’”, “Working My Way Back to You” and more. It’s the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll concert, and a wonderful blast from the past – just what you want on a Mother’s Day outing.

Book Jersey Boys tickets on London Theatre.

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The Play That Goes Wrong

It’s a difficult time in the world right now, so one of the best things you can give your mum on Mother’s Day 2022 is plenty of laughs. And you’re guaranteed to get them at this West End comedy staple: Mischief’s world-conquering farce.

Watch the amateur Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempt to mount a performance of 1920s murder mystery The Murder at Haversham Manor. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything!

This is the most gloriously disaster-ridden show ever staged, from smaller mishaps like cast members forgetting their lines or using the wrong props to the doors sticking, the scenery falling off the walls and the floors collapsing, leading to injuries, confusion and incredible mayhem. You’ll love the determination of the cast that “the show must go on”, and howl with laughter as they run headlong into the next calamity. It’s the perfect Mother’s Day escapism.

Book The Play That Goes Wrong tickets on London Theatre.

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Pretty Woman: The Musical

Missing this one would be a big mistake. Big. Huge! Our favourite romcom has become a stage musical sensation, and, now playing at the glamorous Savoy Theatre, it’s the ideal nostalgic treat for a Mother’s Day outing. The production follows the story of the hit Julia Roberts and Richard Gere-starring movie: businessman Edward Lewis runs into escort Vivian one night in Los Angeles, and the pair develop an unconventional but life-changing relationship.

Jerry Mitchell’s vibrant production retains all the best scenes, lines and outfits from the film, and introduces some exciting new characters and plotlines too – plus a few minor changes to bring the story up to date, like giving Vivian more agency. Aimie Atkinson and Danny Mac star as the lovers, while Rachael Wooding is Vivian’s friend Kit and Bob Harms is the hotel manager and our guide. The musical also features a fantastic pop-rock score by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, as well as Roy Orbison’s iconic title song. It’s the ultimate feel-good Mother’s Day show.

Book Pretty Woman: The Musical tickets on London Theatre.

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