West End shows to see this Easter
Enjoy an Easter in the West End.
The Easter school holidays are nearly upon us, and this year, we can all celebrate together – whether taking a family trip or spending quality time at home. Of course, the changeable British weather plays its part in those plans too, and one of the best ways to escape any April showers is to head to London’s West End for an Easter theatre trip.
The West End is always a big draw for families, providing a range of plays, musicals, comedies and dedicated shows for young audiences. Many of these productions provide the perfect entry point for newcomers to theatre, including those based on familiar children’s books and well-known movies. There’s also spectacular entertainment that works for everyone – ideal if you’re getting together with multiple generations of your family.
Of course, Easter is also a time of religious reflection for many, and there are some thoughtful London shows that have elements of faith and philosophy too. That can be a lovely way to honour a family member’s beliefs, while also treating them to a special theatre trip that you can all share.
So, check out our selection of great Easter 2022 shows, and start planning your outing now!
Not only is this glorious stage musical, based on the beloved Disney animated movie, a wonderful first theatre experience for young audiences, it also has some Biblical elements: the stories of Joseph and Moses influenced the filmmakers. The accessible story follows lion cub Simba, who will one day rule the African Pride Lands. But his scheming uncle Scar lures Simba and his father, King Mufasa, into a trap, and a guilty Simba flees, teaming up with meerkat Timon and warthog Pumbaa.
There are plenty of good life lessons in The Lion King, along with differing philosophies and a vivid encapsulation of the natural world. But this is first and foremost a triumph of stagecraft, with jaw-dropping puppets that evoke the animals, as well as the return of Elton John and Tim Rice’s catchy songs: “Circle of Life”, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Be Prepared”, “Hakuna Matata”, and the Oscar-winning “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.
There’s nothing more pleasurable than passing on your favourite piece of art to your children, and the thrilling Back to the Future stage show means you can share a classic movie with them – while rediscovering it yourself in a whole new musical form. Even better, this is a story that’s all about family, as 1980s teen Marty McFly, who has accidentally time-travelled to the 1950s, must figure out how to get his parents together and ensure his family’s existence.
This blockbuster production uses incredible special effects to plunge you into the zany sci-fi adventure – including a DeLorean that actually flies. All the best bits are here, like eccentric genius Doc Brown (Great Scott!) and the pop hits from the film, “The Power of Love” and “Johnny B Goode”, alongside a fantastic new score from Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri. It’s 1.21 gigawatts of enthralling fun for the whole family: a perfect Easter treat.
This sweet, funny and deeply moving Canadian musical is based on an astonishing true story. On 9/11, thousands of passengers from around the world found their planes grounded in the small Newfoundland town of Gander, where locals welcomed them into their hearts and homes. Lifelong friendships were born, and romance too, as people overcome their differences to find a common humanity.
Faith plays a hugely significant role in the show. Two women, Gander resident Beulah and New Yorker Hannah, bond over both being mothers of firefighters. As Hannah worries about her missing son back home, the pair visit a Catholic church to pray together. That leads into a gorgeous number combining various characters of different religions, all united in prayer. It gets to the heart of this musical, which finds the light in the darkness and the hope in times of despair.
Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel trimuphantly translates to stage by the National Theatre and is now a West End hit. It tackles some difficult real-life topics, like grief, trauma and family tensions, via a coming-of-age tale with enthralling supernatural elements. A boy makes a new friend, Lettie, who, along with her mother and grandmother, battles otherworldly creatures that don’t belong in our universe. But when one gets through, the boy must face his worst fears in order to defeat it.
Katy Rudd’s atmospheric production is true theatre magic. It moves seamlessly between relatable scenes in the “normal” world – like the boy squabbling with his sister or having trouble communicating with his father – and spine-tingling moments where something incredible is conjured on stage. This is a must-see for audiences of all ages, and would make for a very memorable Easter theatre trip.
There’s more family drama in the spectacular Frozen, the stage musical version of the megahit Disney film – and plenty of magic, too. That begins the moment you enter the handsomely refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a majestic match for the kingdom of Arendelle. The latter is brilliantly brought to life through gorgeous scenery, exciting special effects to evoke Elsa’s frosty powers, and puppetry for characters like Sven and Olaf.
Like the movie, the story revolves around the fraught relationship between sisters Elsa and Anna, and there are new songs to build on that further, like the passionate duet “I Can’t Lose You” and Elsa’s solo “Monster”. But you’ll also find all your favourites from the film, such as “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, “Love Is an Open Door”, “In Summer” and, of course, “Let It Go”. It’s the perfect welcome to theatre for young audiences, and, if you’re doing an Easter family trip, you’ll find plenty here to enthral regular theatregoers too.
Yann Martel’s Pulitzer-winning novel might seem like the ultimate case of an unadaptable tale, yet Sheffield Crucible managed it – and now, it’s a West End sensation. The story follows a teenage boy, Pi, who is left stranded in a lifeboat after a shipwreck, along with some of the animals from his family’s zoo. Those animals come to life thanks to the truly amazing puppetry, particularly Pi’s longest companion, a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
This survival tale is also a clever way to examine various belief systems and ways of viewing the world. Pi’s family appear to him to offer advice, based on logic, faith or mathematical analysis, and Pi is telling this whole story to two strangers in the present, trying to make sense of his experiences. President Barack Obama called Martel’s novel “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.” Theatregoers will surely agree with at least part of that, making this a magical Easter trip.
Photo credit: The Lion King and Come From Away (Photos courtesy of productions)
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