Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Which are Better? Broadway or West End Shows?

Don’t get us wrong, we have a lot of original London musicals to be proud of, Phantom of the Opera, Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia – there are loads. It still doesn’t stop us getting jealous of those Americans who can claim some of the best musicals as their own! We’ve put together a few musical battles to compare their success to determine which is better, the West End or Broadway!

Hairspray (US) vs. Hair (UK)

It’s the battle of the hippie hair and the beehive!


  • Debuted in New York in 2002 and closed in 2009
  • In the West End it was enjoyed by audiences for just 2 and a half years
  • Winner of 8 Tonys and 4 Laurence Olivier Awards out of 11 nominations which broke the record!


  • Originally opened in 1968 on Broadway , Hair has since had a revival in 2009 too. Soon after its debut, it opened in London and ran until 1973. The closure was due to the theatre’s roof falling in!
  • It had mixed reviews due to the controversial portrayal of the 60s as it included drug taking, nude scenes and rebellion against war and society.

They both represented significant points in history but as revolutionary as Hair was in combatting important social problems at the time, Hairspray has had more widespread appeal. It’s the original US production that wins this battle!

Jersey Boys (US) vs. We Will Rock You (UK)

Both popular jukebox musicals – but which is better?

Jersey Boys

  • In the 8th year of its run of Broadway and has been playing here in London since 2008
  • It has been consistently popular all around the world having had productions in Las Vegas, Brisbane, Sydney and Chicago.
  • Jersey Boys has 5 Tony awards under its belt and 1 Grammy!

We Will Rock You

  • The West End is celebrating its 11th year this year
  • Never transferred to Broadway but has run in Italy, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Russia, Las Vegas, Japan and loads moreWe Will Rock You has been seen in 5 continents in the world
  • It has also won awards from all over the world too

We love The Four Seasons’ story of their rocky road to fame.  On this occasion they have been beaten by the mighty Queen of all musicals We Will Rock You. Although it hasn’t made it across the pond on Broadway, (perhaps due to the lack of Queen fandom) it has literally taken over the world!

West Side Story (US) vs. Blood Brothers (UK)

Battle of the class divided sob stories!

West Side Story

  • It opened in 1957 Broadway and ran for 2 years, and 3 years in London
  • During its many revivals it won 3 Tony awards and a Grammy!
  • Seen a revolutionary in terms of American musical theatre as it approached subjects like social problems in American

Blood Brothers

  • One of the longest running musicals in history, having played in London 1983-2012.
  • Winner of 3 Laurence Olivier awards
  • It has toured the UK 5 times, and played in New York and Australia
  • Blood Brothers has a cult following of fans

Although West Side Story was something completely different, (and based on our one and only William Shakespeare) we have to give us this one!  Blood Brothers is one of the longest running shows in history having nearly run for 30 years!  The story is heart-wrenching and full of surprises – sorry Broadway – but this time we win!

Wicked (US) vs. Mary Poppins (UK)

Which Witch is the Worst Witch?


  • Currently in it’s 10th year on Broadway and 7th in London
  • Broken box office records around the world for weekly gross-takings in LA, London and Chicago
  • Productions have appeared in Japan, Singapore, The Netherlands, Finland, Brisbane and Melbourne.
  • A Wicked film is in the process of being made
  • Wicked grosses over $7 million a week from its various productions making it one of the most financially viable shows ever.

Mary Poppins

  • 3 years in the West End but even better in New York – Mary Poppins opened there in 2006 and is still running, making it the 30th longest-running show on Broadway
  • It has played all over the world since 2004 including, Brisbane, Sydney, Czech Republic, Budapest and Helsinki
  • It has won 2 Laurence Olivier awards, and 1 Tony award.

There really is no contest, we loved the Mary Poppins film and we can’t help but mock the ol’ cockneeeey accent of Dick Van Dyke but we can’t help but think Mary Poppins was cut far too short over here. It can’t really live up to the genius that is Wicked!  The story, the costume, the set – everything works and nothing will beat the show’s strong fanbase either!

Annie (US) vs. Oliver (UK)

Orphan Annie or Orphan Oliver?


  • Annie ran for 7 years on Broadway
  • 14 Productions worldwide including London, and Australia
  • 15th will be the Annie revival on Broadway in October 2012
  • It has won 7 Tony Awards


  • Oliver! premiered in 1960 and ran for over 2000 performances in the West End
  • Oliver! has had 8 worldwide productions including UK and US tours.
  • Over the years it has won 4 Tony Awards and 1 Olivier Award

And the winner is….the US – Annie was a lot longer running and had more widespread success across the world.  It was a wonderful show and the story has stood the test of time. Charles Dickins’ Oliver! also enjoy a lot of popularity, helped by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV search for Nancy. Perhaps the story is a little played out, having had many film and television adaptations.

UK –    2     US –    3

So the figures say the US has won this time.  Of course you will all have different views on which shows are better. Is there anything you disagree with in our list?

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