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One of the many theatres in London's West End
For many people thehighlightof a visit to London is the chance to see a West End show.
The West End of London, situateda stone’s throwfrom Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown, is home to dozens of beautiful theatres.
London’s West End theatres are currently enjoyinga boomin popularity and ticket sales. According to the Society of London Theatres, nearly 12 million people attended a West End show last year, whilst audience numbers in 2005 look setto outstripthat impressive figure.
One possible reason for the success of contemporary theatrical productions is thecastingofA-listHollywood actors inlead roles. Val Kilmer, star of films like Top Gun and Batman Forever, is currently appearing in The Postman Always Rings Twice.
And he is not alone - other American movie stars performing in London include Oscar winner, Kevin Spacey, and David Schwimmer, who found international fame in the hit TVsitcom, Friends.
British screen stars are alsotreading the boardsin West End shows. Scottish actor, Ewan McGregor, is appearing in the classic 1950smusicalGuys and Dolls – an experience very different to making movies. McGregor says ‘The actual process of making films isextraordinarily tedious. It is very difficult to keep your energy and focus. Whereas what is wonderful about this is we have to create it together.’
Ironically, it is not just that film stars are acting in plays nowadays but films themselves are being adapted for the stage. Amongst the films that can now be seen asplaysor musicals are The Lion King, A Few Good Men, and Billy Elliot.
Thelongest-runningshows in the West End are usually musicals. The Andrew Lloyd Webber show, Cats, ran for 21 years and 7000 performances, making its composer a multi-millionaire.
However, not all musicals do so well. Oscar Wilde: The Musicalran foronly one night, closing after terrible reviews and poorbookings. It was quite possibly the biggestflopin London theatrical history.