10 Modern Musicals That Haven’t Made It To London’s West End

Time Square, New York City. Photo: Jake Heinemann
Time Square, New York City. Photo: Jake Heinemann

Over the years New York’s Broadway and London’s West End have exchanged a range of fabulous musicals but, disappointingly, some never seem to make it across the pond.

Whether it is down to finances, licences or ticket sales we may never know, but, here are our 10 modern musicals that haven’t made it to London’s West End.

10. The Pirate Queen 

Based on American-born Irish writer, Morgan Llwelyn’s, historical fiction Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas the musical tells the tale of Grace (Grania) O’Malley, an Irish pirate who does her best to resist the English attacks on Gaelic Ireland.

Starring Stephanie J. Block as Grace, The Pirate Queen opened on Broadway on 5th April 2007 but closed after 117 performances.

The music was created by Claude-Michel Schönberg, best known for Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. Many critics commented on the power of the music and the cast vocals but the show itself is believed to have lost over $16 million by the time it closed.

9. The Little Mermaid

Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale and the 1989 Disney film, The Little Mermaid features songs from the film as well as new music written by Alan Menken.

Produced by Disney Theatrical, The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway on 3rd November 2007 replacing Beauty and the Beast at the Lunt-Fotanne Theatre and played for 735 performances before closing on 30th August 2009.

A difficult show to stage, the cast members originally wore Heelys when they were ‘underwater’ and there were several differences between the film and the musical that had to be made for practical reasons.

Disney’s representative explained that the 2009 closure was necessary at the time owing to the poor financial climate and to ensure they could concentrate on the future life of the project.

Although the show has never visited or been produced in the UK there have been several international productions including those in The Netherlands, Japan, Brazil and a production is due to open at the Helsinki City Theatre, Finland on 27th August 2019.

8. Next To Normal

Next to Normal is the story of a mother who struggles with her worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that managing her illness has on her family.

Opening on Broadway in April 2009 the show ran for over 700 performances and won three of the eleven Tony Awards it was nominated for that year. The show also won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the first musical to do so since Rent in 1996. Next to Normal closed on Broadway in January 2011.

The writers began working on the script in 2002 but some significant developments in terms of understanding and treating Bipolar Depressive Disorder were discovered and implemented between the show’s inception and being produced and so the writers made various alterations.

This is another Broadway show that hasn’t made it to the West End but has played internationally in Asia, Australia, Germany and Spain.

7. Catch Me If You Can 

Based on the 1980 autobiography of Frank Abagnale Jr and the 2002 film starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks, Catch Me If You Can tells the story of con artist Frank and his pursuit by the law.

Set in the 1950s and 1960s the music was created by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, of Hairspray fame!

Catch Me If You Can opened at the Neil Simon Theatre, Broadway on 10th April 2011 and ran for 202 performances, closing on 4th September 2011.

The show received mixed reviews, with some sighting it as the best show for years while others claimed there wasn’t enough substance and at times it felt ‘chalky’. The production was nominated for four Tony Awards but didn’t win.

This musical is another example of a Broadway show that has visited Japan and Australia but never the UK.

6. Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark 

Created by Bono and The Edge Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark is based on the comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Charting Spider-Man’s story of how he got his powers, his love of Mary Jane and his battles against the baddie the Green Goblin. Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark is, unsurprisingly, technically heavy! The Broadway production featured cast flying, aerial combat and webs!

The Broadway show officially opened on 14th June 2011 having had its opening night postponed several times to give cast and creatives more time to work, perfect and hone the production. A few critics reviewed it on its original opening night and clearly weren’t so impressed.

Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark was known for its catalogue of running problems with actors being injured during stunts and it set the record for the longest Broadway preview period at 182 shows. The critics responses did improve slightly once the show opened but generally most focused on praising the special effects but weren’t overly impressed by the book or the music.

The production closed on 4th January 2014 and held the record for best Broadway sales in a week, taking in almost $3 millon over nine performances.

5. Bonnie & Clyde 

Following the tale of infamous lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, this musical is the story of the outlaws who became almost folk heros during the Great Depression.

The music is by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black and book by Ivan Menchell and is a combination of musical styles including gospel, blues and rock and roll.

Bonnie & Clyde opened on Broadway in December 2011 and the critics were not impressed! Just four weeks later, after spectacularly bad ticket sales, the show closed.

Various productions have since been staged across the world, in Japan, Korea, Germany and Ireland. There have even been two productions in the UK, at ArtsEd and Mountview but it’s never made it to the West End hence it featuring in our list.

4. If/Then

The musical, If/Then, has a libretto by Brian Yorkey and score by Tom Kitt. It is the story of Elizabeth, who at the age of thirty-eight moves back to New York for a fresh start.

Elizabeth meets up with her old friends, Kate and Lucas who both try to give her advice for her future. Kate suggests Elizabeth start using the name ‘Liz’ and that she should explore and find new experiences while Lucas suggests she use her old college nickname, ‘Beth’ and make professional connections to develop herself and her career. The musical shows both paths that Elizabeth’s life can take.

If/Then opened on Broadway on 30th March 2014 and starred Idina Menzel as Elizabeth. Critics heaped praised on Menzel but didn’t seem as impressed by the show. Ticket sales were strong though and the show ran until 22nd March 2015.

The soundtrack was the highest-charting Broadway cast recording since Rent in 1996.

3. It Shoulda Been You

Opening on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 14th April 2015, this is the story of a wedding and the bringing together of two very different families and the comedy that ensues! Cultural clashes, larger than life characters and bags of comedy, this show proved to be a hit with most critics.

Directed by David Hyde Pierce of TV’s Frasier and A Bug’s Life fame the choreographer was Josh Rhodes.

The show ran for 166 performances in total and closed on 9th August 2015. Critically acclaimed the show seems to have done well so we’re not sure why it’s never made it over here.

2. Something Rotten 

Set in 1595, this musical is the story of the Bottom brothers, Nigel and Nick who are struggling to compete in the theatrical world against their contemporary, William Shakespeare!

Officially opening on 22nd April 2015 at the St. James Theatre, Broadway, the show was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won only one Christian Borle took home the gong for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. The cast album was nominated for a 2016 Grammy.

The show ran for 742 performances and closed on 1st January 2017. The critics loved it and ticket sales were reportedly good. The show subsequently went on two US tours but we’re not sure why it has never made it to the UK.

1. Mean Girls 

Based on the 2004 film Mean Girls which was originally based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. The music was written by Jeff Richmond, lyrics by Nell Benjamin, and a book by Tina Fey.

The show opened on 8th April 2018 and has received generally good reviews, especially for Fey’s gags although some reviews say the film doesn’t translate as well into a musical.
A US tour is scheduled to open in September 2019, so who knows, maybe the show will make its way over to us one day…

The below video contains strong language.

Can you think of any other shows that haven’t made it to the West End? Which other shows are you desperate to see?


  1. Newsies NEEDS to be on this list – 1,004 performances on broadway, 784 performances on a US Tour and a fantastic score by Alan Menken ?

  2. Strong list and great subject.

    Boy from Oz, Aida, Capeman also spring to mind but I was lucky enough to see Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed which despite being a dated show was a terrific performance from an actor who’s West End repertoire is sadly all too small.

  3. Whilst Titanic was done at Southwark and played at Charing Cross it hasn’t had the full West End treatment. But more alarming neither has Nine had the full treatment. We had the amazing concert at the Festival Hall and the Donmars production but nothing else. Does London not like Maury Yeston?

  4. Aida (Elton John and Tin Rice)

    Saw it on Broadway with Adam Pascal, Heather Headley and Sherie Rene Scott – wonderful score!


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