The West End is renowned throughout the world for producing fabulous musicals and amazing plays, but did you know these surprising and obscure facts?

  1. The first West End Theatre opened in 1663 (although a Playhouse used by Shakespeare had been opened in Shoreditch in 1567) but it was only from the 1800s that the area really established itself as Theatreland.

2. The longest-running musical in the West End is Les Misérables, which opened in September 1985.

3. The Theatre Royal Haymarket appointed John Gielgud as the fire warden for the Theatre during the Blitz. 167 bombs were dropped on the West End during World War II.

4. Bob Fosse, the world-famous Choreographer, was the first person to win a Tony, Oscar and Emmy Award all in the same year – 1973!

5. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim share the same birthday, 22nd March, although Sondheim is eighteen years older.

6. Ivor Novello lived above the Novello Theatre for nearly 40 years.

7. Before becoming Pope, Pope John Paul II, wrote a play titled, The Jeweller’s Shop, which was performed at the Westminster Theatre in 1982! It was also made into a movie!

8. In 1992, under the pseudonym Doctor Spin, Andrew Lloyd Webber released a single called Tetris which made the Top 10!

9. It is believed that 1 in 10 people in the UK have seen the musical Mamma Mia! in the West End. It is the longest-running jukebox musical on the West End.

10. Phantom of the Opera opened in London in 1986. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber was so nervous about the premier of the production, he left the theatre and couldn’t watch! He didn’t have too much to worry about – the musical is so popular it has been seen by over 140 million people!

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