Whether you’re into pop-rock smash hits or classic film adaptations, musicals are an enjoyable way to experience arts and culture in any city. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the best locations around the world to see (and sing along to) a musical.
São Paulo, Brazil
One of Brazil's foremost musical venues, the São Paulo Municipal Theater
An ever-expanding city of culture, São Paulo has begun importing and adapting famous musicals from around the world. Teatro Renault is a favourite location for theatre travellers, hosting most of the Broadway shows in Brazil; it seats over 1,500 visitors and saw Les Misérables return to São Paulo after 16 years, premiering with the theatre façade illuminated by the colours of the French flag. Elsewhere, tucked in between grey office blocks, Teatro Municipal is one of the most celebrated cultural venues in South America. Heavily influenced by the architecture of Paris’ Opera House, the theatre has a special appeal. Recently restored, you can take a free guided tour of the building and delve into its dramatic history. Spaces are limited, so be sure to sign up before you arrive. The Blue Tree Premium Verbo Divino – Nações Unidas is great for travellers looking for fine dining and entertainment in São Paulo.
New York, New York
The bright lights of Times Square and Broadway, New York
Start your musical journey at one of New York's longest-running venues, the New Amsterdam Theatre. Now leased by the Walt Disney company, this is the place to watch classic animated films come to life in a flurry of costumes and animatronics. The building’s Art Nouveau architecture and decor makes the experience feel especially grand, so it makes sense that the New Amsterdam was once home to the Ziegfeld Follies, a series of glitzy and glamorous theatrical productions that transformed the Broadway musical genre in the early 20th century. Further afield than Broadway, the New World Stages is theatre for high-quality musicals away from bustling streets. This tucked-away venue has hosted shows like the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q and Jersey Boys. Guests are also allowed to take drinks into the shows, so you can enjoy The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking with cocktail in hand. Stay at the citizenM Times Square for easy access to the theatres and a rooftop balcony with views of the city.
London, United Kingdom
The colonnaded facade of the Old Vic, London
Head to London’s West End to find the city’s biggest and best theatres. The Old Vic is an independent, not-for-profit theatre which prides itself on its high quality music and comedy shows. Celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018, the theatre is recognisable for its Victorian windows, colonnaded and crested facade and impressive casting history. The likes of Laurence Olivier, Judi Dench and Daniel Radcliffe (to name a few) have graced the stage – cementing the theatre’s highbrow reputation in the world of show business. Situated next to the riverbank, the Black Prince 2 Bedroom Apartment is ideal for Old Vic visitors, being only a 20-minute walk away. If you want to venture outside of the West End, there are multiple intimate venues around London. The Finborough seats only 50 people and, from the street, looks more like a traditional English pub than a theatre. Musicals here are often based on new, thought-provoking texts, earning the company and actors a lengthy list of awards.
Stage Theater an der Elbe and Stage Theater im Hafen, on the River Elbe in Hamburg
Hamburg is starting to compete with New York and London for the title of the world’s leading musical metropolis. The city’s Theatre im Hafen sits on the Norderelbe River, is reachable by boat and best known for its iconic production of Der König der Löwen (the Lion King), which has been running for 16 years. Back on dry land, the famous Reeperbahn street – Hamburg’s red light and entertainment district – is home to Theater Neue Flora, one of Germany’s largest theatres. The 1920s-style theatre spreads across four floors and is known for putting on flamboyant musicals, such as Aladdin. Elsewhere on the Reeperbahn, the Stage Operettenhaus has a long history in the musical world, having survived a fire and three name changes. Rocky – the stage version of the film starring Sylvester Stallone – played here for three years and was widely celebrated by critics. If you’re visiting overnight, stay at the Henri Hotel Hamburg Downtown and explore the 930 metres of clubs, bars, theatres and hedonism the Reeperbahn is home to.
Sydney Opera House is a phenomenal venue for seeing a musical
Stand underneath the famous sails of the Sydney Opera House, where musicals dazzle the stage. One particularly popular show here, Miracle City, an uplifting and hilarious performance with big characters, voices and hair, is claimed to be the predecessor to The Book of Mormon. Leave a little time for a pit stop at the Opera bar, boasting to be the best beer garden in the world, where you can sip champagne while overlooking Sydney’s gorgeous bridge and harbour. Spend the night at Cremorne Point Manor and view the Opera House from the sun-drenched balcony. Over in Haymarket, Capitol Theatre is known for its unusual décor; a dark blue, starry ceiling covers the stage hall, and sculptures line the edges of the auditorium, transporting any theatre-goer to the ancient classical world. But don’t be fooled, Capitol Theatre isn’t just for tragic endings, their programme includes a collection of modern musicals such as Jersey Boys and The Wizard of Oz.