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Live performances of top shows

Stomp at last year's West End Live Credit: West End Live

Stars of the West End will gather in Trafalgar Square this weekend for the annual theatre and musical festival West End LIVE – a weekend of free entertainment from London’s topshows and the largest event of its type in the UK.

More than half a million people are expected to gather for live performances from West End favourites like Billy Elliot The Musical, Jersey Boys, Disney’s The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Matilda The Musical, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, War Horse and Wicked.

There will also be an exclusive preview of new musical From Here To Eternity on Saturday introduced by the legendary lyricist Sir Tim Rice.


"Curious Incident" tops Olivier Award nominations

The nominations for this year's Olivier Awards have been published today - and leading the field is The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

The National Theatre production, based on the hit murder mystery novel about a boy with Asperger's syndrome, has been named in eight categories, including Best Actor, New Play, and Director.

The toe-tapping new musical Top Hat follows in second place, with seven nominations, while the West End transfer of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Sweeney Todd is also in close competition with six.

The Olivier Awards are seen as the most prestigious awards in British theatre - and have even been dubbed the "Oscars" of the West End.

Stars turn out for opening night of Book of Mormon

Damian Lewis arrives with his partner Helen McCrory for the opening night of the Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The hit Broadway show "The Book of Mormon" opened in London's West End last night.

Stars, including the cast of Downton Abbey and actor Damien Lewis, flocked to the Prince of Wales Theatre.

The no holds barred musical is from the creators of US TV show South Park.

Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern poses on the red carpet. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire


Theatre society 'astonished' at West End takings

Society of LondonTheatre president Mark Rubinstein said:

"I am delighted that for the ninth year running we are able to report year-on-year growth in ticket income for London Theatres.

"It is particularly astonishing that we are able to report increasing sales - of over half a billion pounds - for a year that we always knew would have exceptional challenges.

"Against the background of a tough economic climate, London theatre continues to buck the trend, offering dazzling, world-class entertainment, which has audiences from both home and abroad flocking to the West End to catch exciting new productions as well as much-loved long running favourites."

Theatreland defies fears of Olympic slump

New productions such as "The Bodyguard" have been credited with boosting ticket sales. Credit: Adelphi Theatre.

London's theatres enjoyed an increase in box office takings last year, despite fears that the Olympics would hit business.

Andrew Lloyd Webber had predicted that the Games would create a "bloodbath of a summer" in the capital's theatreland - but audience numbers for 2012 were actually up slightly on the previous year.

According to the Society of London Theatre, box offices sales set a new record at almost £530 million - up 0.27% on 2011 - and attendances increased by 0.56% to nearly 14 million. Although audiences for musicals dropped by 2%, that was made up for by an increase in those attending plays.

The Society said that the Olympics did have some impact, with venues closing on the night of the opening ceremony and fewer performances being staged in August. However, more tickets were sold for the first week of the Games than during the 2011 Royal Wedding week.

New productions such as Top Hat, Sweeney Todd and The Bodyguard, have been credited with helping to boost sales, along with ongoing hits like One Man, Two Guvnors and Matilda The Musical.

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