Please sign in to post.

Phantom or Les Mis in London with Teenage Boys?

Hello! We will be in London for a few days this summer. We would like to "drag" our teenage boys to Phantom or Les Mis. My wife and I have seen Phantom on broadway but have not seen Les Mis. The boys have only seen Lion King. Any recommendations? (Besides leaving the boys at the hotel where they would likely prefer spending time on their phones.) Thanks!

Posted by
1393 posts

You know your teenagers best. So you should also know which musical, if any, they like best.
Or even better; ask them which one they like to see. If you search online you can easily find previews of both musicals. Show these to them and ask which one they prefer.

Posted by
192 posts

Perhaps ask them what they would like to see. I can’t imagine they are the demographic that those two shows target.

If “Dear England” is still on I would suggest that. Everybody in the audience of all ages seemed to love it and there are no cheesy songs.

Posted by
1291 posts

Very off topic but Standing at the Skies Edge is getting due praises.
I notice tickets are reasonable.

Mr Hawley is a fine man.

Posted by
11 posts

If your boys like spectacle and costumes, they might like Phantom, but it's much more focused on romance. Les Mis has an entire rebellion in the middle of it which they might find more exciting. (Yes, this is a very stereotypical take on it.) But I second Dutch_traveler, it's very easy to find videos of the stage versions on Youtube or play some of the music for them and see what they think.

Posted by
1070 posts

Both of those are getting PRETTY old now and would probably only engage your teenagers if they are already theatre kids.

Any red-blooded teenager would love the musical SIX, about the six wives of Henry VIII, done in a pop-music / comedy concert style. Very visual.

Shows more aimed to a teen audience include:

  • Matilda (if they are younger teens)
  • The Play That Goes Wrong (the most hilarious thing you've ever seen on stage)
  • Wicked (our kids loved it, they were 9 and 18 when we went)
  • Moulin Rouge (I haven't seen it, but everyone seems to like it, another one with pop music)
  • Hamilton (an oldy but a goody)
Posted by
4062 posts

Both musical dramas you mention have their high points but take a long time to hit them, especially the marathon Les Mis (known to some English cynics as The Glums). For something completely different, The Play That Goes Wrong has turned into a permanent attraction, thoroughly inane slapstick comedy performed at a dead run. It's amazing the cast survive the two hours of knockabout jokes.

Posted by
689 posts

I agree with the recommendation to check the Time Out reviews. We’ve consistently been very happy with the shows we’re seen based on their strong positive reviews. Conversely, we once opted to see a performance despite their lukewarm review and had to admit they were spot on.

If you want to stick with your original options, I’d choose Les Mis. We saw it with my son in London when he was 11 and he loved it. The music is so much better than the music in Phantom, and the story, while longer, is more compelling. Have you listened to the music yet? That might help inform your choice.

Posted by
20 posts

I agree with some of the other posters that these shows are on the "heavy" side if your kids aren't into theater. They have slow sections and can feel a bit long and are not exactly the most lighthearted productions. I haven't seen the full scale version of The Play That Goes Wrong, but the even the local show we saw last summer was very entertaining. Six has also been mentioned, which I think would be another good option of more contemporary catchy tunes that will stick in your head. We were just in London two weeks ago - we weren't able to make the timing work but the stage version of Back to the Future looked really fun. It's new to US Broadway (I don't think has started a nationwide tour yet), so it would be new to everyone in the family. I'm not sure if it's currently playing in London, but Beetlejuice would be another good entertaining choice if available.

Posted by
366 posts

I took my teenage daughters to see The Play that Goes Wrong, Six, and Mama Mia. They were all great! I think boys might appreciate The Play that Goes Wrong more than the other two. I'm going to be in London later this month with my 15 year old daughter and she wants to see The Book of Mormon, so we're seeing that. I've heard it's a bit risque, but we'll see!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for all of the great advice.

I played a few more show tunes for our teenage sons and they are now begging us not to go to the theatre and to instead visit a football stadium. So it looks like we may be spending time at Stamford Bridge or Arsenal and not Les Mis or Phantom. Perhaps my wife and I can see a show by ourselves.

Thanks again for your help.

Posted by
101 posts

If they change their mind.

You say teenage, but that is an extensive range. Are they 13, or are they 19?
If they are 16 or above, or you are willing to have them see a show that is a bit risque in some areas, they would love the Book of Mormon. It was written by the same people who created South Park. It has to be the funniest play I have ever seen. Several years ago, it won the Tony for best musical.
I can't recommend this play enough.
Another choice for a more tame show that is still very good is Wicked. It tells the story of the wicked witch, but from her view. They are making a movie of it right now.

Posted by
4062 posts

Some football stadiums around London may have tours but match tickets are hard to obtain and even more pricey than the theatre.

Posted by
8821 posts

Offering another theatre option:

Agatha Christie’s Witness for The Prosecution.

Not a musical. Murder Mystery.

Play is set in an actual courtroom.

EDIT: Do they like tennis? The tour of Wimbledon
is very well done.

Posted by
8 posts

My kids like Les MIs more than Phantom, as I've dragged them to a few shows myself. Its more "fun", and in our opinion, just a better show. Someone above mentioned Six. I might suggest it as an option too because its short. Its a super fun show and they can get back to being sullen teenage boys and experience a show in London.

Posted by
19 posts

How about Starlight Express? It’s a musical on roller skates and they have ramps that go around the theater which is unique. I saw it when I was 15 years old on my first trip to London 35 years ago and I’ve never forgotten it (I also saw Les Mis and it was a huge snooze fest then though I would love to see it as an adult… it is quite long). I’m excited to see it this summer with my family after all this time.

Posted by
980 posts

Unless your kids have a particular affinity with a football team I would say that Tottenham Hotspur’s ground is much the best to do a tour of.

Posted by
274 posts

If you haven't already made your choice I'd throw seeing Hamilton in to the mix. My teenagers loved it! The topic is timely as most teens are studying American History, the music is hip-hop contemporary, and it resonantes across generations.