22 West End musical cast recordings to get you through quarantine, from Phantom of the Opera to Six

Jessie Thompson, Zoe Paskett

A little music will always help to get you through.

The West End shut all of its doors and we don't know exactly when they'll open again, so many of us are missing out on much anticipated theatre trips.

If the thought of getting through the days without musical theatre is too much to bear, we're with you and are finding the next best thing.

We've brought together all of the cast recordings you need to whisk you back to the West End, and the top tracks from each.

Matilda

This year marks a decade since Tim Minchin’s glorious musical version of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s book first hit the stage. It’s a favourite fixture for London audiences; for now we have the cast recording to remind us of the magic and mischief of the show, featuring the original West End cast (including Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull).

Key track: When I Grow Up, to remind you of the brilliant optimism and resilience of kids.

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Les Miserables

(Johan Persson)

Les Miserables isn’t the most uplifting of shows, but it’s certainly one of the most popular, running in the West End for more than 30 years. A number of less than happy lives intertwine in this intense story set in 19th century France, and it’s best appreciated with the original West End stage cast – Patti LuPone, Colm Wilkinson and Michael Ball? Yes, please.

Key track: On My Own, pretending he's beside me but... he's also self-isolating.

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Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom seems more relatable than ever – a man hiding out in the bowels of a theatre, definitely keeping more than two metres away from everyone. The huge success of Phantom of the Opera reaches all around the world – soundtracks have been recorded in at least 10 languages, but we’re fond of the West End 1987 one.

Key track: All I Ask of You... is that you stay two metres away from me.

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Six

From start to finish, Six is a complete whirlwind. The musical made big waves as soon as it opened in London, gaining an almost popstar-like following. No wonder: the story has Henry VIII’s six wives turn into a girl band to tell their own narratives about life with the Tudor king. Writers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote each song inspired by a different artist – Beyonce, Lily Allen and Ariana Grand – so listen and have a guess.

Key track: Ex-Wives is the opening number and after that, you won’t be able to stop.

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Dear Evan Hansen

(Matthew Murphy)

It only arrived in the West End last November, but this gentle musical about a teen with social anxiety has already been a hit thanks to songs from Greatest Showman songwriters Pasek and Paul. Sam Tutty plays the lead in London, but you can hear Ben Platt, who originated the role on Broadway, in the original cast recording.

Key track: Waving Through A Window, now absurdly relevant to all our lives.

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Be More Chill

This cult fan fave musical about a boy with a supercomputer in his head went viral back when that just meant “lots of people listening to it on the internet”. It got its UK premiere at The Other Palace earlier this year, where it was due to run until May; if you missed the chance to see it, the original cast recording is on Spotify.

Key track: Michael in the Bathroom is the standout song on this bleepy bloopy soundtrack.

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Hamilton

There’s no other musical like it. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show tells the story of American forefather Alexander Hamilton in what’s undoubtedly the most interesting history lesson you’ll ever have. It’s rapped and sung-through from start to finish, so listening to the soundtrack is almost like being there.

Key track: It’s Quiet Uptown is a heartbreakingly simple moment (and it's very quite uptown at the moment).

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The Lion King

(Deen Van Meer)

The stage version of Disney favourite the Lion King has all of those songs you already know – Circle of Life, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King and Can You Feel The Love Tonight – with plenty more, thanks to Elton John. This musical has been wowing audiences in London with its ingenious costumes and props since 1999, but it’s the music that makes it truly special.

Key track: Be Prepared – good advice, always.

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Waitress

What a triumph this is for a first musical – singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles penned the music and lyrics for the uplifting tale. Lucie Jones was starring in the London run until the theatre closed, but the original cast recording has Jessie Mueller’s soaring voice showcasing pie-maker Jenna’s truly beautiful ballads. Now that the musical has announced it won't reopen in London, there's all the more reason to get stuck into the songs.

Key track: She Used To Be Mine, the big 11 o'clock number when Jenna mourns the person she once was.

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Book of Mormon

From the creators of South Park, Book of Mormon is definitely one of those show’s that isn’t to everyone’s tastes. But those who love it go time and again to spend a couple of hours with a pair of idealistic Mormons who travel across the world to attempt to gain some new converts.

Key track: You and Me (But Mostly Me), “as long as we stick together / and I stay out of your way” – an example for us all.

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Musicals don’t come much more joyful than this one. It’s based on a true story and follows 16-year-old Jamie New who dreams of being a drag queen. Original Jamie John McCrea sings on this soundtrack, performing songs written by The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie Sells.

Key track: And You Don’t Even Know It is when Jamie tells us exactly what he wants.

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Wicked

(Matt Crockett)

The villains are always the most interesting part of a story and The Wizard of Oz would have been nothing without its wicked witch. This bombastic show turns that story on its head to give her some much-needed airtime. Wicked’s original soundtrack features the iconic vocal pairing of Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenowerth as the two witches, who go on a twisting journey in their friendship.

Key track: Defying Gravity, because we’d never pick anything over it.

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& Juliet

Britney, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson – what more could you want in a jukebox musical? Juliet revels in her independence in this new musical about life after Romeo. Hear Miriam-Teak Lee, Cassidy Janson and more having the time of their lives on this original cast recording.

Key track: Since U Been Gone takes on a whole new meaning.

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Mary Poppins

What could be more comforting right now than a practically perfect magical nanny sorting everything out? The nation’s nanny is played by Zizi Strallen in the West End, singing all the songs we love from the movie – A Spoonful of Sugar and Jolly Holiday – with many more. But the original cast recording features the equally lovely Laura Michelle Kelly.

Key track: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, because sometimes there are no words.

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Mamma Mia!

(Matt Crockett)

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have been comfort-streaming the film adaptation (and subsequent sequel) ever since things got a bit serious. But this jukebox musical based on the songs of ABBA started life on stage. The original cast recording from 1999 brings back the West End memories, but we also can never resist hearing Colin Firth sing Dancing Queen on the film soundtrack.

Key track: The Winner Takes It All is when Donna Sheridan really puts it all on the line.

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Come From Away

We all love a tale of people coming to each other’s aid in a crisis. This is a surprisingly upbeat musical about the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when 7,000 air passengers were stranded in Newfoundland, Canada. The music is infused with the spirit of the place, combining the usual musical vibes with traditional Newfoundland sounds.

Key track: Stop The World, a lovely moment where time stands still.

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9 to 5 the Musical

The famous Dolly Parton film from 1980 gets a stage makeover, and of course contains the iconic tune. Like the film, it follows three colleagues who team up against their sexist boss. Parton herself has been closely involved with the musical, writing a host of new songs, which you can hear on the original West End soundtrack with Amber Davies , Caroline Sheen and Natalie McQueen singing live.

Key track: 9 to 5, what else?

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Tina: The Tina Turner Story

(Manuel Harlan)

Tina Turner has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in music history, so this is a jukebox musical with some serious power behind it. The original star Adrienne Warren is no less than a dynamo, and does every single one of Turner’s songs justice on the cast recording.

Key track: Shake A Tailfeather, so you can get up and dance.

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Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman didn’t get very long in the West End before theatres closed – just two weeks. Aimie Atkinson is Vivian Ward in the musical version of the 1990 film that made Julia Roberts a household name, but the show debuted on Broadway with Samantha Barks as the lead. She’s who you'll hear on the original cast recording.

Key track: Anywhere But Here. “I long to be free. I just want to be anywhere but here” – we hear you, girl.

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City of Angels

Sadly, the much-anticipated return of Josie Rourke’s production never got the chance to open before the theatres shut their doors – but we’ll enjoy it all the more when it does. The musical is a love letter to old Hollywood, which weaves two stories together: one of a writer trying to turn his book into a screenplay and the other of the film he is writing.

Key track: You’re Nothing Without Me, and imagine Theo James and Hadley Fraser dueting.

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The Prince of Egypt

(Matt Crockett)

The Prince of Egypt was another new West End opening cut short – it enjoyed just two weeks at the Dominion before the theatre closed. Luckily, the cast recording had already been made, so it’s a good chance to get to know all of the songs before it returns. The cast, full of unrivalled voices, perform plenty of new numbers alongside the classics from the film; Deliver Us opens the album in a suitably bombastic way.

Key track: When You Believe, there can be miracles.

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