See award-winning works by acclaimed writers in the West End

See award-winning works by acclaimed writers in the West End

There are many award-winning shows to see in London. Long-running musicals such as Wicked and The Book of Mormon have even won Olivier Award-winning musicals because of their audience appeal. London’s stately plays such as The Woman in Black and The Mousetrap continue to attract theatregoers even though they’ve collectively ran for over a century. Creating an excellent production requires many factors; however, the show’s story is critical to ensuring an excellent show.

Plenty of award-winning writers have penned theatrical masterpieces for London theatres. Discover more about the writers involved in hit shows such as Mamma Mia!, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Find out more about the award-winning writers who create West End shows.

Book tickets to West End shows on London Theatre.

Catherine Johnson — Mamma Mia!

The 1999 musical Mamma Mia! is one of the West End’s iconic jukebox musicals. The hit musical leans on lyrics in its material — in this case, ABBA songs — to propel the story along, while featuring an original, uplifting plot about a woman looking to find her real father before her wedding. It’s even more incredible then that such a smash hit like Mamma Mia! was its creator’s musical debut. Catherine Johnson came up with the Mamma Mia! story in the late 1990s, and the musical eventually premiered at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999.

Even though Mamma Mia! didn’t win the Olivier for Best New Musical, the musical still exploded into the cultural zeitgeist, with productions opening up on Broadway and around the world. And you’ve probably seen Meryl Streep and Colin Firth in the Mamma Mia! film adaptation, too. There’s even a theatre award named after Catherine Johnson. In 2007, she established the Catherine Johnson Award for Best Play as part of the Pearson Playwrights’ Scheme. 

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The American playwright and screenwriter Katori Hall is a multi-award-winning theatre creator. Notably, she earned a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2021 for her play The Hot Wing King, which premiered in New York. West End audiences can experience Katori Hall’s incredible storytelling at Tina: The Tina Turner Musical — she’s transformed Tina Turner’s life into a piece of musical theatre. Tina: The Tina Turner Musical received Olivier and Tony nominations for Best New Musical, and the show continues in its fourth year in London. 

Prior to Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Hall made history as the first Black woman to win an Olivier Award for Best New Play for The Mountaintop. Hall’s plays are regularly performed in London; previously, her plays Our Lady of Kibeho and Hurt Village have been staged in Off-West End theatres. Experience Katori Hall’s work now at Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.

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Matilda the Musical is based on Roald Dahl’s seminal children’s novel, which follows a gifted child named Matilda Wormwood as she tries to prove herself to her family and headmistress. However, Dennis Kelly created the Matilda musical plot. Matilda marked Dennis Kelly’s West End premiere, as prior to Matilda, his works were staged in Off-West End venues and in festivals — GCSE students often perform his 2010 play DNA.

Matilda the Musical put Dennis Kelly firmly on the musical map. Kelly won an Olivier, a Tony, a Drama Desk, and a South Bank Sky Arts Award for his Matilda book. Since Matilda, Dennis Kelly’s musical adaptations include a 2013 translation of From Morning to Midnight and a 2017 adaptation of Pinocchio.

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When you first think of Dear Evan Hansen, you may think of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s original Dear Evan Hansen songs such as “Waving Through a Window” and “You Will Be Found.” But no musical is complete without a cutting-edge storyline, and Steven Levenson’s thoughtful writing in Dear Evan Hansen ensures the musical is a stand-out show.

The American television writer and playwright is a successful writer: His 2013 play The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin won a John Gassner Playwriting Award, and his 2017 play If I Forget earned an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway play. However, Dear Evan Hansen saw Levenson win a flurry of awards, including a coveted Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. More awards may be coming Levenson’s way, as he’s nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for tick, tick… boom! starring Andrew Garfield.

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Jack Thorne is a multi-award-winning English playwright and screenwriter. Thorne collaborated with the Harry Potter novelist J. K. Rowling on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first to be presented on stage. Even though the Harry Potter films were finished, there was still an appetite for all things Hogwarts. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won a record-breaking nine Oliviers in 2017 and continues to stun audiences in the West End.

Thorne isn’t a one-trick pony, though. His adaptation of A Christmas Carol will play its sixth consecutive year at the Old Vic in 2022, and the Broadway transfer of A Christmas Carol earned Thorne a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Adaptation. Thorne also served as a writer for many acclaimed television series, such as This is England ’90 and His Dark Materials, winning BAFTAs and a Rose d’Or in the process. 

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Lolita Chakrabarti — Life of Pi

At the moment, audiences can see Chakrabarti’s work on stage at Life of Pi. Chakrabarti adapted Yann Martel’s Booker-winning novel, Life of Pi, which premiered at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 2019. Life of Pi won Best Play at the UK Theatre Awards, and now it’s at the Wyndham’s Theatre.

However, Chakrabarti’s 2012 play Red Velvet previously earned the British playwright critical acclaim too. Red Velvet received an Olivier nomination for Best Play, and Red Velvet has been staged across the United States and back in the West End in 2016.

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While Aaron Sorkin hasn’t won any awards for his To Kill a Mockingbird stage adaptation — yet — Sorkin’s ability to bring a story to life through words is unparalleled. His 2010 film The Social Network won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and he’s also received Oscar nominations for films such as Moneyball, Molly’s Game, and The Last of the Chicago 7. 

Sorkin’s early 2000s political drama, The West Wing, is perhaps his best-known work. Throughout the show’s seven seasons, The West Wing creators and actors earned three Golden Globe Awards and 26 Emmy Awards, with Sorkin winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for four consecutive years from 2000 – 2003. Now, you can see Sorkin’s work on stage at To Kill a Mockingbird in London.

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Did you know that three Mike Bartlett plays will play in London this spring? COCK, The 47th, and Scandaltown will be staged at the Ambassadors Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith, and the Old Vic respectively. His 2009 play COCK won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. But it’s his ability to write satirically that’s cemented Bartlett’s theatrical prestige. In particular, his 2014 play King Charles III earned a Critics Circle Award for Best Play. You may have also seen Bartlett’s stories play out on television: His 2015 series, Doctor Foster, went on to win Best New Drama at the National Television Awards.

Book COCK tickets on London Theatre.

Book The 47th tickets on London Theatre.

Book Scandaltown tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credit: Katori Hall and Jack Thorne (Photos courtesy of Katori Hall and by Gage Skidmore on Flickr)

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