PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2009, 12:00am

Curtain up

Did you go and see the musical Cats when it played in Hong Kong recently? Have you heard of the show Phantom of the Opera? Did you see the play Amadeus back in September? If you did, you are a real theatre buff.

These three shows began life in the West End of London and then moved to Broadway in New York before they came to Hong Kong.

London's West End and New York's Broadway are the theatre centres of the world. Each year, more than 25 million people see shows in the 80 theatres of the West End and Broadway. Let's go to the theatre!

Welcome to the West End

The West End is in central London. Between seven and eight o'clock every evening apart from Sunday, the area is swarming with people on their way to see a show.

Most of the theatres in the West End were built more than 100 years ago. They are beautiful buildings both inside and out, with very ornate decoration in the foyer, around the stage and in the auditorium.

West End shows have a couple of matinee performances a week, usually at two o'clock on Saturday and Wednesday afternoons. Evening shows start at seven-thirty or eight o'clock.

The lights of Broadway

New York's Broadway is in midtown Manhattan. The main theatre street that cuts through the area is nicknamed The Great White Way.

The theatres on Broadway are not as elaborate as the ones in the West End, but they usually have massive neon signs outside advertising the show and the stars in it. Broadway's lights are world-famous.

Broadway shows usually start at eight o'clock on Tuesday to Saturday, with matinee performances at two on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. When theatres are closed on a Monday, they are said to be 'dark'.

What shall we see?

If you want to see a show in the West End or on Broadway, you should book well ahead because a lot of shows are sold out weeks in advance. Most Broadway and West End shows have open-ended runs which means that they will play as long as they make a profit.

A hit show like Cats that opens first in London will almost always transfer to Broadway. A successful New York show like Wicked will move quickly to London.

Musicals run longer than plays, but the longest running show in the West End is a thriller called The Mousetrap. It opened in 1952 and is still packing them in.

now do this

Word power

What are the meanings of these words or phrases?

1 back in September

a. last September

b. next September

2 a theatre buff

a. someone who knows nothing about theatre

b. someone who knows a lot about theatre

3. packing them in

a. attracting a large number of people

b. making little money

4 swarming with people

a. very busy

b. empty

5 ornate

a. having a lot of complicated decoration

b. having very simple decoration

6 a matinee

a. a show in the evening

b. a show in the afternoon

7 open-ended

a. having no set finishing date

b. starting on the first of the month

8 a run

a. an evening show in a theatre

b. the number of days, weeks, months or years that a film or show is on at a theatre or cinema

Your turn

Have you been to the theatre?

Would you prefer to see a show as a film or live on stage?

What advantages does a live show have over a movie?

Why do you think shows like Phantom of the Opera and Cats are so popular?

Would you like to see more Broadway and West End shows in Hong Kong? Would there be an audience for them?


October 20

Total sport: 1.d, 2. g, 3. a, 4. f, 5. h, 6. e, 7. b, 8. c

Extreme sport: 3, 4, 5, 7

X Games: annual, focuses, adrenaline-rush, Summer, currently, devised, organisers, contestants, cash, high