Adrienne Warren in Tina - The Tina Turner Musical (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Our West End World Cup XI

By Robin Johnson, Published June 18, 2018

In case you hadn’t heard… there’s a lot of football going on right now. A whole month of it on television, in fact.

But we’re not convinced theatre and football can’t go hand in hand, not least because we’ve a theory that – if we wanted to – the West End could win the whole competition. Not convinced? Hear us out – just try and dispute the undeniable mad skillz of this, our West End World Cup XI.

Goalkeeper: Elphaba (Wicked)

A decade or so ago, a trend began to emerge in the colour of goalkeepers’ shirts: make them a bright enough colour, and they just might distract opposition strikers enough to make them fluff their shots.

And while the West End World Cup XI’s kit would, of course, be eye-catching regardless, what better to put opposing teams off than the evergreen presence of the Wicked Witch of the West herself, Elphaba, in goal?

Plus, for a goalkeeper, being able to Defy Gravity is a pretty nifty trait.

Central Defence: Enjolras (Les Misérables) & Lola (Kinky Boots)

Les Misérables is the longest-running of the London musicals

Some of the greatest strikers of all time are taking part in this year’s World Cup. So to stop the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and co., the West End will need a defence solid as a brick wall, quick as a flash, and impregnable… as a barricade. There’s only one leading man to martial that; Les Misérables’ revolutionary central defender, Enjolras.

Alongside him, we’ll want a central defender with real presence to let those strikers know they’re in for a match. And who could possibly handle themselves with more style and charisma under such pressure than Kinky Boots’ iconic leading lady, Lola? Let’s just hope those stilettos don’t sink into the turf…

Full-backs: Disney’s Aladdin & Matilda

Disney's Aladdin at The Prince Edward Film (Photo: Johan Persson)

Full-backs often spend the whole match bombing up and down the wings, attacking and defending all game long. It can be an exhausting position to play – so having the option of hitching a ride on a magic carpet should mean our right-back, Aladdin, could put his boisterous energy into hitting the back of the net instead.

On the left of defence, we’d play Matilda, the central character of the RSC’s brilliant musical. Although concerns would arise over her tendency to collect yellow cards (“sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty!” doesn’t always wash well with referees), her ability to float crosses into the box – quite literally – would make her an unstoppable attacking threat.

Centre Midfield: The Phantom Of The Opera & Tina Turner (captain)

Ben Lewis (The Phantom) and Kelly Mathieson (Christine Daae) in The Phantom Of The Opera London (Photo: Johan Persson)
Adrienne Warren in Tina - The Tina Turner Musical (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

To control a match, your central midfielders need to be everywhere, at all times. And as anybody who tried staging a show at the Paris Opera House in the early 21st century could tell you, that’s The Phantom Of The Opera’s speciality. Even better, his chant’s already sorted: “The Phaaaantom of the Opera is there… retaining possession!”

Partnering our ubiquitous Phantom in our West End World Cup XI is a singer who knows the definition of world-conquering success. With Tina Turner powering our midfield, we’d be Rolling Like A River through midfield. And why captain? Well, that’s cause she’s Simply The Best.

Right wing: Harry Potter (Harry Potter And The Cursed Child)

Jamie Ballard in Harry Potter And The Cursed Child (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

Holland’s Johan Cruyff. Brazil’s Ronaldinho. England’s Raheem Sterling (fingers crossed). On the wings, you need somebody who can conjure up a bit of magic to inspire the rest of the team – a wing wizard, if you will. Name a better wizard than Harry Potter. We’ll wait.

(Ah, and with #KeepTheSecrets in full swing, we should probably promise: Harry’s newfound football ability isn’t a Cursed Child spoiler… or is it?! (It’s not.))

Left wing: Rico (Strictly Ballroom The Musical)

Latin flair. Dazzling footwork. Plays a great Pass(odoble). Rico – Fran’s Dad – from Strictly Ballroom The Musical is tough as nails, plays with pride, and has all the makings of a riveting left winger.

Centre forward: Aaron Burr (Hamilton) & Roxie Hart (Chicago)

Giles Terera (Aaron Burr) with the West End cast of Hamilton
Sarah Soetaert and Josefina Gabrielle in Chicago (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

A great centre forward knows that it’s not all about scoring goals: you have to have patience, skill, and the ability to time your run into the box to beat the offside rule. Great timing is a quality possessed in abundance by Hamilton‘s Aaron Burr, who’d be the perfect man to spot a moment and… Wait For It.

Patience aside, when the ball’s in the box, we’ll need a talisman who can put it in the back of the net. Luckily for us, when Chicago’s Roxie Hart shoots, she doesn’t miss.

Substitutes:

  • Dewey Finn (School Of Rock – The Musical) – The greatest substitute ever, according to his pupils.
  • Peggy Sawyer (42nd Street) – Peggy’s well used to saving disastrous situations at the 11th hour.
  • Simba (Disney’s The Lion King) – If he’s not too busy representing England (The Three Lions), Simba would make an excellent (if slightly unpredictable!) option off the bench.
  • Jim Sturgeon (Brief Encounter) – Rather than play full games, Jim tends to prefer only making fleeting appearances.
  • The Comedy About A Bank Robbery cast – If all else fails, they’ll find another way to snag the trophy!

Manager: Berry Gordy (Motown The Musical)

Producing a generation of worldwide stars? There’s only one man for the job: Motown The Musical‘s Berry Gordy knows a thing or two about leaving a global legacy.

Not enjoying the World Cup? Book your London theatre tickets for the next month instead!