I never considered myself a theater person and yet I've written and produced two of my own musicals that played in Hollywood. I'm not an expert on theater and yet I've spent countless hours enjoying a wide range of productions in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, London and even Buenos Aires.
I think it's like most things; you don't know what you like until you see something you really like. After enjoying a production of "Chicago" in Los Angeles I was inspired; when I went to London for my second trip in 1998 and saw "Les Miserables" I was hooked. I've sought out exciting theater wherever and whenever I can since then.
In 2003 I took a UC Berkely "study abroad" course in London that had me living in Soho, within walking distance of most of the major theaters in the West End. For three magical weeks a group of us "students" would venture out to a specific roster of shows set up by the school and the next morning we would attend intimate lectures by cast, crew, writers, directors and artisans from the shows we'd just seen. (Favorite quote by an actor, "You haven't lived until you've had Ralph Fienne's spittle fly into your face in the front row of the Haymarket Theatre in Ibsen's 'Brand.'" I can honestly say this is true!)
In 2010 I "programmed" my own such course and spent three unbelievable weeks seeing as many shows as I had time, money and energy to enjoy.
My experiences taught me some things about London's West End I hope might be of use to someone planning a trip or just interested in the subject matter.