Theatre tickets are notoriously expensive and have been written off as unaffordable to many. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. We have a few tips for ensuring you get the best price possible so that London’s theatres become more accessible.
As a general rule, always go through the theatres’ websites.
The Ambassador Theatre Group own the Ambassadors, Apollo Victoria, Duke of York’s, Fortune, Harold Pinter, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse and Savoy Theatres, so, for productions at these venues, book through their website – www.atgtickets.com.
There you will buy tickets at face value plus a booking fee. Delfont Mackintosh Theatres own seven West End theatres, so for productions showing at the Gielgud, Noel Coward, Novello, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Queen’s and Wyndham’s Theatres, book through their website – www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk.
You will buy tickets at face value plus a booking fee. The Lloyd Webber Theatre own six West End theatres, so for productions at the Adelphi, Cambridge, Gillian Lynne, Her Majesty’s, London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, book through their website – www.lwtheatres.co.uk.
Here you will buy tickets at face value plus a booking fee. Nimax Theatres own six theatres in the West End. For productions at the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric, Palace and Vaudeville Theatres, book through their website – www.nimaxtheatres.com – as you will buy tickets at face value.
There are some independent theatres: the Aldwych and the Dominion Theatres are owned by Nederlander; the Shaftesbury is owned by the Theatre of Comedy Company; St Martin’s is under the ownership of Waley-Cohen; and Theatre Royal Haymarket is owned by Access Entertainment. In this case, the best place to book is through their own websites (links are in our guides).
Some “deals” are not really deals
There are frequent deals on many West End shows, some of which offer significant discounts and are very good value for money. However, many are not. When looking for theatre tickets, be sure to go to the theatre owner’s website to get a base price first and then anything below this benchmark is a bonus.
Finding cheaper seats
A typical premium ticket for any West End show tends to be around the £100 mark. These seats will be central and in a row which brings the spectator on the same level as the stage (so not looking up at or down on the performance). However, seats in a couple of rows in front or behind or seats to the side of the centre premium block will be significantly cheaper, often over £20 less expensive.
Seats on the ends of rows in the Stalls are often discounted because of a slight obstruction to the stage but they often don’t compromise the view that badly.
Other bargain seats are in the top tiers of theatres. These are a great way to see performances at a discount although they are not for those with a fear of heights!
Many theatre companies offer vouchers, making them an excellent addition to a birthday or Christmas list and a thoughtful gift for avid theatregoers.
Book last minute
If you’re in the area, visiting the box office on the day of a show can be a good strategy as theatres will be eager to sell. This technique is not to be relied on, especially if the show is very popular or newly opened, for these you probably want to book in advance.
West End and Off-West End have shows have previews, ranging from periods of five days to three weeks generally. These are shows before the show opens officially on press night. Tickets for performances during this period are often significantly cheaper but it should be noted that the show will be newly opened and may experience technical difficulties and still be perfecting the last details of the performance.
London’s off-West End is a fantastic source of theatre productions, particularly new, quirky and innovative pieces. The off-West End provides an intimate and atmospheric experience and can be better suited for certain shows. The short runs and fast-moving nature of it makes off-West End a plentiful and prosperous platform for theatre.
Many a great West End show starts in an off-West End venue. For example, The Play That Goes Wrong began in the Old Red Lion Theatre, Sunny Afternoon: the Kinks Musical started in the Hampstead Theatre, the Rocky Horror Show at the Royal Court Theatre, and Close To You, Funny Girl and Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
There are several venues scattered across London hosting these productions, each varying in size, style and preferred genre. For example, The Vaults is renowned for being a platform for immersive productions.
Tickets are considerably cheaper than for West End shows and vary considerably from venue to venue, even production to production. Off-West End performances are a great way to see high quality, new and different shows at an affordable price.