The main question I get asked after “how many times have you actually seen Wicked?” (the answer is 56, just in case you’re wondering) is usually “how on earth can you afford to go to the theatre so much?” And the answer is simple, the theatre isn’t as expensive as most people think it is, and here’s why.
First of all, it all depends on what you want to see. Don’t expect to get a centre stalls ticket to The Lion King for £20, because it just won’t happen. You have to be realistic. There are certain shows that are, and will always be expensive. I’m afraid I can’t work miracles on the likes of Les Miserables and The Cursed Child!
To put it simply, day seats are my lifeline, and I wouldn’t see half the shows I see if I wasn’t able to day seat. In a nutshell, these are the limited number of tickets available in person at most West End theatres for a discounted price. Now, you have to be willing to get up early, and in most cases (Wicked especially), queue for a few hours. But you do get some of the best seats in the house for some of the best prices, so it’s a price I’m personally willing to pay. For example, a stalls row B ticket at the Apollo Victoria theatre to see Wicked will set you back £72.50, however a stalls row A ticket, only available through day seating, will only cost you £29.50. (I see you all working out how much money I’ve spent on Wicked tickets, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell me because I will probably cry.) I for one know exactly which one I would chose. Checkout the current day seat policies in the West End here.
If I’m not in the mood to day seat, or I simply cannot get into London for 8am then I normally turn to TodayTix to get my theatre fix. TodayTix is a great website and app that was designed to help people grab discounted tickets for a range of different shows. They often have great discounts on tickets (sometimes up to 50% off!) so it’s always worth to check them out first when you’re looking for a ticket to a particular show. The only draw back to TodayTix is that you can’t book that far in advance. For most shows you can only buy tickets for the following week, so you either have to be fairly flexible with when you are available to go to the theatre, or not be too fussed with what show you see.
Not only does TodayTix help with getting discounted tickets, but they also work in partnership with many theatres to hold daily lotteries. Shows such as Kinky Boots and Dreamgirls offer cheap lotteries, in which you enter on the day for a chance to win a pair of tickets to that evening’s performance at a discounted price (Usually £15-£25 per ticket). Most lotteries are for front row tickets, so it’s essentially like day seating, except you can do it from bed, instead of sitting outside a theatre for hours in the cold! Obviously, the draw back to lotteries is that you are not guaranteed a ticket, but if you’re someone who isn’t bothered about what show they see then you have nothing to lose. As well as this, some shows will offer you the remaining seats in the house at a discounted price if you don’t win the lottery, so if you ask me, they’re worth entering!
There’s plenty of discount theatre websites out there, just a quick google search of ‘discount West End tickets’ pulls up number results and I realise this can be overwhelming. So I’ll quickly run through a few of my tried and trusted favourites. LoveTheatre is normally one of the first places I look, and I head straight to the ‘offers’ section of the website to try to seek out the best deals. Some of the offers they put on are ‘dinner and a show’ type deals, which I personally steer clear off (purely because I’m a cheapskate and would rather get a chicken nuggets meal from McDonald’s than have an actual sit down meal). But I know these kind of offers are appealing to people, and they do normally work out a lot cheaper than buying tickets and dinner the more traditional way. The second website I head to is DiscountTheatre, this one is pretty self explanatory. Most of the offers are simply ‘30% off a show’, or something like that, and it’s a good website to go on just to gauge the ball park figure that you’ll have to pay for a certain show.
If you are in central London, then it’s always worth giving the TKTS booth a quick visit. It’s located in the middle of Leicester Square and you can grab last minute tickets to shows at fairly decent prices. The great thing about the TKTS booth is that they don’t exclusively sell musical tickets. You can get tickets for pretty much any stage show in London, from musical to ballet, so it’s perfect for everyone. The staff at the booth are also very helpful, so if you’re a newbie and feel a bit overwhelmed with the catalogue of shows available to you, then they’ll be more than happy to help you find something you’ll enjoy. Most of the time the tickets they offer come with a fairly hefty discount, I’ve seen tickets go for more that 50% off before, it all depends on how busy each show is on a certain day, so it can be a bit of a gamble. Sometimes it’s no cheaper to buy a ticket from the TKTS booth, but again, if you’re not fussy with what you see you’re guaranteed to find something at a good price.
And finally, sales!! The theatre works exactly the same way as your favourite high street shop does, there’s sales all throughout the year. Black Friday is always a great time to pick up some cheap tickets to a West End show. Getting great seats at amazing prices isn’t actually rocket science, you just have to be savvy about it and shop around. Nine times out of ten it will always be cheaper to buy from a booth or a discount website rather than directly from the theatre or from Ticketmaster. Never buy a ticket after your first quick search, research your options and don’t click buy until you’re certain you’re getting a deal!! Always keep your eyes open for deals, and go into everything with an open mind. You’ll always be more likely to get cheaper tickets for a show if you don’t mind what show you see. In my experience, taking a gamble on seeing a new show always pays off, and I’m always left pleasantly surprised (and usually end up going back again!) But most importantly, get your butt to a West End theatre and see a show, you won’t regret it (and now you have no excuse!!). I recommend Wicked.