How to get cheaper West End tickets

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Don’t miss out on the chance to sample London’s West End on the cheap. Read on to find out more…

Iona Bain

Londoners are blessed to have some of the world’s greatest theatres right on their doorstep – well, only a jolting Tube ride away.

Yet many young people living and working in the capital now believe the West End experience is off-limits, purely because of how much it costs.

Ticket prices have risen fast in the past decade, now reaching an average of £50 for a play and £60 for a musical. There are other, more obvious magnets for young people’s cash and even these are starting to lose their lustre in this new tough era (festivals, covered extensively on this blog, is the most notable example). Theatre can be a tougher proposition for younger audiences, despite all its soul-enhancing qualities. Even more reason, therefore, to make theatre easier to access through cheaper tickets.

The much-derided Viva Forever – worth the ticket price?

Personally, I don’t need to be convinced of theatre’s value, so long as the play/musical has been well-received or recommended to me.

It’s an occasional treat and when you spend over £13  for just one ticket to the cinema (as I reluctantly did this week), you start to put these leisure costs into perspective. But we should all object to exorbitant price rises in the entertainment industry if it dampens our ability to escape from the woes of everyday life. Surely young people need that now more than ever?

Kevin Spacey, the artistic director at the Old Vic, hit a raw nerve last year when criticising the elite nature of London’s West End, saying its very survival was in doubt if a new generation was turned away by high ticket prices.

The “short-sighted” views of producers could result in losing future audiences, he believed. “What happens when this generation that is currently going to the theatre passes on to the great theatre in the sky? Who is going to replace them? Speaking about the asosciated costs of  things like babysitting and travel, he added: “Kids are not going to spend that kind of money. They’re going to buy iPads, save the money, or do something else.”

His answer was to introduce an under 25s theatre scheme, where 100 tickets costing £12 are made available for every performance. The scheme was originally slated to last a year but hopefully it will continue in a world where every five minutes of a production will set you back almost £5, according to Lastminute.com.

The bottom line is that if you’re under 25, you have a much better chance of getting discounted tickets these days. Like the Old Vic, the National Theatre also runs an effective under 25s scheme, where you could watch world-class productions for as little as £5. As a subscriber to the Entry Pass scheme and a former arts journalist, I can say the NT’s fare is a bit edgier and more serious-minded than the mainstream West End canon. But don’t let that put you off. It’s almost guaranteed to be a really rich, fulfilling experience and well worth a fiver.

Sadly, many theatres still haven’t got the memo about young people’s finances and still expect them to pay top whack. But there is a silver lining. You can now sample the hottest shows in the West End on the cheap, but you have a limited window to take advantage. The Get into Theatre scheme is offering cut-price seats for musicals and shows until the 15th February, with many tickets priced between £10 and £25.

I took the plunge last year when I needed a Christmas present for my dear bro. I bought two tickets to see the highly-regarded One Man, Two Guvnors, and the prices were reduced from £56 to £35. It was just the difference between unattainable luxury and affordable treat. We went last Friday and had a ball. So if you’re daunted by the West End’s exclusive image, don’t miss out on cheaper tickets and the chance to enjoy all that Theatreland has to offer.

One thought on “How to get cheaper West End tickets

  • June 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm
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    It seems to me that most shows are selling their tickets at reduced prices through ticket agencies. I wonder if the high prices is just a ploy to make people think they are getting a bargain when they get tickets reduced.

    Reply

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