Hugely inflated ticket prices can be a barrier to mere muggles like myself from accessing some of the best shows! The controversy earlier this year over the play Cock charging over £400 for a ticket towards the end of its run smacks of elitism and you end up with people paying these prices for tickets 'just because they can' leaving real theatre lovers feeling like they've missed out and are not valued.
In this blog I will share with you some of my top tips for accessing the best ticket prices in London's West End and across the country.
TOP TIP #1: Download the TodayTix app
TodayTix offers great prices across some of London's best shows. The app is especially great for buying same day tickets. I regularly use the Rush Tickets feature on the app. With this, you select the show you want to see and unlock the Rush Tickets feature. At 10am on the morning of the show, the tickets are available to purchase. You can only have a maximum of 2 tickets, but they're usually great seats and the price is usually £25 each including booking fees. Sometimes these tickets can be as low as £15 each or can edge up to £30 each, but they're still a great price.
With this feature you are unfortunately unable to select your seats but I can honestly say that I've never been disappointed with my seats. I have been known to get a front row seat and only once have I had a circle seat. I still had a good view and was very happy.
Obviously there is a danger that you may not be able to get a ticket to your desired show on any specific day, but if you are flexible with which show you see then this is a great option. Personally I have only missed out on a ticket once and that was fairly recently and it was because the show was sold out. It didn't bother me though, I just grabbed a Rush Ticket to another show instead!
Shows currently available for Rush Tickets via TodayTix are: Pretty Woman; Come From Away; Tina - The Tina Turner Musical; The Book of Mormon; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Mamma Mia!; & Juliet; Back to the Future; My Fair Lady; The Drifters Girl; Get Up, Stand Up!; Grease; Anything Goes; Life of Pi; Sister Act; Heathers; Jersey Boys; The Glass Menagerie; Mad House; Six; South Pacific; The Seagull; Witness for the Prosecution; 101 Dalmations; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Southbury Child; Bad Jews; The Woman in Black; Cruise; Dear Evan Hansen; The Mousetrap; Jean Paul Gaultier - Fashion Freak Show.
For shows such as the multi-Olivier winning Cabaret they offer Lottery Tickets. I've never used this feature so am not 100% sure on how it works but I believe that you register interest in the show and your name is entered into the lottery. A couple hours before the show commences, you will get a notification if you're successful and you then have a small window to confirm and pay for your tickets. These tickets are at a reduced rate and again I believe you can only have one or two.
I believe that both Rush Tickets and Lottery Tickets are only available via the app and not on their website.
You can of course book tickets in advance for a multitude of shows with the app and online at www.todaytix.com and there are no limits on how many tickets you can purchase for any one show.
You can often find good deals on advance tickets and this week I have booked front row tickets for both The Drifters Girl and Bad Jews for just £20 each.
TOP TIP #2: Shop Around
Although I love the TodayTix app and really recommend downloading it, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of shopping around when purchasing your tickets for shows in London. If booking in advance I sit and sift through different websites searching for the best deals for tickets.
My best bit of bargain hunting was only last week when I was searching for a ticket to see Sister Act. I am heading up to London again this week and definitely wanted to see this show, especially as it is closing on Sunday. I only had one night free so I wanted to book in advance rather than risk trying on the day and missing out.
I sat going through websites and looking at the exact same ticket on each. The ticket that I purchased for just £50 was on another website for £185! What a huge saving. I gave myself a massive pat on the back for that one!
Websites I regularly check when purchasing London theatre tickets are www.londontheatredirect.com, www.londontheatre.co.uk, www.todaytix.com, www.hellotickets.co.uk and www.officiallondontheatre.com. I also visit the theatre's website and the shows website direct. This may sound like a lot of hard work but it doesn't take as long as you'd think and could potentially save you hundreds of pounds!
There is no one website that is regularly cheaper than another so it does mean that shopping around is the only option for finding the best priced tickets.
TOP TIP #3: Become a Member
This is a great tip for regional theatres. Many theatres offer some sort of membership subscription, often referred to as Friends of the Theatre or something similar. This involves joining for a minimum of a year and paying a subscription. With these sort of schemes you can get benefits such as priority booking, reduced ticket prices, the removal of booking fees and member events.
With these, my suggestion is that you look at what scheme your local theatre offers and work out if it is right for you. If you go to the same theatre regularly then this may be a good option for you. Personally, I haven't become a member of any regional theatre as some of the schemes in my local independent theatres aren't right for me.
What I have become however is an ATG TheatreCard holder. This works for me as two of my local theatres are run by ATG. I can also use the benefits at any ATG theatre, including London venues. The main benefit of this currently is that I do not pay booking fees, but sometimes there are other benefits such as priority booking and discounted tickets. Sometimes at a regional theatre you also get discounted tickets on the first night of a shows run. If this is something you would like to look into then check out www.atgtickets.com/membership. Again, this may not be for everyone, but I personally find it an advantage to have.
GROUP BOOKINGS: If you are going to the theatre with a group of friends, it's usually worth all booking together in one transaction. Many theatres offer discount for group bookings. This is usually for groups of 10 or more and each theatre will offer different discounts. Contact theatres direct to find out more information.
CONCESSIONS: Certain theatres and shows may offer discounted tickets for people with disabilities, people working in certain sectors (such as the NHS) or senior citizens. Some theatres may also offer special deals for students or under 25's. Always check to see if you are eligible for any concessions when booking.
RESTRICTED VIEW: Most theatres offer Restricted View seats at a discounted price. Restricted View seats often are cheaper because, as the name suggests, you may not be able to see the entire stage from your seat or there may be something obstructing your view of the stage, such as a pillar. In my experience of selecting these seats, 99% of the time it does not impede my enjoyment of the show. It does help if you know the theatre and the production as you can judge better whether a restricted view will affect your enjoyment.
MID-WEEK AND MATINEE PERFORMANCES: Booking for these performances often comes with the benefit of cheaper tickets. However this is less true for a regional theatre which may only have a production for a week or two.
PREVIEWS: All shows in London will have a run of previews before they officially open. Tickets for the previews are usually a lot cheaper as the show may still be being chopped and changed. This does mean that you may not see the finished article, but it does mean you can access a show that may have heavily inflated prices once it's had its official opening.
VENUES: If you are lucky enough to have more than one good regional theatre near you, that is a huge positive. For me, I have Plymouth Theatre Royal and the Princess Theatre in Torquay as my two closest venues. If a touring production is visiting both venues I look at them both and decide which one is offering the best prices on tickets. For me, this is often the Princess Theatre because it's an ATG theatre which means I can use my TheatreCard to avoid booking fees and get discounted tickets.
So that's it. All my tips for saving money and finding the best deals on theatre tickets. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Please reach out to me if you have any great tips that you think I should have included here.
It's important for me to point out that my tips are all based on my own experiences of booking theatre tickets. All views are my own and I am not endorsed by or working with any of the companies or theatres mentioned in this blog.
To the best of my knowledge, all details in this blog are correct at the time of writing.