Happy Wednesday guys and welcome back to this little blog of mine. Firstly a HUGE thank you to all of the love I received regarding my latest blog post. Sharing the more ‘theatrical’ side of my life is something I’ve wanted to do for ages and I’m so glad you all enjoyed it! I’ve had loads of messages over on Instagram asking lots of question but one thing that stood out the most is how I afford to go to the theatre so often and if I had any tips on how to get cheaper/discounted theatre tickets. Well… buckle up because I sure do! After a decade of living in London and going to see show after show, I’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade and once you know what you need to look out for it’s a doddle. So let’s get cracking! First up I wanted to explain the imagery I’ve chosen for this post… for those of you that don’t know – I’m an Actress! You can read the full story HERE but basically, I do Musical Theatre and the next show I’ll be appearing in (in November) is Grease! I’ll be playing Marty Maraschino and so since this post is theatre related I thought it was the perfect opportunity to don the pink leather jacket, head to an American Diner and get my 1950’s on! Anyway now that that’s all explained let’s get stuck in. There are several ways in which to ‘work the system’ in order to see your favourite shows at a cheaper price and almost all westend shows will have some sort of deal available. The acception being if it’s a limited run or new/sold out show like ‘Hamilton’ for example – some shows you just have to pay the full whack for but rest assured, a year or two into the run you’ll see the deals starting to pop up so be patient. Some of these tips will be London specific however the online options will work anywhere so it’s always worth checking no matter where you are. I’m going to start with the ‘In Person’ tactics and then move onto the ‘Online’ deals. Here we go…
So first up we have the ol’ faithful – Leicester Square. Now I will say that this isn’t always the best option anymore but it’s were pretty much every travel guide will tell you head if you’re in the market for a discounted ticket. Right opposite the Leicester Square tube station you’ll see the street lined with lots and lots of little ‘half price’ ticket booths all offering cheap tickets. Firstly – it’s usually false advertising and these places very rarely actually offer half price tickets however some do and sadly they can move around so it really is a case of visiting several before you pick one. When I used to go to London with my mum as a little girl (before the internet) this is where we’d head. You queue and ask for the show you’d like to see and get a price. Unless the price was a good one straight off the bat (as an example, I try to never pay over £25/£30 for a ticket) we’d go and ask at a few of the stalls to see what each had to offer before settling on one.
Tkts Half Price Theatre Ticket Booth is the legitimate cut-price source (there’s also one in New York for Broadway shows.) Again found in Leicetser Square, if you don’t have enough time to filter through the numerous smaller alleyway stalls this is the place to head. The booth is a large white stand-alone building which is just next to the central square itself. They sell tickets for pretty much every westend/off – westend and concert in London. It’s open 7 days a week (Mon – Sat: 10am – 7pm and Sun: 11am – 4.30pm) and you can buy theatre tickets IN PERSON ONLY for performances ‘today, tomorrow and the next day.’ You can double check what tickets they have on their website and if you see something you like make sure to get there early as sometimes the queues can form half an hour/an hour before opening.
This is one that’s saved me a bunch on some of the more popular shows. Not all shows do this however it is ALWAYS worth checking the website for any show you are planning to see as you’d be suprised how many do and how few people actually know about it. So day seats are basically a selection of seats that theatres keep aside to give out ‘on the day.’ In most cases they are available at 10am in the morning meaning you have to go to the theatre in the morning and wait in line. Now, sometimes you’re able to rock up at 10am and waltz in to grab a ticket but most of the time you have to get there earlier to join the other people waiting. Bare in mind – there are usually only 20/25 day seats given out for each performance so if you’re not one of those first 20/25 people…you’ve lost out. It’s also worth mentioning that each person queuing is able to book two tickets so again, it’s worth getting there early to avoid dissapointment. What I will say is that each ‘day seat’ situation is different. For example when Matilda first opened and it was near impossible to get a ticket under £80 I went to try and get day seats twice. I turned up at 7am and missed out both times. For Rock of Ages however, I turned up at 3.30pm and asked on a whim if they had any day seats left and walked away with two. It really does depend on the popularity of a show. Also not all day seats are for everyone. again, using Matilda as an example – they give 16 tickets out for each performance at £5 each HOWEVER it’s just for 16 -25 year olds and ID is required. Most show’s don’t have an age restriction on day seats but it is always worth checking the individual shows websites and reading the ticket page in detail.
Theatre Box Office
I’m a big believer that sometimes you can actually get cheaper tickets at the official theatre box offices themselves rather than the discount stalls so I always go to the theatre and check their prices out before searching for deals. Agian, once you know you know and there are certain things to ask for. Don’t be intimerdated or embarrassed, most of the people that work in the box offices are fellow theatre lovers and get how expensive theatre tickets can be so they wont mind if you literally say “what’s the cheapest ticket available for tonight’s performance please?” This question is one I ask often. When I head to a show with my Mum I always ask if they have any availabilitly for that night, then follow up with “the cheaper the better.” Now remember, it is their job to push the higher priced tickets so whatever they first offer I respond with “Do you have anything cheaper? I’m looking at around the £20/£25 mark.” This gives them an idea of how much you’re actually willing to pay so they can go either lower or up to £5 higher than your budget. A few tricks I’ve learnt is – know the show. AKA: if you know a show isn’t selling particulary well (a good thing to do is to look online before-hand and see what seats are still available to book.) We recently went to see Strictly Ballroom at the Piccadilly Theatre (I loved it FYI) we knew the show wasn’t crazily popular and knew that with it being a Wednesday night, chances were the audience wasn’t going to be full. So we took the cheapest tickets available at £15 and it paid off… the theatre was closing off the top level of the auditorium and we got upgraded to the stalls, tickets worth £65!! Obviously it goes without saying that this doesn’t always pay off BUT when it does, it’s great and even if you do end up sitting in the ‘gods’ you’ll still enjoy the show regardless. Lastly, restricted view tickets. It’s always worth doing some quick research on the size/set-up of the theatre as the term ‘restricted view’ is often used for the smallest of things. Restricted view seats are always sold at a cheaper price but often it’s a case of missing the tiniest part of the stage. For example the restricted view seats for Dreamgirls (The Savoy Theatre) in my opinion are not restricted in the slighest. My friends and I sat there and didn’t miss anything, they are sold as ‘restricted’ as there is one corner that is used once during the show that you miss. If you want a cheap ticket restricted view always sounds scarier than it is.
Yet another sales technique is the ‘Theatre Lottery’ again, not every show does this but a lot of the popular shows do and it gives the perfect opportunity to see a great show for a great price. Currently shows such as Book Of Morman, School Of Rock and Dreamgirls all do the lottery. Check the websites as each will differ but in general ticket lotteries take place two/two and a half hours before each performance. Each person will be given a piece of paper to write their name on and put into a box, then a member of the theatre management will come out and pick a selection of names (usually around 10,) each person picked ‘out of the hat’ will be able to purchase two tickets for that days perfomance for a hugely discounted price (usually around £15/£20.) The seats are usually the front two rows although again this can differ from show to show.
Previews / Matinees
Another way to get slightly cheaper tickets is to book during a shows ‘preview’ period. This only goes for new shows but when it’s a new production there is a selction of shows before the official opening night known as previews. This is where any last minute changes can be made with the staging and or script etc. These performances are usually priced slight cheaper (approx £10 cheaper per ticket) or sometimes even half price/two for the price of one. Similarly, week day matinee (afternoon) performances are also usually slightly cheaper as they tend to be less popular. Each show has differnt preview lengths and matinee days so once again, always check the websites!
My current go-to and something that was an absolute god-send in New York when we were researching Broadway shows. Today TIX is an app that offers discounted tickets on a huge variety of shows. They cover places all over the world so it’s a great app to use on your travels as well. You are also able set alerts for your favourite shows so that you know when a cheap ticket within the budget you’ve set becomes available. Big, popular shows such as Book of Morman are on there with tickets as low as £28 along with lot’s of fringe shows and concerts. You book the ticket on the app and then an hour before the show you meet the Today TIX’s Ambassador (wearing the red Today TIX jacket) outside the theatre to collect your tickets from them in person. It’s super simple and offers really REALLY great prices! If you don’t have time to queue for day seats or hang around for the lotteries in the afternoon this is for sure the way to go.
Photography – Zoe Griffin
Pay What You Can
This one’s for the fringe theatre offerings. Some of the best theatre I have ever seen has been in the smaller fringe venues, be it in Manchester, New York, London… everywhere – fringe theatre is where lots of exciting fresh and sometimes experimental theatre happens. Some fringe venues offer a ‘pay what you can’ option. It literally means what it says – turn up on the night and pay as much as you can for your ticket at the door. Most venues don’t permit advance booking and will only accept cash at these performances. Please though, be considerate to the cast and crew of the performances. Don’t drop your coppers in the tin just becuase you can. Unless you are genuinely that hard up (in which case, no problem, these nights really are for you) try and pay a fair price for an eveings entertaiment. A quick search on Google will give you listings of venues where this option is available.
Some shows offer extremely cheap tickets with a catch… you have to stand. I’ve done this before with shows like Grease and Les Miserables. Obviously you have to be prepared to be on your feet the entire time, so it’s a good shout to check the running-time of each performance. Not all theatres do this but the Donmar offers standing tickets to most shows as does the Barbican Centre and the Globe (£5.) As with everything – it pays to check before hand!
One for the kids – or parents of, is Kids Week! Having a young child who likes theatre can be expensive so each summer The Society of London Theatre offers a cheaper experience during August. Any child under the age of 16 can go free to a variety of shows (check the website for full listings) when accompanied by an adult paying full price. This can end up cheaper in some cases however I’d always weigh up your options as it maybe cheaper to get two discounted tickets as appose to a buy one get one free deal but it’s another option and we all love options!
So there we have it… I hope you made it! I realise that was quite a lengthy blog post but I hope you found it useful and fingers crossed it will save you a bit of money the next time you go to the theatre. If you have any questions or want me to go into more detail on one of the options above let me know in the comments or catch me over on Instagram. If you do find yourself using any of these tips please please PLEASE tag me in an Instagram story or drop me a DM, I love seeing what you guys get up to! I’m sure there are lots of other ways in which to get cheap tickets but the above are the ones I use most often. I hope you enjoyed the post and if you’d like more of this style of post let me know. Sharing is caring! Thanks again for popping by and we’ll catch up soon!