London musicals in the West End are getting more expensive and I am not happy about it. Prices have been creeping up slowly and steadily over the years, but the jump has increased lately and it isn’t coming back down. Do you remember a few years ago when people went crazy about the price of Elf tickets? The £240 premium seats made it the most expensive in West End history back in 2015, but now a seat costing £200 on a Friday or a Saturday night is the norm.
Hamilton London recently announce a jump in the price of their tickets – and that was after increasing the price of merchandise only a few days after previews started. Now, if you want the best seats in the house on a Friday or Saturday evening, you will pay £250 per seat. That’s £500 for a couple to have a night out, before any drinks or food or snacks.
Back in 2013, the industry couldn’t believe that Book of Mormon was charging up to £127 at some performances. Now that is normal. 2004 was a long time ago, but the most expensive ticket back then was a £49 seat to see The Producers. How has it changed so quickly?
Of course, there are a lot of rich business owners in London who won’t blink an eye at these sorts of prices. They might even like it as it means there is less competition to get the best seats. But what impact is it really having?
Rising at all levels
Even six months ago, I would have balked at the thought of paying over £35 to see a musical. From slightly restricted view seats to entering lotteries or queuing in the morning to get a day seat, I always found a way to pay around £20 to go to the theatre. Recently, I’ve noticed that even the very back two rows of a threatre is selling for £35. Want to sit near the front of the upper circle? £50, please. Anywhere else? £70.
The prices are creeping up, right in front of our eyes.
Tickets for everyone
In my opinion, theatre should be accessible to anyone who has a slight interest in it. You should be able to take a punt on a show, not knowing if it is really for you, without any major repercussions. When you have to spend £50 per ticket, though, you don’t want to take a risk. Why and go and see an out-there play when you could get a £10 cinema ticket to the sequel of a film you liked? There’s no risk. You’ll save £40 per person, which would pay for a dinner, popcorn and a drink.
Theatre shouldn’t only be for the few who know it and love it. Everyone should have the chance, which is why I have always loved seat lotteries and day seats that allow those who show dedication to pick up great seats at affordable prices.
Victim of success
Unfortunately, the West End is a victim of its own success. When I went to see Hamilton in December, there were a lot of American accents around. It surprised me, especially as they have the New York Broadway production, a Chicago permanent production and two touring shows. There are plenty of chances for them to see the show on their home soil.
On a Facebook group for Hamilton, I soon discovered that there are two reasons why Americans want to come and see Hamilton West End:
- They’re Hamilton super-fans and want to see every production ever multiple times
- Booking tickets in the West End show, buying airfare and a hotel still comes in cheaper than seeing the production on Broadway.
That’s how crazy Broadway prices are, and West End tickets are heading in the same direction. I’m sure that no-one in the UK wants to see that happen to our beloved theatres.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot that we can do to stop tickets increasing in price. Make sure theatres know that you’re on to them. Never pay top price tickets. Always look for the best offers. Use apps like TodayTix (get £10 off your first order with my code: ZECIF). There are still good offers to be had, so make sure you get them.
Are you concerned about rising theatre prices? What shows have you seen lately? Did you pay more than you expected to?