MoneyMagpie

Aug 15

How to find cheap theatre tickets

London’s famous theatre district attracts millions of people from all over the world hoping to catch a performance of old classics like Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera as well as newer hits like The Book of Mormon. It’s estimated that over 12 million people see a West End show each year – that’s the size of a small country!

Tickets aren’t always affordable, though. The lowest prices are typically around £25 for the cheap seats in the back or seats with restricted views (safety rails, overhangs from upper and dress circles, etc), and the prices only go up from there. There are ways to get cheap theatre tickets with good seats- you just might have to put in a little effort.

Day Seats

cheap theatre ticketsIf you find yourself in the West End without tickets booked and want to take in a show, there’s still hope. Depending on the show and the venue, some box offices hold onto a select amount of tickets the day of the performance. Theatremonkey.com is a great resource and offers lots of tips and tricks on how to get your hands on cheaper tickets for over twenty West End productions.

Of course, obtaining day seats takes a little preparation. In most cases, you’ll want to show up to the box office earlier in the morning before they sell out. Often, for popular shows, there will be a queue. It’s best to call the box office itself to get an idea of what time you should come to collect the tickets. Most box offices will take cash or card, but it’s always a good idea to have cash on you just in case as well as an ID that shows your age and name. 

  • The Bodyguard
    • Theatre: Adelphi
    • Seats available: 22
    • Price: £25
    • Section: Stalls, row A
  • Wicked
    • Theatre: Apollo Victoria
    • Seats available: 24
    • Price: £29.50
    • Section: Stalls, row A
  • Matilda
    • Theatre: Cambridge
    • Seats available: 16
    • Price: £5 (only for ages 16-25)
    • Section: Upper circle rows J and K
  • Miss Saigon
    • Theatre: Prince Edward
    • Seats available: Box office’s choice
    • Price: £20
    • Section: Box office’s choice
  • Let it be
    • Theatre: Garrick
    • Seats available: 10
    • Price: £15
    • Section: Box office’s choice or row AA
  • Shakespeare in Love
    • Theatre: Noel Coward
    • Seats available: 16
    • Price: £15
    • Section: Box office’s choice or row C
  • The Lion King
    • Theatre: Lyceum
    • Seats available: 20
    • Price: £20
    • Section: Upper circle standing*
  • War Horse
    • Theatre: New London
    • Seats available: 16
    • Price: £15
    • Section: Stalls, row AA
  • Once
    • Theatre: Phoenix
    • Seats available: 10
    • Price: £25
    • Section: Stalls, row AA
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    • Theatre: Gielgud
    • Seats available: Box Office choice
    • Price: £15
    • Section: Box office’s choice
  • The Book of Mormon
    • Theatre: Prince of Wales
    • Seats available: 21, selected through a lottery process.
    • Price: £20
    • Section: Stalls, row A
  • Les Misésrables
    • Theatre: Queen’s
    • Seats available: 10
    • Price: £10 weekdays, £12.50 weekends
    • Section: Upper circle standing*
  • Billy Elliot
    • Theatre: Victoria Palace
    • Seats available: 20
    • Price: £20.70 Monday-Thursday, £28.50 Friday and Saturday
    • Section: Stalls, row A and dress circle side slips

*Some box offices only sell standing-room tickets, so double check before you purchase them.

Return tickets

cheap theatre ticketsOccasionally, a group of people won’t be able to attend a show and return their tickets directly to the box office. A queue full of people hoping to get their hands on tickets for a sold-out show will start a few hours before the show is scheduled to begin. Again, every venue will be different, but this is definitely the case for most of the popular productions that sell out days before the actual performance.

Of course, these tickets won’t necessarily be cheaper but it’s a great way to get something last minute for a production you really want to see. Sometimes the actual ticket holders will come directly to the line rather than handing them over to the box office and won’t hesitate to drop the price they paid by a little – especially if the show is starting shortly. For them, getting a reduced amount back is better than not selling the ticket at all.

Return tickets are a gamble, but you can get lucky! Remember to have cash on you, though.

The TKTS booth

The TKTS booth, located in Leicester Square, is another great way to buy discounted tickets the day of your show. They won’t always have what you want to see, but there’s a wide selection nonetheless. They also display the box office’s price, so you can compare and see how much you’re saving.

For example, on 13 August, 2013  top tickets for Billy Elliot were £65 and tickets for The Woman in Black were £45.50. The TKTS booth sold them for £45 and £25.75 respectively. That saves the buyer £20.

TKTS is affiliated with STAR (Secure Tickets from Authorised Retailers), which means buying these discount tickets is perfectly safe and legal. Watch out for other booths in the West End that claim to sell discounted theatre tickets. They’re either scams or the price of the tickets does not match their actual value. A legitimate service will have the STAR logo displayed somewhere outside the booth.

Dos and Don’ts

DO

  • Book ahead if you can. If you have a specific show in mind, you don’t want to wait until the last minute.
  • Be prepared to wait. If you want return tickets or day seats, these usually require you to wait in a queue for a couple hours.
  • Be flexible. If you can’t get tickets to your first choice, make sure you have a mental list of other shows you’d like to see.
  • Ask to see a seating chart. This way you know where you’ll be in the theatre.
  • Buy directly from box offices rather than over the internet. That way you can avoid booking fees.

DON’T

  • Buy from a booth that isn’t STAR authorised. Use great caution when buying tickets from anywhere other than the box office and TKTS. 
  • Buy tickets from a scalper. This is someone who buys tickets from the box office and then tries to resell them at a (usually) inflated price before the show.
  • Cut queues for day seats or return tickets just so you can stand with your family or friends. There are usually only a certain number of tickets available, so when you do this you’re setting everyone else back a place in the queue and ruining their chances of getting a ticket.
  • Walk away without knowing where you’re sitting. A common scam is selling tickets for a price that does not reflect their actual worth. You could end up paying full price for a seat with restricted viewing.
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