The theatre in London is kinda a big deal. Alongside New York’s Broadway, London’s West End is internationally renowned for being home to the best theatre in the world.
With around 40 theatres to choose from, finding a great show to see in the West End is really easy (or really hard for those as indecisive as me). Most shows in the area tend to be musicals, classic plays or comedies.
When I first moved to London, like most newbies, I had full intentions to go to the theatre every other week and make the most of living amongst the most talented performers in the world. In fact, it only took about a week before I went to see my first West End show at the Garrick Theatre – Chicago, the longest running Broadway musical to play the West End.
My friend and I bought some last minute tickets in the stalls for £40 each and we left the theatre completely in awe, promising we’d see shows on a regular basis. Sure, the theatre was so small that I had a mild claustrophobia issue, the seats were so tight that we had to avoid kneeing the people in front of us in the head and the venue was so far underground that it rattled and shook every time a tube drove over us… but it was the glorious theatre and once the show started, we could focus on nothing else.
Sadly, also like most new Londoners, the reality of an expensive new life in the Big Smoke quickly hit home and that was the beginning and end of my theatre love-affair for a long time. It doesn’t take long to work out that going regularly can easily send you broke and let’s be honest, there is so much to see, do and discover when you first move that going to the theatre tends to drop down the priority list.
Now what many of you may not know about me is, and you can’t hold this against me, that I am actually a massive Spice Girls fan 😉 Baby Spice was pretty much my idol growing up (along side the world’s biggest crush on Hanson), so when the opportunity to see a Spice Girls’ musical at the Piccadilly Theatre came up, from the creators of Mamma Mia (another favourite of mine), I couldn’t not go! Similar to Mamma Mia, the Spice Girls’ version Viva Forever was based on a story line which brought together all the best Spice Girls hits. As much fun as it was singing along with the show, unfortunately the storyline was pretty terrible, but no regrets, right?! (Well, my boyfriend definitely still has some regrets offering to take me).
Another year later saw me venture out to the Apollo Victoria Theatre to see Wicked – one that I was really excited to tick off the list. This theatre and production were the biggest I’ve seen by far, with an amazing stage and props, and the venue itself was beautiful. Wicked has just extended its bookings into 2016 so this one is here to stay for a while longer.
With my somewhat regular annual hiatus from the theatre, a few weeks ago I finally returned to see Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre. My friends and I got an amazing deal on some tickets and went down one night after work. What I loved most about this show is that, unlike all other shows I’ve ever seen so far, this wasn’t a musical. It was like watching a funny rom-com on stage. The actors were brilliant and the atmosphere was great. I’m always in total awe of how hard these actors work day in, day out, and always with so much energy and passion. I love it! Sadly, Shakespeare in Love had its last show on 18th April, but fingers crossed it will come back for another round in the future as it’s a fantastic play.
Top 5 West End favourites:
How to find cheap theatre tickets
Generally speaking, the theatre is not cheap. However, if you’re not too picky with what you want to see then it is possible to find some amazing deals.
Some of the best places to look for cheap tickets are:
- Discount websites like Timeout and lastminute are a good start for finding decent discounts to shows in the West End and a few larger theatres elsewhere
- Tkts is a non-profit ticket booth that has been selling last minute cheap theatre tickets since 1980 in Leicester Square’s Clocktower Building. Run by the Society of London Theatre, they also have a second outlet at Brent Cross
- A lot of big shows release excellent day tickets on the day of performance, generally at a cheap rate, available from the box office only. For a list of box office locations and types of discounts, check out Timeout’s handy guide
- Finally, from the fringe to the West End, virtually every show will have reduced price previews prior to opening night. Just remember that the production will technically still be a work-in-progress