Fredo's Theatre Group 
 
Theatre Ticket Price Watch: 
This is where we update you on the higher prices the producers hope you will pay. And occasionally we give you news of any special Discounts we hear about. 
It is customary for discounts to be offered to those making group bookings. It ensures that more tickets are sold earlier than may otherwise be expected and this of course is to the producers' advantage as well as benefitting their group customers. But as the prices of theatre tickets increase generally, the group offers are decreasing. And the best seats are being sold as Premium Seats at even higher prices than the regular Top Price. This ploy does not always swing to the producers' advantage. If bookings are slow or the higher priced seats do not sell well, then discounts may be offered or a number of Premium Seats may be reduced to 'Top Price' prices, or less. 
 
We do not like 'event' pricing and the trend of trying to make a theatre visit a one-off occasion, as expensive as a weekend break. We shall always try to offer you the best available seats at a discount because we think it encourages regular theatre-going and regular theatre-goers are the backbone of the theatre industry. On this page of our website we shall try to keep you informed of price trends and let you know the shows which, for our Group, are just charging too much.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Our Ticket Price Watch update is shown below with the latest update at the top. 
We should appreciate your comments, observations and reactions to these pricing trends in the Comments box at the bottom of this page - your reactions could influence future prices and what shows we offer to you. 
Mike
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Ticket Price Watch update 22/03/18: 
We have important news for you from Covent Garden. It is not good news. 
   
  For several years we have been taking you to the Royal Opera House to see the occasional opera but mainly a wide selection of ballet performances. This has been possible because of the very generous discounts of up to 45% offered to group bookers. We have been offered seats both in the Amphitheatre and Orchestra Stalls, and the discounts on these seats have made Covent Garden accessible for many of us who could otherwise not have afforded to go. This is about to change. 
  The Royal Opera House has made an announcement that discounts for groups are being curtailed-  
  
 "Given increasing pressures on our income as a result of tough economic conditions, reduced funding and rising expenditure, we must make sure that we manage our costs effectively. We have reviewed all the packages and ticket prices across the organisation to ensure that we are as efficient as possible whilst remaining fair to our customers. As a result, we will be reducing the group rates to a level that we believe reflects the quality on our stage and which is more in line with the wider sector. We have loved having your customers here at the Royal Opera House and hope this won't deter you from returning again."
   
This has a hint of Goodbye about it - "Oh! we don't want to lose you but we think you ought to go!" 
  
  The Summer Season offers opera discounts of only 10%. Ballet performances are very limited and there is no discount, so we must wait until the next season to see if any discounts are offered for future ballet performances, and if so what the percentage may be. 
  It occurs to me that previous discounts must have been offered for the following reasons - 
1. To encourage bookers who may otherwise not have afforded the tickets; 
2. To build a new audience and reward regular attendees; 
3. To fill seats which may otherwise have remained unsold at the full prices; and 
4. To dissuade us from accusing the ROH of being elitist. 
   It further occurs to me that none of the above reasons have changed; all remain valid. 
    
  We have written to our contact in the Groups Department at Covent Garden to give them our response to their news. Here are some points from our letter - 
  "As you know, our group of regular theatregoers has taken advantage of the group offers over many years. They have been encouraged by affordable prices to try new and unfamiliar works, and the experience they have enjoyed has persuaded them to buy full-price tickets in the Amphitheatre, whenever possible. 
 Their regular attendance has generated a commitment to the ROH, and has convinced them that what they may have viewed as an elitist venue was actually available to all. 
 I'm sure that the increase in prices caused by a reduced discount will have a negative impact on our group bookings. In line with most group organisers outside London, I have to factor in the cost of transport along with the price of the ticket, and the total cost will now be at a level where we meet market resistance. Many out-of-town groups, especially senior ones, depend on coach transport and would be unable to attend at all if the overall cost is prohibitive. 
 Im aware of the excellent standard of work that we have enjoyed, and all too aware of rising costs in the wider sector. However, the wider sector generally does not receive a public subsidy, or attract anything like the level of sponsorship that the ROH does, and yet they offer groups substantial discounts for most productions when booked early. 
 I wonder if there are other ways to offer attractive rates to senior groups, or others, to avoid appearing as an exclusive theatre for the affluent? I'm a bit sceptical of a 10% discount on, for example, Don Giovanni: Anyone who can afford £166.50 can equally afford £185!  And a 10% discount on the cheap Amphitheatre seats doesnt really make a great deal of difference to the price.  It seems fairer to increase the top prices for corporate bookers and those who will book whatever the price, and maintain worthwhile discounts on selected performances to keep the ROH doors open to the deserving but less wealthy. 
 Please pass my comments on to the people who have made the decisions. I will be interested in any response. And let me take this opportunity to say how grateful I am to you and the box-office team for adding to the pleasurable experience we have had in attending the Royal Opera House over a number of years." 
   
  We have received the same statement (see above) from the Covent Garden Groups Department and a promise that our comment would be forwarded - 
   We hope these are not the last words from the Royal Opera House and we shall post any response from them here if or when we receive it. 
  Mike  22/03/18 
We have now received a reply to our email to the Royal Opera House, as follows - 
Dear Fredo and Mike, 
Thank you very much for your letter of 22 March 2018 and my apologies for the delay in my response.  
The decision to change our group booking policy has been taken after careful review of all of the packages we offer across the Royal Opera House. As our box office team has said, the increasing pressures on our income as a result of tough economic conditions, reduced public funding and rising expenditure mean that more than ever we have to scrutinise our costs. 
After careful review and analysis of the schemes we offer across the organisation, we have concluded that changes we have made are efficient, remain fair to our customers and allow us to continue with the suite of national learning programmes we run up and down the UK (two examples among many are the ‘National Nutcracker’ and ‘Create and Sing Carmen’ programmes which run in schools around the whole country).   
Our group booking scheme, we believe, is now much more in line with the wider sector- even those who receive a public subsidy- and is set at a level which reflects the quality on our stage.  
I hope that you understand our rationale and we sincerely hope you will continue bringing your groups to the Royal Opera House.  
Very best wishes, 
Ben Oliver  
 
We replied - 
Dear Ben  
Thank you for your reply.  
Although I'm sure you've considered all aspects of group offers in these challenging economic times, you will find the discounts you are offering on only the highest and lowest price-bands are not attractive to groups.  
I would further point out that the proposed changes will reduce the scope of accessibility to the ROH. This is one of main reasons for your sponsorship and grants. The National Theatre (in a similar position to the ROH) offers better percentage discounts taking account of its overall sponsorship and grants.  
When you review this - as I hope you will - you may like to consider making a better offer on a lower number of tickets on other prices across fewer performances. This may achieve the economies you have to make without disaffecting your group customers.  
Yours sincerely  
Fredo Donnelly & Mike Richardson  
 
One of our Group members has obtained details of the Arts Council's highest subsidies, received by the Royal Opera House and other recipients. The recipients of total subsidies over £1m for the periods shown are as follows - 
Recipient
TOTAL grant for the 
4 Years 2015>2018*
% cut per annum
TOTAL grant for the 
5 Years 2018>2022*
Hackney Empire
£1,005,142.00
0%
£1,474,056.00
Hampstead Theatre
£2,623,821.00
-14%
£3,010,428.00
Lyric Theatre Hammersmith
£3,300,000.00
0%
£4,400,000.00
National Theatre
£51,651,000.00
-3%
£66,800.000.00
Royal Opera House
£74,316,000.00
-3%
£96,115,360.00
Soho Theatre Company
£1,810,434.00
0%
£2,413,912.00
Theatre Royal Stratford East
£3,316,518.00
0%
£4,422,024.00
Young Vic Theatre
£5,280,429.00
0%
£7,040,572.00
* Divide figure by 4 or 5 for annual amount 
All theatres strive for sponsorship as well. The National Theatre has Travelex as its main sponsor plus others, the Royal Opera House has many different sponsors for separate productions. Some corporate sponsors do not like to provide money for productions which they believe their clients would not wish to be associated with. It is interesting to note which companies are on the high subsidy list and which are not. 
Mike 07/04/18 
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Ticket Price Watch update 19/01/17: 
  If I mention the name 'Hamilton' I guess you will either say  "Who?", which was the question I once asked, or "Yes, I must have tickets and will you be taking a group or must I buy tickets myself and if so how much will they be and can I afford to go?". You are either in the know or you are not. You are either in a frenzy of expectation or totally underwhelmed. The excitement is mounting because 'Hamilton' is the new hot ticket from Broadway coming here in November this year. It's a musical about America's founding father Alexander Hamilton but with hip-hop/rap music and non-white actors dressed in authentic costumes. It has won awards by the ton. It seems it's an addiction for audiences who crave for a Hamilton fix. A tsunami demand for tickets is expected (as in the USA) so hurdles are being created to make booking almost impossible. 
  For a start, you have to have pre-registered on line between June and October last to be able to buy tickets now. General booking for remaining seats opens on 30 January. You can ONLY buy tickets on line and you can ONLY pay by credit card. Tickets will NOT be sold at agencies nor at the box office. No paper tickets will be issued. All e-ticket holders MUST arrive at the theatre with the credit card-holder and cards will be checked at the door to ensure no unregistered gate-crasher or touted-ticket holder gains entry. 
   Although there are reduced prices for previews, the normal prices range from Premium seats at £200 or £137.50, down through £89.50, £57.50 and £37.50. These prices will be higher on Fridays and Saturdays. You will be relieved to know that no booking fees will be charged and a few lower priced seats will be released on a daily lottery to devoted addicts. 
  The show will play at the  Victoria Palace where millions have been spent on refurbishment since Billy Elliot gave up residence there. 
  You will realise by now that there will be no group discount, no chance of us buying tickets for you nor even for ourselves. Instead I suggest you buy the Original Cast Recording, find a couch a whole lot more comfortable than Palace seats, close your eyes to imagine those authentic costumes, and put the money saved towards your next several FTG outings.  
  But if you really really must see this show, the place to buy tickets is HERE
Mike   19/01/17
 
 
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 19/10/16:  
  It gets my goat!  
  Not only do ticket prices continue to rise, and there is nothing surprising about that, but it is now becoming more difficult to obtain group bookings at a discount. Some producers, hoping they have a hit on their hands, are not interested in attracting groups or indeed the regular theatregoer. They are more interested in people who want a special night out at the theatre and are prepared to pay high prices for 'best' seats (i.e the Event bookers). They also want to attract new younger audiences and reserve seats for younger people at a discount or indeed provide them free. The Donmar at King's Cross is an example of Young+Free, a scheme providing free tickets for the 25 and under crowd. I remain sceptical about why those in their 20s need to be given free tickets - I never was!  
  All this leaves fewer seats available for we regular group bookers. The high payers can buy Premium priced seats and these are never discounted for groups. The areas of Premium seating varies from theatre to theatre and show to show. The National Theatre is one of several to expand their areas of Premium seats whenever they see booking going well. This leaves a smaller area of cheaper so-called 'Top Price' seats to be discounted for groups. The mid-centre Stalls and Front Circle areas of most theatres are now out-of-bounds for groups and reserved for top payers.  
 We try to keep our prices low for our Group members, so that more people can afford to visit theatres regularly. The group agencies we buy tickets from are very good to us, know our requirements and help as much as they can. Oddly enough, our enemies are some theatre producers. Of course they need to make money but they are inclined to disregard those who, like us, visit theatres regularly and are what I regard as the backbone of the audience who keep theatre alive.  
  For those of you interested, this brings me to the difficulty we had of booking for Albee's 'The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?' at the Haymarket Theatre. There is no group discount. Book with an agency, by phone or on line, and you have to pay an extra £2.75 booking fee on each ticket. We decided, unusually, to book direct with the theatre - no booking fee. We needed to reserve 60 tickets and chose a preview performance to knock £5 off the normal £65 price. We then discovered we could book no seats at the Top Price of £60 further forward than row M in the Stalls. But row M was reserved for those paying immediately! This is not an option for us. To obtain a group booking and have two weeks to pay, it had to be £60 for rows O and P (there is no row N). Frankly we thought this was not a price worth paying. We decided to move just one further row back (there is no row Q) and pay the lower price of £50 for rows R, S and T. For those who do not like rear Stalls seats, we reserved centre front Upper Circle seats (rows A,B,C and D) for £40, seats which would be £45 from the next day onwards.  
  I apologise for throwing all these 'backstage' details at you, but I hope it is of some interest and gives an insight into some of the ticket options we can and sometimes cannot offer you.  
  We would be very interested in any feedback from you. If a similar pricing situation arose in future, as it will, would you be prepared to pay the full price of £65 or more for a seat further forward in the Stalls? The coach fare would add another £12 or £15 to this, and we need a good number on the coach to make a theatre visit viable. Would you prefer to take advantage of the second or third price if we can obtain no group discount? What are your preferences? As all prices rise following Brexit, we are likely to find fewer discounts available. With the exchange rate benefitting visitors from abroad, producers will be more likely to charge higher prices which visitors can afford. We regular theatregoers are no longer a prime target for ticket sales and it looks like group discounts are in danger of being phased out. 
Mike
 
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 13/09/16: 
  We all curse the popularity among producers of introducing Premium Prices, and most especially Dynamic Pricing. The first, of course, is the habit of increasing the cost of the best seats to a level higher than what is normally the Top Price. That higher level then becomes a Premium Price, though of course it is really the new top price by another name. There is now also Dynamic Pricing whereby the area of seats at the top prices can be varied according to how well a show is selling - if the seats are selling fast, the best seats will be increased in price. 
  Andrew Lloyd Webber has recently voiced criticism of yet another tactic of certain producers - they deliberately put shows with big stars into small theatres so that demand for tickets is increased and higher prices can be charged despite lower overheads. Also, there will be no group discounts on offer. They are aiming for the event buyer, not the regular theatre-goer. 
  We are not naming shows here, but  just think about some small theatres that have recently been home to some big star names - the Trafalgar Studios; the Harold Pinter Theatre (previously the Comedy Theatre); the Vaudeville; and the National does not escape - many shows have been put in the Dorfman/Cottesloe when star actors or directors names would normally dictate a larger theatre. 
  Many West End theatres now operate Dynamic Pricing for popular shows. Of course the National has not previously increased prices for star names....until now! We recently booked seats for the Group in the Lyttelton, only to discover later, when we needed extra tickets, that seats around ours had been increased to a higher price level because the show was proving so popular. 
  With Dynamic Pricing, it's just like buying an airline ticket - book early to get the best prices or, to put it another way, early birds catch the bargains. Late bookers have their wallets emptied. 
Mike
  
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 25/08/16: 
  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – yes, that's the play (two plays actually so you have to pay twice) which everyone wants to see but cannot buy tickets.  In fact a lot of people have already bought tickets as the shows are sold out forever and new booking periods sell out within minutes of opening. But there is a way, at a price, to treat the kids, to see these shows, to buy tickets now.  There's the secondary ticket market on line where unwanted tickets are put up for re-sale....at a price. We hope none of you stoop to such depths as to use these companies, such as Viagogo, GetMeIn, Seatwave, or StubHub. 
  The companies do operate legally but the producers of the Harry Potter plays have labelled them “an industry wide plague”. The Times reports that one Stalls ticket for one of the Harry Potter performances next March is up for sale at £8,377.00 – yes, this is not a typo. You too can see Harry if your cheque book can cope with that sum. But don't stint yourself – you can have two front row seats (surely they are not the best?) for both plays if you cough up £11,947.00. This includes a booking fee of  £1,940.00 which goes to StubHub. The rest goes to the re-seller (best to call them touts) who managed to obtain the tickets fairly for the sole purpose of unfairly making a huge profit by selling them on. Premium seats for the plays only cost £140.00. I would not normally use the word 'only' when describing Premium seats, but compared to the inflated price this looks like loose change. 
   There is a less depressing side to this situation. Many of these tickets remain unsold at the inflated price and would be offered at nearer the normal price nearer the performance date. They may even remain unsold, with a loss to the re-seller.The producers say they are “doing all we can to combat this issue” and if anyone turns up at the theatre with re-sold tickets, they could be refused admission. Already many with these tickets have been turned away, with little likelihood of getting their money back. Don't be tempted, even if you don't mind having to sell your yacht to pay - Harry Potter would not approve. 
Mike 
And HERE is another cautionary tale of ticket touts.
 
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 25/04/16: 
Jamie Lloyd has been blasting off about the high price of West End theatre tickets. The Times newspaper reports - 
"High ticket prices in a “corrupt” West End are driving a wedge between rich and poor theatregoers, an award-winning director has said.... 
Jamie Lloyd said that there was no justification for tickets that cost more than £100, unless they were to subsidise lower prices for other people in the audience.... 
“There are a lot of companies and producers out there who will effectively exploit the profile of actors in a show by charging tickets that are soaring way past the £100 mark, which I think is outrageous,” Lloyd told The Stage magazine. He added that the trend for casting well-known film actors had created a problem in the industry because theatres were trying to cash in on fans that were willing to pay whatever the cost. 
Lloyd said that his anger at expensive ticket prices extended to those for his production of Doctor Faustus, for which some members of the audience can pay more than £100. However, he said that he needed to charge the higher amounts in order to fund a scheme that offers all tickets on a Monday for £15. “It’s corrupt and it needs to be addressed,” he said. “Like our government, we are creating a divide in the audience between the rich and the poor..." 
Last year the producers of the stage adaptation of Elf introduced a premium ticket price band on certain dates. Audiences paid £240 a seat, with the price including a £15 per ticket fee for online and phone bookings..." 
 
Fine sentiments indeed. Jamie Lloyd specialises in putting popular actors from tv and films into his plays to attract a young audience and the prices are consequently high with no discount for groups. He has offered cheap £15 seats on Mondays at the Trafalgar Studios. But he currently has two productions in the West End,The Maids and Doctor Faustus, neither of which are offering cheap tickets on a Monday evening. For The Maids the Top Price is £52.50 with Premium seats at £69.50, and for Doctor Faustus the Top Price is £65.00 with Premium seats at £85.00. There are higher prices if booking fees are included or 'special packages' booked. The few cheapest seats are £29.50 and £15 respectively but these are 'on stage', back row or "very restricted view" seats.  However, the expensive seats do sell and young people wanting to see Kit Harington as Dr F will pay the high prices (despite poor reviews!). Who will be the next Game of Thrones star to put bums on theatre seats? Maybe Alfie Allen, appearing with Jesse Eisenberg, in The Spoils at the Trafalgar Studios - Top Price £59.50, Premium seats £80, no cheap Mondays. 
You can read the full Times report HERE (maybe). 
Mike
 
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 02/03/16: 
It was certain to happen - the new regime at the National Theatre has brought in a new price range which of course includes higher prices. The top price is now £60, or £65 at weekends. They don't call them Premium seats as most West End Theatres do but, using the Lyttelton as an  example, they are the best centre Stalls seats in the middle of rows F to L.  These 'best' seats are not availabe to groups at a discount, just as Premium seats are excluded to groups in the West End. The best seats we are allowed to book for you are the £52 seats (Monday to Thursday) reduced by £6. The top price tickets used to be £50 which groups could buy for £44. 
The National is also introducing Dynamic Pricing - this means that "prices may change according to demand" - for a popular show on a popular date, some £52 seats could be increased to £60. The NT recommends to book early to ensure the best seats at the best prices. Of course it's possible that if the £60 seats are not selling, they may be decreased to £52, or the National will introduce a 'special offer' and advertise unsold seats at specially reduced prices. This seldom happens, although discounted tickets for some recent unpopular shows have appeared as Time Out Offers or offers have been emailed to NT members. 
A few productions in each season are still sponsored by Travelex when seats are sold at a much cheaper price range. The weekday top price has now increased to £45 from £35, and is £50 at the end of the weeK. There are no discounts for groups. However, all the National's prices are still a fraction of West End prices, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. 
For the most popular shows it has become very difficult to make group bookings, but we shall continue to do our best to obtain good seats for you at a discount whenever we can. 
Mike
 
 
£££££ 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 04/02/16: 
It's a long time since I updated this Ticket Price Watch section which suggests that West End Prices have been remaining stable for a while. But now along comes The Libertine, to take liberties. Tickets from £18.50 say the ads temptingly. We enquired about any group or senior discounts but there are none. The Haymarket Theatre are handling group bookings themselves but other agencies are having to add a £2.50 booking fee to every group ticket. The so-called Top Price tickets are £67.50 which I believe is a record price for a straight play, excluding the rip-off for 'top stars' Bradley Cooper and Kevin Spacey (see below). The Top Prices for the musicals Guys & Dolls and Show Boat are less than this. Premium seats for The Libertine are £97.50 with a higher price for a special VIP package in the Centre Stalls, and at least half the Stalls seats are reserved for premium customers. Will seats sell at these prices? Only time will tell but I hope they will have to shrink these high priced areas when punters hold back from splashing out. Who or what do the producers think is the attraction? Surely Dominic Cooper (with or without his shirt) is not worth those prices and the play itself is no great attraction. This is not what I sometimes call Event Theatre and yet the producers seem to be marketing it as such. By the way, it is a transfer from the Theatre Royal Bath where the Top Price seats are £40.50. Save yourself some money by buying a seat there and a cheap day-return to Bath on the train. 
Mike
 
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 21/04/15: 
 Many of you will have seen the announcement last Friday that Kenneth Branagh is launching a year long season of plays at the Garrick Theatre this coming October. It is all very tempting - The Winter's Tale with Judi Dench; Terrence Ratigan's Harlequinade; Rob Brydon with Branagh in The Painkiller; Richard Madden and Lily James from Branagh's film of Cinderella in Romeo and Juliet; and John Osborne's The Entertainer starring Branagh himself. You will want to see at least some of these plays and we would love to take you. But we can't.  
 We can ignore the £95.00 Premium seats. The Top Price seats are £65 with a £5 discount for groups. BUT (and here's the catch) group bookings can be for no more than 10 people and tickets have to be paid for within 72 hours - this makes it impossible for us to book for our Group. Beware also the £50 seats in Stalls and Dress Circle - they have restricted views (and you may have read Andrew Lloyd Webber's comments this week about West End theatres with restricted view and legroom seats). The Upper Circle (called the Grand Circle at this theatre!) has seats at £65, £50, £35, and £15, but you get what you pay for. 
 The announcement of the season was made on line at 00.01hrs on Friday 17 April and tickets went on sale both on line and at the Garrick box-office that morning at 09.00hrs - no time to think, plan or discuss with friends. Nevertheless, booking is extremely heavy, especially for Will and Judi. 
 If you wish to book for yourselves, DO NOT book through one of the commercial agencies which have an allocation of seats and can charge up to £10 extra as a booking fee. Branagh has set up his own on-line booking system and undertakes to charge no booking fees (just a £1 restoration levy which is normal) - go to www.branaghtheatre.com Alternatively you can book on line (without fees) through Nimax Theatres (owners of the Garrick Theatre) at www.nimaxtheatres.com Please remember it is ALWAYS cheaper to book through whatever agency owns a theatre and NOT through any of the commercial agencies which charge extra fees. Of course you can always book in person at the theatre to avoid booking fees. 
 We all regret the increasing price of theatre-going. But it costs a lot of money to produce shows and we want those involved to earn decent wages, don't we? It is very seldom that anyone makes a profit from putting on a show. We are often offered excellent discounts on our group bookings so it almost seems ungrateful to complain when a popular but high-priced season like this comes along. High prices or not, these plays will be hugely popular and the best seats will sell out quickly. If you want to go, I suggest you book ahead NOW. 
 Mike
 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 10/02/15:  
COMING SOON - Bradley Cooper as The Elephant Man and Kevin Spacey as Clarence Darrow. But don't get excited - we are unable to take the Group to see these plays. They are just the kind of plays we enjoy, and we should like to make a group booking for each, but the producers are not offering group discounts nor accepting group bookings. They have no need. Their thinking is that they will sell tickets no matter the price. Big stars will bring in big bucks, they hope. And I think they may be correct.  
  In addition to high prices, the number of tickets any one person can book for The Elephant Man is being limited to six, to prevent mass reselling on the internet at inflated prices. A further measure to prevent this happening is...did you guess?... inflate the prices at source so no-one buys tickets they don't want!  
  You may be surprised to know what is being charged. To see Bradley Cooper the Premium Price is £108.00 with only rear Stalls and rear Circle at £65.00. The Upper Circle is £45.00. For Kevin Spacey you will have to pay more - all the Stalls and Dress Circle seats are £120.00, except for a few restricted view seats at £65.00 and £55.00. If you think these seats are not going to sell....wrong! The few seats currently left are £120.00, and they are going fast. The Upper Circle is reserved for 'young bookers' who only have to pay £45.00, and those seats are selling fast too. Remaining Upper Circle seats will be offered to the public a week in advance of a performance, if any are left. 
  This is Event Theatre for an elite audience, not for regular theatregoers like us and our Group. These are shows hoping to attract fans who rarely go to a theatre but are willing to pay big money to see their favourites in the flesh, as a special treat, as a special event. 
  Premium Prices are becoming the normal Top Price in the commercial West End. Only subsidised theatres are refraining from introducing this higher rate. It is interesting to note that the Donmar's top price is cheaper than some of the West End's Upper Circles. 
  Mr Spacey has promised to raise millions for the Old Vic before he relinquishes his post as its Artistic Director later this year. But is a blanket Premium Price for his one-man show a fair way of raising this cash?  
  Mr Cooper is bringing his play from Broadway where prices are even higher. Over there, every theatre now caters for an elite audience with money to spare. The regular theatregoer has to choose cheaper Off Broadway shows, just as we are now often taking you to shows in smaller theatres away from the West End to keep average prices down. Is the West End now following the Broadway example and alienating its regular punters? 
 Answers to these questions are in your wallets. There's no business like show business, and Show Business is Big Business. 
  Mike
 
 
Bradley Cooper turning into 
The Elephant Man 
 
 
Kevin Spacey as 
Clarence Darrow
   
Ticket Price Watch update 06/10/14: With the prices you pay for theatre-going when you join our theatre visits, it's easy to forget what the real prices are these days. At one end of the scale are Premium tickets, supposedly the best seats in the house, and at the other end are the discounted seat prices which we are usually able to offer to you as a group. Oddly enough, both these prices can sometimes apply to the same seats! If Premium seats do not sell, they become part of the Top Price seats which are the ones normally offered to groups at a discount. Confusing, isn't it? And it's becoming more confusing too. 
  For the last three years or so, I have been reporting here on the development of the West End Theatre's pricing structure, especially the rise in availability (if not popularity) of Premium seating. These Premium seats are now being marketed differently, making buying a theatre ticket more complicated. The trend is sure to spread, but here I can give you two examples of what it going on. 
  Earlier this year we took our Group to see Sunny Afternoon, the Kinks musical, at Hampstead Theatre. Everyone had a great time; the show proved very popular with audiences and critics alike; it is now opening in the West End. There were no Premium prices at Hampstead but at the Harold Pinter Theatre  now Premium seats are being sold in different packages. Seating at tables has been introduced around the auditorium as well as the usual Premium seats in Stalls and Dress Circle. You can buy a Premium seat for £75.00, or for £90.00 you get a "ticket, lounge entry, drink, plus nibbles (max 6)", or for £100.00 you can celebrate with a "ticket, half bottle of champagne plus chocolates (max 4)". You can even buy a regular Top Price ticket at £49.50 then pay another £45.00 for the champagne extras! 
 This week we are offering you Top Price tickets for the musical Once at the Phoenix Theatre. They are normally £69.50 but for groups the price has been reduced by a huge £30.00 down to only £39.50. But there are other grades of discount as well as other extras you can pay for. The theatre's website says "We're delighted to announce a new Early Bird booking scheme to reward you early bookers. Book your tickets more than six weeks ahead and we'll give you a free upgrade to the next priced ticket. And if you book just three weeks out, you won't get charged a booking fee." The upgrade means you are charged the second price (£45.00) for a Top Price (£69.50) ticket - still more than the group rate we can offer you. There are also Premium Seats for Once at £97.50, BUT "book six weeks in advance and pay the Top Price of £67.50 (no booking fee)". Ah yes, I have excluded on-line booking fees which can go upwards from £2.50 per ticket, depending on which booking agency you pick. Also, ladies and gentlemen, you can treat yourself to a Superseat! This seems to be a Premium seat with extras "a choice of variety box, welcome drink and programme or theatre gift", with no discount for early booking, but at £87.50 actually costs less than a Premium seat. I'm confused and I'm sure you must be too. 
 There is another way of looking at all these booking complications. It is by offering extras and charging higher prices to late bookers and 'special event' bookers that theatres are able to discount prices for early bookers like us. If you want to see a popular show next week or even next month, you have to pay a high price for it. But be an Early Bird and you catch the worm...and the best discounted seats. 
Mike
 
 
 
££££££££££££££££££ 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 29/09/14: Our friend John R has noticed how prices are still creeping up on Broadway. He writes - "I read somewhere that there is to be a new production of Albee's A Delicate Balance at the Golden Theatre NY opening in October (with Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, Clare Higgins and Marth Plimpton). I checked the website and you will be interested to hear that the stalls seats range from $247-$396. How on earth can anyone afford these sorts of sums - I expect there are the usual charges and booking fees on top of all that. London theatre is cheap!!" 
 
In case you are woindering, that's about £155.00 - £250.00 per ticket for A Delicate Balance, but what a cast! 
 
The new semi-staged version of Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel at the London Coliseum has Top Price seats of £155.00. But there are also Gallery seats at £10.00. Booking was heavy...! 
 
  Ticket Price Watch update 25/06/14: The high priced seats have gone higher and the low priced seats have gone lower - so says The Stage newspaper in its annual report on theatre ticket price fluctuations. Last week every newspaper covered the story of Premium seat prices going through the roof, with perhaps less coverage on lower prices getting cheaper and the add-ons such as booking fees at last becoming more visible and less of a surprise when you 'check-out' on line. 
  It is certainly easier now to book theatre tickets on your computer and see exactly which seats are available and what they cost. But it's still cheaper to book directly at a theatre box-office, although we have heard of a theatre even charging a fee then - shame on them. The best option, if you can't get to the theatre itself, is to buy from the company website (ATG, Delfont Mackintosh, SEEtickets) acting for the theatre you want to visit. A show's official website will usually direct you there and they will charge the lowest fees. Avoid the independent agencies unless you don't mind paying hefty extras. Even Ticketmaster usually overcharges in my view. And avoid Viagogo (the re-selling agency) unless you are desperately mad or madly desperate to see a Sold Out performance. 
  I am continually surprised by people willing to pay the Premium prices some theatres charge. The show right out in front is still The Book of Mormon (musical) which now charges £152.25 for its Premium seats. Another contender for top place is, oddly, Bring Up The Bodies (play) which has two premium prices of £112.50 and £92.50, plus a Top Price tickets of £61.50. The Top Price group rate which we offered you reduced those £61.50 seats to only £40.00! In a spirit of 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!', theatres operate their Premium Seat policies to detract from the sales of the rogue agencies and reap extra profit themselves. 
  We also note that several theatres operate a Dynamic Pricing policy. This means that if seats are selling well they will increase the number of Premium Seats offered, thus reducing the number of cheaper Top Price seats, and if a show is not doing so well, the number of Premium seats will be reduced on a day-to-day basis, some even being sent to the TKTS booth for sale at a discount. It's the same policy that airlines have. 
  Before you loose interest in all these prices which most of you will never pay, I must tell you my ulterior motive for giving you this information. We try to keep our prices as low as possible while still offering you some of the best seats available to us. So far this year the average price of the seats we have offered you has been less than £34.00. That figure takes account of Bring Up The Bodies, visits to Covent Garden, and several musicals which of course have to charge higher prices. Come with us to White Christmas and Made in Dagenham and you will SAVE more than £30 on each ticket. Just think of us as a Designer Label Discount Store with departments for every theatrical taste. 
 You can read more about current theatre pricing HERE.  
 
 
££££££££££££££££ 
Ticket Price Watch update 19/04/14: We don't stop keeping a watchful eye open for price increases, even during the Easter Hols, and the Old Vic box office is fortunately open too - yes, this is a continuation of the Clarence Darrow ticket saga (PLEASE DO READ THE ENTRY BELOW BEFORE CONTINUING). Those Standard/Premium tickets (which I now prefer to call Extortion tickets) have been increased in price by the Old Vic. The £90 seats are now being sold at £97.50, or £107.50 for a Saturday evening. They are also offering the SAME SEATS at £150.00 as a VIP package. I asked what we would get in addition for paying the extra and the Customer Services Dept told me it would be a programme and a glass of champagne. Well, Kevin Spacey has said he intends to raise £20m for the Old Vic before he leaves next year, so I guess this extra cash being paid for Clarence will go towards it. A Good Cause. You will be paying nothing towards that good cause if you buy tickets elsewhere, from some of the ticket-selling websites which have somehow managed to get their greedy hands on Clarence Darrow tickets. I picked on two at random and discovered that Getmein.com, a ticketmaster company, were offering top circle seats at £109.99, Dress Circle seats at £229.99, and Stalls seats at £249.99. But if you want to pay more, go to Viagogo.co.uk where you can buy two  Stalls seats for a Thursday evening for £599.96 + a booking fee of £90.00 + a shipping fee of £9.95 + VAT of £18.00, making a grand total of £717.91 for the pair. Too much? They will sell you one restricted view seat in the top circle for £69.00, normally £21.00. This is not what the Old Vic want, and one way of preventing this is to increase prices themselves so no-one thinks it worth buying tickets they don't want and then selling them on for personal profit. The Old Vic Customer Services Dept told me they would "get on to this" and try to have these tickets removed from sale. It should be an illegal practice but is not uncommon on the internet. Buy these tickets and you may find they will not be accepted at the theatre. 
 
 
Clarence again...
Ticket Price Watch update 15/04/14: How much do you want to see Kevin Spacey in David W. Rintels's one-man play Clarence Darrow at the Old Vic? Or more to the point, how much are you prepared to pay? Of course it's a popular choice and the Old Vic have gone into 'extortion mode' to sell it. First they limited sales to their higher-end members, then you could only buy tickets as part of a subscription package with other plays which included their current production Other Desert Cities. Today they have relented and released tickets to those who want to buy for that single play, having perhaps already purchesed tickets for the others. If, like me, you have been unable to even get on line to find out seat availability for Clarence Darrow, only now will you discover that tickets are £5 more expensive for this one-man play than for Electra or The Crucible. And the Premium seat area has been expanded to include seats which are not Premium seats for the other two plays. Most of the Stalls seats for Mr Spacey are £90 each, whatever they like to call them; a few are £60 each. Is this bleeding the audience dry? Or is it valid commercial enterprise? The production is limited to only 22 performances so that will help focus the attention of the fans and send them rushing to the bank for an overdraft. Is Mr Spacey or the one-man play worth it? I expect enough people will think so, enough to fill the place for those 22 performances only. But I still think this is a disgraceful exploitation and an unworthy finale to Mr Spacey's successful tenure as Artistic Director of the Old Vic.
 
 
Clarence
 
Ticket Price Watch update 21/02/14: Only yesterday did we advertise our group booking for Skylight. We warned that the price would be increased at the end of the month but we could not have anticipated just how popular this production is proving. Tickets have been on sale less than a week and today the group discount has been withdrawn. The demand for tickets is so great, they don't need to encourage groups. However, we are fortunate - our group booking is being allowed to stand, discount intact, so you can still SAVE £10 by booking with us. We have an allocation of 60 seats, but if we need just one more, the full price of £62.50 will apply. "Rush for tickets" as they used to say! 
  
Ticket Price Watch update 04/02/14: We always look out for the best group ticket discounts being offered by agencies and producers - some are generous and some are not. But when dealing week after week with discounted tickets, it's sometimes easy to forget the real prices. That is why we always tell you what you are saving - the discount is shown on the prices table on the Future Shows page. This week we have discovered one of our biggest ever discounts - the special group price for The Pajama Game is less than half the usual price - you save a huge £33.50! I decided to check what other websites were charging and I got a shock. By chance I picked upon theatrepeople.com, a smart and informative website which customers certainly pay for. I checked their ticket prices for The Pajama Game to make the comparison fair - same date, same Top Price Stalls seats. Our seats are £29.50 for rows J, K, L, M, and their seats in  row P are £80.00. If you would like to buy their Premium seats in row E of the Stalls, they will charge you £108.00 each. Ticketmaster is charging £66.80 for Top Price seats in row O. Some other agencies are probably charging similar rates. The official agency for the Shaftesbury theatre is SEE Tickets - they advertise the 'face value' of their tickets as £63.00, but, as a group booker booking well in advance, we can buy their tickets discounted to only £29.50! "Condidions apply" - we have to pay before 28 February, but for that discount it is worth shopping early. Moral - It always pays to buy from a theatre's official agency. 
 
Ticket Price Watch update 04/12/13: So what happened to the recession? Thanksgiving is not such a special occasion in this country as in the USA, but certainly it seems that Thankgiving week in New York is the time when everyone decides to treat themselves to theatre tickets. Broadway theatres broke all their box-office records during that special week. Here is a clip from what the Playbill website had to say about it - 
"Why so many shattered box-office records? Well, higher ticket prices help. The average admission during Thanksgiving week to The Lion King, for instance, was $175.84 (that is £107.00). The previous week it had been $120.76. Similarly, Kinky Boots' average duct went for $166.82 during the feast week, a roughly $25 increase over the week ending Nov. 24. There was barely a Broadway show, in fact, that didn't see a nice bump in its average ticket price over Thanksgiving. 
The bursting houses led to an overall box office figure across Broadway of $31,531,067, a massive $7 million over last week's number. Attendance, meanwhile, was up by nearly 30,000. The number of shows on Broadway remained steady at 32." 
Similar figures for the West End, are never published, which is a shame (literally). Why the reticence? But just look at those figures - average admission prices are more than our West End Premium Seats! 
 
Thanksgiving 
week on 
Broadway
Ticket Price Watch update 20/11/13: A friend pointed out to me the other day with some surprise that Premium Seats for Mojo are £85.00. I was less surprised than him, perhaps because I have now got used to the high prices charged for Premium Seats. But then, on second thoughts,  I wondered if I was thinking of the Premium prices for musicals and perhaps this is a new Premium Seat high for a straight play. I am unsure, but what is perhaps surprising is that even the high priced Premium Seats for Mojo are selling well and most performances are on the way to being Sold Out. The play has a super cast and its author Jez Butterworth is certainly a current golden boy of theatreland (after his huge hit Jerusalem). We  would like to have offered you Mojo but producer Sonia Friedman is giving no group reduction and, anyway, it is unlikely that a sufficient number of good seats would have been available to us. It's disappointing for anyone when they can't buy seats for the show they want, but on the other hand we should be pleased that this one is such a big box-office hit. Of course the moral is, as always, book early! But there is some good news - there is a reduced rate for Seniors at mid-week matinees...if you can find any seats left.
 
Ticket Price Watch update 05/09/13: We Will Rock You is not a show I keep an eye on and, now that we have seen The Book of Mormon, that too is rather off radar, ticket price wise. But (thanks to Mark Shenton's blog) I now know that prices for these two shows are 'in the news'. First WWRY has announced it has come to an agreement with its ticket agencies to reduce the booking fees you have to pay if you buy tickets on line. It used to be the theatre charging the highest booking fees in London, but thankfully no more - their new booking fee is a mere £2.25. 
A short walk away from the Dominion at the Prince of Wales Theatre, those Mormons are squeezing their fans' wallets harder by increasing the price of Premium seats. They did this once before, the day after opening night, when suddenly the Premium Price was hiked to £125, the highest in the West End (but still lower than its Broadway prices). Now that Premium rate has been topped with a Premium Premium rate – the best of those Premium seats have now been increased to £150! (Plus booking fee where necessary, of course.) No new seats, cushions, or champagne included, as far as I know, and yet some silly people will pay up, just to get in to see this show, most likely after other seats have been sold. 
When we were booking for The Book of Mormon, we did so well in advance and obtained good seats at a good discount for the Group. And so, please don't encourage 'em by booking seats late - you will only fall into the Premium Seat trap and pay through the nose. 
  
WWRY 
down 
 
 
UP 
(No wonder he's 
jumping for joy!)
Ticket Price Watch update 2/07/13 - Not so long ago we posted a piece about all the House Full notices that were appearing in the West End. Some shows were selling out every night of the week, especially if they had names like Judi Dench or Helen Mirren in their cast. Others had punters succumbing to the advertising hype (The Book of Mormon) and booking months in advance, thus ensuring those House Full notices appeared regularly. And then there are others that defy all the usual reasons and are just popular because people know they are good (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). But of course there's another side to these box-office coins - the shows that struggle and might otherwise be popular if only there was not so much competition from other hit shows. A Chorus Line has announced it is closing early and Top Hat is now closing too although that has had a long run. The reason I am writing this in the Ticket Watch column is that now is a good time to find discounts for those shows that are not pulling in the crowds. It is unfortunate (for the producers if not for the public) that the show which received more 5-star reviews than any show in West End history (it's Merrily We Roll Along) has had to offer discounts since before its official West End opening. If you seach websites such as whatsonstage.com, theatremonkey.com or lastminute.com, etc., you will find reduced price tickets for shows such as The Bodyguard, The Ladykillers, Stomp, A Chorus Line, Top Hat, We Will Rock You, The 39 Steps and of course Merrily and others.  There is also always a good choice at the Leicester Square TKTS booth, and Show Pairs (see above) offer a limited selection.  Of course you may have seen many shows earlier at a reduced price by coming with us but, if you missed out, now is a good time to catch up. 
 
 
FLASH SALE! 
 
DISCOUNTS 
 
Reduced Price 
Tickets 
Ticket Price Watch update 11/04/13 - Coincidentally, following my own thoughts on these matters, The Stage newspaper published a special edition (4 April) devoted to West End ticket pricing. Their annual survey discovered that the top priced seats are going up (average now £81.05 incl. Premium seating) and the lowest priced seats are going down (average now £21.07). The averages fluctuate depending on whether lower priced subsidised theatres are included in the survey with commercial ones. But some of the statistics were particularly interesting - 
  • Average price paid for a West End ticket in 2012: £37.86 (incl. all prices) 
  • Most expensive West End seat: £127.00 (Book of Mormon / The Audience
  • Cheapest seat at a commercial West End play: £12.50 
  • Most expensive seat on Broadway: $477/£315 (Book of Mormon
  • Top Price ticket for Barbra Streisand at the O2: £450.00 
  • Top Price ticket to see an Arsenal game: £126.00 
  • Top price cinema ticket at Odeon, Leicester Square: £25.00 
  • Booking fees would also be added to these prices if you didn't book at the theatre. The survey did not take account of Group rates offered by some theatres. 
    I don't have our figures for 2012 but the average price of the Top Price seats we are offering you so far this year is only £38.72 - you lucky people! 
     
     
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 26/03/13 - It was nearly two years ago that I began this Ticket Price Watch column, and back then I was writing about the exorbitant prices being charged for The Book of Mormon in New York (see foot of this column). We haven't yet quite reached the levels of high finance that plagues New York theatregoers, but we are getting there - records are being broken by increasing prices, and barriers are being built against the possibility of affording regular theatre-going. We try to keep our prices low for you and us, but it ain't easy! That Mormon/Mammon show is back in the news again for breaking records....both for highest prices and for number of bookings. Last Friday was a significant day in the history of theatre. The Book of Mormon had opened the night before and the reviews (mixed!) were published. That day the producer Sonia Friedman announced that the Top Price was being increased from 1 July by £5, from £69.50 to £74.50; in addition the Premium Price was being increased with immediate effect from £85.00 to £125.00 per seat. This crashed through the £100 barrier to an all-time high. I'm inclined to call Ms Friedman the Wicked Witch of the West End as this sudden cashing-in on popularity looks like producer's greed. But it didn't stop the punters - box-office records were broken when £2,107,972 worth of tickets were sold that day. We had fortunately ordered our tickets earlier so were ahead of the rush. We must also be grateful for the generous group offer which is available - those £74.50 seats are reduced for us and you to only £50.00. In still allowing that group reduction, the Wicked Witch may not be such a banker and have a kind streak after all. Of course late-bookers will soon have only the £125 seats left to buy - perfect for corporate entertaining, and anyone keen to impress with expensive gifts, if diamonds are no longer a girl's best friend. While the Donmar tries to encourage a newer/younger audience with cheaper, late-availability seats, the commercial theatre is exploiting that same audience to spend on designer-label theatre, a hyped show you just have to see. As for regular theatre-goers trying to keep going on a limited budget, this show may be another step towards the day when theatregoing becomes more elitist, more a one-off treat, less a cultural habit...just a rip-off, just like Broadway.   Mike 
    MORE NEWS OF PRICES GOING THROUGH THE ROOF: 
    The Book of Mormon - Some seats are being sold on-line for £301.00 plus a booking fee. Our ticket price for Top Price seats is only £50.00 
    The Audience - Some seats are being offered on-line at £245.00, four times their face value. Our ticket price was only £59.00. 
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Seats priced at £57.00 are being sold on line for £100.00. Our ticket price was only £45.00. 
    £ 
     
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 15/01/13 - Yesterday we took the Group to The BodyGuard and were surprised to see so many empty seats, even on a Monday night. They were the best seats too, centre seats, and I guess Premium Seats. Maybe at weekends the Premium seats sell, especially when other seats are full, but certainly earlier in the week, the high priced seats are not wanted. Why do the producers insist on such a pricing structure when most obviously it is not working? In another part of town yesterday....I was checking on ticket availability that day for Privates on Parade. In the morning, their website showed dozens of empty seats; at the TKTS booth, only the cheaper seats were being offered at their full price, and at the theatre again only full price tickets were on offer.  There would have been dozens of top price seats empty for last night's performance and I guess for tonight too. It must be disheartening for the actors to look out at central empty seats with the audience clustered around the cheaper edges of the auditorium. I ask again, why do some producers prefer to have seats empty rather than sell them off more cheaply on the day? I can only guess at their thinking. They like to give an outward impression of popularity even if it means empty seats remain, as it encourages the unaware to pay high prices for later performances. Deceitful or Good Marketing? Does it encourage or discourage you? You decide. 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 28/11/12 - It is quite some time since a price hike has come to my attention. Perhaps we are becoming complacent about the high price of theatre tickets, and we must remember that actors and production team members have to earn a living from what we pay for our entertainment. The prices that have caught my eye are those for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, now that it is transferring from the National's Cottesloe Theatre to the West End. At the National, its top price was £32.00 but in the West End the top price jumps to £54.00, with a £2.50 booking fee in addition (because the National is not paying the booking agency any commision). And they are offering NO group reductions. Obviously the National thinks it has a winner on its hands, and I suspect they are right. It sold out quickly at the Cottesloe so that even many of the National's members could not buy tickets. But that seems to be a National Theatre policy - put potentially popular shows in the smallest theatre so they generate a demand for a transfer to a larger theatre, then increase the prices for the same production! Most transfers from the Cottesloe go to the National's other two theatres with a top price of £47.50. For a West End transfer the price creeps up further. It is irritating for audiences but of course West End theatres receive no subsidy (unlike the National) and the NT hopes to make a profit which will help make ends meet back home on the South Bank. As much as I dislike the pricetag and the lack of a group reduction, I have to admit the prices are no greater than other West End prices. And the play is certainly worth seeing. 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 28/07/12  - It's a while since I had reason to comment on theatre ticket prices, but with the Olympics in full swing, is this a good time to go to the theatre? It's not a time when we can take a coach into the West End but that's no reason for you not to make the trip and look out for special offers. And there are special offers around. It's an unknown factor whether the Olympics will encourage extra bookings from visitors or cause regular theatregoers to stay away. We gave ourselves a "birhday" treat this afternoon (Author: Joe Penall; Theatre: Royal Court) and highly recommend this very funny maternity-ward play to everyone who has or who has not been a parent! And there is a special Olympics Offer of Top Price seats reduced from £28 to only £20.12 (Geddit?). Not available Mondays and you need to quote the promo code '2012' on line or by phone. The critics loved it and so might you.
    Ticket Price Watch update 07/05/12 - We are always keeping an eye open for surreptitious price rises but just occasionally there is a price reduction or at least Special Offers of cheap tickets. This has happened to the unfortunate The King's Speech which has flopped badly. Our Group outing to it was a great success, just about everyone loved it and no doubt we have been recommending it to others. Unfortunately the public have not been so keen and it has posted early closing notices. I think it would have done good business during the Olympics with foreign visitors wanting to see a very British play, but the producers think otherwise and cannot let it go on loosing money any longer. They say they must have brought it to the West End too soon after the film, but it did do well on tour before coming to Wyndham's so why do so few people want to see it? We shall never know. It closes on Saturday 12 May. But this week there are many cheap offers around and we even had an email offering FREE tickets for Bank Holiday Monday, just to help fill the theatre - a sad end to a highly entertaining and beautifully acted play. 
     
    The RSC's Written on the Heart is also closing two months early, on 19 May, having flopped at the Duchess Theatre following a critical success (in repertory) at the Swan Theatre, Stratford. Watch out for offers for that one too until it finishes its run. 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 27/03/12 - Special reduced price seats for Groups are a good selling promotion. You know that, as you benefit from reduced prices for most of the shows we offer you. It does mean you have to pay up front well in advance of the show date, and usually before a show opens, but that is a (cheap) price well worth paying. It benefits you and naturally it benefits the producers too. The producers of Top Hat have been particularly canny as their first Group reduction was an amazing £27.50 OFF Top Price seats. This has brought heavy booking for this show, and it is now difficult to make a group booking before the autumn. They have subsequently increased the price slightly, or rather reduced the reduction, but the group rate is still amazing value. For those who go to buy tickets at the theatre Box Office, the Top Price remains £62.50 for almost all the seats in the Stalls and Dress Circle, even more for those who book on line at agents and have to pay fees. And there are more expensive Premium Seats. The show is a Box Office hit before it even opens, and you are the lucky people who got there early and paid the very low price. 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 03/02/12 - As prices rise we have to ask ourselves what we are getting for our dosh, and at the same time remember VAT is charged on theatre tickets and that rate is now 20%. I have just noticed that a new production arriving in the West End this summer from New York breaks through that £100 barrier for its Premium Seat charge. The Top Price is £77.50 with a Premium rate of £117.50. Previews are cheaper. But before we vow never to enter a theatre foyer again, I must point out that the production runs for eight hours! This is Gatz, a theatrical 'reading' or 're-enactment' of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel 'The Great Gatsby'. Performances begin at 2.30pm, there are intervals, of course, including a 75 minute one for an evening meal, and just think of the stress on the 13 actors involved. It received rave reviews when it ran in New York and the same company is performing it here, four days a week. Cheap at the price - totally collectible and I have to see it.
     
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 20/12/11 - Prices everywhere are increasing and the cost of going to the theatre is no exception. I regularly complain about the introduction of Premium Seats which often puts a large proportion of the best seats out of our price range. BUT, and I'm sure you have noticed this (!), we do try to keep our prices as low as possible while still giving you Top Price Seats. Prices for groups are often very reasonable, and this year those nice people at Covent Garden even arranged a specially reduced price for La Traviata for our group only, as we are such good customers. I am particularly pleased to report that in 2011 we were able to take you to more than 40 shows where the ticket price for best available seats was £35 OR LESS. That is indeed a welcome price when West End theatres are asking up to £65 for Top Price seats and £95 for Premium Seats. We also try to keep your coach fare from Southend to the theatre below the cost of the train fare....and it's certainly more convenient! Theatrically speaking, we offer you the soft option in hard times!
      
     
    Poor Thandie Newton - she makes her West End stage debut at the newly renamed Harold Pinter Theatre then no-one wants to go. Already closing notices have been posted for 31st December. But if you really really want to see Death And The Maiden, ATG have a Special Offer. Already they have been advertising reduced priced seats first for matinees, then weekday evening performances, and now you can have a Top Price seat + a programme + a glass of champagne for ONLY £34.50 at any performance including Saturdays. Hold the champagne and it's even cheaper. You can find your way to their booking website by clicking HERE.
    Ticket Price Watch update 15/11/11- We all look towards next year's Olympics with a certain apprehension, not knowing how it will affect theatreland. There are rumours that some theatres may close for the duration, assuming people will be worrying about transport or thinking more of Games than plays. The first sign of trouble ahead (and I mean trouble for the Box Office return figures) is a group price reduction for one of the West End's musicals - the group rate is being reduced for the period 1 July to 6 September in the hope that group bookers will decide now and worry about transport later. But we are worrying now and postponing decisions until later...
      
      
    Ticket Price Watch update 04/11/11 - Here's something really stupid from lastminute.com. They are advertising Top Secret Theatre Tickets. They say "The secret is, we can only confirm you’ll be in one of the theatre’s top three seating bands - you’ll find out exactly where once you pick up your tickets on the day of the performance." The prices are fixed at £35.00 for musicals and £27.50 for plays, giving you "up to £30 OFF". Beware that "up to". You could be disappointed to be sitting in the back of the Stalls (saving little) whereas for a few pounds more you could probably buy tickets at the TKTS Booth in Leicester Square and be guaranteed specified Top Price seats at a little over half price. Today, for example, lastminute.com are offering seats for Crazy For You at £35.00 which means you could be getting Rear Stalls seats at only £4.50 OFF whereas TKTS sell Top Price £62.50 seats for only £39.50. Caveat Emptor! And our Crazy price was only £29.50!
     
     
    Top Secret 
    Theatre Tickets 
    ?
    Ticket Price Watch update 21/10/11 - I heard a rumour that at least one show had started charging £100 for its Premium seats. Maybe it was less a rumour than a Chinese whisper as I can't trace the culprit. Of course with a booking fee added, a seat at several shows may cross that £100 barrier if booked at one of the independent agencies. As I have said before, you get the best deal if you book with the company that owns the theatre (Ambassadors Theatre Group, Delfont Macintosh, Nimax, or SEEtickets for Lloyd Webber's theatres). But for a show nearing that £100 Premium seat charge, look no further than Billy Elliot where Premium seats are now £95 (but with only a £1 booking fee at SEEtickets). Their Top Price Stalls are £30 cheaper at £65.
      
    Ticket Price Watch update 03/10/11 - The latest show to break through the 'highest price' barrier is The Lion in Winter, another high priced production at the Haymarket Theatre. We mentioned that no group discount was being offered (see below) but now we see although their Top Price is £60 they hope to sell Premiujm Seats at £90. Both these prices are barrier breakers for a straight play. While Joanna Lumley and Robert Lindsay take a break from their tv appearances, we are expected to pay 'event' prices for the honour of viewing them live on stage. Both can be good actors and I'm sure they are very nice people, but are they (plus James Goldman the playwright) worth paying £90 (+ fees) for a 'best' Stalls seat? Unless the producers come up with a good discount for groups, the answer is No.
      
    An article in Time Out asked recently "Is the West End worth it?" (You can read it HERE.) Well, you have to decide that but, with half West End seats being sold last year at a discount, our recommendation must be 'shop around for those discounts', 'don't pay inflated fees at unscrupulous agencies', 'avoid Premium seating' or of course 'buy tickets from us!' We don't charge a fee and we do tell you what discounts we are offering.
      
    Ticket Price Watch update 13/09/11 - Last words on South Pacific, I promise! Those infamous £85 Premium seats are now often being sold off at the TKTS booth for £43. Let's hope the producers of this show and of other future shows have learned the lesson that they cannot exploit their customers by pretending regular Stalls seats are special just because they hike the price and label them Premium!
    £.00
    Ticket Price Watch update 23/08/11 - Apologies for going on and on about the prices for South Pacific. But really this show is currently leading the way in what the profession likes to call 'dynamic pricing'. This is a polite pseudonym for charging whatever prices bring in the most cash. The number of seats at those notorious Premium Prices mentioned earlier is increasing or decreasing from date to date, depending on whether tickets are selling at the higher price of £85. If not, they are being reduced to £65 with "an invitation to upgrade your seat to a Premium Seat - FREE" Ha, ha!  At the other extreme, I have discovered a website trading under the misleading name of discounttheatre.com which is charging £106.50 per person for £85.00 seats on the night we are being given £65 seats reduced to £45.00. Crazy! 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 19/08/11- You don't have to travel far to escape the inflated ticket prices of the West End. Take a trip on the Bakerloo line to Swiss Cottage and the Hampstead Theatre there still only charges £29.00 to sit in their Stalls. It's a flat price rate so the earlier bookers get the better seats. You still see top grade productions of new plays with interesting casts, but for the theatre the overheads are smaller. We are taking our first coach trip there to see The Last of the Duchess. We hope the Group will find it good value and up to West End standards. 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 03/08/11 - It's now the turn of The Lion In Winter to follow The Tempest by offering no discount for groups. The prices are high AND the Haymarket Theatre, or rather the play's producers, insists on charging a booking fee on each ticket if we phone to reserve seats. Booking fees are not normally charged on group bookings by phone but obviously the producers think they can get away with it for these two productions, the third and fourth in the Trevor Nunn season. For the first two plays, Flare Path and Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead, they gave group discounts with no fees but they assume star names will sell tickets at high prices. We wish to differ! We sold very few tickets for Ralph Fiennes in The Tempest so please let us know what put you off - the play, the high top price, or us offering alternative Upper Circle Seats? We think that Joanna Lumley and Robert Lindsay (remember the fiasco of Onassis?) will not attract our Group to The Lion In Winter at £60 +£3.50 booking fee +£1 restoration fee (plus coach fare). Are we right? We have no plans to offer you this production unless a good discount is offered to us. 
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 28/07/11 - Two legendary award-winning actors return to the West End...so prices are high, of course. This time, for Driving Miss Daisy, we do receive a group discount of a fiver on the Top Price of £58.50. But this is better than at first it seems. Book with the 'wrong' agency and you will pay additional booking/admin fees of, for example, £9.28 ('See TICKETS'), or £12.50 (London Theatreland, Time Out, etc), much higher than the norm. The 'right' agency is always the one authorised by the producers/theatre owners - Delfont Mackintosh for this play. Tickets at face-value can only be purchased at the theatre. 
     
    For an explanation of why agencies have to charge these fees, click  HERE.  
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 19/07/11 - The National's smash hit One Man Two Guvnors is moving to the West End. And its prices are going up. At the National the top price was £45 but at the Adelphi the Top Price has been increased to £52.50 plus an extra £1 'restoration fee', and there are Premium Seats at £85+£1. There are no reductions for groups. Of course at the National your seats are subsidised, but in the West End you have to pay what the producers decide will maximise their profits. Any profits from the West End run of One Man Two Guvnors will help to subsidise future productions at the National. War Horse is currently bringing thousands to the National. One Man Two Guvnors has completely sold out at the National so you can't blame them for cashing in by transferring it to the West End and giving a far wider audience the chance of seeing it.
     
     
    Ticket Price Watch update 14/07/11 - Tickets for The Tempest with Ralph Fiennes have gone on sale with no discount for groups. We regard the top price of about £65 including a booking fee as too expensive to offer to our Group as the price including coach would have to be £78. We are offering seats in the Upper Circle instead, but will buy top price seats for anyone who requests them.
     
    Price Watch update 4/07/11 - The group rate for South Pacific has now been revised, giving a £20 discount on the top two prices. This has enabled us to offer £65 seats for £45, a much more reasonable price for groups to pay.
    Although prices are creeping up, show by show,  we always try to keep down the costs to you. As you know, if you have been reading my News here, The Children's Hour was one of the first plays that tried to charge £85 for their so-called 'Premium' seats and £65 for their regular 'Top Price' seats. They soon had to reduce their number of those Premium seats as they just weren't selling at that exorbitant price. 
     We decided NOT to book for South Pacific at the Barbican as most of their Stalls and Dress Circle were £85 with no reduction for groups. Recently they relented and knocked a tenner off for groups (still too expensive!) and now this week they are offering to "upgrade your seats - buy £85 seats for only £65". No thank you! 
     West End prices usually follow the trend on Broadway so Be Prepared. This year's big Tony award winner (it won 9 Tonys) was The Book of Mormon, a new musical which all the Broadway critics fell in love with. The producers are now hoping audiences will love it enough to turn Mormon into mammon and are introducing a new price schedule as follows - 
    'Top Price' seats: $155; Thanksgiving week $175; Aisle seating $182 
    'Premium Seats': $302; Fri-Sun performances $352 
    At about $1.50 to the £, that's at least £100 for what they think is a good, but not the best, seat. 
     I wonder who the first West End producer will be to try selling us tickets at £100 each. It could be the end of the regular theatre-going we know and enjoy. On the other hand, we cannot expect prices to be frozen - everyone involved with a production needs to earn a living wage and we must expect to pay for the pleasure they give us. In the subsidised theatre sector, minimum wages are standard, even for Jude Law at the Donmar. We remain eternally thankful to the theatres who appreciate our regular group bookings, offer us good reductions and keep their prices affordable. Let us hope London will not follow New York just yet. 
    Mike   14/06/11
     
     
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 
     
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$
    _________________________________________________________________________________________
    ______________________
     
    For tickets at almost half price try the -  
    http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/tkts/today http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/tkts/today  
    Click logo for details. 
     
    ***