Every day, for the past 30 years people have been coming to me to buy tickets for West End show – even at the weekend a friend or family member will call me and ask for tickets – “because you can get good tickets right? Simon?” Well yes, I can.
And every day for the past 30 years I’ve been asked questions around going to the theatre: what is the best show? What is the closest tube station? Do they have toilets? I’m going on a weekend break, where’s a good hotel?
So earlier this year I decided to write a book. Nothing complicated, just some of the general information I have picked up over the last thirty years of working in the theatre industry. So I started typing and 40 pages later I thought I better stop before I start to bore people! Do I go on so much when people ask me for information? Do they start to flag half way through my answer? Because I do get carried away: it is interesting that although the easy access for the St Martin’s Theatre is in the dress circle, the easy access at the Victoria Palace theatre is in the stalls.
This is not only important for those who need easy access – wheel chair users, the elderly etc. It is also useful to know because if you sit in those areas you will get to the bar first, or the loo (especially important for ladies as there is always a queue at the interval and everyone wants to be the smug person coming out rather than the desperate person going in – remember, all the time you are queuing the ice is melting in your Gin and Tonic!)
And it is not just about the theatres. What about the best places for a pre-theatre meal, the close ones not only give you the chance to pick up your tickets whilst you wait for your starter but getting one close by means you don’t have far to waddle to get to your seats – no one likes to dash across town on a full stomach! And these restaurants will specifically cater for people going to the theatre. They will know when you need to be out and they will probably have a good deal. They are also a great place to return to after the show for dessert and coffee… and maybe a nightcap! How civilised it would be not to have to neck the rest of the bottle of wine as you pay the bill, but put it aside for later?
But what London theatre is not, is FREE! It can be cheap though, or rather ‘cheaper’, so whether you want a deal or just cheaper tickets, the book talks about that too!
Most Important Tip
When buying tickets ALWAYS ask what seats you will be getting and what their “Face Value” is. The only time this is not always possible is when dealing with a holiday company selling theatre breaks, but as long as they have the STAR badge you can trust them to give you a good ticket… but back to what I was saying: always ask where the seat is and what the face value is. “Face Value” is an industry term for the price the ticket would normally cost at the theatre’s box office. By knowing this you know whether the price you are paying is fair. Under an industry agreement, agents can charge up to 25% so never pay more than that and if you shop around you should pay no more than £3 to £5. During the week many shows are discounted, so unless you are desperate to see a particular show, you should be able to save a nice amount of money – up to £30 per ticket in some cases – or at least get a free meal…
Crikey do I go on or what!?
So for a FREE copy of my book click the link below and start getting the very best out of your London theatre-going.
Author Simon Harding runs a suite of sites that promote theatre breaks around the United Kingdom. He also recently wrote London Theatre and Theatre Breaks, a downloadable guide to getting the best out of London’s Theatreland.