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Click HERE for reviews of current West End shows.
BUYING THEATRE TICKETS
The easiest way to buy London theatre tickets, especially if you are out of town or buying for more than one show at a time, is to use a ticket agent. Along with providing a one-stop service, they can frequently find tickets even to sold-out shows and offer discounts and deals not available elsewhere.
We are affiliated with one of the best, and you can do all your ticket shopping at once by clicking here.
Of course you will pay a service charge for the convenience. But we and any other reputable agents will give you a clear total price, listing the base ticket cost and any add-ons, before asking for credit card details, so you can always stop the purchase if you're not pleased.
If convenience and access to exclusive bargain deals are not a priority, you can buy tickets on your own. Although
this goes against our own interests, we remember our own
impoverished-student days and offer offer these money-saving tips.
Buy Direct You do have the option of buying directly from each individual theatre, either online, by mail or phone, or in person. Online, mail and phone bookings will carry a service charge, while buying at the theatre itself will not.
Day Seats Many West End shows have adopted the National Theatre's long-held policy of holding back a block of cheap seats (often the front row, for some reason unpopular with full-paying audiences) for sale on the day of performance. These can only be bought in person at the theatre, and you may have to be there when the box office opens in the morning.
Half Price Those on a budget will want to visit the Society of London Theatres' half-price "tkts" booth in Leicester Square, where tickets to many shows are sold at deep discounts up to seven days in advance. You have to buy in person (no phone orders), selecting from the list of what's available, but in practice all but a very few sold-out hits are available most days. Discounts vary, but are generally close to half-price, and the booth also sells full-price tickets.
(Be sure to use the official "tkts" booth, which is a free-standing building in Leicester Square itself, not the many storefront brokers on the side streets that all call themselves the "official" half-price booth but somehow run out of discounts just as you get there, and have been known to sell unsuspecting tourists balcony seats at stalls prices.)
Standby Students and senior citizens can get the best deal with standby tickets. Most theatres will sell you the best remaining seats for the next performance, for about the price of the cheapest. In most cases standby tickets aren't available until about an hour before the show, though some theatres will sell them earlier in the day, or even a day in advance. Phone or visit the theatre and ask if they're likely to have standby -- they'll give you an honest answer.
Beat the Critics Most new shows have a week or more of preview performances before the official Opening Night. While sometimes there are last-minute script changes or technical glitches, most of the time you'll see the same show as everyone else later on. If you don't need critics to tell you whether you'll like it, you can save up to 50% on ticket prices during previews.
If you come to London by train (intercity or commuter, but not underground), you can get two-for-one tickets to STOMP, THRILLER and THE WOMAN IN BLACK, along with other London attractions. Click through to the Days Out Guide.
**OYSTER CARD OFFERS**
At the moment, there are no two-for-one offers for Oyster Card holders. When a new batch are announced, we will provide a link from this page.
**NATIONAL THEATRE FRIDAY RUSH**
Each Friday at 1:00 the National Theatre releases a block of 20 pound tickets for each performance of each play for the following week. These can only be booked online at the NT's website.
**CHEAP TICKETS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE**
Several established theatres, including the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court, Old Vic, Hampstead, Bush, Tricycle and Orange Tree, offer cheap tickets to students or under-25s. Check each theatre's website for details. Many other off-West End and Fringe theatres also offer student discounts, and a few West End shows do as well, so always ask.
Theatrefix, a project of the Society of London Theatres, offers discounted tickets to West End and Fringe shows to 16-26 year olds. Click through to Theatrefix for details.
Mousetrap Theatre Projects is a charity (funded in part by the profits of the eternally-running whodunit) that encourages young people's involvement in theatre. Among their programmes are one that offers 15-18 year olds West End tickets for as little as 5 pounds, and another providing 10 pound tickets to 19-23 year olds. Click through to Mousetrap Theatre Projects for details.
Also see the notes above about Student Standby tickets to West End shows.
Unlike in France, you're not expected to tip your usher. But unlike America, you don't get a free programme book. If you want one, you have to buy it from the usher - currently the most common price is 4 pounds, though some more glossy booklets go for 6 pounds or more. Typically a programme has cast and author biographies and some magazine-style articles. The National Theatre, the Royal Court and some Off-West End and Fringe theatres give out free one-page cast lists if that's all you want.
For this you'll really have to check daily papers or ring the theatres, since there are no constants. Most shows have performances Monday through Saturday evenings, with matinees Saturday and one weekday, possibly Tuesday, more likely Wednesday or Thursday. But a few shows have a Sunday performance in place of Monday, and occasionally a show will have two evening performances on Friday.
Evening performances may start anytime between 7:00 and 8:30, with 7:30 and 8:00 the most common, so be sure to check when you buy your ticket. Matinees are most likely to be 2:30 or 3:00.
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