Friday, April 15, 2016

The New York theatre ticket experience

That's one thing off my bucket list: Visit New York. Well, I suppose two things for anyone who doesn't consider "See a Broadway show" to be synonymous to visiting New York. I only booked in advance for Wicked despite knowing I would want to see more shows. Seeing as there was nothing else specific I was absolutely desperate to watch, I decided to chance it and look for cheap tickets when I got there. This turned out to be a good decision in my situation. As I am still a student, I did not have a lot of money to spend but I still wanted to get the most out of New York and have the Broadway experience. 

Compared to the West End, Broadway tickets are, on average, more expensive. Off-Broadway shows are also more expensive that their London counterparts. Where it is possible to get a variety of deals for tickets online for shows in London and the prices can vary greatly depending on where you look, Broadway seems to have more uniformity when it comes to the pricing of tickets. "Cheap" is not really a thing. To put this into context: Our Wicked tickets cost $159 (about £110) each for mid-stalls. To see Wicked in London you would be looking at a face value of around £65 for a similar view. I paid $58 (roughly £40) per ticket to see The Fantasticks including a 30% discount. Your full price ticket to a professional off-West End show in a venue of a similar size would cost £20-25.

The main paths to cheaper tickets are lotteries, general rush tickets, standing room only (SRO) tickets and the TKTS ticket booths. The general rush tickets work in a similar way to West End day seats: get to the box office early on the day of the performance and you could secure yourself a cheap front row seat to the show. However, you may have to get there hours before the box office opens. The same rule tends to apply for SRO tickets or they could be offered to people who don't win in the lottery. Lotteries you sign up within a certain time frame either online or in person (on the day or the day before depending on the show). They then pull the lucky winners out of the hat. The prices for general rush and lottery tickets vary between $10 and $50 and you can normally get a maximum of two tickets per person per show. I signed up to all the online lotteries and won $28 front row seats for The Phantom of the Opera for that evening. I found this website the most helpful when researching day seats:

The main TKTS booth is located on Times Square and offers last minute discounts of up to 50% on Broadway and off-Broadway performances. Find out what time the booth opens and get there early in order to secure the best deals. Despite arriving 10 minutes after the booth's opening time I managed to secure Fantasticks tickets for the evening. I ended up having to queue for about half an hour but this was on a Monday when most Broadway theatres are dark so I would expect the queue to be longer on other days of the week. 

Although I obviously wish I had been able to see everything, time and money prevented that. Had the weather been warmer I might have tried for some general rush tickets but I was very happy with the two sets of discounted tickets I was able to get on the day. Obtaining cheaper tickets can be more effort but then, for a theatre buff that could be a part of the so-called Broadway experience.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

£8.50 youth tickets at Chichester Festival Theatre

What prevents many young people from attending the theatre regularly? I consider the cost of attending shows to be a big factor. It is usually cheaper to see something at the cinema than seeing a professional theatre production. Particularly musical theatre can be a very expensive viewing experience. Chichester Festival Theatre encourages young theatre-goers to see more shows by putting aside a certain number of seats for every performance of every show, and selling these to young people aged between 16 and 25 for £8.50 each. This scheme has recently been relaunched as 'Prologue' and requires the young person to sign up to the scheme (the sign-up is free). The seats are of course not the best in the house being side view but they are certainly not the worst ones either, and with the incredibly high quality of CFT productions in general, the seats are fantastic value. 

I have taken advantage of the £8.50 tickets on a number of occasions during my time at Chichester university. As far as musicals go, I saw Guys and Dolls, Gypsy and A Damsel in Distress. The former two ended up transferring to the West End after their respective runs in Chichester. I also saw the plays The Rehearsal and most recently, in February, Single Spies. My next Prologue show will be the new musical version of Travels with My Aunt in May which will be my end of semester treat. The production was otherwise sold out by the time the Prologue tickets were released a month before the opening so I rushed to book mine. I will definitely also book to see one of my favourite shows, Half A Sixpence, which will be on at CFT in the summer. 

More information available on the CFT website: