Of all the hobbies in the world, it’s rather unfortunate that I fell for one of the more pricey ones. Whilst there ARE affordable shows and tickets out there these days (which frankly is a blessing), lets not skirt around the fact that the theatre life can leave you out of pocket. Whilst I’m no Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert, I do have a couple of tips and tricks that help make my money go further. I should probably point out that I’m not taking into account my reviewing shenanigans here, where I receive complementary tickets in return for reviews; I’m talking only about the shows I choose to spend my own dolla on. So, lets get to it…
Get Yourself A Theatre Buddy
I’m very fortunate to have a best friend who’s as theatre mad as I am, and in the last few years we’ve got into a rather lovely system of buying the other theatre tickets for birthday and Christmas presents. Not only can you fool yourself into the delusion that you’re somehow saving money (despite spending anything you’d saved by being given tickets for your birthday on returning the favour on THEIR birthday…), you might end up broadening your stagey horizons.
We tend to drop really heavy hints on what we want to see in advance, rather than it being a surprise, and you might even end up finding a new favourite. I probably would never have chosen to see Little Shop of Horrors had it not been suggested by my bestie as her birthday theatre trip, and that musical has ended up being one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Who would’ve thought it?
If you’re on Facebook and Twitter, following the right people can present a whole range of opportunities to enter stagey giveaways. For just a simple like or retweet, you could be end up being the lucky winner of tickets, soundtracks, merchandise, sometimes even meet and greets with the cast of a variety of shows. I enter these giveaways RELIGIOUSLY, and whilst I’ve never won tickets to a show, I’ve twice won really cool things on Twitter. AND they were both from my two all-time favourite musicals: a Kinky Boots goodie bag, and a signed Wicked tenth anniversary programme, both of which I’ll treasure forever. Believe me when I say that nothing compares to getting that notification saying you’re a winner.
So, who should you be following? I recommend Ticket Partner Websites (TheatreDeals and BoxOffice.com are good ones), and the social media of individual musicals, e.g. An American In Paris’ Facebook/Twitter pages. But I swear, if somebody finds those giveaways from this blog post and manages to win tickets to something, it’s only right to take me as a guest. Otherwise, there WILL be tears and retribution. *Cell Block Tango plays menacingly in the background…*.
Student Discount is a glorious thing, and not only for the free McDonalds burgers. If you’re a student and booking theatre tickets, it’s always worth double checking if there’s a discount for you: we all know how important it is to save those precious pennies for your Lambrini and Supernoodles. My two most often visited theatres are ideal for students: York Theatre Royal offer concessionary tickets for students, and Sheffield Theatres have an AMAZING scheme called Live For Five: those aged between 16-26 have the chance, around once a month, to grab a limited number of £5 tickets for some of their upcoming shows. I for one absolutely love this move in making theatre more accessible for the younger (and skint-er) population, and you even get a plus one, who DOESN’T have to fall between this age range. May the odds be in my favour for getting Legally Blonde tickets in September; I’ll fight you for them.
Now, I’m quite new to TodayTix. As I’m not London based and unfortunately West End shows are not a regular occurrence for me (due to both health and finances), it’s not a system that I’m able to use frequently. HOWEVER, you and me both can still benefit here. By popping over to their website and signing up for an account, you can access some pretty decent last minute ticket prices, and enter lottery style ticket schemes, for current West End shows. AND you can get an additional £10 off with my code: ZXMAB. And if you do use my code for your purchase, you’ll help a gal out and give me £10 of credit of my own. Be a good person, support a theatre addict today… *emotional piano music plays whilst Pippa looks soulfully out of a window into the rain*.
Choose Seats Carefully
Seating arrangements are the one area where I would possibly advise spending a tad MORE money, in order to enjoy the best value of money out of the performance. When booking your tickets, it can be tempting to go for the restricted view bargain seats, but I can guarantee it will seem like less of a good idea when you’ve paid £15 to look at a structural pillar for two and a half hours. If you know the theatre and its layout and you want to risk it, fair enough. But if you’ve never visited the venue before and want to enjoy a show, my advice would be that it’s better value to spend a couple of quid extra and enjoy the whole experience with a full view of the stage. But on the same token, you don’t need premier seats in the stalls for an excellent view; the dress circle or even the front rows of the upper circle are usually a good call. We had a fab view from our dirt-cheap Upper Circle seats for Priscilla at Sheffield Lyceum (see below!).
It’s no secret that a trip to the theatre is a pricey affair, especially if you really make a day of it. If you were to buy a new outfit, and go out for a meal beforehand, have a drink at the bar and an ice cream at the interval, AND a taxi both ways, your trip could easily end up surpassing your initial budget. And that’s before you even consider whether this is a West End show, where in my case there’s train tickets and overnight stays to factor in too. So, if you’re not yet an affluent middle class member of society, which I’m sure it’s not secret that I am not, you need to use your noggin and THINK about what you really need. Wear something already hanging in your wardrobe, eat before you leave the house, consider a humble tap water rather than a prosecco, and *whispers* smuggle some Haribo in your handbag for the interval. I know it’s not exactly the same as a thoroughly classy evening, but you’re still going to see a show and enjoy it exactly the same regardless of how much you’ve spent that day.
Now, I’m pretty good at taking my own advice on the above, but I’m not ashamed to tell you that my weakness lies in the black hole of commercial consumerism that is merchandise. When I come out of an excellent show, usually in some kind of heightened emotional state, it’s simply dangerous to expose me to the merchandise stand. Mugs, clothing, posters, pin badges, a rogue fridge magnet, I’m convinced I need it all and yet I’m here to tell you that you DON’T. Obviously there’s nothing wrong at all with treating yourself to a little souvenir, but that stuff is never cheap. Take it from me and the ever-evolving Wicked shrine in my bedroom…
UK Tours/Regional Productions over West End Shows
I firmly believe that no experience matches up to seeing a show on the West End, but I also firmly believe that doing so on a regular basis will unfortunately leave you bankrupt. Whilst I have a never-ending list of West End shows that I NEED to see, I’m lucky if I get to see one a year. And that’s completely okay: not only because it makes the whole experience that more special for me, but also because UK tours are also A Thing, and An Excellent Thing at that. If a show is a West End success, the chances are that it’ll tour some time. And when it does, get straight in there and get your affordable tickets, take away the costs of travelling to London, and have a jolly good time at a location convenient to you. And whilst you’re doing so, PLEASE keep your fingers crossed that Half A Sixpence announces a tour soon…
So there you have it. I have NO idea if this will be helpful to anybody, or indeed if anybody other than me will actually use it. But I live in hope: I feel like a lot of my generation write-off theatre trips as a pricey way to spend an evening (as opposed to spending all your student finance on Jägerbombs and a daily Dominoes takeaway habit, but y’know…), and I hope this has somewhat proven that it doesn’t have to be this way. If you have any tips of your own, especially for the West End, do let me know. We can fuel our theatre habits together, and hopefully not become bankrupt at the same time. Yay!
If you liked this post, you might like this one: My Top 10 All-Time Favourite Musicals!