As you all might already know, I think of London as my second home: it’s where I feel at my happiest and closest to those most important friends I have, and of course not forgetting the theatre scene! If my personal circumstances were different, if I’m completely honest I’d up and move there tomorrow but as things are I’m afraid that’s one dream that will have to stay firmly stuck in its metaphorical pipe. That in mind, I love nothing more than travelling to London whenever I can, which I am lucky to say is at least once every few months. As my parents worry about me travelling alone, I have to work around the Bristol City football fixtures (my dad is the resident football fan in our house and goes to every home game), their job and any other commitments my parents might have, as my dad drives me. That in mind, except in the case of 5 particular performers who my dad is willing to make exceptions for, I’m limited to Saturdays only, and preferably matinees.
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t wish it wasn’t more, but I’m not complaining. However, I am starting to worry. Worrying about how feasible even those trips every few months might become in the future, not only for me but for others who love the theatre in London as much as I do. My worry comes from an article I came across recently from The Stage. The article, which you can find in its entirety here:
http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2014/06/cost-top-west-end-show-tickets-trebles-10-years/ says among other things, that the musical The Book of Mormon has increased its top seat ticket prices to £152.25.
Before I continue, I should point out that I have not seen this show and I don’t wish to. Pricing aside for just a minute, the subject matter and humour of the writers has never appealed to me (I don’t like South Park, sue me). But even to me, who is after all just your average audience member and not an expert on the industry and why prices fluctuate so much, £152.25 is ludicrous irrespective of how good it might be or how successful it’s become. Yes, if you want the ‘best’ seats at any musical, you’re going to be prepared to pay more, I guess what unnerved me more about the rising prices is the fact that I’m noticing them more in my own theatre going, and being in my wheelchair I am faced with two hard truths. The first being I can only sit in certain areas of the theatre, and because of that I’m unable to take advantage of the cheaper ticket deals that can sometimes be found for certain shows, and as well as that living two hours from London means I can’t queue for dayseats. Even if I was able to, the chair means I probably couldn’t get them anyway… so what do you do in my situation?
Of course, you’re left with no other option than to pay whatever the price might be, and these are creeping up. When I started attending the West End regularly in the summer of 2011 with my parent’s buying me Les Misérables tickets for my birthday, they paid £42 for the two not including booking fee. So at the time, the theatres ‘Access Rate’ which in my circumstances I’m entitled to for myself and a companion, was £21, a price which I paid for many a trip there. When I went back to Les Mis earlier this month for my 11th visit the ticket was £35, exactly same seats.
Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to snag some tickets to two productions in the Donmar Warehouse’s upcoming season, City of Angels and My Night with Reg. One thing I noticed was that for City of Angels, the ‘Access Rate’ price had risen to £22.50, and remained its usual £15 each for My Night With Reg, and for my Box F seat at The Shaftesbury I pay £65 for two tickets.
Now, neither of these are as atronomical as the Book of Mormon rise, but I also learned recently that even the ‘Access Rate’ can be a tricky beast with many bands.
Back in May, my friend & I went to the Box office of the Piccadilly Theatre to book our 5th trip to our favourite Jersey Boys. We paid £36, again a rise from the price we paid to go in its previous home, but I don’t mind here, it’s my favourite and my view is miles better from my designated space than it ever was at The Prince Edward (now home to Miss Saigon), but where I took issue was that, when I booked by phone for my trip in June next week, I was charged almost 3 times that, for the exact same seats, all because I was placed in a different band. How this happened I don’t know, as my condition never changes but credit where due to the Theatre Manager and ATG tickets, I was given a refund of the difference and my query was dealt with smoothly and swiftly. The lesson I learned was I might be better off booking my theatre fixes whenever I’m already in town, at least for Jersey Boys.
You’re probably all thinking: ‘Go To London Less! See more local theatre, you have one at home!’ Yes, yes I do. It might be cheaper in long run, but I wouldn’t get the same joy from it, not when our viewing is right at back and most of my close friends are nearer to London. I’d rather pay a bit more and be able to see a little better in London, if I just wanted to hear I’d stay at home & listen to the cast albums. That said, when you’re not working like me at the moment, it all adds up, full price or not. Something might have to give, and I wonder if it’ll be my regular theatre going status…