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The Stage ticketing survey: prices stabilise for first time since pandemic
GIVERNY MASSO EXCLUSIVE
Top-price tickets in the West End have stabilised after a 20% surge last year compared to before the onset of the Covid pandemic, a survey by The Stage has revealed.
The average most expensive ticket for West End productions in 2023 was £141.37, a 0.4% rise compared with £140.85 in 2022 and far less of an increase than inflation of 8.7% (based on the consumer price index) over the past 12 months.
However, the cheapest tickets cost on average £25.44 this year – a 12.8% increase on the figure of £22.56 in 2022.
In 2023, The Stage surveyed the top and bottom ticket prices of shows running on June 24 at 51 theatre spaces eligible for main-category Olivier Awards as part of its ticketing survey, which has run annually since 2012, except for a two-year hiatus in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic. Six theatres were dark this year.
According to West End box office data for 2022, released by the Society of London Theatre in February this year, the overall average ticket price last year was £54.38, up £2.21 since 2019.
There were two anomalies in this year’s survey: the National Theatre’s annual youth theatre festival Connections, which ran at the NT’s Dorfman space with all tickets priced at £5, and Operation Mincemeat, for which every seat in the theatre cost £79.50, plus a £3.80 fee per transaction.
When these anomalies are removed, the average cheapest seat cost £24.59 – a 9.0% increase on the 2022 figure – and the average most expensive ticket was priced at £146.78, a 4.2% increase.
Most expensive musical
Cabaret at Playhouse Theatre
M A R C B R E N N E R
Average top-price West End ticket 2023: £141.37 2022: £140.85
0.4% on 2022 Average bottom-price ticket 2023: £25.44 2022: £22.56
12.8% on 2022
Jon Thoday, producer for Operation Mincemeat, said the show was using flat pricing, whereby every seat in the theatre is priced the same at every show. He said that in order to offer cheaper tickets at £39.50 on Mondays and Tuesdays, the producers had to balance this with pricier tickets at £79.50 on Fridays and Saturdays.
Many of the lowest-priced tickets across the survey were already sold out when the data was gathered, or were for seats with a restricted view.
The most expensive ticket was Cabaret at the Playhouse for the second year running, with top-price tickets costing £303.80.
The National Theatre’s production of The Crucible at the Gielgud Theatre was the most expensive play this year, at £150. But this was £49.50 cheaper than last year’s top-price play, To Kill a Mockingbird.
NT executive director Kate Varah said: “Across all our productions, we ensure we have a range of tickets available at different price points. Productions we stage in the West End are produced without subsidy and, with The Crucible specifically, we are offering ticket prices that range from £20 to £150 to ensure we can continue to honour the NT’s objectives to create work and share stories in an accessible and sustainable manner.”
The cheapest ticket available for a musical was for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic, at £14.50, which included a transaction fee.
Laura Stevenson, executive director at the Old Vic, said that inflation had been a challenge for both theatres and audiences.
She added: “While we have to ensure we are maximising income to cover our rising costs, the Old Vic is also committed
Most expensive play £150The Crucible at Gielgud Theatre
J O H A N P E R S S O N
to offering a variety of ticket prices. Pricing starts with our PwC £10 Previews ticket scheme, which offers half the house at £10 for the first five previews; and our standard entry price is currently £13, plus a booking fee.”
Removing Connections from the data, the cheapest ticket was £11 for Il Trovatore at the Royal Opera House.
When broken down by genre, for musicals the average top-price ticket was £162.41 – up 5.2% on last year – and the average cheapest ticket was £28.41, up 18.8% on last year.
For plays, the average most expensive ticket was £94.45, down 17.7%, and the cheapest was £20.65, down 1.3%.
Further analysis, full data and methodology, p4-7; Editor’s View, p8
Lyn Gardner Why we need to make more noise for freelancers Page 9
One of a kind Stephanie Street on event theatre's troubling allure Page 13
Latest reviews Including for I, Daniel Blake in Newcastle Pages 17-22
George Logan Remembering one half of comedy act Hinge and Bracket Page 38
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