I'm a postgraduate Media and Communications student at City University London from the United States. Check out my blog at: www.gerimasteringlondon.blogspot.com
Published October 7th 2012
Did you know that most West End productions offer a number of top-value seats for somewhere between £10 and £30, instead of the regular price of between £50 and £85? If you are unfamiliar with day seats, read on and then go out and enjoy what the West End has to offer for an affordable price.
What are day seats? Day seats are highly discounted tickets that go on sale from the theatre box office on the day of the performance. They cannot be bought in advance, and are often the cheapest seats you can buy in the house. Some theatres set aside a limited number of day seats while others will sell whatever is left unsold in the house.
Where do I sit? Although every theatre may have a different policy, day seat allocations are very often in the front row or somewhere else in the front of the stalls. However, sometimes it is entirely up to what seats they have available and the discretion of the box office employee.
Can anyone buy one? How many can I buy?
This also varies greatly by box office policy. You will find many West End shows offering day seats to anyone and allowing each person to buy up to two tickets. However, some theatres only offer day seats to students or people under 26, and others only allow one ticket per person. They're also sometimes cash only, so it's a good idea to have the money in cash just in case.
What time should I go to the box office for day seats? Most box offices open around 10AM (but definitely check the show's website beforehand). To play it on the safe side, arriving around 10 is your best bet. However, the popularity of the show and the season should be taken into consideration. In January, I was able to get a front row ticket to Wicked for £27.50 a half hour before the show started because it was the middle of the winter season.
Just yesterday I sat front row for Loserville: The Musical for £10 and showed up at 1PM when the show began at 3, because the show is still very new and hasn't gathered a huge fan base yet. But for very popular productions, be sure to closely monitor the theatre's policy and take it into consideration. For example, Matilda the Musical only offers 8 day seats per performance, which are £5 each, the last row of the Upper Circle - and only available to students, and people supposedly line up around 6AM in hopes to snag one.
When are day seats a good idea? Day seats are perfect when you have a flexible schedule. Keep your mind open for what show to see-- if they are unavailable for one show, be ready to walk on over to another one and see if they have something you like better. If you have your mind set on one show, be ready to get up on the earlier side to make sure that some of those coveted tickets belong to you, and check the policy on that show's website first. If you have a few options and leave enough time, it is very likely that something will work out.
In conclusion I find that not enough people are aware that day seats exist and miss the opportunity to become immersed in the theatre scene because of the misconception that all theatre is too expensive. In addition to day seats, many shows have other special offers or can be available at a discounted price if you do your research. Websites like Theatre Monkey can give you details about what is available and what other people have to say about it, and checking the 'tickets' section of a specific show's website is always a safe bet. Now go out and enjoy London theatre!