Are Theatre ticket prices too high for audiences to take a gamble on seeing new shows?
Today, star of Made In Dagenham, Gemma Arterton, told Whatsonstage.com that theatre audiences are “unwilling to support new work” which is part of the reason the musical is closing after just six months in the West End. She goes on to say “It’s just the state of British theatre at the moment that people will happily see The Phantom of the Opera four times and pay maximum price but will not go and see a new show because they are scared and don’t support new work.”
I wonder how true this is. Are the theatre-going public unwilling to support new work, or are they just apprehensive to spend their hard earned money (up to £70 for Made In Dagenham) on a show they know very little about? The long running West End shows like Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables are thriving because audiences know, if they spend a lot of money on a ticket, they are putting it towards a show that should guarantee them a good time.
The Book of Mormon has just increased their ticket prices, yet again, with premium seats now priced at over £200! The new family musical ELF is coming to London’s Dominion Theatre this Christmas, but with premium seats at £160 each, children may not have much else in their stockings this Christmas after parents pay out for that.
Should brand new West End shows sell their tickets at a more competitive price to incentivise audiences to take a risk on a show they don’t know much about? Would this help to build momentum and interest in shows, spreading word to the public and encouraging them to go and see the show themselves. Or should brand new shows start their lives in smaller venues around the UK, so they can ensure the show is perfect and listen to audiences reactions before moving in to huge West End theatres?