How premium is premium seating at the theatre? A very good question that I was asked recently.
Let’s take The Book Of Mormon as an example because yes, it’s one of the priciest shows out there. Premium stalls seats will set you back a whopping £200 EACH! But look to the back of the stalls and you will find seats for a much more reasonable £40 each. So you could buy five seats at the back of the stalls for the same cost as one single premium seat! But how much better are these seats and is the price justified?
Take a look at the seating map below and look at the ticket price brackets. Now look at the sections of the map I have circled. You will see that you can buy a £150 seat directly next to a £200 seat. A little further towards the edge of the same row and you can buy a £97.50 seat directly next to a £150 seat. And if you buy the seat directly in front of a £150 seat, you can have this for half the price at just £75! So two of you can watch The Book Of Mormon for £150 and sit directly in front of one person who has paid that amount for just one ticket! Crazy isn’t it?
So is the cost of premium seats justified? Well the answer is both yes and no. By charging some people £200 per ticket, this will allow some seats to be able to be priced at the much lower cost of £40 so really there is a ticket price to suit all budgets.
I’ve sat in both the premium seats and the cheaper seats over the years for this show at different times. Yes, being six rows from the front in the middle is a great video of the stage but is it worth five times the cost of a seat further towards the back and over to the side a little? Not for me. Personally I would never pay £200 for a ticket to see a show because a) I can’t afford it and b) I’d like to think I have more sense than to do so.
However, the point here is, whilst there are people out there buying the premium seats for £200 each, then the shows will keep charging that price. If these seats went unsold night after night because no one thought they were worth the money then I guarantee the seats would soon come down in price but as that isn’t happening I guess there are people out there who are happy to pay through the nose to see a West End show!
I know people who, when they do rarely go to the theatre, will only book the most expensive seats availability because if they are going to see a show as a special treat, they want the best possible view. They won’t entertain the idea of ticket discount websites but will book direct with the theatre and buy the best seats possible. To quote Momma Rose, “that’s peachy for some people but some people ‘aint me”.
The thing I find funny is that you can never guarantee a good view at the theatre. If you are a very tall person who has bought one of the £75 tickets directly in front of a £150 seat and the person behind you is short, how much of the show are they actually going to see? Expensive tickets don’t necessarily guarantee you a good view.
Buy the seats you can afford for a price you think they are worth. Premium Seating will never go away and it serves a purpose to bring down the cost of other seats in the theatre. Let the rich or the insane pay those prices but when you can buy a £40 seat and afford a night in a hotel with dinner and drinks for the same price they have paid for their seat, who is really the one laughing?