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Price of top West End show tickets trebles in 10 years

A scene from The Book of Mormon, tickets for which are now £152.25. Photo: Joan Marcus
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The West End’s most expensive tickets have reached a new high of £152.25 after The Book of Mormon increased its premium seat prices by 20% from last year’s £127, The Stage’s annual ticketing survey has revealed.

This is more than triple the amount it cost to buy a top-price seat in the West End only 10 years ago, when a record high was reached with a £49 ticket to see The Producers in 2004. Over the same period, house prices in London have increased by around 90%.

The Book of Mormon’s top-price seats (second highest price after premium) have also risen, to £127.25 – almost doubling from when the show opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre just over a year ago.

This corresponds with a 14% decrease in the cheapest musical ticket – this year priced at £12.50 for The Commitments, leading to an overall increase in the average price for the best seat at a West End musical rising 5% to £99.78 compared with last year’s £95.09.

The survey also showed that the average price for the best seat at a commercial West End play has increased from £78.24 in 2013 to £80.45.

However, the most expensive play to see this year – Bring Up the Bodies – was priced at £115, including fees. This was less than last year’s record high price of £127 to see The Audience, starring Helen Mirren.

Producers of Bring up the Bodies – listed as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis, Nick Salmon and Georgia Gatti for Playful Productions, and Tulchin/Bartner Productions – said the show’s premium ticket prices helped to subsidise the lower-priced seats. They added that the show’s most expensive £112.50 ticket was part of a two-tier premium seat system, in which a normal premium ticket cost £92.50. They said it had been introduced for late bookers who wanted to secure a premium ticket when availability on those seats was “very limited”.

Overall, the survey shows that the average price for the most expensive seat at a West End show across the subsidised and commercial sectors – including musicals, plays, opera and dance – has also increased marginally, from £81.05 last year to £81.68.

Although there has been an increase in the average price of the commercial sector’s most expensive seats (£89.72 this year including fees, compared with £87.49 in 2013), the subsidised sector’s most expensive seat including fees is now £55.52 – a drop from £58.18 in 2013. This means that, when the commercial and subsidised sectors in London are looked at together, there has been only a marginal increase in the average price of the most expensive seat (including fees).

At the other end of the scale, the lowest-priced tickets have become cheaper on average in both the subsidised and commercial sectors.

In the commercial West End, the average lowest-price ticket for a show was £21.94. In 2013, it was £22.57 and in 2012 it was £23.85.

Subsidised productions have, on average, seen cheapest tickets come down in price – from £15.75 in 2012 to £15.73 in 2013 and now £15.23 this year.

This has created a trend over the past three years of the average cost for the least expensive ticket across the whole of the West End gradually reducing in cost, by 3% per annum from £21.91 in 2012, to £21.07 in 2013 and £20.36 this year.

Full results can be found in our Ticketing Special 2014 in this week’s edition of The Stage. Get access to the digital edition here

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