Top-end ticket prices in the West End have risen by nearly a fifth in the past year, The Stage’s annual ticketing survey has revealed.
The average top-price ticket across all West End shows is £117.52, up 19% compared with 2017. This is the first time the average top-price ticket has exceeded £100, since The Stage started surveying in 2012.
For musicals, the average top-price seat is now £153.54 compared with £127 last year, an increase of 21%.
The survey, which is now in its seventh year, is an annual snapshot of West End tickets, covering the commercial sector as well as subsidised and not-for-profit theatres.
For the first time in six years, The Book of Mormon has been overtaken as the most expensive seat across the entire West End by Hamilton, which has top-end tickets costing £250.
However, a spokeswoman for the musical stressed that more than 81% of tickets for the show were priced at £100 or less, including £10 daily lottery tickets, “making the production more inclusive and available to wider audiences”.
The play in the West End with the most expensive tickets is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, with seats costing £175 for one of the two parts.
Producers argued the higher-price tickets allowed them to subsidise “a great number of accessibly priced seats”, with more than 300 tickets priced at £20 or less, which are for each performance.
According to Society of London Theatre figures published earlier this year, the average price paid for a West End ticket in 2017 was £46.71, up 3.8% on 2016.
In the subsidised or not-for-profit sector, the average top-end seat costs £76.94, an increase of 30% compared with 2017, inflated by shows including the Royal Opera House’s Carmen and English National Opera’s La Boheme.
The majority of theatres in this sector (10 out of 13) have seen their top-end seat prices increase, for example the Royal Court’s highest tier ticket has increases 29%, from £38 to £49.
Cheapest tickets across the West End have remained broadly similar throughout the seven years the survey has been running. However, this year, the average bottom price ticket was £19.31, down 9.7% on last year.
It is worth noting that many shows only have a limited number of the cheapest tier of tickets available at each performance. For example, the cheapest Saturday night tickets available for Les Miserables are £15.25, but representatives for the show say there are only four tickets available at this price for each show, with the next price level costing £32.25.
Many theatres continue to have cheap day seats, for example Kinky Boots offers a limited number of £20 day seats for each performance, as well as accessible ticket schemes, such as the Almeida’s £5 tickets for under-25s for its productions when they transfer to the West End.
The cheapest ticket across the whole of the West End was for the Royal Opera House’s Carmen, at £9, while Sweat at the Donmar Warehouse, A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic and Don Quixote at the Garrick all offered £10 tickets online.
A spokesman for the Donmar said the venue was “reliant on philanthropy” to sell tickets at that price, while the Old Vic stressed the importance of sponsors and said ticket pricing was “not straightforward” due to the venue’s lack of subsidy.
Responding to the figures, SOLT chief executive Julian Bird said: “Top-price tickets for big West End shows continue to fluctuate year-on-year according to demand and supply, but the survey shows prices for the cheapest tickets have actually fallen from 2017. This demonstrates the industry’s commitment to ensuring our growing audience (which exceeded 15 million for the first time last year) has access to a broad range of affordable tickets for London’s world-leading theatre.”