The price of top-end tickets in the West End has fallen for the first time in seven years, The Stage’s annual ticketing survey has revealed.
This year, the average most expensive ticket available across West End shows is £116.09, down 1.2% on 2018. Since The Stage began the survey in 2012, this figure has risen every year, increasing by a fifth from 2017 to 2018.
While top-end prices appear to be stabilising, the average cheapest ticket across shows in 2019 is £21.84, up 13% on last year. However, since the ticket survey began, there has been more fluctuation in the lowest-price tickets.
According to figures from the Society of London Theatre, the average price paid in the West End in 2018 was £49.25, up 5.4% on 2017. It is unclear whether the average ticket price has continued to rise in 2019, as this year’s data is not yet available.
When the data from The Stage’s 2019 ticket survey is broken down by genre, the figures reflect the overall trend that top prices have plateaued this year and cheapest tickets have gone up. The average most expensive ticket for musicals was £149.19, down 2.8% from 2018, while the average top-end price for plays was £83.12, a decrease of 1.7%. Cheapest tickets for musicals have risen by 13% to £25.21 this year, while for plays they have increased by 15% to £19.74.
For the second year in a row, Hamilton has the most expensive ticket for a musical, at £250, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has the most expensive ticket for a play, at £145 per part – a drop of £30 since 2018.
The cheapest ticket for a play in the commercial West End is £11.25 for The Comedy about a Bank Robbery, also for the second year running. Producer Kenny Wax said he hoped the show’s prices would encourage first-time theatregoers to visit the West End. He added: “We have always tried to sell the best seats for our Mischief shows at what we feel are affordable prices and we understand that even those prices are not affordable for many.”
The cheapest-priced ticket for a musical in the West End in 2019 is £15 for Only Fools and Horses.
It is worth noting that this year eight theatres were dark or between theatre shows at the time of the count, compared with just one last year. These include Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the Sondheim Theatre, formerly the Queens, which are undergoing renovations.
The Stage also found much more fluctuation in prices for individual shows from week to week because of dynamic pricing.
When calculating the average top-end and cheapest prices for shows that ran in both 2018 and 2019, of which there were 17, these are roughly in line with overall trends. Top prices stayed about the same, rising by 0.7%, while cheapest tickets rose by 13%.
The survey also reveals the price breakdown for commercial theatres in the West End and those that are subsidised or not-for-profit. There were 30 commercial shows in the West End during this year’s count, 20 of which had top-price tickets costing £100 or more. The average top price for commercial tickets in 2019 is £130.28, compared with £77.39 for subsidised and not-for-profit shows. For cheapest tickets, the average for commercial shows was £23.47 while for subsidised and not-for-profit it was £17.39.
The most expensive ticket for a subsidised show was for Werther at the Royal Opera House at £175, which also had the cheapest ticket in the entire West End at £8. Chief executive Alex Beard told The Stage he was delighted that the ROH was offering the cheapest ticket in the West End for the second year running.
He added: “Our ticket prices are designed to encourage as wide a range of people as possible to enjoy our art forms, which is why last season more than 30% of our tickets were priced at £35 or less.”