So, there’s a show you’ve been DYING to see. You waited patiently online for the tickets to become available. As soon as they do you click through. Only to find yourself 276th in the queue. And as soon as you get to the booking page, all you see is this:
Monday 1st June: SOLD OUT
Tuesday 2nd June: SOLD OUT
Wednesday 3rd June: SOLD OUT
etc. etc. etc….
FINAL NIGHT: Monday 31st August: SOLD OUT
This is basically what happened with me and The Barbican’s Hamlet. And I think we’ve all felt that feel…
BUT, there is always hope:
‘100 seats at £10*, positioned throughout the auditorium, will also be available at each performance: more information will be released in 2015.‘
MAYBE DAY TICKETS, YES?! HOPEFULLY! PLEASE!
So today’s ‘Tips and Tricks’ is my guide for Day Seats in the West End, including advice and information but alas, no, not any tips for The Book of Mormon Day Seats Lottery. I’m not Derren Brown, I can’t rig the lottery!
What are Day Seats?
Over the last few years, theatres have started leaving certain seats available for each performance, which you can purchase on the day and normally at a reduced price. These are known as ‘Day Seats’ *duh*. What’s really great is a lot of popular shows are doing this now, so if the show is sold out online for like the next 6 months, you could still get tickets on the day!
What kind of seats are available?
This will differ depending on the theatre. Some will have seats in the upper circle, some will have whatever tickets were returned, and some will have certain rows reserved for Day Seats. Do note, some of the tickets may be restricted view, standing or upfront where you may have to crane your neck because of the angle, so do check when buying! Two of the most popular musicals have a whole row reserved for Day Seats: Wicked and The Book of Mormon. These seats are Row A of the Stalls, so you’re up front and centre and feel like a boss VIP!
How many tickets can I get?
Again, this will depend on the theatre. Normally it’s 1-2 tickets maximum per person, BUT DO CHECK THE WEBSITE. Matilda, for example, operates a 1 ticket per person policy, AND you must be between the ages of 16-25, with ID as proof of age. This is why it’s always best to check the show’s website in advance and their policy for Day Seats: the last thing you want to happen is getting to the front of the queue, asking for 2 tickets, being told you can only get one, and then forgetting your ID!
How much does it cost, and how should I pay?
Again, again, again it depends on the theatre (and yes I know I sound like a Tellytubby)! Tickets can range anywhere from as little as £5 up to £30. Matilda is only £5 because it’s only for poor, broke 16-25 year olds like me, and returned Standing tickets at Shakespeare’s Globe are also £5, so a good choice if you’re feeling spontaneous and are on the South Bank in the evening. Some of the popular and long-running shows are a bit pricier: both Billy Elliot and Wicked are £29.50 for Day Seats.
Some theatres will specify card or cash, but I advise bringing both. And do have your cash/card ready when you reach the front of the queue, please!
That’s awesome! What’s the catch…?
Well, the catch is that for most Day Seats, you will have to queue early.
There are only so many seats available. Normally, theatres will have around 20 available for purchase, but once they’re gone, that’s it!
Most West End box-offices open at 10 am, so to avoid disappointment, turn up early! I queued for Mojo at The Harold Pinter Theatre last year, and got there at about 6 am to find like 10 people in front of me. Bearing in mind the ticket office opened 4 hours later! But then again, I’ve queued for stuff at The National before, and turned up at 9 am to find no queue! Rule of thumb: the more popular a show is, the earlier you have to turn up. So for Hamlet, IF that does do Day Seats, I can anticipate people queuing overnight to be honest! But to be fair, we are British and queuing politely is in our blood!
I don’t like getting up earlyyyy…what can I do?
If you have a friend in London who’s going to see it with you, ask them very nicely to get the tickets. Or blackmail. That also works!
Or, if you really don’t want to get up early, then The Book of Mormon Lottery is probably the best option for Day Seats for you! At The Prince of Wales Theatre, they do things a little differently: instead of queuing for tickets at some ungodly hour, if you turn up 2 & 1/2 hours before the show (i.e. 12.00 for Matinees, or 17.00 for Evenings), you can enter a lottery to get 2 tickets at £20 each! You may not win (I’ve gone 4 times and won 0), but it’s a great experience: it’s an awesome atmosphere, and the staff are always friendly and certainly know how to get a crowd going! Plus, they even give away 2 tickets online each week for £20 each, so you don’t even HAVE to leave the house to get them!
Tips for Queuing:
If you’ve decided to queue for tickets…good luck! Here is my advice:
- LIVE on Theatre Monkey: whenever I’m thinking of buying Day Seats, I am constantly checking Theatre Monkey. They have information on what time people start queuing, how many tickets are available, and how much they cost. It’sa great website and is constantly updated!
- Get there early: if it’s a really popular show, add 15-30 minutes to your arrival time. You also have to take into consideration getting from the tube to the theatre, and some time in case you get lost!
- Bring your money AND ID: please, please, please. Don’t. Forget. The. Money.
- Dress for all weather: wear layers. It will be cold in the morning in London. And bring water.
- Bring something to entertain yourself with: a friend, a CHARGED iPhone or iPod, a book. Or make friends with the people next to you in the queue. If you’re both voluntarily awake at 6 am for something, you probably have other things in common!
- Watch out for queue jumpers: people will try anything, e.g. I’ve seen people try and start a queue on the other side of the box office!
- Enjoy yourself: you’re going to be queuing for at least 3 hours. The only way you’re going to get through this is with a sense of humour and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee!
Visit Theatre Monkey for information on Day Seats, follow them on Twitter for the latest deals, and follow the #dayseat for up to date prices/times of shows’ Day Seats. Remember to check the website of shows you want to see for their Day Seats’ policy.