Free theatre performances at West End Live this weekend

If you are in the capital this weekend, you might want to drop by West End Live in Trafalgar Square where the event will be celebrating its tenth anniversary.

West End Live provides two days of free taster performances of shows from London’s West End. Show taking part this year include: The Commitments, Once, Wicked, Billy Elliot, The Pajama Game, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, MAMMA MIA!, The Bodyguard, The Lion King, Stomp, Thriller Live, Jersey Boys, and many more.

A first for this year’s event will see a series of talks with people in the theatre industry. The talks will take place in West End Live’s Theatre Emporium, hosted in a 1920s Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. Scheduled to speak are director Jamie Lloyd and the casts of Handbagged and forthcoming production Shakespeare in Love. 

To mark the significant anniversary, there will be a cabaret performance of ten songs which have been performed at West End Live throughout the last decade.

West End Live is a free and non-ticketed event. The event runs on Saturday 21 June (11am-6pm) and Sunday 22 June (12-6pm); www.westendlive.co.uk.

Mousetrap win award for charity work

Mousetrap Theatre Projects has been awarded with the Sandford Award for Heritage Education – a first for any UK theatre organisation. The Sanford Award honours organisations for quality and excellence in their educational services and facilities at a heritage site – a prize which, until this year, had not been won by a theatre organisation. Previous winners have included the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle.

Mousetrap specialise in providing young people with access to theatre performances in London. They work with children from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, as well as children who have special needs and learning difficulties.

Director of Mousetrap, Susan Whiddington said: ‘We believe that theatre is a significant contributor to Britain’s cultural heritage and we are thrilled to be recognised for our part in bringing theatre to young people who would otherwise not have access to it.’

The theatre charity won for their overall work, but more specifically for their StageSeen programme: a theatre day which sees the company work with hard of hearing or deaf young people. The day includes participants taking part in a workshop with a deaf theatre facilitator, as well as providing the attendees with a BSL interpreted or captioned matinee performance of a production such as Billy Elliot.

Sandford Award judge Adam Clarke said: ‘Mousetrap’s work with hard to reach and seldom heard young people incorporates practice that could, and perhaps should, be transferred to all organisations and properties that deliver schools’ programmes. In enabling access to the West End stage, children are given access to a magical world that enables them to learn, create, socialise and grow.’

Chief executive of the Society of London Theatre, Julian Bird, offered his congratulations to Mousetrap, an organisation which they provided support to over the past six years: ‘To be the first theatre education organisation to be awarded a Sandford Award is an incredible accolade. I would like to congratulate Mousetrap for its instrumental work in introducing young people to the magic of theatre, irrespective of their cultural, social or economic background.’

www.mousetrap.org.uk

The Stage reveals high theatre prices

An investigation by The Stage has revealed the high cost of visiting popular shows in the West End. The theatre industry newspaper uncovered some of the rather hefty charges incurred when attending theatre in the capital.

Buying tickets online is costing theatre-goers up to £12.25, just in booking fees. But the charges are not consistent across the board, The Stage found that for shows such as Chicago and War Horse there was no fee, however, shows toward the top end of the booking charge scale, at £12+ included; We Will Rock You, Wicked and Top Hat.  

The charges were found to vary between the tiers of tickets for sale. When purchasing a top-price ticket, customers are charged a fee of £8.25, however, for cheaper seats, costing just £34, the booking charge drops to £5.50.

On top of this initial fee, there is a further £4 charge, which goes towards the delivery costs of posting or emailing tickets to customers.  However, this charge is only applicable to UK residents, for which collection at the theatre is not permitted.

A spokesman for Which? told The Stage: ‘About 50,000 people supported our campaign to see these ‘rip-off’ charges stamped out so the government must stick to its commitment and ensure the ban happens by December.’

The Stage has also uncovered the most expensive tickets on sale in the West End. On average a top price ticket costs £72.12 and the average cost for the least expensive seats is £21.91 – inclusive of booking charges.

Their investigation found that Billy Elliot was the most expensive musical, charging £97.50 for a top-tier ticket. The Ladykillers was named as the most expensive play to attend, charging customers £97 for buying a top price ticket.

But for a country still cost-cutting after the recession, it was not all bad news – both War Horse and Les Miserables came out top for offering the cheapest seats for theatre-goers. Les Miserables has tickets starting from £12 and War Horse came out even cheaper, with prices from just £10.

Do high prices deter you from visiting the theatre? Do you think is justified for theatres to charge this much for tickets and booking fees? Do you think the high cost discourages young people from attending? Let us know what you think.

www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35824/exclusive-west-end-audiences-face-booking
www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35823/exclusive-top-priced-london-theatre-seats