I always seem to encounter certain trains of thought -- and a good handful of myths -- about West End theatre, especially since the Olympics and Paralympics came to town. Number one: "Nobody will be interested in seeing a play or musical during a summer of more sport than you can shake a stick at." Well, despite the gloomy forecast, Theatreland is proving pretty resilient. Even Andrew Lloyd-Webber -- who back in December predicted an Olympic "bloodbath" for the West End – backtracked recently, admitting to The Daily Telegraph: "I have been proved wrong and I couldn't be more delighted about that."
Number two: "It's prohibitively expensive." I am happy to tell you, entertainment fiends, that this simply isn't true. An increasing number of theatres are now using airline-style dynamic pricing, because they want bums (specifically yours) on seats and will discount depending on what nights/ticket types/shows have the capacity. For example, a seat that is worth £60 might be available for £26 for a couple of weeks, or you might find a theatre running a week-long offer for £30 seats at £20, plus a free drink at the bar. Great deals are always there for the taking -- and you can frequently find them right here.
With that in mind, here are some of my current West End favourites:
We've found top tickets worth £65 for only £39.45 for "Shrek The Musical", at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. That price already includes all booking fees, and is available for Monday-Friday performances until 12 October.
Eric Idle's "Spamalot" is based on "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", and returns to London after a UK tour. This delightfully silly show features the classic "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and stars Bonnie Langford, Todd Carty -- that's Mark Fowler from "EastEnders" to you and me -- and impressionist Jon Culshaw (or comedian Marcus Brigstocke, depending on what night you go). Usually £55, top seats are £20 for a limited time.
Don't fear, non-London-dwellers, for regional theatre is not only top quality these days, but is also equally affordable. Victorian farce "Dandy Dick", starring Olivier Award winner Patricia Hodge, is playing at Manchester Opera House for a very limited time later this month; save over 50% and pay just £15 for a top seat. Brummies can check out "Legally Blonde The Musical", starring Gareth Gates, at the New Alexandra Theatre for £20 -- that's 54% off the usual £43.40.