Cheap Tickets to Theatre Previews

Save Money By Seeing a Theatre Preview

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One of the best ways to save money when visiting London’s West End is to attend a show during its initial preview period. Previews are the shows occurring before the official opening press night date, in a period that often lasts between a week and a month. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had an unprecedented original preview period of 3 months before producers moved the press night date back to reduce the time.

Previews are a form of professional dress rehearsal, where audiences are often encouraged to give feedback and where the show is still subject to change and development. Many shows tour the country or open at a regional venue before transferring to the West End, which allows for a shorter preview period once in London. Previews are often a great opportunity for producers to iron out technical glitches, difficult costume changes and risky casting choices. Anything that goes wrong can often be sorted before press night takes place.

Theatre Previews Gone Wrong

  • Loserville premiered at the Garrick Theatre after a successful initial opening at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Closing a couple of months after opening, it was clear that two weeks of previews were not enough!
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium saw the eponymous car refuse to take flight.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had its preview performances cancelled due to an essential piece of scenery not arriving. Previews began without this set piece, which was installed later on.
  • Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, received dire reviews during its preview period, despite good reviews on press night. The show was deemed a flop before it had even opened!

But never fear! Whilst these things may happen during a preview period, you are essentially getting an ordinary West End show for a reduced price. It is best to check the official box offices for preview prices. More often than not, nowadays most shows transfer directly from prior runs either regionally or from Broadway, which ensures that the preview period will be exactly the same as shows occurring after the press night date.

Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments was one of the first West End productions that offered previews for as little as £5! Preview tickets often range between £10-£50, depending on the show and the seating section chosen. Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound was the first ever show to hold a week of paid previews, and even had to get the permission from the Society of West End Theatre Managers to agree to it!

Hit musical The Book of Mormon also offered £20 preview tickets in 2013, where audiences were required to wait in line at the theatre and were allocated seats on the day. With premium seats costing well over £120, this is a huge saving!

Other Ways to Save Money

  • Day Seats – Queue up at the theatre’s box office for a 10am opening and grab front row seats for a tiny price.
  • Lotteries – Many shows have lotteries, such as Aladdin and The Book of Mormon. You can enter on the day or weeks in advance to ensure you can scoop cheap tickets! Lotteries change depending on the show, so it’s worth doing a bit of research.
  • Competitions – Keep your eye out for competitions that may be offering free tickets. Many ticket agencies hold competitions!
  • Become a member – There are several free memberships available for Under 25’s at the National, Barbican and Royal Shakespeare Company! You can see Matilda the Musical for just £5 if you sign up to one of these!
  • Pay on the door – For smaller venues it is worth turning up on the day and paying on the door, as box offices want a full house so are more willing to sell for less!

Check out our guides for Cheap Theatre for Students and Young People and Last Minute Ticket Deals for more detailed information!

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