Whether you're a regular or planning a special treat, a trip to the theatre is a great night out, but it can be a pricey business. With a little searching, though, you can cut the cost of tickets.
There are almost always deals and discounts available on theatre tickets if you know where to look. For instance, Kids Week, which runs from 17 June to 31 August, gives anyone booking a full-priced adult ticket a free child ticket (under-16s only) to one of 37 London theatre shows, including Billy Elliot, War Horse, Wicket and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What's more, you'll get an extra 50 per cent off tickets for up to two more kids. The offer is subject to availability to try to book a few days in advance.
Similarly, National Rail runs a two for one offer to some of the biggest West End shows, as long as you have a valid train ticket for the day of the show. If you're travelling into London, you can save up to £50 on a ticket to, let's say, Les Miserables or Chicago. But even if you don't have to go far, there's no minimum amount you have to spend on the train ticket, so buy yourself a cheap single and enjoy the show.
Theatre isn't all about the big shows and big names, of course. Outside the West End, there are plenty of ticket offers to be had, where up-and-coming writers, experimental theatre and new performers are championed. At the Arcola Theatre in Hackney there is a pay-what-you-can deal if you buy tickets on a Tuesday. £5 is the suggested donation, but any price is accepted, and the same deal runs at the Battersea Arts Centre. Or try the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden, where two thirds of front row seats sell for £10 a pop if you book online or in person two weeks before the performance date, and standing tickets are also released.
Alternatively, check out the fringe section of Theatremonkey.com and enjoy a bargain night out - you might just come across a little theatrical gem.
Lastminute.com is still a great place for all kinds of discounted deals, and theatre tickets are no exception. From offers such as £17.50 for a seat at Wicked to a 50 per cent discount at The Importance of Being Earnest, there are bargains to be had if you're booking late in the day. Alternatively make a night of it and go for one of their 'meal and a show' offers, where you can enjoy some pre or post-performance nosh as well.
Theatremonkey.com, on the other hand, is dedicated entirely to cheap seats, picking up special offers from preview tickets, to theatre and hotel deals, all collated from promotions and discounts from newspapers and other sources. It also allows you to search by venue, show title, or simply the best bargains of the moment.
On the day
Most theatres prefer bums on seats, even if that means cutting the ticket prices for last minute customers. Some venues keep a few seats aside and release them cheaper on the day, as long as you're willing to queue (often from 8am) to get your hands on them. And if you're off to the theatre on a whim, the TKTS booth in Leicester Square opens at 10am each day, and offers the major West End theatres' leftover tickets at half the price.
And for real latecomers who are over 60, unemployed or studying full time, some theatres sell off empty seats for up to 70 per cent off, as long as you're prepared to take a chance on the last hour before the show starts.
Go for the cheap seats
There are some theatre traditions that do come in handy if your bank account is looking a little bare. Cheap seats with restricted view or high up were traditionally those for the poorer folk, and tickets in 'the Gods' still come with a significantly reduced price tag. It may not be ideal for all theatre, but if you're a fan or opera, for example, you can enjoy some of the very best at a fraction of the price of the stalls.
And to really get into the spirit of Shakespeare, take in a performance at the Globe - which is an experience in itself - where 700 standing tickets are on offer for every performance at the bargain price of just £5.
Are you a regular theatregoer? Have you got any top tips for saving money on tickets? Leave your comments below...