One of the easiest ways to compare ticket prices for the West End is by using, which scans the best deals from some of the major ticket agencies, including Ticketmaster and Love Theatre.
If you're prepared to be spontaneous, next-day tickets for bestselling shows such as Les Misérables can be as cheap as £15, including booking fees, for upper circle seats. Last-minute tickets are also available at
Buying tickets on an online ticket agency website can also be cost-effective.
offers discounts on hundreds of plays, including The Lion King and Wicked. Tickets for Billy Elliot are currently selling for £29.70 for Monday to Friday performances, with seats in the Grand Circle. This is the cheaper seating at the top of the theatre.
Buying tickets for the same seats directly from the theatre's website will cost £38.70.
To make sure you're not paying good money for poor seats, check out Theatre Monkey's guide to the seats to .
If you're out and about in London and don't have access to the Internet, , the "official" ticket booth of London, situated in Leicester Square, offers discount theatre tickets for the biggest West End shows, with the cheapest deals on plays showing on the day.
Again, a performance of Billy Elliot on a weekday evening currently costs £37.70 for seating in the Dress Circle if you buy from TKTS, compared to the theatre door price of £66.20. However, because all the tickets come directly from the theatre, it is they who decide what price TKTS should sell the tickets for. That means that while the Dress Circle seats could be obtained for as little £37.70 at the time of writing, theatregoers at busier times might have to pay more. They should still get a discount of about 30pc though.
The difference in price reflects how busy the particular performance is, so if it's almost at capacity, the theatre will raise the price. If it's not so busy they will reduce it as an incentive to get more customers through the door.
All tickets must be purchased at the ticket booth, so beware possible queues at the weekend and during school holidays. You can go online to look at prices, but not to book.
is an easy way of browsing for the cheapest theatre tickets, according to how much you want to spend; £40, £30, £20 or £10.
For those only wanting to pay £10, you can currently buy tickets for the comedy Di and Viv and Rose at the Vaudeville Theatre; contemporary circus show Cirque Berserk at the Wimbledon Theatre and children's classic The Railway Children at Kings Cross Theatre.
has partnered with Travelex to offer 100, 000 tickets for £15 for performances this year including Everyman and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire and The Beaux' Stratagem. To be alerted to when the £15 tickets will go on sale, sign up to the National Theatre's free mailing list. Many theatres have such lists and it's worth signing up so you know as soon as discounted tickets are released.
is also a good website to check for bargain theatre deals. Tickets for Thriller Live and One Man, Two Guvnors and Shakespeare in Love currently cost £10, while tickets for The Commitments cost £11.50.
It's also worth checking, an online marketplace where people buy and sell tickets for sports events, concerts and the theatre. If someone is unable to attend a theatre performance they had previously booked and paid for, for instance, they can resell their ticket for the price they are happy to give it away for. Generally, as ticketholders are eager to get some money for the performance they are no longer able to attend, the ticket will be cheaper than the original price.
If you're an avid theatregoer then it could be worthwhile becoming a member of a theatre company or ticketing service. Live-theatre company charges £30 for a 12 month membership card, in which you will get priority access to the best seats and latest releases, as well as ticket offers, such as £10 off or half-price, on some of the biggest shows. Card-holders can currently get discounts on plays including Shrek the Musical, which is showing in Glasgow, Milton Keynes and Edinburgh and the Jersey Boys, which is showing in Bristol, Oxford and Liverpool.
offers single membership for £35 a year, or £60 for a family of four. Members will receive discounts on most of the performances showing, including £10 off The Bodyguard and Dirty Dancing.
Similarly in Edinburgh, for £36 a year, members of the can get discounts on shows including 20pc off To Kill a Mockingbird or The History Boys.
Ballet and opera
Tickets for the ballet and opera at The Royal Opera House (ROH) are notoriously expensive. A spokesman for the company insisted that this season more than half of all tickets are £55 or under, and more than 200, 000 tickets are less than £25. Half of all ballet tickets are £40 or below, he said.
The ROH has 13 price bands, with pricer seats typically costing around £200 for the opera and £100 for the ballet. But if you're prepared to stand for the duration of the performance, or sit "in the gods", you could pay as little as £8 for the opera and £4 for the ballet.
Most families will have to dig deep in order to afford a trip to the ROH, but there are a few concessions that visitors can make the most of.
If you're a student, you can join for free, and get access to tickets costing from £1 to £25 for all performances. You must have a valid Student ID to sign up.
Students can also be put on the list for £10 "Standby" tickets. These tickets, which generally cost between £25 and £200, are tickets that haven't been sold. ROH will contact students by email at least 24 hours before the performance, and tickets will be given on a first-come first-serve basis for those who book online.
Occasionally standby tickets are offered to non-students, but they are only available four hours before the performance begins, and the tickets are half-price, rather than £10.
Standby tickets are also available to those on income support, those who have a disability, under-18s and senior citizens receiving pension credits, and are £12.50 for the ballet and £15 for the opera.
The ROH also sells tickets for performances on costing £3 for children and £5 for adults.
The Coliseum, home to the English National Opera (ENO), also offers standby tickets up to three hours before a performance, as well as concessions to students and senior citizens.
Theatregoers can also buy a £20 unallocated seat in advance and be guaranteed a seat in the auditorium worth £25 or more on the night.
If you are between the ages of 16 and 30, you can see premium opera productions at reduced prices, by signing up to ENO's free membership scheme. Ticket prices for members are £30 for seating in the stalls, £20 for seats in the dress circle and £10 for seats in the upper circle.
Scottish Opera, Scotland’s national opera company, performs in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness, and offers £10 tickets for every show for those under 26.
For dance performances at Sadler's Wells Theatre, members can get 20pc off up to three shows, or if four or more shows are booked simultaneously, members can save 25pc. Membership costs £55 a year.More:
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