Wallet-busting at the theater

Around the world, theatres are charging more to recover from their pandemic financial losses. Large theatre venues are expensive to rent, and more bums on seats for one show means fewer shows with fewer costs.

“What is the cheapest ticket available for the show tonight?” 

I enquired at the box office on my regular trip to London for some binge theatergoing.

“£100 is our lowest price for a seat at the back of the stalls, with restricted view.“

“Excuse me? £100! Are you kidding me?“  

“No. Woody Harrelson stars in the play, I’ll let you have it for £90“ 

“Cheers!”, I quipped. (for the uninitiated, Woody Harrelson made his name as the bartender in the American TV series “Cheers”)  

Skyrocketing theatre prices

It wasn’t even a show in the West End of London.  I am sure you’ve noticed that all theatre ticket prices are ridiculously high nowadays. Skyrocket high! 

Big city shows with international stars charge prices which rival the cost of concerts, festivals and even holidays. 

Perhaps people get a buzz at seeing celebrities on stage, and it’s understandable that theatres want to recoup money lost from the pandemic, but these prices make theatre an elitist pursuit, exclusively for crazed fans or the very rich.

For example, Hollywood A-lister, Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex in the City“) is now starring in in a sixties comedy, “Plaza Suite” in London’s West End.

Top price tickets are £395 each, meaning if you invite someone along to this 2-hour show, you’ll be paying nearly £800 (DKK 7,000).  

Big money for small pleasure

Last year there was an outcry when a play, oddly titled play, “Cock“, charged £400 (DKK 3,500) Yes, rub your eyes!

As a cheeky friend of mine said:

“That’s a lot of money to see cock!”

It is certainly big money to see something which may offer only small pleasure. 

For comparison, a ticket for a full weekend at Glastonbury Festival, which is the largest music festival in the world with over 3,000 artists performing on dozens of stages, cost £335 (DKK3,000).

Tickets also expensive in Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s theatre scene, while is considerably less glam than London’s, has not been immune to price increases, and that’s without any international star power attached.

The Royal Danish Theatre and other venues have recently raised ticket prices upwards of DKK 700, – with few concessions. 

But why has theatre become so expensive?

Theatres globally are charging more to recover from their pandemic financial losses.  Large theatre venues are expensive to rent, and more bums on seats for one show means fewer shows with fewer costs.

The actors, especially if they are big stars, demand high salaries, and the sets and lighting designs (and their designers) are often staggeringly pricey. 

The Danish Royal Theatre and the National Theatre in London are expected to present iconic plays and classical drama at affordable prices. However, nowadays these subsidised theatres spend their money on musicals.

This season “Billy Elliot” is at Det Kongelige Teater, while the Danish Opera is doing “West Side Story“.  Musicals are notoriously expensive to produce, and they are everywhere. 

No wonder the prices of tickets have skyrocketed.  Tragically, all of this is turning live theatre into an elitist pastime while it should be available to all.  

Student tickets ought to be cheap

Our English-speaking Crazy Christmas Show in the Tivoli Gardens has been running for 25 years to large audiences of all ages and nationalities.

We started our theatre company in 1982 and have always offered tickets to students for DDK 40. This has been our policy because, making theatre cheap and available to all, especially youth, pays off. 

This year, however, instead of our show, Tivoli has decided to replace us with yet another musical. 

This one is based on a Danish children’s TV series and is called, wait for it, “Tinka, The Musical.” 

This wallet-busting show will mean no interval ice creams for the Danish kids whose parents shell out for the ridiculously high-priced tickets.

Ride the Black Horse!

On the good side, however, small theatre venues in Copenhagen are thriving.

They cannot produce musicals because they only seat between 50 to 150 people, but the standard of the work produced is a gift to theatre-lovers.

Take, for example, the charming theatre in Frederiksberg, “Teatret ved Sorte Hest“(The Black Horse Theatre).

It has an exciting and varied repertoire, including plays in English, for a top price of DKK 260.

The plays include “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf“, “Shirley Valentine“, and a murder-mystery comedy “Shakespeare’s Ghost“.

In addition, this little theatre presents outdoor performances in June where you can be entertained under the stars by well-known English and Danish actors, totally free of charge.  

You can stay and chat with them afterwards over a drink at the bar.  

It’s a small venue with a huge creative spirit, where the prices are low, and the quality is skyrocket high. 

See you there in June!