Curtain up! What to expect from a London West End theatre experience

West End Shows London

Fundamentally, there’s one reason why visitors to London go to a West End theatre show – there’s nothing else quite like it. Sure, you can attend theatre practically anywhere in the world, it’s a wonderfully universal art form, but in few other places on the globe do you get the combination of terrific plays and musicals; big-budget andlavish set, costume and make-up design; top quality acting talent including both the cream of British acting and Hollywood stars and, of course, historically important theatre buildings containing magnificent, beautiful auditoria. West End theatre shows – yes, there’s nothing quite like them.

So, if you’re considering attending the theatre while you’re staying in the UK capital, here’s some tips based on this very blogger’s own personal experience. First, take a look online as to what’s on around the time you’ll be here. Yes, you’ll be looking sometime in advance, but don’t worry; you’ll find there’ll definitely be an awful lot to choose between; colourful musicals, compelling dramas, funny popular comedies, edgy new work and classic, quality Shakespearean plays.

Having done that, you’ll be able to book early too, of course, which means you’ve a very good chance of finding very good ticket price deals – it’s a big misnomer that a West End theatre experience will be very expensive – even if you leave it to the last minute (say, a particular morning of your stay when you decide you want to see a show), you might well be able to get your mitts on decent discounted tickets.

The next important part of the deal is making sure you know the way to the theatre. This may seem rudimentary and sound a little patronising, but don’t forget London’s an enormously busy city and the West End arguably its busiest area. Plus, unless you’re seeing a matinee performance on a weekday afternoon (which will usually start at 2.30pm), you’ll be looking to travel to the theatre either at the weekend, which always sees that part of town teeming with people, or travelling during weekday rush hour to make a performance for around 7.30pm. My tipfor transport (unless, say, you’re staying in a hotel near Piccadilly theatre) is the Tube. Yes, it could well be crammed, but it’s very reliable. Just give yourself a lot of time.

And so, eventually you’ll arrive at the theatre itself. Be advised not to go dress too casual; you can go smart (shirt and tie or a cocktail dress, for instance), but it’s not necessary. Smart-casual is fine – you can expect a relaxed atmosphere. As this is the West End, an usher should help find your seat if necessary and no doubt will be selling a programme – be warned, like refreshments, programmes may be expensive, but they’re great souvenirs. Following that, it’ll be lights-down and curtain up! Look out for ‘opera glasses’ should any be available near you on your row; they’re very affordable mini-binoculars that enable you to see what’s going on close-up. And, finally, of course… enjoy the show!