Top-price West End theatre tickets rise by 9% in a year and reach £300

<span>Steep increase … Tom Holland’s Romeo at the Duke of York's theatre.</span><span>Photograph: Marc Brenner</span>
Steep increase … Tom Holland’s Romeo at the Duke of York's theatre.Photograph: Marc Brenner

Top-price theatre tickets in the West End of London have risen by more than 9% in a year, with the musical Cabaret offering the costliest seat at £303.95.

Research published on Thursday by industry newspaper the Stage for its annual ticketing survey found that the average top-priced West End ticket was £154.56, compared with £141.37 in 2023. Cabaret had the highest price for the third year in a row. For the first time in the survey’s history, three plays (as opposed to musicals) were found to be charging more than £200 for their most expensive seat.

The costliest was for Romeo and Juliet starring Tom Holland (£298.95), followed by Player Kings starring Ian McKellen (£230) and Stranger Things: The First Shadow (£228.80). Those prices meant that the average most expensive ticket for plays has risen by 50% since last year, when the most expensive play was the National Theatre’s transfer The Crucible (£150). Musicals as a whole have seen a smaller increase across their top-price tickets (up by 3.9% compared with 9.3% for plays).

Related: The Guardian view on theatre pricing: an issue of cultural democracy | Editorial

For the survey, the Stage used the price for the most expensive ticket without added extras. Romeo and Juliet, for example, has £345 “package” tickets which include access to the Ambassador Lounge at the Duke of York’s theatre, champagne and more.

At the other end of the scale, the average cheapest West End ticket cost £24.58, a 3.4% decrease compared with last year. The Stage’s survey used the top and bottom ticket prices for productions on 15 June at 50 venues that are members of the Society of London Theatre whose president Eleanor Lloyd told the Stage: “Despite the rising cost of theatre productions, theatre works hard to offer affordable tickets to encourage a vibrant theatregoing community. Almost a quarter of the tickets sold in the West End last year were for under £30, and just 13% were bought for more than £100.”

A YouGov poll in March found that the most common reason for people to not visit the theatre was the cost of tickets. Lloyd made the point to the Stage that expensive tickets enable access schemes for theatres to reach new and diverse audiences. Romeo and Juliet, for example, made 5,000 tickets (including in the front row) available at £25 for under-30s, key workers and those receiving government benefits. For every performance of Player Kings, 150 seats were priced at £30 for those aged under 30. The lowest price ticket at Stranger Things: The First Shadow on 15 June was £18.80.

The cheapest West End ticket found in the survey was for the Royal Ballet’s Frederick Ashton triple bill Les Rendezvous/The Dream/Rhapsody, sold for the distinctly non-princely sum of £4.