Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE.
The week(s) ahead
My regularly updated list of openings in London, selected regional theatres and on Broadway is here: https://shentonstage.com/theatre-openings-from-w-c-march-14-onwards/
Tomorrow sees the opening of a new production of Mike Bartlett’s 2009 Royal Court play COCK (where it originally starred Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott, as well as Katherine Parkinson and Paul Jesson). That of course was seen in the court’s tiny Theatre Upstairs; the new production, playing at one of the West End’s smallest theatres the Ambassadors, stars Taron Egerton and Jonathan Bailey, with Jade Anouka and Phil Daniels in support (pictured below, by Matt Crockett).
Tickets begin at £65, and reach a staggering £175 (through ATG’s own box office, not a third party site). As of yesterday afternoon, the bulk of tickets showing as available were priced at £85 or above — I could only find a handful of seats for £65 across the entire run.
This is, of course, market forces at work, where — since demand is so far outstripping supply — the sky is turning out to be the limit. But it is also just bad producing; it should simply be in a bigger theatre. Yet again, a perception is being created that theatre is only for the one percenters. But this is a play — and cast — that would definitely attract younger theatregoers. Yet they are specifically being excluded.
I realise that commercial theatre is just that — COMMERCIAL. It needs to cover its cost and pay its investors back, with profit preferably, to entice them to invest again in the future. But audiences also need enticing. This sort of producing will only put them off in the long run.
At least there are two other Mike Bartlett plays in the next few weeks that are a lot more affordable.
At the Old Vic, tickets for his new play THE 47th — starring Bertie Carvel as Donald J Trump, pictured above, beginning performances March 29 — start at £10, and run to £65; that means that tickets for the best seats for THE 47th are the same price as the worst for COCK: and at Lyric Hammersmith, tickets for another new Bartlett play SCANDALTOWN — beginning performances from April 7 — run from £15-£42.
Are the shows actually going on?
At the end of my “shows ahead” feature, I have a list of productions that were scheduled to happen but which got postponed because of the pandemic.
Three of the five happen to have been booked into ATG theatres, and booking was already open for them. Customers were not refunded the cash they’d paid, but it was held against the shows being rescheduled.
I’m now hearing that SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE isn’t happening, after all — so when will ATG start processing those refunds?
At least if you got your money back today you could reinvest (some of) it in the tickets for STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S OLD FRIENDS: A CELEBRATION, taking place at the Sondheim Theatre (of course) on May 3, and go on sale tomorrow.
According to the press release, “All profits from the evening will go to the Stephen Sondheim Foundation, which the legendary composer and lyricist established under his Will to receive future income from his copyrights and intellectual property, with the proceeds to be used principally for the support of playwrights, composers, and lyricists in the early stages of their careers to assist in the development and advancement of their work, as well as for sustaining other aspects of the musical theatre craft and arts education.”
So at least the money is going to a good cause. But — deep breath — the tickets start at £75 and £125 in the grand circle, with stalls and dress circle at £175 and £250.
Of course it will sell out instantly when it goes on sale. Myself, I hope it at least gets recorded, so I can hear or see it then.
(More) “affordable” tickets at JERUSALEM
Last Friday, JERUSALEM — which begins performances at the Apollo, its original West End home, from April 16 — suddenly released over 12,000 tickets for sale. As of this morning, they are already entirely sold out.
Where, though, did they suddenly find these additional tickets, as they did not add any performances to the run?
It turns out they are re-opening the 4th level balcony, shut since that fateful partial collapse of the theatre ceiling in December 2013, mid-performance of THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME that was playing there at the time.
Sitting up there, you are technically ‘in the room’ when it is happening — but you’re pretty far from seeing any of it with any detail. I know this, because I spent my formative theatregoing years inhabiting the balconies of every theatre in London. In those far-off days, though, I’d pay maybe a fiver for the privilege. Now theatregoers are being charged £25 or more for the same view.
SEE YOU ON WEDNESDAY
If you can’t wait that long, I can also be found regularly on Twitter here (though not as often on weekends): https://twitter.com/ShentonStage/