West End theatres' best seat prices rise to nearly £80

The London cast of The Book of Mormon The Book of Mormon has already been a huge hit on Broadway

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Average ticket prices for the best seats at West End theatres have risen to nearly £80, according to The Stage.

In its annual survey, the newspaper said the most expensive tickets were for The Book Of Mormon and The Audience at £127, including booking fees.

The West End's cheapest seats have dropped to an average £22.57.

Julian Bird from the Society Of London Theatres called Mormon "a phenomenon" adding, "there are a lot of other shows where one is not paying those prices".

"London theatre has an enormous range of prices," he told the BBC News website.

"The report has looked at the most expensive seats but the good thing is that there are cheaper tickets - you can go and see Les Miserables for just £14 and multiple plays for £12."

John Major (Paul Ritter) and The Queen (Helen Mirren) in The Audience Helen Mirren reprised her role as the Queen in The Audience

Dame Helen Mirren won rave reviews when she reprised her role as Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan's The Audience and, last month, The Book of Mormon broke the record for the biggest day of West End ticket sales, taking more than £2m in 14 hours.

Mr Bird explained: "The two shows' demand hugely outstrips the supply and there are a relatively small number of premium seats that are at a very high price."

At an average price of £95, the best seats at West End musicals remain more expensive than plays at £78.24.

However, according to Solt, the average price paid for a theatre ticket in 2012 was £37.86 (not including fees).

Booking fees have fallen over the past year by an average of 85p.

Ticket type 2012 2013

Top ticket to a West End show

£72.12

£76.58

Top ticket to a commercial West End show

£78.96

£86.43

Top ticket to a West End musical

£86.53

£95.09

Commercial cheapest seat

£23.85

£22.57

Musical cheapest seat

£27.22

£24.44

Average fees

£1.96

£1.12

Cheap tickets

Director Michael Grandage announced the first season of his new West End theatre company in June last year, with more than 200 tickets being made available for every performance at £10 each.

Speaking to the BBC in December, he said the low prices were aimed at getting younger audiences into theatres.

He said: "Unlike the dry data that comes with the booking though the box office... Twitter lets you know who they are: and it's young people."

He added: "Our biggest worry was that all those £10 tickets might get snapped up by people who normally pay £57.50 thinking they've got a bargain. We want them to carry on paying £57.50 to subsidise those people who can't afford to get to the theatre."

Mr Bird said: "A lot of shows run special promotions, through newspapers and online ticket agents that are at discount.

"There will always be some really hot shows in the theatre but then new productions come in and people can get cheaper tickets [for the older shows]."

While last year's fears that the Olympics would impact negatively on box office figures proved to be largely unfounded, Mr Bird said the 2013 season would bring its own challenges.

"We remain optimistic and excited by the range of plays and musicals that are coming into the West End that people want to see, but we can't become complacent and take it for granted given the economic forces all around us, particularly what's going on in Europe and the rest of the world.

"But we do remain encouraged."

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