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Last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 02 February 2012

London's booming Theatreland


2 February 2012

London's theatres are one of the city's biggest tourist draws. And new figures show that audiences swelled by over three percent in 2011 - that's despite rising unemployment in the UK. The Society of London Theatres said the capital's 52 major venues took around $840 million in ticket sales.

Zoe Conway

The Theatre Royal, London

The Theatre Royal opened in Covent Garden in 1732


Click to hear the report


Last year 8 million people were off to see the Wizard of Oz and other musicals. 6 million went to the opera, to the ballet or to see a play.

London's West End is not cheap - tickets to see a play can cost $75 - so there's been surprise here in the UK that when the country is going through one of the worst economic downturns for decades, people can still afford to go.

Mark Rubinstein at the society of London theatre says it's really not that hard to understand why people are spending the money.

It's not just in London that Britain's plays are proving a sell out - they're transferring to New York where they're drawing big audiences and winning awards.

But will audiences keep coming when the Olympics arrive in London this summer? Theatre owner and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber says there's going to be a bloodbath and theatres will close. But not everyone in Theatreland's so gloomy. Adam Spiegel the producer of Midnight Tango thinks the Olympics could help draw people in.


Click to hear the vocabulary



plays in which some or all of the story is told using songs and dancing

economic downturns

periods of time where trade and industry are performing less well


have enough money




moving from




person who arranges plays in theatres

a bloodbath

a devastating situation


area of London where all the theatres are located


sad or without hope

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