There are countless websites and online companies claiming to offer cheap theatre tickets for all of London's big shows like Phantom of the Opera, Stomp, Woman In Black and 39 Steps
Many theatres have long running offers on their top price seats, usually only available on the Monday to Friday performances and then the prices go back up over the weekend. Offers like these can often run indefinitely so it looks rather attractive to the buying customer thinking they are getting a great deal, however the offer is constantly on and the price only goes up for Saturday and Sunday performances. This is a good marketing strategy used by many theatres.
Theatres can also offer cheap tickets for the preview performances of a show, this is done before the official opening has taken place and before the press have released any reviews of the show. It can be a bit hit and miss with new shows, however if there is a lot of hype around the show and maybe some big celebrities in the cast then it's a good time to get some tickets while they are at their cheapest.
Each theatre has a range of categories and prices which are most commonly broken up into groups such as premium seats, first price or top price seats, second price seats, third price seats and so on. This is called the face value of the ticket and this is determined by the producers of the show. Whether you are buying the ticket from the theatre itself, from a stand in the street or from a reseller online, they must advise you of the face value of the ticket you are purchasing. This is where some dodgy resellers advertise a discount when really the face value of the ticket is third or fourth price.
There are definitely some excellent discounts on London theatre tickets on offer and when you do find a genuinely great discount, it doesn't necessarily mean that the show will be terrible. Theatres discount for many other reasons besides the obvious. The time of the year can affect ticket sales, usually summer is a slower time of the year so producers offer discounts to entice people to come to their show. The preview performances of a show will usually offer cheaper tickets before the official reviews have been announced and also if a show is a long-running show and ticket sales are declining then usually a discount is offered, for example a mid-week discount, to encourage people to come back and see their show for maybe a third or fourth time.
Another good time to get a discount on London theatre tickets is on the day of the show. Most West End theatres will hold back a row or two of seats to be sold on the day exclusively to customers who go to the box office in person. These seats are more often than not in the front row of the Stalls and are only ever available on the day of the performance and from the theatres box office itself. Most box offices open at 10:00am, however for an already sold out show it's best to arrive much earlier to get hold of these tickets.
There are a number of reasons why London theatre tickets are discounted and also many ways to obtain cheap theatre tickets - the more you start to try and hunt the bargains down, the more shortcuts you will discover.