Are you bored of dinner, cinema and coffee dates? Do you feel like you should try the theatre, but don’t know where to go or how to get the best out of your trip to a London Theatre? Here is a great guide to acing a theatrical date in London.
West End Theatres:
Romantic, glamorous, interesting.
42nd Street (set in the 1930’s) tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, a performer who gets her big break on Broadway. This musical is an awe-inspiring spectacle with incredible dance numbers from a large ensemble of around 30 dancers. It’s hard to get bored and not break out into a massive smile. They even manage to pull off the famous synchronised swimming scene that was often found in old Hollywood follies films! On stage! To be even more interesting, you and your date could go dressed in 1930’s glamour to fit the show’s theme.
At this show, you will definitely have something to talk about in the interval. If you’ve seen the film, talk about whether it stays true to it. Or simply discuss your favourite song in the First Act!
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is big, romantic and one of the oldest theatres in the West End. If you think your date would be interested, learn the history of the theatre before you go; there are many fascinating facts to spout.
Lloyd Webber Theatres (who run Theatre Royal Drury Lane) offer champagne experiences, where you will have your own personal, professional host to cater to your needs. They also allow you to pre-order your interval drinks that will be ready for you and your date to receive, without the queue at the interval.
Across the road from Theatre Royal Drury Lane is a cosy pub named The Nell of Old Drury. Here, you could meet pre-show and they also take pre-orders for interval drinks. If you want to stretch your legs a bit further during the interval, go there.
Gripping, Historical, Impressive
Agatha Christie’s famous Whodunit was originally written as a radio play for Queen Mary. Adapted for stage, it is now the longest running stage play in the world. Opening on the West End in 1952, it is now in its 66th year.
Set in a manor house just outside of London, it is heard on the radio that there has been a murder. Coincidentally, every guest that enters the manor house appears to fit the description of the murderer in some form. These guests are snowed in, so no one can escape being accused.
Buy front row tickets on the day at 10am when the box office opens, for only £25 per ticket. This is a great offer for a close up, no restrictions view of arguably the world’s greatest whodunit. If you tell your date at the last minute that you’ve got front row tickets TONIGHT, I am sure they’d be pretty impressed. Tell your date you have great contacts who sorted it out for you 😉 You don’t have to tell them what contact, i.e. CLiKD app’s blog and the box office.
Sure, there are plenty of whodunits you can watch on Netflix with your date while “chilling”. However, you’re not really making a great part of history with someone watching Netflix. Any night you go to see the Mousetrap, you are a part of making a Guinness World Record. As you enter the theatre, there is a counter board which has the number of the performance that you are attending. Take a selfie with you and your date in front of the board, and you can keep that piece of history together forever. Once the show is over, you will also have a secret to keep between the two of you. You will know whodunit, and that will surely bring you a bit closer together.
Fun, Relaxed, Upbeat
If you and your date have bonded over your darker sense of humour, then The Book of Mormon is a great show to see together. By the writers of South Park, this musical boasts catchy, clever and crude songs. There is bound to be something that makes you laugh out loud and gasp. The story follows two Mormon boys, from Utah, who are sent to Uganda for their two-year mission. One boy wanted to be sent to Orlando, the other couldn’t be more excited. It may be offensive, but this musical does, in the end, send a warm-hearted message about the human need to believe.
It can be difficult for you to get ahold of for this consistently sold out production. However, it can also be very easy too! Every day there is a lottery to win £20 front row tickets. All you have to do is arrive at the theatre two and half hours before the performance, bring proof of ID, fill out a form and wait for the live draw!
If you are lucky enough to get tickets, Prince of Wales Theatre is based in between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, therefore there is not a lack of options for dinner. Delfont Mackintosh Theatres also provide VIP packages for the ultimate theatre experience. This involves having a staff member serving you drinks and snacks in a reserved area before the show and during the interval. During this you can chat and laugh away with your date about how you probably shouldn’t have laughed at the mention of Female GM. If you don’t book a champagne experience, the stalls bar in the Prince of Wales Theatre is large with a fancy jazz club décor. The stalls bar is open an hour and fifteen minutes before the performance starts.
Niche, Thought-provoking, Exciting
This one is a date for Musical Theatre know-it-all’s – I mean, if you can get tickets before its final performance on March 30th 2019. Sondheim’s 1970 musical was originally about Bobby, a bachelor surrounded by his married friends trying to set him up. Director, Marianne Elliot, has gender flipped this revival, so now Bonnie is a woman who wants kids, but also wants her freedom. The story may make you feel possibly queasy about your potential future relationship with the person sitting next to you. However, if you are both Stagey nerds, I am sure you can debate about whether gender switching the roles has done any justice for Sondheim’s classic. Don’t forget to mention whether Musical Theatre legend Patti LuPone is still as glorious as ever!
A modernised revival of a musical by the king of classic musical theatre is where to be introduced to musicals; if you can get tickets that is! If you are not a huge theatre fan, but want to impress your thespian date, trust me, they will never forget you if you manage to bagsy them tickets to this. Even if the seats are in the heavens. Hey, you may even get lucky! Not that I am encouraging any one to sell their body for theatre tickets…
Off-West End Theatres:
Unique, Trendy, affordable
Theatre in London is not only about the West End! There are plenty of Fringe and Off-West End theatres, where you can support local artists, emerging theatre companies and new work. Plus, tickets are mostly affordable!
The Southwark Playhouse, in-between Borough and Elephant and Castle, has a year-round programme of different plays and musicals. This off-west end theatre was home to In the Heights UK transfer and Bring It On the Musical. Plus, there is never a lack of options to catch brand new plays about relevant 21st topics. Therefore, unlike some West End theatres, you have a choice of several productions in one month.
This theatre is a great spot if you want a casual date, but still want to attend the theatre. Currently housed in an old car parts shop, it has a casual modern vibe with a bar/cafe. At the Southwark Playhouse, you can grab a drink without going too far as the bar opens long before the show and doesn’t close as soon as the Second Act of the show begins.
The Shakespeare’s Globe is a theatre in London I am sure everyone has heard about. This theatre is a rebuild of the original Shakespeare’s Elizabethan theatre. You can often get standing tickets for £5; yes, you have to stand up in the cold throughout a lengthy Shakespeare play! However, you get to experience the life of a “groundling” in the 1600’s. You can also book a tour of the Shakespeare’s globe, where you will receive a visual history lesson about the 1599 Globe Theatre. Sometimes tours take place during rehearsals, meaning you may even experience the backstage workings of a production there.
King’s Head Theatre (a fringe theatre in Islington) is in the King’s Head Pub. This theatre has 110 seats and offers quirky and different shows put on by young emerging artists. If you want a casual but intimate date, you can meet in the pub for casual drink. Then, when it’s showtime, head to your seats. Technically, you could say your date was a pub and theatre date, all in one!
You can find listings of current off-west end shows at: https://www.whatsonstage.com/shows/off-west-end-theatre
And all listings at: https://www.whatsonstage.com/
CLiKD PSA: Booking directly from the theatre box office, in person, by telephone or online is always most reliable. Using this booking method is reliable, as you know what you are paying for and where you will be sitting. (Be aware of ticket touts and some third party companies!) However, the TodayTix App is popular and reliable. TodayTix often does great deals for theatre tickets, especially Rush tickets, priced cheaply for the day of and lottery tickets, where you can usually win front row seats.