That really is the question, when you don’t have all the shows on your doorstep. Going to see London shows, for me, isn’t just the matter of a cost of a ticket – it’s the travel, hotel and cost of meals whilst there.
Perhaps this is partly my fault for wanting good seats (my favourite seats are in the stalls, about 5 or 6 rows back, centre of the row – very expensive). But if I’m going to spend all that money on the overall trip, I want to have a good viewing position.
So, how do I decide what to see? Here are the factors that contribute to the decision making process:-
- The shows that are only there for a short run have to be top of the list otherwise I’ll miss them.
- Next will be the shows I’m really excited to see, but seem to be quite settled in their homes and don’t look like they’re going anywhere anytime soon.
- I like to go see every my all time favourites every few years, such as Phantom and Les Mis. If there’s a particularly strong cast this will bump them up (With all the Phantom25 celebrations at the moment, I’m getting to see this quite a lot, which is great)
- Shows that are getting rave reviews and have a bit of a buzz about them, but aren’t one’s that I feel a massive urge to see .
About the last factor - when I do go to see these shows, I’m more often than not completely blown away – for example, Lord of the Rings, which I ended up going back later that month to see (at the time I was living in Croydon and it was much easier to go). It’s just a shame I rarely get to these ones.
If the show is touring and it’s coming near me, I’ll probably go and see that version instead, although I’m aware I’m getting a watered down tourable version, such as Legally Blonde later this year.
Another factor that, unfortunately, plays a part in the decision is whether anyone else wants to see the show. It shouldn’t be a factor,really, I should feel happy to book on my own rather than miss something I really want to see. It seems from a poll question I put forward on www.stagestatus.com that most people aren’t afraid of going alone:-
If I answered this poll, I would have probably said ‘No, I would be too self conscious’. Hopefully, this year, I’ll get over that. I even think that once I do it, I'll prefer it because I often end up worrying that the person I've taken to see the show isn't enjoying it, which spoils my own enjoyment.
After I’ve made the decisions about the West End shows, there’s also the decision about what local shows to see, to fill the gap in between. I’ve posted before about the different qualities of amateur dramatics. There are some real hidden gems out there. But for every amateur company which shines, there are a handful of duds. These are often full of casts who have no propensity for acting and are doing it as a hobby. This is fine, I have no problem with people trying, just don’t charge audiences £10 for the privilege of watching them try.
The other problem with choosing local shows to watch is finding the venue! – in London all the theatres are lumped together, very efficiently, in theatre land. In the instances when it’s not in theatre land – it’ll be in a very accessible position at the end of a short tube journey.
I had an incident a week or two ago where I was going to a venue outside of the centre of Swansea. I hadn’t been there before and despite living in Swansea for most of my life, I don’t know my way around here very well. I typed the post code into google maps and was given a location. I felt happy I could get to this. Unfortunately, it turned out this wasn’t where the venue was at all, and I was lost. I had no idea where it actually was and ended up missing the show.
I love seeing shows and there’s no way I would let all the above put me off enjoying something that I have loved my entire life. It would just be so much easier if I didn’t live the wrong side of the M4.
To see or not see? With all these things to think about, it’s not such an easy question, after all.