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Theatre tickets are expensive, especially in London’s West End. But – and there’s no guarantee – but there’s a trick to get a top price ticket for much much less.

High prices mean I rarely go to see plays and other shows now, with even mid-price tickets more than £40 or £50. But on my last few trips I’ve had an unexpected bonus – a free upgrade!

As a treat for Becky, I recently bought two tickets for Frank Sinatra: the Man and his Music at the Palladium (not really my kind of show but quite fun and it had fantastic staging and projections). The most expensive seats were £125, but I settled for a more reasonable £35 up in the Gods.

When we arrived, it turned out the Upper Circle was closed and instead we were boosted to much better seats on the Royal Circle. At face value these were at least £60 each, so we essentially saved £50 and had a much better view.

The same thing happened with Let The Right One In and another show (sorry can’t remember which…).

The reason. The theatres want to group as many people together rather than spread them out. It makes sense to have full stalls than everyone up in the cheap seats. It also costs less on staffing if the theatre can close whole sections.

Of course there’s no guarantee this will happen, and you certainly won’t get these on the biggest, most in demand productions. If you’re not offered an upgrade and there are spare seats you can always move in the interval!

So I think it’s worth a go as long we you’d be happy with the seats you buy if there is no upgrade. To help, here are my tips to give you the best chance.

Go to the bigger theatres

The bigger the theatre, the better chance you have of there being spare seats that need filling.

See less popular shows

This won’t happen on productions like Book of Mormon or Matilda, but there are plenty of fantastic shows which don’t get enough of an audience.

There’s an even better chance if these shows end early.

Visit early in the week

It often seems London theatre goers are predominantly tourists. Well there are less of them about early in the week, meaning less full houses and a better chance you’ll be upgraded. Midweek matinees are also a good shout.

Look at seating plans

If you’re booking close to the event, take a look at the seating plan. If there are tons of available expensive seats in the stalls, there’s an increased likelihood they’ll want them filled.

Get there early

If you are going to try this arrive at the box office at least a half hour before curtain time. If upgrading is happening you’ll be among the first to get better seats.

>> For more tips to save at the theatre read my guide

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