Thursday, October 8, 2015

How To Get Cheap Theatre Tickets

I’ve been going to see live theatre since I was eleven and my Mum took me to see Seven Little Australians starring Alyce Platt from Sale of the Century and Bevan from Young Talent Time (be still my beating heart!). I love it. One of my favourite places in the world is inside a theatre just before a show starts.

I’ve been fortunate in that this little old blog has led to me being given tickets to a few shows, and I’ve won some competitions to see things lately, but on the whole, seeing live theatre can be an expensive habit.  However, over the years, I have learnt some ways to keep the costs down. Some of these tips are Melbourne based, but I would imagine other cities/theatres have similar things.

So, here they are, in no particular order!

Preview Performances

Before a show has an official opening night, they will often have previews and these are generally cheaper. Sometimes things aren’t quite ready and that can be really interesting to see, plus you are seeing it before most people get a chance to.

Mid Week Shows

Shows that aren’t on Friday and Saturday nights are almost always cheaper.  Plus, the available seats are usually better.

Restricted View

If you know your way around a particular theatre, there are usually seats that are better than others, and ones that are cheaper than others. For example, Her Majesty’s in Melbs sells restricted view seats. There are ones up the back of the stalls, and although it means you can’t see right to the top of the stage, for most shows this doesn’t actually matter, because not a lot happens up there anyway. They also have some great ones about halfway back in the stalls that are behind a pole. I’ve sat there heaps of times and the pole doesn’t actually get in the way at all. These seats are about half the price of the seats next to them. Also check out B and C reserve seats, if you just choose 'best available' when searching, it will select the most expensive ones.
I have also noticed that Melbourne Theatre Company often sells the front row at a drastically reduced price. I am yet to figure out why, I’ve sat there and the view is fantastic.
If you don’t know the layout of the particular theatre, call them and ask about restricted view seats.

Social Media

If you find the pages/accounts of any shows you are interested in seeing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and like/follow them, they will often post special offers there. Sometimes it’s a flash sale for 48 hours and you can snap up a bargain if the timing is right.

Rush Tickets

If a show isn’t sold out, you can sometimes just turn up to the theatre a couple of hours before the show starts and they will sell you a ticket at a huge discount. I’ve paid $45 for tickets I know are worth closer to $150 doing it this way. They call these ‘Rush Tickets’ and they are usually also advertised on social media. I usually check on the website and make sure there are a fair few unsold seats before I go to the theatre.

Group Bookings

If you get a group of you together and buy all the tickets at once, you will pay less. The amount of people you need varies for this, but usually at least 8 or 12 people will get you a discount.

Half Tix Melbourne

There’s a little booth in the Town Hall on Swanston Street that sells reduced price tickets to shows for that day and/or the next few days. The ‘catch’ with this is that you have to buy them in person at the actual booth which means you need to get there before they close, and that’s not always possible for me as I don’t live close to the city. They do have a website though, so you can see what they have before you go there.  Be aware that they are not always the cheapest option and you might get cheaper by using the Rush Tickets method as mentioned above.


If you see a competition, enter it! I have lost count of the amount of people who say to me ‘You always win stuff, I never win stuff’ but when I ask them if they enter competitions they say no. How can you possibly expect to win if you don’t enter? Some good websites/Facebook pages to keep an eye on for this are Theatrepeople and Stage Whispers.


If it’s a theatre company that puts on lots of shows, they will often offer discounts if you buy tickets to several of their shows at once. You should be able to easily find information about this on their website or by calling them.

Mailing Lists

When you buy tickets online at either Ticketmaster or Ticketek, ALWAYS tick the box near the end to say you would like to get offers. A lot of the time they will send you stuff that isn’t relevant, but they will also send you stuff that is.  Also join up to as many other mailing lists as you can. For starters I recommend LastTix, Smart Tix and Showbiz. These guys typically send out an email once a week with discount offers, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Having said all this, sometimes I still pay full price for things.  There are a few reasons for this, sometimes it’s because a show only has a short run and I fear it selling out. In some theatres I like sitting in certain places, so I will pay the extra to guarantee it.
Do you have any tips for seeing good stuff on the cheap?

If you ever have any questions about seeing live stuff in Melbourne, please feel free to contact me, I’m happy to help if I can!

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