Tag Archives: Book of Mormon

Ticket prices have reached new heights

22 Aug

West End theatre is a tough business. There’s no doubt about that. Dozens of shows are trying to make a profit. Production costs are often high and it’s unlikely these costs will fall in the foreseeable future.
And obviously producers need to sell tickets to keep their shows running. Ticket prices have increased a lot over the past 10 years. I remember buying top price seats for We will rock you for less than £50 to name just one example.

But then everything is getting more expensive. I realise that and although I’d be lying if I said I never complain about regular ticket prices I’m ok with shows charging £65 for best seats. After all there’s usually day seats, online offers, TKTS etc. for us regular theatre goers. Yes, it sometimes means getting up early and spending an hour or two of your Saturday morning waiting in front of a theatre. But if I end up with a great seat for £25 I will happily make that bit of an effort.

And for the few shows without suitable offers (Matilda springs to mind) I will pay £65 and just accept that I won’t be able to watch that particular show over and over again. After all the “usual” audience member rarely watches a show more than once (maybe twice if it was an especially enjoyable experience). So, I don’t expect a show to offer me nice and cheap tickets. In the end it’s good to see a show doing well enough to not having to rely on discounting tickets to fill the theatre.

But there’s a difference between doing well and being greedy. The introduction of premium seats at usually around £95 is verging on the edge of greed. But if people are willing to pay that much for one ticket who can blame the producers for charging these prices? They want to make money – that’s the purpose of their business.

But now we are facing a whole new level of ticket prices in the West End. The smash hit musical The Book of Mormon is selling out performance after performance. Tickets are like gold dust at times. There’s a ticket lottery for every performance which – although giving 21 lucky winners the opportunity to watch the show for £20 – only adds to the hype surrounding this musical. The Book of Mormon was the first show to introduce premium tickets at £127, a price that seemed ridiculously high at the time. But there obviously were people willing to pay that much for one ticket.
Personally I can’t say I’m surprised to see the producers of The Book of Mormon have now taken the next step. Super premium tickets (or whatever they are called officially) for £152 each. I’ll repeat that just in case you didn’t quite get that figure: £152 for ONE ticket.

Don’t get me wrong, I think The Book of Mormon is a fantastic show. It’s funny, it’s clever, it has great music and a brilliant cast. It deserves to be a success. But I do find the pricing policy of this show slightly worrying. Enjoying an evening at the theatre shouldn’t be a privilege. But how is a couple with regular jobs supposed to afford two tickets for £304? Add costs for transport, a drink and maybe dinner before the show – it’s a ridiculous amount of money for an evening out. The Book of Mormon is a great show but it’s not that great!

Sadly as long as there are people who are buying these tickets we will see prices increasing further in the future. The only way to stop this trend is to stop buying tickets at these prices. And as much as I would love to see this happening it is obviously just wishful thinking. Clever marketing and a huge hype has made The Book of Mormon the hottest ticket in town. And the producers know people are going to pay to become part of this hype. I don’t agree with the decision to charge £152 for a ticket but I can’t blame the producers for jumping at the chance to make a fortune. It’s the basic rule: Supply and demand.

It does make me sad though. I love the arts. I love West End theatre. And I strongly believe theatre should be more than a money making machine.

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The Book of Mormon at The Prince of Wales Theatre – 9th March 2013

13 Mar

If you have been walking around London in the past weeks or are just slightly interested in musical theatre (or both) you will have noticed one thing: The Mormons are in town! It is almost impossible to avoid this show these days.

The Book of Mormon has been a sell out on Broadway since March 2011 and has now found its way across the pond and right into London’s West End. The show tells the story of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to share the Book of Mormon and convert the locals. However, people in the village they travel to are worried about war, poverty and AIDS and have no interest in religion.
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It does sound quite deep just from reading this short and VERY basic summary. However, in reality The Book of Mormon is a satiric approach to organised religion and the literal credibility of the LDS Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). But despite being downright filthy in parts The Book of Mormon is a show with heart and in the end it tells us that religion can do good if taken metaphorically.
The show’s songs are as clever as they are hilarious – some of them hinting at well-known musical theatre classics. The choreography has to be one of the finest you have seen on a West End stage and the characters – whilst drawn out of proportion – are thought through and well-developed.

Gavin Creel reprises his role as Elder Price after opening the US National Tour of The Book of Mormon. Gavin is no stranger to the West End having starred in both Mary Poppins and Hair. His Elder Price starts out on his mission wonderfully optimistic and sure of his beliefs but after being sent to Uganda and experiencing various set-backs his faith starts to crumble. Gavin plays Elder Price with a boyish charm that is impossible to resist. His singing is flawless and his acting is nothing but spot on.

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Jared Gertner plays Elder Cunningham who is sent to Uganda with Elder Price to spread the word of Jesus amongst the locals through the Book of Mormon. Elder Cunningham is the geeky outsider, the one that never fits in. He doesn’t actually care about the Book of Mormon (in fact he hasn’t even read it). Elder Cunningham just wants to be accepted and declares the popular Elder Price his new best friend. Jared is a perfect fit for this part – his Cunningham is hilariously funny and awkward but he’s never a complete laughing-stock.

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The secret star of the show has to be the wonderful Stephen Ashfield who shines as Elder McKinley. His “Turn it off” is a complete show stopper and has the audience in fits of laughter. Stephen has appeared in several West End shows to rave reviews including Jersey Boys (Bob Gaudio) and Legally Blonde (Emmett) but The Book of Mormon finally gives him the chance to show off his incredible comic timing. To say Stephen is great in the show would be an understatement – he is quite simply outstanding.

Alexia Khadime is an irresistibly cute Nabulungi. She plays the part with a tender humour and manages to win the audience over instantly. “Baptize me“ (Nabulungi and Elder Cunningham) is brilliantly funny and “Hasa Diga Eebowai (Reprise)“ gives her the chance to show off her amazing voice.

There really is no weak link in this cast. From Chris Jarman (General) to Haydn Oakley (Price’s Dad, Joseph Smith, Mission President), Giles Terera (Mafala Hatimbi) and the complete ensemble this cast is put together perfectly. The chemistry on stage is noticeable throughout the show. In fact I don’t recall watching a show that was so extremely slick after less than two weeks of previews in all my years of theatre going.

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The Book of Mormon is by far the most offensive piece of theatre I have ever seen and I am sure there will be visitors who can’t cope with this kind of humour. This is definitely not a show for kids and if you can’t take jokes about religion The Book of Mormon is not for you.
However, I had the absolutely best time watching this show. I laughed until I cried and I loved all the “Did they actually just say that??” moments (there are plenty, believe me). And in the end this is a parody but it is also a story about friendship, standing up for your belief and staying true to yourself. Having said that it is funniest show I have had the pleasure to attend in my life – a through and through brilliant night out.

The Book of Mormon is one of those “Beg and steal for a ticket” shows – a proper hit musical that you just can’t miss out on!

The Book of Mormon is playing at The Prince of Wales Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.bookofmormonlondon.com.