Hamlet is right! The play is the thing here in London. Between the West End, the Globe, and the Fringe, it can be difficult to know where to go and what to see. Here is a guide for a night out at the theatre at all price points.
If you are looking for some free evening entertainment, check out the Angel comedy club at the Camden Head. Every night at 7:00, the Camden Head pub turns into a spot for up-and-coming stand-up comedians. Over the course of two hours, you'll see six acts, ranging from the hilarious to the down-right embarrassing. No matter the skill of the performer, you can always count on the host to comically berate members of the audience. Be sure to queue early, as seats fill up quickly.
The Globe Theatre is where Shakespeare wrote and produced his most famous plays. While the original Globe burned down in 1613, the replica is up and running down on the South Bank. For just £5, you can see Shakespeare’s plays reinvented, but played on the stage just as they would have in the 17th century. If you want the £5 ticket, you'll have the best seat in the house: standing as a groundling. Your feet may burn after standing for three hours, but nothing beats actors speaking soliloquies directly to you. If you're first in line, you can get a spot right up next to the stage, perfect for leaning when your back needs a break! If you're willing to spend the extra pence, you can splurge for a seat in the galleries, and even rent a cushion for your bench. As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II, and Henry V are playing through October. After the outdoor theatre closes, you can see the Globe’s winter productions in the candlelit, indoor Sam Wanamaker theatre.
The Fringe is the off-Broadway sector of the theatre industry in London. Here, you can find more experimental productions as well as new plays and musicals. To find lists of local productions and reviews, snag a free copy of Time Out magazine on your way out of the tube on Tuesday mornings, or check out their website at www.timeout.com/London/theatre.
Moving into the West End, tickets can get pretty pricey based on the popularity of the show you would like to see. However, most theatres give discounts to students who purchase their tickets the day of the performance at the box office. The most I’ve paid for a ticket with a student discount is £30, and my ticket would have normally sold for at least £70. If you’re willing to pay around £25 for a ticket, I would recommend Fiddler on the Roof at the Playhouse Theater. This classic musical feels like a brand new work. The performances are superb, the dancing is incredible, and the music brings tears to your eyes. If you can, I would try to get a seat in the middle of the stalls (the main floor), or on the first balcony. The distance will allow you to take in the whole stage and give you a better view of the dances and the rest of the action. Fiddler closes on November 2, so be sure to see this great piece of theatre soon!
As students, most of us try to save our money, only spending on events that are truly spectacular. If you’re going to break the bank on one show in London, make it Hamilton. Since the show opened on Broadway in 2015, it has been nearly impossible to get tickets in the United States. Even the worst seats in the house are hundreds of dollars. This weekend I saw Hamilton for $75. The lighting design and choreography are really cool, so the more you can see the stage, the better. I sat in the first balcony, and I felt like I had the perfect seats.
If you’re looking for less of an American experience while abroad, try seeing Six instead. This musical is all about the six wives of King Henry VIII. With its pop tunes and concert vibe, it feels similar to Hamilton, but with an English twist. Six is coming to Broadway next year, but here in London, you can see the original cast. If you want to stay ahead of the popular American musical scene, Six is the show for you.
Whether or not you spend the big bucks on a night out at the theatre, try to see a show or two before you leave. With so many options at your fingertips, it would be a mistake to pass up this great opportunity to see some quality pieces of theatre.
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<p>Katie Joachim is a senior at Hope College, where she is studying Theatre and Creative Writing. She has been a part of the theatre community since she was eight-years-old: 13 years in total! Most recently, Katie was the director of the Bay View Youth Theatre and she just finished up an acting internship with Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. When she isn't in rehearsal, Katie can be found knitting and watching the Grey's Anatomy, all while munching on a slice of freshly-baked cake.</p>