Who would have guessed at the beginning of last year that 2009 would prove to be such a record-breaking year for London theatre breaks? More than 14 million tickets being sold at venues across the capital, that’s pretty impressive.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m sure you all know how much I enjoy settling down for a play or musical and there have been some really fantastic productions in the past year. I just figured that the recession would see less people spending money on cultural nights out – I’m glad I was so wrong!
In fact, it seems that the global economic crisis and weak pound are partly responsible for this surge of interest in theatre breaks, as so many ‘staycationers’ have been heading to London to take in its sights and attractions rather than heading out of the UK. All that doom and gloom in the news may also have encouraged people to seek escapism where they can – and what better way than with an all-star play or rip-roaring musical?
This is great news for the British theatre industry, and for us here at Superbreak where we’ve just celebrated our 50,000th booking for a West End theatre package! Looking back over the past year, it was big-budget musicals that attracted theatregoers in droves to our theatre-and-bed deals – but the single most popular, without a doubt, was Lionel Bart’s new adaption of Oliver!, which played at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane and starred such luminaries as Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones. Wicked also proved to be hugely popular last year, while crowds are still drawn to the old favourites like The Lion King and Dirty Dancing.
We’re all hopeful that the coming year should prove just as successful as 2009 for theatre breaks, if not greater, thanks to some exciting new shows making their debut at the West End – from the hotly-anticipated Phantom sequel Love Never Dies, which opens in February, to Shrek: The Musical, which has been getting rave reviews on Broadway and is sure to be just as popular with kids on this side of the pond.
But of course, the theatre isn’t all about musicals – so don’t worry if all that singing and dancing isn’t your cup of tea. A number of exciting new plays are seeing well-known actors walking London’s boards, from Keira Knightley’s West End debut in The Misanthrope to Samuel West in Enron and James Earl Jones in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. With all this fine talent and venues attempting to outdo last year’s successes, 2010 looks set to be another killer year for UK theatre breaks!