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A CurtainUp Feature
London Basics: A Guide to Top Sights, Accommodations, Theaters and more
London, like New York City, is a hive of theatrical activity. The West Endis the London equivalent of Broadway. The term Broadway Theater covers the whole neighborhood fanning out from the great neon lit thoroughfare. From the producers' point of view the operative words for a Broadway or a West End show is size (big), money (lots of it) and hit (meaning a long running, visitors "must see" show that outlasts the original cast.
London, like New York, also has many smaller theaters--some within walking distance of the big shows, many in various locations around town. In New York these theaters fall under the umbrella of Off-Broadway and (Off-Off-Broadway for even smaller and further from the main theater district shows). The London equivalent of Off and Off-Off-Broadway is known as The Fringe (see link below). The Fringe, like Off and Off-Off-Broadway often yields adventurous and price-worthy theater experiences in venues that might be theater and club combinations and with shows sometimes running for just a few days. For an address list of fringe theaters go here
London also has two subsidized companies: 1. RSC (for Royal Shakespeare Company) which encompasses the Barbican Theatre and The Pit. 2. The Royal National Theatre (RNT) which encompasses the Olivier, The Lyttleton and The Cottlestoe. Since plays are usually scheduled in repertory a visitor could have quite a feast in a single week of show hopping. RSC and RNT shows do often become major commercial hits and move to the West End.
Discount Tickets. There are several discount ticket outlets in and around Leicester Square. The official 1/2 price booth of The Society of London Theatres is in the clock tower building in the southern part of Leicester Square London sells tickets for many West End shows on the day of performance. There's a service charge of 2 pounds and all sales are cash only. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 12noon to 6.30pm and Sunday 12noon to 3.30pm. Tickets are sold strictly from the "top-of-the-pile" and are likely to be either in the very front rows, on the side of the theatre or right at the back of the stalls area.
London's Fringe Theaters
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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