A complete guide on where to sit in the theatre
Choosing what seats to book prior to seeing a performance can be tricky, especially if you have never watched a show in a specific theatre before. If you’ve read all about London theatre you can’t work out your stall seats from your balcony benches, let us make the task of selecting your seats a little bit easier, as we take you through the different parts of an auditorium. Wherever you choose to book seats in a theatre, you’re bound to experience a night of live entertainment at its very best. Here’s our top picks for staying entertained with theatre activities if you’re not seeing a show.
Where to sit in the theatre
Stall seats are on the ground level of the theatre. These seats may be regarded as the “best seats in the house” as they offer patrons the chance to be closest to the action, especially if you are sitting in the front rows of the theatre. With many West End theatres, there are many rows in the stalls seats, so you can still choose to sit on the ground level while being further away from the action and buy cheaper tickets. To demonstrate where the stall seats are, we’ve used the Prince of Wales Theatre which is currently home to The Book of Mormon. The stalls at the Prince of Wales Theatre allow for great viewing from the front and back. Similar to stalls across West End theatres, sitting in this section of the theatre will allow for a great viewing experience.
Often considered to be the “best” seats in the theatre, premium seats come at an extra cost. There are often a few rows of premium seating in the middle of rows in the stalls.
To get a premium view for a cheaper price, why not book tickets next to premium seats? The view will be almost identical, but you could use the money you save to buy tickets for more productions. To demonstrate premium seats, we’ve used a seat plan of the Gielgud Theatre, home of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Sometimes called the Royal Circle, this is often the middle level in an auditorium, or in theatres where there are only two, it is the top level. Sitting in the dress circle can allow you to feel immersed in the action of what’s on stage, but you are able to sit from a height so you can appreciate what’s going on at all levels, something which you may miss if you are sitting in the stalls. To show the circle seats, we’ve used a seat plan from Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Taking advantage of the higher, cheaper seats in the circle can make for a great theatre experience without blowing your budget on tickets.
Also referred to as the Grand Circle, this is the third level of seating in an auditorium. Sitting this high may not be recommended for those who suffer from vertigo, however sitting in this section of the theatre will allow you to see the stage from a high angle so you don’t miss any part of the action. If you purchase upper circle tickets, you may not be able to see the facial expressions of those on stage, however the grandeur of a West End production will carry to the highest seats in a theatre.
Called a gallery or “balcony”, these are the highest seats in the theatre. There are only a few West End theatres that have balcony seats, the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Harold Pinter Theatre being examples. Sitting at the top of the auditorium, gallery seats are the fourth level of seating and are furthest away from the action, but will often be the cheapest seats in the theatre. You may also have to climb stairs to get to the gallery and be sitting on benches, so it’s best to check the seat plan of a theatre you are attending beforehand. To demonstrate a balcony, we’ve got a seat plan of Only Fools and Horses at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Wherever you sit in the theatre, some seats may be sold as having a “restricted view”. Unlike theatres having a common set of seats between them, each West End theatre will have their own range of restricted seat, based on safety rails, overhangs or sight lines. Restricted views may change depending on the production in a theatre, but sitting in these seats can often be a great way to find a cheaper ticket. Before buying your ticket, you will be able to see which seats are advertised with a restricted view, so you’ll be able to work out where you want to sit in the theatre for the best view.
Sitting in a box
Typically found on the same level as the dress circle, sitting in a box brings its own benefits. Also known as a loge or loggia, boxes are an excellent seating choice for those in a small group, as they allow you to sit close together without any other members of the public next to you. Sitting in your own space does mean that box tickets typically cost more, however a box seat allows you to tailor your live experience to your own needs, causing less interference for those around you. While lots of West End theatres have box seating available, we have used a seat plan of Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre to show the amount of boxes that theatres may have.
There are a few theatres in London that allow patrons to stand and watch a show. Experience Shakespearean theatre with a standing ticket to a show at the Globe Theatre. While these standing tickets may not be sheltered, seeing a Shakespeare production while standing is a fantastic way to immerse yourself into the Elizabethan era.
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