1954: There’s No Business Like.- Lang
I have a love-hate relationship with the West End. I love live performances which I why I love the theatre or a musical. However, what frustrates me is its inability to adapt. Many of us have comfortable homes with audio visual systems that are phenomenal, yet we will often leave the comfort of home for a trip to the theatre. There are lots of really great shows to see in London and some amazing sets. However, what I am regularly disappointed by is the seating, which is often cramped, uncomfortable and sometimes does not even provide a good view of the stage. The theatre going experience is worsened by the overpriced drinks – where even a bottle of water is about 300 percent more expensive than the equivalent unit of petrol or diesel. If you want to know who is performing, then shell out more for a programme and I think very few women would suggest that there anything like enough toilets (there aren’t enough even for the men). Ok, the buildings are old and so some restrictions are inevitable, but surely a view of the stage shouldn’t be one of them!
So what’s my point? Theatre doesn’t have to be this way. It can and should adapt. Make audiences move in their seats because of the performances not because they are uncomfortable. Discount tickets would not be necessary if the theatre was full of people that were keen to turn up. How about making the programme work for the advertisers, performers and audience? by providing it “free of charge” as they do on Broadway (though of course the cost is really part of the ticket price – don’t get me started on “booking fee” charges). If the theatre was the financial services industry it would be dead and buried. We cannot afford to constantly mess up the client experience (though I admit that some Insurance companies do have a very good go at this). I put a lot of thought into this and am constantly looking at ways to improve the experience – which isn’t as simple as “razzle dazzle them”. Yet few people “love” financial services – thousands, perhaps millions, love theatre, yet I would suggest that for all the problems within financial services, I rarely come across an organisation that takes so much advantage of its audience as the theatre. I say this as someone that sees a lot of West End productions with a deep affection for it.

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