Last Sunday, there was a cabaret at the Leicester Square Theatre: An Evening With Chris Passey and Friends was a night of performances from the debut album of musical theatre writer Chris Passey, and also featured songs from new writing duo Anderson & Petty. Joined by some top West End stars, it was a brilliant evening and the audience left enthusing about the music and the vocal talent and the amount of fun they’d had. I wasn’t there though.
This was something I was sorely disappointed about. I’ve been a supporter of Chris Passey for a long time, dating back to way before the album was released. I’ve interviewed him for another of the sites I write for, I was there for his album launch at Dress Circle – I even gave him a quote to use for its promotion. I’ve also thrown myself behind Anderson & Petty – we featured one of his songs in the December MADTrust concert, A West End Christmas and have plans to work with them further. Most importantly though, having supported them both and met them through that support, I now consider them both to be good friends, so to not be there on the night to cheer them all was a big regret.
Sometimes you have to pick and choose though. There is always so much to see and often not enough time to see it all. Regular theatre-goers will know just how hard it is to squeeze in everything you want, especially in this current climate where productions are staying open for less and less time. It feels like a new show opens every other week and though you may instantly declare that you are “definitely going to see that”, the reality is that something will probably get in the way. The two main enemies to the theatre fan are time and money. As much as you may have a passion for theatre and want to spend all your time immersed in it, life has other plans; there’s that pesky annoyance of having to go to work for one thing. For some, perhaps it is parenthood that gets in the way – I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever had to turn down the chance of a night at the theatre because of a childcare issue. There are a million and one things that can crop up in the course of everyday life and before you know it, that window of opportunity has closed, along with the show you were so determined to see. Sometimes though, it’s that little empty wallet that makes the decision for you. If you’re going for the optimum theatre experience then you’re going to want premium seats in the stalls and you probably don’t want to go alone right? Straight away, we’re talking £130.00 – £150. Then when you factor in travel costs, perhaps grabbing a bite to eat beforehand, buying a programme, a drink… and at this point, your poor wallet is practically screaming at what one evening’s entertainment has cost you. That’s just one evening. If you are intending to see all those new and exciting-looking shows that are opening, then your wallet is probably going to end up slightly depressed. It’s not even about seeing a variety of shows; some theatre-goers develop an attachment to a particular show and visit it on a weekly basis. There are, of course, plenty of very good ticket offers out there for most of those shows – thankfully. Being able to see a top West End show for as little as £12.50 is certainly a blessing. It’s always worth remembering as well that any hobby in life can be equally as hard on that wallet. If you’ve ever bought a season ticket for your favourite football team, you’ll undoubtedly know this. So really, the cost of theatre is relative to how often you go and how fussy you are about seating – handled smartly you’ll probably be fine. Just don’t overdo it.
The world of theatre is so much bigger than just the plays and musicals currently playing in the West End though. There are showcases, cabarets, concerts, fundraisers, one-night galas – and of course, all those off-West End productions. Already, I have a sizeable list of theatre-related events to see: some for work purposes and others simply to support and enjoy.
I love theatre. I love to write about, I love to talk about it and most of all, I love to see it. It would be easy to let theatre consume my life, but then other aspects would suffer. Yes, I am a theatre lover, but I’m also a sister, a daughter, a friend and most importantly, a mother. As much as I enjoy the world of theatre, my world has so much more in it. Being a mother comes first for me, every time, and if that means I have to sometimes turn down a theatre ticket, miss out on a theatre event or even let down a friend, then that’s what I’ll do. Being a theatre-goer can be a task of real dedication and there’s no doubt that it offers many rewards in return, but ultimately it has to be about balance. The reality of being a theatre-goer is that you just can’t see/support everything/everyone you want to: there’s too much out there. All you can do is try your best and be grateful for the things you do get to see.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)