Selling theatre breaks can be a lucrative business for travel agents – you just need to know what your clients are into.
Keith Prowse Tours general manager Richard Strange said: “Agents’ enthusiasm coupled with point-of-sale material such as posters and window displays can help maximise sales.
“They should also look to add city tours, exhibitions or dinners to any package to boost commission.”
Figures from UK operator Superbreak show there is money for the taking. “In the past year agents have sold more than £25 million-worth of London theatre breaks. The Sound of Music has been our number one show since the day it opened,” said Superbreak sales director Ian Mounser.
And there’s more to come once the search for a new Joseph ends in the BBC’s talent show Any Dream Will Do, and two contestants in ITV’s Grease is the Word fill the parts for Danny and Sandy.
“Both shows have already made it into our top 10 best sellers,” said Mounser. “These two programmes are driving new customers to the West End and growing the overall market.
“Theatre breaks are habit-forming and once clients have seen one show they will want to see others. Agency sales could easily increase by 50% in the next year.”
Indeed, the time is ripe for agents to be capitalising on the public’s fascination with the West End.
Showtime: Aldwych Theatre
On the stage: Josef Brown as Johnny Castle and Georgina Rich as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman.
The audience: Thirtysomething women reliving every step, every line and every song from the smash hit film starring Patrick Swayze.
Don’t miss: The final dance to Time of My Life – particularly that legendary lift.
Sample product: Superbreak offers tickets and one night’s bed and breakfast at the three-star Royal National Hotel from £76.50 per person.
On the web: Dirtydancingonstage.com
The Lord of the Rings
Showtime: Theatre Royal (from June 19)
On the stage: A cast of more than 70 actors, singers and musicians. Malcolm Storry takes the lead of Gandalf and James Loye as Frodo Baggins.
The audience: Ardent fans of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy epic. Certainly not for the faint-hearted – especially when the orcs join the audience.
Don’t miss: The battle of Helm’s Deep, when the terrifying orcs prepare to storm the citadel. Gollum’s performance steals the show and the special effects are astounding.
Sample product:Holiday Extras offers tickets and one night at the Travelodge Kings Cross Royal Scot from £109 per person.
On the web: Lotr.com
Showtime: Vaudeville Theatre
On the stage: As well as the cast of well-choreographed dancing musicians, it’s the broomsticks, pots and pans, dustbins and kitchen sinks that are the stars of the show.
The audience: Young at heart (but give it a miss if you suffer from headaches and beware of the flashing lights.)
Don’t miss: The dance of the dustbins lids – noisy but thrilling. Plus, with the lights turned off, the cast creates a memorable sequence as they take turns igniting their cigarette lighters.
Sample product:Attraction World offers tickets from £55 per person.
On the web: Stomp.co.uk
Blue Man Group
Showtime: New London Theatre
On the stage: Men covered in wet, gooey blue paint. Originally street performers in New York in the late 1980s and now better known in the UK for featuring in a series of TV adverts for Intel.
The audience: Open-minded types not averse to watching mime or anyone looking for something quirky. Don’t dress up – it can get pretty messy, although ponchos are provided.
Don’t miss: Scenes of paint splattering, tribal drumming, toilet roll avalanches and fabulous music.
Sample product: Attraction World offers tickets from £28 per person.
On the web: Bluemangroup.co.uk
The Lion King
Showtime: Lyceum Theatre.
On the stage: Cast of more than 40 actors dressed as Africa’s big five and Disney’s famous characters, Simba, Scar and King Mufasa,
The audience: Four-year-olds to octogenarians – it’s sure to bring the kid out in everyone.
Don’t miss: Songs by Tim Rice and Elton John, particularly The Circle of Life and Hakuna Matata. However, it’s the African costumes and stage scenery that steal the show.
Sample price: Superbreak offers tickets and one night’s bed and breakfast at the three-star Royal National Hotel from £85.50 per person.
On the web: Disney.co.uk/musicaltheatre/thelionking
The Sound of Music
Showtime: The London Palladium
On the stage: Connie Fisher – the resounding victor of the BBC’s search-for-a-star series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
The audience: Grandmothers, mothers, daughters and sisters of all ages – plus accompanying men to carry their bags.
Don’t miss: The songs, of course. Doe a Deer and These Are a Few of My Favourite Things are guaranteed to get toes tapping.
Sample product: Superbreak offers tickets for the show, plus one night at the three-star Royal National Hotel on a bed-and-breakfast basis from £117.50 per person.
On the web: Soundofmusiclondon.com
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