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Photo credit: West End in the rain (Photo by Thomas Charters on Unsplash)

How to get the West End experience while staying at home

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Although we can't visit West End theatres while England is currently in lockdown, theatregoers can still imagine they're at the theatre. Thanks to an abundance of virtual offerings, livestreams, online solo concerts, and choral performances have become the norm in a landscape of online West End productions.

If you're self-isolating, shielding, or staying at home as much as possible during the Coronavirus pandemic, it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Achieve the West End experience just like if you were going to the theatre — all while staying indoors. Here's our top tips for making your very own West End experience while staying at home. 

Pick the show you want to watch

Rather than being limited to the dozens of West End productions running in London at one time, there's literally thousands of online options for you to decide from. A positive result of the pandemic has been that streaming services have increased the variety of shows available at any one time. So, if you're feeling like watching a revered Golden Age musical like Oklahoma! or Carousel, or a brand new show like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, every online theatregoer is sure to find an event that will suit them.

Start a show at a time that suits you

Usually, West End shows tend to start at specific times across the capital; 2:30pm matinee performances and 7:30pm evening performances are the norm. But, with streaming services, theatre is now available at the touch of a button, and that includes the starting time. From 00:01 to 23:59, audiences can press play at all times of the day, enjoying 24 hours of theatre has never been easier. 

If you're planning a (virtual) group event to watch a West End show with friends, you can decide when you join in. Whether you want to chat for an hour before or get involved a minute before "curtain up," recreate the interval laughter in the aisles from afar.

Make your own theatre tickets

For extra pizzazz to your homely West End experience, add to the grand occasion by creating your own theatre tickets. For the best tickets, you'll need to write the show title, when you're planning to watch the performance, and perhaps some stars taking part. The glitzier, the better of course! 

Choose your own theatre snacks

West End restaurants do offer great dining options for all budgets and dietary requirements. But with a West End experience at home, you can dine out on home comforts. Okay, it may cause a bit more mess in the kitchen, but you can stock up on your favourite theatre snacks for the performance without breaking the bank. It may be controversial to eat in a theatre, but nobody will stop you eating at home. 

Don't pour yourself a drink straight away

While at the theatre, it's pretty common to be waiting in queues. Emulate the well-practiced wait at the bar and force yourself to hold back on getting a drink for at least 10 minutes. Patience may wear thin by the end, but it'll add to an authentic West End experience from home. 

The bathroom line may still exist

Like the drinks suggestion mentioned above, there's always a toilet queue in a theatre's front of house. To recreate this feeling, stand outside the bathroom for a few minutes before you go to the toilet. 

Wear whatever you find comfiest

West End theatres don't have a dress code, but if you're going to a live performance, you may decide to dress smarter than usual. While you're in the West End at home, all clothing worries are gone. Your clothing choice is entirely down to you. If you want to dress up for the affair, then go for it. Jogging bottoms and a workout t-shirt or pyjamas? That's perfectly acceptable too.

Pick the perfect seat

While creating a homely West End event, you're not limited to the typical seats commonly found in a theatre auditorium. Rather than potentially squeezing into a small chair with little legroom, stretch out for maximum comfort. Don't be limited to one seat either; change seats during the performance and give yourself an upgrade.

Don't limit yourself to just one show

Once the (virtual) curtain has come down after a performance, the theatre fun doesn't have to stop. With streaming services offering unlimited views of productions, you can replay entire productions again. Want to rewind to watch a dance again? Skip a song? Relive a monologue? You can.

For the ultimate West End experience, you can watch West End shows back-to-back for a double show day. 

Buy tickets for a future West End production

Virtual theatre offerings may be tiding us over for now, but there's nothing quite like live theatre. With West End shows currently projected to open from as early as May 2021, theatres will be open before you know it. 

Check out our top picks for West End theatre in 2021 and book your tickets with LondonTheatre.co.uk

Photo credit: West End in the rain (Photo by Thomas Charters on Unsplash)

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