Musicals drive record London theatre attendance in 2018

Theatre attendance

A sharp increase in attendance at musicals has driven a steady rise in theatre attendances in the West End, new figures from the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) show.

The figures show that theatre attendance, which topped the 15 million mark for the first time last year, rose 3% to 15,548,154. This was helped by an 8% rise in musical attendance (9,460,743), which reflects the fact that major shows such as Hamilton, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (which both opened in late 2017) and Company often played to full houses throughout the year. This also saw a 15.4% increase in revenue generated by musicals, up to £503,950,355.

The figures also show attendance at plays was down slightly in 2018. A 6.5% drop in attendance (to 4,177,868) translated to a 5.2% drop off in revenue (£167,267,637).

Following last year’s 7% attendance drop in the ‘other’ genres (dance, opera, entertainment, performance) , audiences were up 1.5% to 1,909,543, with a 2.9% increase in revenue (£94,582,059).

Overall, with 18,708 performances taking place in London venues in 2018 with 77.5% of available seats filled, gross revenue rose by 8.6% to £765,800,051.

Kenny Wax, president of SOLT, said: “As these figures show, London’s world-leading theatre industry is attracting larger audiences than ever after another record year. Increasingly, people seem to want to invest in high quality cultural experiences, and the West End is benefiting from this trend.”

2019 could be another strong year for musicals in the West End, with major productions such as Mary Poppins and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opening in large West End houses.

Across the UK as a whole, attendance was up 0.3% (18,806,659), with 61% of available seats filled at 44,237 performances generating £509,567,967 (up 8.4% on the previous year).

Photo credit: Wikimania2009 (flickr) under CC BY 2.0

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