Missing Edinburgh Fringe but still want to see theatre?
Can’t make the Fringe this year and feel like you’re missing out?
Perhaps you couldn’t afford the accommodation or just don’t have time to travel to Edinburgh for a few days out of your usual schedule? Maybe you still need more time to recover from the ever-drifting sound of bagpipes that haunted you for weeks after you returned last time?
While it’s surely the largest variety of shows in one place at any one time, there are alternatives to get your entertainment fix, whether it’s comedy, kids shows, drama, musicals, circus or anything else that you’re looking for.
Ask Jono are happy to point you in other directions to keep yourself entertained without joining the hordes in Scotland’s capital city or breaking the bank balance.
First, of course, there’s the usual theatre programme around the UK. Check in for a night at your local regional theatre, where UK tours are in town with top shows like Miss Saigon (Norwich from 15 Aug), Jersey Boys (Newcastle until 11 Aug, then Aberdeen from 14 Aug), Evita (Belfast until 11 Aug, then Plymouth from 14 Aug), Shrek (Bristol 8-14 Aug, then Llandudno from 21 Aug) or Matilda (Birmingham until 8 Sept).
Musical Theatre News has a full list of currently-touring shows and you may well find one nearby or where you’re headed for your holiday.
For anyone local or London-bound, there are the continuing runs of West End shows. With plenty of deals on over the summer months, you won’t always have to pay top prices either, depending on which show you want to see.
There’s lots of ways to pick up bargains on the day – have a list of a few shows you’d like to see and get into town early to get the best offers available.
Try popping directly into the Box Office at the Theatre of your top picks in the morning and asking if they have any Day Seats. Not all theatres sell them, but for the ones that do, you can usually pick up a real bargain for often great-seats. I got mid stalls for 42nd Street for just £15 last year and a real cracker of a show.
Leicester Square’s Half-Price Ticket Booth, run by Official London Theatre, does some great deals – you have to buy in person and there’s often a queue, but you can see what’s likely to be on sale on their website. Remember, this is the booth in the centre of the square, not all the other commercial outlets offering ‘bargains’ around the perimeter. Prices vary from day to day, but checking while I write, there’s up to 50% off Motown, 33% off Kinky Boots and 47% off Dreamgirls.
Some shows have daily lotteries for a limited number of tickets. Many people I know, including me, have scored £10 seats in the front row for Hamilton for the next day’s performance by entering their daily lottery online on via their App.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child run the Friday Forty (40 tickets per performance for the following week at £20 per show – so £40 for both parts). You need to be online ready to swoop at 1pm every Friday when tickets to go on sale. I’ve not caught the Snitch yet, but I know others who have, so it's worth a go.
Apps like TodayTix allow you to see prices quickly too, as well as where you’ll be sitting. They often have Daily Lotteries too, so don’t forget to enter them. What's not to like about a £15 ticket on the day?
If Fringe Theatre is more your cup of tea, don’t forget all the off-West-End venues in London too. You can see a whole host of smaller shows for anything from £5 upwards a ticket. London's certainly not just about the big-budget, super-hyped blockbusters. Here, you might catch the next big thing before it’s the next big thing. You may hear of the world's best performers in beautiful, intimate surroundings, where you can see their eyes and faces (and not just the top of their heads from the back of the third tier).
To find out what's on at these ‘little powerhouses and often forgotten gems’ check out OffWestEnd.com, home of the 'Offies', who champion London’s independent theatres and all who choose to play in them with their annual Awards.
And if it’s comedy you’re after, whilst it may seem as though every comedian in the UK (and beyond) is cracking their jokes nightly in Edinburgh, there are still plenty of comedy clubs elsewhere in the UK where you and your mates can head for a great evening out.
Finally, and while London is by no means the only alternative to Edinburgh for entertainment in the summer, there’s also the Underbelly Festival at Southbank; a massive, multi-arts festival right in the heart of London with music, comedy, theatre and family-friendly shows throughout every day.
Or investigate The Camden Fringe - North London's very own festival in its 13th year, with over 300 productions to see until 26 August.
Take your own bagpipes and you might even be fooled into thinking you really are in Scotland.
Please don’t forget to tell us how you get on. Send us your top tips or mega-bargains.
There’s fun to be had in August and it’s not all in Edinburgh.