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Behind the curtain of UK theatre

We asked the UK* for their thoughts on the state of live theatre in 2023, and here are the key takeaways…

Stars in their eyes

For people under the age of 35, catching their favourite celebs live on stage is top of the list. Almost half of those surveyed (46%) can’t resist the allure of high-profile leading roles, and admit to snagging theatre tickets based on a star-studded cast. While 43% of theatregoers prefer the familiarity of seeing their favourite film or book on stage.

Short, sweet, and spectacular

With attention spans increasingly attuned to second screens, TikTok reels and Snapchat posts, most younger audiences now prefer shows under two hours. Social media has an influence in the booking process too, and it’s now used as the primary source for 78% of younger people to find out about the latest hot tickets.

From family time to date nights

Theatre isn’t just about the performance, it’s about the connections we make. Our survey reveals that 43% of attendees go along to spend quality time with family, while 65% join with their partner/spouse, and 47% with friends. And here’s a fun fact – 22% of all theatregoers aged 33-44 are turning theatre nights into date nights. Talk about setting the stage for romance!

Getting involved – or crossing a line?

Pantomimes encourage audiences to be part of the show. But things are spilling over into regular performances… so let’s talk about audience behaviour – the good, the bad, and the quirky. 

Nearly 70% of theatregoers have encountered disruptions – people using their mobile phones, other audience members obstructing views, and loud talking and heckling. Not to mention noisy snacking. The impact of social media has its downsides too, with almost one in five having their experiences disrupted by others trying to take photos or videos during the performance. Perhaps this is driven by a desire to get more involved, with 23% of audiences more likely to attend a show where they can sing along – 13% have even embraced turning up in their own costumes!

We still love a Christmas cracker

As the festive season approaches, tradition is in the spotlight with the classic Christmas pantomime. Half of all theatregoers are gearing up for a festive feast of laughter and enchantment, and local theatres will be buzzing with two in five pantomime-goers opting to stay in their area for a healthy dose of dames and audience participation.

As the curtain falls on this year’s theatre scene, it’s clear that the magic lies not only in the performances but in the ever-evolving enthusiasm of British theatregoers who make each show an unforgettable experience. So, grab your tickets, take your seats, and get ready to be entertained!

Give the gift of live this Christmas with a Ticketmaster Gift Card.

*Survey of over 3,000 theatre and musical goers across the UK 
Photo credit: Johan Persson