West End actors slam London wages as 'not even close' to Broadway

‘I shouldn’t have to live in a s***hole’: Moulin Rouge dancer slams West End wages, saying they’re ‘laughably less’ than Broadway – despite average ticket price now being £140

  • Jason Leigh Winter, 34, who’s currently starring in Moulin Rouge at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, tweeted that many performers have to have ‘multiple jobs’
  • He said: ‘ I shouldn’t have to live in a s***hole or a flat share at 34 years old.’
  • The average cost of top-price West End tickets reached £140.85 this year – an increase of 21.3 per cent since 2019. 
  • Read more: People can’t believe what 45-year-olds looked like in the 90s as photo of Steve Martin and Diane Keaton in Father of the Bride goes viral 

Ensemble performers in the West End have criticised the capital’s theatres over low wages, saying they’re ‘badly paid’.  

Current Moulin Rouge performer Jason Leigh Winter posted on Twitter that he was disheartened at the prospect of ‘living in a s***hole’ despite being on a full-time contract with the hit West End show. 

He wrote: ‘Is it just that theatre is SO badly paid in London? How are we genuinely supposed to live when the price of EVERYTHING is increasing so much but not our rate of pay to match it? I shouldn’t have to live in a s***hole or a flat share at 34 years old.’

He added: ‘People shouldn’t have to be looking for multiple jobs on top of a full time show contract.’ 

The average cost of top-price West End tickets reached £140.85 this year – an increase of 21.3 per cent since 2019.

Scroll down for video 

Jason Leigh Winter, 34, who’s currently starring in Moulin Rouge at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, tweeted that many performers have to have ‘multiple jobs’ (Pictured: Winter with fellow cast member Honey Joseph)

The actor is currently playing the Dance Captain at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, in the show based on Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film. 

Winter saw his tweet spark a deluge of responses from similarly frustrated performers, with many saying New York’s theatre district, Broadway, treats artists more fairly when it comes to pay. 

MailOnline has contacted Equity, the trade union for the performing arts and entertainment industry in the UK, for comment. 

@KimNicky responded: ‘I’ve never understood why London theatre pay especially in the west end wasn’t similar to pay rates on Broadway.’

Winter replied: ‘It’s not even close! Like laughably less.’

Winter, pictured centre in Moulin Rouge, said poor wages for London’s theatre workers meant many people could only afford to flat share, despite being in their profession for a long time 

Another actor said they’d turned down a role at a top theatre because the wages weren’t high enough.  

@sambmackay said: ‘Had to turn down a return to the westend at a bucket list location recently for this reason. 

‘Love live theatre immensely but it’s just hard to justify dropping other work avenues for 8 show weeks on low wages when accounting for paying to live and travel in London. Sad really.’   

@sam_toland also pointed out that many performers pay agents from their wages, writing: ‘Let’s not forget that most other professions don’t immediately lose 12.5% (plus VAT so realistically more like 15%) of their earnings to agent commission every week. I know on paper it’s possible to function in this industry without an agent, but those that manage it are rare.

It was revealed in June last year that the average cost of the most expensive West End tickets has rocketed by a fifth as theatres recoup losses after they were forced to close during the pandemic.

The musical Cabaret topped the charts for the most expensive top-price tickets – with audiences having to fork out more than £300.  

2022 also saw the highest number of top-price seats in commercial theatres priced at more than £100, according to the annual ticketing survey by The Stage trade journal.

The average cost of the most expensive West End tickets has rocketed by a fifth post-pandemic. Cabaret, which won seven Olivier awards last year including best actor and best actress in a musical for Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley (pictured), was the most expensive musical

Seats reaching the record- breaking price were found in 28 theatres, accounting for 80 per cent of the productions in commercial theatres.

New productions have driven the rise in prices – the top-price tickets for long-running plays actually fell over the same period.

Top tickets at Wicked fell by £58, while those for Hamilton and The Book Of Mormon fell by £50.

The top ticket prices are influenced ‘by a very small number of high-profile shows’ and ‘fluctuate year on year,’ a Society of London Theatre spokesman said.

In May last year, audiences condemned ticket prices for Cock, which was not included in the survey, after seats went on sale for £400, plus £60 in processing fees.

Producers for the play starring Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey defended the astronomical prices, citing ‘supply and demand’ for the play’s 13-week limited run.

In 2022, West End plays saw a steeper rise in prices than musicals, with the most expensive ticket increasing up to 40% compared with 3.5% for musicals 

West End plays saw a steeper rise in prices than musicals, with the most expensive ticket increasing by up to 40 per cent compared with 3.5 per cent for musicals. To Kill A Mockingbird at the Gielgud Theatre had the most expensive top-price play ticket at £199.50.

Cabaret, which won seven Olivier awards this year including best actor and best actress in a musical for Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley, was the most expensive musical, with top seats coming in at £303.80.

The cheapest tickets have seen a comparatively low increase of 3.3 per cent since 2019 – the average is now £22.56, up from £21.84. Dear Evan Hansen offered the best deal in the West End, with the cheapest ticket, a restricted-view seat, coming in at £7.50.

The survey was based on 50 theatre spaces eligible for main-category Olivier Awards for their top and bottom price tickets on the evening of June 25.

Source: Read Full Article