Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Programs Cost, Playbills Free

Collection of London programs.
During the intermission of a London performance of 'Love Never Dies' I observed a group of visitors from America claiming to an usher at the Adelphi Theatre that they did not receive their playbills when they were seated. In New York and in all theaters across the United States, the ubiquitous playbill at a stage play is normally included in the price of a ticket and most theatergoers treat this tradition as a god given right. However in London programs must be paid for and the usher indicated it so to a bewildered group.

Souvenir Brochure (or Souvenir Program) next to Programme (or Playbill)
This is normally a shock for visiting Americans. On Broadway I always found it wasteful that at the end of a play the floor is littered with discarded playbills. With producers claiming of high production costs its a wonder Broadway has not followed suit. In London there are no programs laying waste after the performance.

The programs in London are much more durable being constructed of a thicker paper stock and a couple of centimeters larger than a Broadway playbill. Most programs cost about £3 (US$5) or even up to £7 (US$11) for magazine size versions.

Pages in Programme.
The program is not be be confused with the souvenir brochure. Much larger in size than a program, the souvenir version contains pages of color photographs from the production. The one caveat is the souvenir brochure is produced at only certain times during the production's run. Because of this the photographs in the souvenir brochure will often contain photos of cast members no longer with the production while the program will always list the current cast members. To remedy this, an insert of the current cast is placed in the souvenir program. Most souvenir brochures cost about £10-£12 (US$15-$18).

If a program and souvenir brochure are available I will always purchase both as they are the only documentation of the theater experience. Souvenir brochures (or in the USA, souvenir programs) are primarily produced for musicals. Plays will normally offer only a program or playbill.

Pages in Souvenir Brochure.


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