West End offers first child discount ticket

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The first child discount tickets for a major West End theatre production are to be offered by the producers of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Although the discount is a limited one, it will be welcomed by theatregoers and those campaigning for cheaper West End prices.

Unlike many tourist attractions or similar venues, the West End has never traditionally offered discounts for children or family-style tickets.

Under the scheme for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which comes into effect for the next booking period beginning in September, the top ticket prices between Monday and Thursday will be reduced by £10 for children under 12. The current price is £37.50 on Monday and £40 from Tuesday to Thursday.

Last year, in a trial named the Lister Experiment after a campaign by The Independent's then media and culture editor, David Lister, some West End theatres sold some seats for the price of a West End cinema ticket, about £11.

Michael Rose, the producer of the show, stressed that the reduced prices were not aimed at combating a slump in ticket sales, which he said were holding up well, but to offer a broad range of options.

The show is also entering a scheme in which it is offering ticket buyers discounts for some London tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has been praised by critics, has been running for 15 months at the London Palladium and stars Michael Ball and Anton Rodgers. The production, with a budget of £6.5m, is the most expensive show staged in Britain. Among its many special effects, it features a scene in which the famous car "flies" across the stage.

In April, an off-peak discounted system for ticket prices was introduced at three of the West End's biggest shows - Les Misérables, My Fair Lady and The Phantom of the Opera - to combat a slump in bookings caused by a drop off in tourism.