London's National Theatre Will Test Earlier Curtain Times | Playbill

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International News London's National Theatre Will Test Earlier Curtain Times

The move is part of a larger trend that includes Broadway.

National Theatre in London Philip Vile

London's National Theatre is testing some earlier showtimes for some of its productions, with select Tuesday and Thursday performances now set to begin at 6:30 PM. The company says the test follows post-COVID audience research focused particularly on potential audience members who live outside of London. The performances will begin in February 2024, with the test continuing through the first half of the year.

The National hopes the earlier start times will give audiences flexibility to extend their night out after the performance rather than having to rush home immediately.

The move is part of a trend of earlier performances that has been affecting Broadway as well. Gone are the days when all shows followed the typical Broadway schedule, with evening performances at 8 PM Tuesday-Saturday and 2 PM matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Weekday evening performances at 7 PM have more or less become the norm rather than the exception, with some shows even departing further from that typical schedule. Taking a cue from recently departed long-runner The Phantom of the OperaA Beautiful Noise currently gives a Wednesday matinee with no evening performance followed by a Thursday with both a matinee and evening, for example.

Smash hit Hamilton recently adjusted its schedule, moving all evening performances to 7 PM and the Saturday matinee to 1 PM. Both Aladdin and The Lion King also currently have 6:30 PM performances on Sundays, likely attempting to accommodate family audiences on a school night.

Broadway producers will no doubt be keeping an eye on the outcome of the National's test. If it proves successful, we may see showtimes creep back on the Main Stem as well.

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