Here’s a quick run-down of what the different types of performance mean.
Preview performances at a show are those that the producer of the show has decided to run before theatre critics are allowed to review the show. These preview performances act as an opportunity for the production team and cast of the show to perform in front of an audience, but before the show is ready to be critiqued.
The opening night, or press night, then provides the critics with an opportunity to see the show. There is an unwritten gentleman’s agreement between the press and producers that critics will not write about a show until the official opening night. Preview performances are often reduced in price. Whilst most shows only change slightly between previews and opening night, some shows have been known to make considerable changes right up until the opening of the show.
Matinee performances are traditionally played just after lunchtime mid-week and on a Saturday afternoon. In recent years some shows have run matinees on a Sunday afternoon and late Friday afternoon. However, most shows continue to run matinees on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoon and a Saturday afternoon. See our guide to matinee performances here.