A new survey conducted by LiveAnalytics for Ticketmaster has revealed that 63 percent of the UK population has been to at least one theatre show in the past year.
The figure puts theatre above sporting events and music concerts in terms of popularity, with London's West End remaining a "colossal draw".
The report, based on Tickemaster transactions and a survey of nearly 1500 people, also reveals that theatre is growing in popularity with young people, with a 71 percent increase in attendees in the 16-25 age bracket from 2009.
Surprisingly, it found that 16-19 year olds are more likely to attend plays, musicals, dance and opera than any other age group, whilst 45-54 year olds are the least likely to attend.
Mark Yovich, president of Ticketmaster International, said: "The theatre world has been insecure about its future for years now, but our report shows there is little reason to be cautious. With considered experimentation, bold programming and, most of all, a real dialogue with audiences, theatre in the UK will continue to boom."
The report, titled State of Play: Theatre UK, paints an "overwhelmingly positive picture of the UK theatre industry", he added.
It found that the cost of attending theatre remains the main barrier to entry among non-attendees (27%) and theatre-goers (35%) as reduced priced ticketing options are becoming increasingly more important for both venues and audiences.
Theatre also has an impact on foreign travel; of 450 foreign theatregoers interviewed, 62% said their trip to the UK was influenced by its culture scene.
Tellingly, just over one in four (26%) of theatregoers recognise they have been to subsidised/ publicly funded theatre, though this is higher amongst UK residents (29%) and significantly higher (47%) in the North East.
Yovich added: "London's West End, and major musicals more generally, remain a colossal draw. With near universal awareness for the Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables and The Lion King, they are also considered some of the nation's favourite shows. The majority of theatregoers are keen to increase the number of plays and musicals they attend this year and next."
Alistair Smith, deputy editor of The Stage, said: "It is great to see so much enthusiasm for and interest in the theatre among such a broad sample of the British public. There are some fascinating results and some really encouraging ones - UK theatre is hugely popular and audiences appear to be younger and more experimental than one might expect."
To view a full copy of the report, click here
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