I’m not much for holiday shopping, but with the wheezing economy dimming our holiday spirits, I have some suggestions for gifts that will keep you — or those you love — theatrically entertained in the New Year without breaking the bank.
A great option offered by many mid-sized theaters is a “flex pass.” A set of vouchers can be redeemed however you choose: At Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (ETC), you can purchase six tickets for $162; that’s $27 apiece, compared to regular-fare tickets at $29 to $35. You can use all six for one show and take a bunch of your friends or go to one performance at a time by yourself, if you prefer.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) sells seven tickets for the price of six ($156, reducing the per ticket cost to approximately $22). New Edgecliff Theatre lets you buy eight tickets for the price of five ($100) or four tickets for the price of three ($60), while New Stage Collective (NSC) offers six tickets for $80. At the Cincinnati Playhouse you can “build your own” series, an option which lets you pick from three to six shows at prices starting as low as $123 (the price for three tickets to weeknight performances).
Thanks to a very generous grant from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation at U.S. Bank, Know Theater of Cincinnati has knocked down all its tickets for the 2008-09 season to a bargain-basement price of $12. That’s a major deal.
Some theaters make special offers for selected performances: CSC will sell a set of seven tickets to its preview performances (typically the night or two before a production opens) for $80. At ETC, you can subscribe on Wednesdays or Thursdays for $132 (this does not include opening nights on the first Wednesday of each production) or on Sunday afternoons for $144.
NSC has a great deal, which they call the “Collective Club”: For $150 you get a pass that lets you attend any performance or event the company produces. Just about every theater offers discounts for seniors and students — so don’t forget to ask about those if you qualify by virtue of age or possession of a student ID. (Students should check into the discount ticket organization Enjoy the Arts for some great two-for-one deals.)
Area universities perform for modest ticket prices: Most shows at Northern Kentucky University cost $12. Some productions at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music are free (including many interesting shows in the Cohen Family Studio Theater). Last but not least, don’t overlook our area’s many fine community theaters. Most offer subscriptions, but with tickets selling for $12 to $17 at most neighborhood box offices they’re a bargain at “full price.”
Theater tickets are a great gift for hard-to-please arts lovers. And you’ll be helping a local arts organization with its bottom line, too.
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