I keep reading that the tight economy is loosening, but those unemployment figures continue to creep upward and I’m sure there are people out there who would like to attend theater but feel they can’t afford it. So let me spread the word that there are ways to get a theater fix without maxing out your credit card.
Let’s start with Know Theatre. Last season, thanks to the generosity of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, Know offered its tickets, previously priced at $22, for $12. It made a difference, according to a survey by the theater of 275 patrons at the end of last season, 38 percent of whom had not previously attended a show at the Over-the-Rhine theater.
Twelve percent said the affordable ticket was their principal motivation to attend, and another 30 percent indicated that price was a significant factor. Such sales make a big difference for a small theater like Know. The company also saw a big jump in online ticket sales. Before 2008-2009, about 10 percent of tickets were purchased online. Last year that number jumped to 35 percent, which represented a meaningful savings in Know’s administrative expenses.
Haile has stepped up to support another season of cost-reduction, so Know’s tickets will again be $12, with one stipulation.
They need to be purchased in advance, which I suspect will further boost online sales. If you wait until the day of a performance, you’ll have to pay $15, which is still reasonable for a high-quality live performance. Know’s first show this fall is an apocalyptic comedy by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Boom, opening Oct. 10.
The Cincinnati Playhouse’s tickets are a tad more expensive than Know’s (up to $58), but preview performances offered in the Marx Theatre have some seats for $25. Another good deal at the Playhouse is to purchase available tickets on the day of the performance for half price. If you qualify as a student or a senior citizen, you can buy up to two tickets for $18 if any remain two hours before curtain.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company similarly offers student rush tickets for available seats, priced at $12, starting 20 minutes before curtain time. CSC also has a “young professional” program (you must be 21-41 years of age) called “Cincy Shakers.” Members can purchase tickets for the opening night of a production for $15 and for other nights at $20.
What if you really have no budget? It’s still possible to find some onstage performances to attend. Keep an eye out for plays and musicals in the Cohen Family Studio Theater at UC’s College-Conservatory of Music. The tickets for most shows (typically presented for one weekend, Thursday-Saturday) are free, but you need to call the CCM box office (513- 556-4183) on Monday or Tuesday to make a reservation. The first of these this fall will be Michael John LaChiusa’s 1994 musical about a series of 10 love affairs, Hello Again (Oct. 22-24).
One more option, but you must be quick to call: For the third year, the League of Cincinnati Theatres will participate in a national event, Free Night of Theater, on Oct. 15. Across America, hundreds of theaters set aside some free tickets for that one evening; last year more than 75,000 people were the beneficiaries. Typically, when those tickets are offered, they’re snapped up in an hour or so.
You can monitor the program’s Web site, freenightoftheater.net, for details.
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