Thursday, September 8, 2011

5 Ways to Save on Theatre Tickets

Live theatre is generally a pricy enterprise for those who want to see it.  Happily, one of the perks of getting a master's degree in drama is that I can go to the theatre and justify the cost to myself under the auspices of "professional development." Still, if there's a way for me to save money when going to see a play or a musical, it's always a good idea.  To try to mitigate the costs, here are a couple of ways that I've used to save money on ticket prices.*

1)  Usher - Do you own a white, collared shirt and black slacks? Congratulations! You're qualified to be an usher! Many theatres offer free admission to people who own the above clothes and are willing to volunteer their time by arriving 30-45 minutes prior to showtime in order to help audience members find their seats. Go to just about any theatre's website for more information on how to get involved in this way.

2)  Friends - Are you friends with somebody who's in a play?  If so, that person likely has some "comps" (complimentary tickets).  If you ask your buddy real sweet and nice-like, he or she just might hook you up to let you see the show for free.

3)  Local Discount Ticket Brokers - In New York, you can buy cheaper tickets the day of the show (or sometimes a few days ahead) from the TKTS booth in Times Square (or one of the other two booths they operate).  The catch is that you need to go in person and wait in line for the tickets.  The logic behind selling half-price tickets is one of simple economics:  it's better for the theatre to make some money (by selling at a discount the day of the performance) as opposed to no money (empty, unsold seats equal lost earnings).  Here in San Diego, there's a local organization called Arts Tix which sells discounted tickets as well.  I'm pretty sure that there are others in other cities as well, I'm just not familiar with them by name.  Readers, do you know of any local discount ticket purveyors?

4)  Online Discount Sites - immediately springs to mind.  You are able to purchase discounted tickets here online, and it sells tickets to events in multiple cities (Atlanta, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and others).  I have also seen tickets sold on Groupon, but these deals are much more sporadic, and therefore, harder to plan.

5)  Take Advantage of Available Discounts - One of my favorite discounts that I've been getting lately is due to my age.  Theatre is often seen as being kind of old-fashioned, and so theatres are desperate to get young people in the audience.  As such, one of the major theatres in San Diego, The Old Globe, offers $20 tickets to people who are under 30 years old.**  Other discount opportunities include cheaper tickets for students, seniors, and groups.

Anybody else take advantage of other theatre discounts?  Let me know in the comments.

*This comment is not meant to imply that I don't think theatres are worthy places to pay full-price. Particularly in a bad economy, arts organizations, such as theatres, struggle to pay their bills. Personally, I think that if you *can* afford to pay full-price to go to the theatre (especially for newer/smaller/more adventurous theatres), it's not a bad investment.
**As I'm currently 29, I'm going to ride this discount for all it's worth until I turn 30 in May.

Edit 09/19/2011:  This post was featured in the 327th Carnival of Personal Finance at Mrs. Nespy's World

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