Note: This is an update of a post from a few years ago… Many of you who read this blog regularly probably wonder how we can afford to go to so many shows. You have probably been schooled in the theory that “Theatre Is Expensive”. So how do I score good seats. Here are some approaches. Even if you aren’t in LA, many will apply to the cities were you live:
- Look for half-price ticket or discount ticket programs. Many cities have them. I particularly recommend Goldstar Events (use this link and I can ear a little credit). Plays411 will also send out mailings for discount tickets. Sometimes, you can even score free tickets. If you are in LA, LA Stage Alliance also has a half-price program. PS: A good hint for Goldstar is to star your favorite theatres and shows: This lets you know when new shows are added there, or additional seats for a show.
- Know when particular theatres have special programs. Alas, the Center Theatre Group has discontinued their Hottix program: “In honor of our 50th season, we’ve simplified our pricing structure and expanded the number of $25 tickets available at every performance. While we will no longer have a formal Hot Tix program, we’ve improved the seating locations of $25 tickets in all three theatres and are making them available as soon as single tickets go on sale.” The trick is to buy them early and at the beginning of the season. For CTG, this can be cheaper than season tickets, for season tickets add a $10 per ticket fee, whereas the $25 tickets only have a $5 fee. Note: For the 2017-2018 season, ticket prices have increased to $30. Single tickets went on sale on July 26, 2017.
- Know how to get the cheapest seats. For the Pantages, this means (a) buy early (when the show goes on sale to the public), and (b) buy at the box office. This avoids the Ticketmaster $7/ticket service fee. You can often get $25 or $35 tickets off to the side (seating area D or E) this way. The Pantages does demand pricing, so later in the run of a popular show, prices go up. [Yes, this means that sometimes the cheapest tickets are season tickets at the Pantages — you buy them early, and can get great prices for the package — and you can split the payment over 10 months!.]
- If you can, take advantages of “day of” programs. Many theatres, including the Pantages, have day-of rush tickets or student rush tickets. They may have ticket lotteries. TodayTix can also provide discounted day-of theatre tickets.
- Subscribe. If you like what a particular theatre is doing, subscribe. This supports the theatre year round, and may introduce you to shows you wouldn’t think of going to. I like to have a mixture of subscription seats and shows I particularly pick. We currently subscribe at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB), the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), and the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) (FB). Past subscriptions have included The Colony Theatre (FB) (which went dormant in 2016), and Repertory East Playhouse (“REP”) (FB) in Newhall (which entered radio silence in 2016).
- Look for Audience Filling Programs. Theatres do not like to have empty rooms. Actors don’t like to act to an empty room. There are services that help fill theatres. These include SoldOutCrowd and TheatreExtras. I haven’t used these, but I know folks that do. They are worth looking into.
- Get on Mailing Lists. If you get your names on the mailing lists of your favorite theatres, you will often get announcements of discounts, previews, and special performances. This includes, by the way, being Facebook friends with your favorite theatres.
If you do things right, going out to the theatre can be no more expensive than going to a movie on a Saturday night (with concessions). Wait until the movie comes out on DVD — trust me, you’ll see the same acting. Go support the live theatre — you’ll never know what you’ll see, and each show will be a little different. Further, help the theatre by writing about what you see, and telling your friends about the show.
Edited to Add – 171110: TodayTix also has a good page on how to get discount tickets in Los Angeles.