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Table of Contents
This is the final post in the Cheap Theatre Series. Here I give you creative ideas on how you can see live performances at a low or even no cost. Below are the three previous posts for the series.
Part 1 – Volunteer to See Free Shows
Part 2 – Win The Lottery
Part 3 – Go to School
You want to see a show, but you can’t volunteer. You tried to win tickets but had no luck. Plus the show isn’t at a school, and you’re not a student who can save money on tickets. Is all hope of seeing a cheap or free performance lost? Do you pay full price for a ticket? Hell no. You get creative with the tips below.
Be Flexible When You Go
Unless it’s only a one-night performance, you can probably be a bit flexible on the date/time of the show you’re seeing. A weekday/matinee performance will likely cost less than going on the weekend/evening. Some venues might have the option to buy cheaper tickets for a dress rehearsal performance before the actual run of the show starts.
Another option to save money on tickets is to see if the show has any pay-what-you-can performance. These are specific performances in a show where the audience sets their price (like a donation of sorts). While this can save you money, you should pay what you can for the performance. For example, if they suggest paying $20/ticket and you can afford that, then pay $20.
Be Flexible Where You Sit (or Stand)
Sitting further back from the stage, even on a balcony, can mean cheaper tickets. Obstructed-view tickets will also be lower in price. It might be worth it to get an obstructed view ticket for seeing something like a symphony concert (unless your heart is set on seeing the musicians perform). Some shows or venues may offer standing-only tickets. Just be warned this is exactly how it sounds – you’ll be standing for the entire show. Make sure that’s something you’ll be able to do before you buy these tickets.
Sign Up for Newsletters and Daily Deal Sites
A lot of theatre venues and groups have newsletters where you enter your email and can get notified of deals for performances. My friends and I got $25 tickets to Cabaret in New York City thanks to signing up for The Roundabout Theatre Company email. A lot of theatre groups and venues have email subscriptions and newsletters that can help save you money on upcoming tickets.
Checking daily deal websites like Groupon or Travelzoo can also help you find tickets for shows at a reduced rate. Remember to check the deals in your local area, and for the cities or regions, you’ll be visiting.
Attend a Local, or Smaller Production
One of the best productions of a musical I’ve seen was a production of Cabaret at The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. I went with a friend, and our tickets were about $25/each. Just because you’re at a smaller venue doesn’t mean the show will be horrible. Not everyone lives in New York City or London. If a regional or smaller theatre is putting on a show that you want to see you should go.
Look for Last-Minute Deals
The TKTS booth in New York City and London is famous for offering great deals (sometimes up to 50% off) tickets for shows. Depending on your budget you might not see this as cheap, but compared to regular price tickets this can be a great deal.
It’s not just in New York and London where you can save money on show tickets. A lot of cities have box offices where you can get same-day discounted tickets. In Toronto, there is a discount ticket booth at Dundas Square. In Las Vegas, you can check the Tix 4 Tonight kiosks around The Strip. Even touring productions of shows that have come to Edmonton (where I live) have had the same day and last minute deals on tickets.
Use the Today Tix App
Chances are you have an Apple or Android smartphone. If you do and are looking to travel or are in New York, Connecticut, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Toronto, or London (UK), then you should download the Today Tix App for iOS or Android. It gives you the ability to buy discounted tickets for shows in these cities. You can also enter show lotteries through the app, so you don’t have to stand in line at the theatre. Win-win.
Bonus: Enter Promo Code JGZYL on Today Tix to save $10 off your first show.
Check Newspapers and Online
A lot of cities have free newspapers that list upcoming events and shows. Check to see if there are any free or cheap events going on where you live. You might see a play, or hear a poetry reading. If you’re up for a new experience, you could have a good time.
You can also go to social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can be useful to find out if there are any free or cheap local events going on. Yelp has a section where users can submit upcoming events in different cities. Meetup is another social media site to check for events. I’m part of a local Theatre-Goers Meet Up group. Double-check to see if a similar group exists where you live. If it doesn’t, you can always create a group yourself.
Get a Subscription
If you know, you will use it as a subscription for tickets to one particular venue or theatre organization could be worth the upfront cost. Subscriptions can work out to a lower price per ticket than buying tickets for each show separately.
Go to a Festival
I mentioned The Edmonton International Fringe Festival in my volunteer post. If I hadn’t volunteered the individual tickets for the performances I saw were no more than $15 each (and some were as low as $6). Other music and theatre festivals could also have reasonably priced tickets. Check to see what the general admission cost is for going to the festival. If there is a pass, you can check to see if that would be more cost-effective for you.
Go to the Bar
If you’re of legal drinking age, many bars and pubs have live music or comedy shows. The admission could be free, or there may be a cover charge or a minimum drink purchase. At any rate, catching a band or comedy show at a bar can be an affordable night out. Of course, it could turn into a pretty expensive night if you don’t watch your bar tab.
Ask for Gifts
Last Christmas I got a Ticketmaster gift card. It was something I never thought to ask for, but it was an excellent gift for a theatre lover like me. I used it to see the musical production of Once. If you love shows or concerts, consider asking for a ticket or a gift card for any upcoming gift-giving occasion you celebrate.
I hope this final instalment of The Cheap Theatre Series has helped you find ways to see theatre and other live performances at a low cost.
Things You Should Know
The specific shows mentioned in this post may have closed. Prices for shows stated in this post may be different depending on the city/venue/production.
What are your tips for seeing live entertainment for cheap or free?
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