Local Theatre on the Cheap by Jenny Minich

theatre
Photo by PoPville flickr user Megan

Introducing a new monthly guest series on theatre in the District (and within driving/public transport distance)!

Jenny Minich is a DC native, theatre reviewer and arts blogger. She has a degree in Vocal Performance from Hood College and although she no longer performs, she’s happy to have the chance to contribute to the arts scene in DC.

Theatre in DC is so damn expensive. In reality, I’m broke, as are most of my 20-something friends. But I’m lucky. I’ve got a sweet gig reviewing theatre, which means that as long as I don’t mind annoying my editor ahead of time or waiting with bated breath for the monthly lists of shows to bid for, I usually get to see the theatre I want to see. But when I go to sit down in these theatres and I look around me, I am buffered on all sides by the 50+ crowd.  And while I am glad that theatres all over DC are still being patronized (of course, duh!), I am always troubled by the fact that there are so few *relatively* young people (40 years or younger) in the audience. And if they are out there, they’re the odd college student or teenager with their parents or 20-somethings out on a date. Has the cost of professional theater going in DC been relegated to the realm of the special occasion, the once a year indulgence? It doesn’t have to be!

With this in mind, I am putting together a list of discount offers made by theatres for younger audiences, including student discounts, discounted preview performances, *relatively* bad seats sold cheaply and Pay What You Can performances. Bear in mind that I am mainly sticking to professional theaters in the DC Metro area and focusing on students, the under 40 crowd, etc. I have tried to include hyperlinks to the discount offers so you can do further research on these discounts. Ticket prices and offers may vary depending on the show date/time or production and most offers are subject to availability.

At the end of this article is a list of theatre companies whose tickets are regularly priced under $25 and a list of theatre companies who offer Pay What You Can performances. If you see any mistakes or omissions, please comment or contact me to let me know.

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MyTix Program: If you are 18‒30 years old, the MyTix program is designed to make the performing arts affordable, in addition to offering super-special free ticket giveaways and access to all kinds of Kennedy Center performances.

BravO Program: If you are between the ages of 18-40, welcome to BravO, Washington National Opera’s arts-lovers program for students and young professionals offering discounted tickets, backstage tours and pre-performances talks, among other perks!

Studio Theatre (Washington, DC):

STUDIO25: Under the age of 30? Use the discount code STUDIO25 and receive up to two $25 tickets at one time for any performance. After your first purchase you are automatically signed up for the STUDIO25 program. Members receive notices of special events, happy hours, meet-the-actor receptions, and other social events.

College or High School Students: Receive up to two $20 tickets per performance.

$30 AT :30 RUSH TICKETS: Limited $30 walk-up tickets on sale 30 minutes before curtain, if availability allows.

STUDIO DISTRICT NIGHTS: If you live or work in the Studio District area (between 11th and 17th Streets NW and N St NW to Florida Ave NW) you are eligible for up to 4 tickets per person for select performances designated as Studio District Nights.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, DC):

Pay What You Can Nights: Woolly offers Pay What You Can (PWYC) tickets for the first two performances (usually Monday and Tuesday nights) of every production.

Stampede Seats: Woolly Mammoth makes approximately ten side balcony seats available for all main stage performances at a cost of only $15. Stampede seats go on sale two hours prior to showtime. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and they can only be purchased in person AT the Woolly Mammoth.

30 & UNDER DISCOUNTS: Anyone who is 30 or under, or full-time college and graduate school students, can purchase $20 tickets for any performance, subject to availability.

EDUCATOR DISCOUNTS: Woolly offers a 20% discount off of our regular ticket prices to all DC public school teachers.

Mosaic Theater Company (Washington, DC):

TodayTix Daily Rush: Every performance day, on a first-come, first-served basis, a limited number of $12 Rush tickets will be made available. To unlock this feature, all you have to do is spread the word on social media through the TodayTix app (and beat the crowd, of course!).

Mosaic Rush : $25 tickets, thirty minutes prior to curtain. Subject to availability.

Students and Patrons Under 30: $20 tickets, any day of the week.

NE & SE Neighbors: $30 tickets, any day of the week (must live in zip codes 20002, 20003, 20017, 20018, 20019, 20020, 20032)

Pay What You Can: First preview of every show; available for purchase at the door.

1st Stage (McLean, VA):

Students: Tickets for $15.

Constellation Theatre Company (Washington, DC):

Pay What You Can: On the evening of the first public performance, pay-what-you-can at the door. The box office opens one hour prior to the scheduled curtain time.  Tickets are distributed on a first come, first served basis and patrons pay-what-you-can at the door.

Previews: The second and third performances of every production are previews priced between $15-25 per person.

Level C Seats: These seat are just $20 but are located in the extreme locations of the theater.

Arena Stage (Washington, DC):

Pay Your Age (Under 30): For the 30 and under crowd, and just like the name says, your age determines the price. Tickets are available online, by phone or in person on a first come, first served basis.

Student Discounts: Full-time students (one student ticket per valid ID) receive 35% off regular ticket prices.

Southwest Nights: People who reside or work in Southwest D.C. can buy discounted tickets for specially designated Southwest Nights performances of each production. Tickets are $35 for musicals and $25 for non-musicals, plus fees.

HOTTIX: HOTTIX go on sale 30 minutes before curtain and are sold until all available HOTTIX sell out. HOTTIX must be purchased in person at the Sales Office. Limit of two per person.

Theater J (Washington, DC):

Pay-What-You-Can and $30 Preview Performances: We offer 2 pay what you can performances and two $30 performances in the week prior to opening night for most shows.

Discounted Sunday Nights $37 Special: Following opening, every Sunday night performance is just $37.

Weekday Matinees: For nearly every show we offer 1-2 weekday matinee performances and these tickets are just $27.

Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, DC):

Free for All: Enter a lottery to see a STC production for free!

Rush Seats: Any unsold seat, regardless of location, is available for $25 starting two hours before show time and are available at the box office only.

Under 35: Under 35? Get discounted tickets all season long. Also check out Young Prose Night.

D Seats: There are a limited number of less expensive “D” priced seats. “D” seats may have an obstructed view of the stage.

Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA):

Student discounts: $25 tickets are available in Tiers 2 and 3 for every performance for FULLTIME students.

$22 Tuesdays: $22 for Tier 2 seats to the first two Tuesday public performances of every run. Use code TUES22 when ordering.

$40 Tickets: A limited amount of $40 tickets (typically in the sides and rear) are available for every single performance at Signature – while supplies last. No promo code is needed.

Rush Tickets/Obstructed View: $30 at the Box Office beginning one hour prior to show.

Round House Theatre (Silver Spring, MD):

Pay What You Can: RHT offers two Pay What You Can performances during the first week of each production.

$10 Dollar Tuesday: Side section seats at select performances are $10.

30 & Under: 30 & Under patrons may purchase tickets at $10 off the single ticket price.

Taffety Punk Theatre Company (Washington, DC):

Pay What You Can preview: Offers Pays What You Can preview performances on specific dates for specific productions, check website for more information.

Unexpected Stage Company (Wheaton, MD):

Wheaton Residents: $5 tickets

Students: $10 tickets

Creative Cauldron (Arlington, VA):

Students: $20 tickets

Spooky Action Theater (Washington, DC):

Students: $20 tickets

Quotidian Theatre Company (Bethesda, MD):

Under30: Special FRIDAYS ONLY discount for patrons 30 years of age and younger. Tickets are $15.

Student/Writer’s Center Members: Special Discount for Students & Writer’s Center Members. Tickets $15.

NextStop Theatre Company (Herndon, VA):

Student Rush: High School and Middle School students with a valid ID may purchase any seat in the theatre that is unoccupied at curtain time for $5, cash only, at the door.

Students: Students are given discounted rates on season packages.

Folger Theatre (Washington, DC):

Special Offers: The Folger Theatre offers an obscene amount of promotional events and discounts special to each production, including Pay What You Can performances.

College Night: $15 tickets for students.

Synetic Theater (Arlington, VA):

Students and Age 25 and Under: $15-$25 tickets.

Forum Theatre (Silver Spring, MD):

Pay What You Can: An hour before every show, a majority of tickets will be available at whatever price you want to pay, first-come, first-serve as part of Forum for All.

Theater Alliance (Washington, DC):

Students: Discounted prices ($10 off) are available for each performance.

Half-Price Previews:  See the show before it opens and pay Half Price!

The National Theatre (Washington, DC):

Ticket Lottery: Two hours prior to every performance show time, individuals may submit their names to be drawn to purchase up to two $25 tickets for all Broadway at the National performances.

Capital Fringe (Washington, DC):

A large range of events, ranging from theatre, music, performance art are free or priced reasonably. Check out their events calendar for more info.

Companies who sell tickets regularly priced under $25:

LiveArtDC, Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Unexpected Stage Company, Forum Theatre

Companies who offer Pay What You Can performances:

Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Forum Theatre, Folger Theatre, Round House Theatre, Theater J, Arena Stage, Constellation Theatre Company, Mosaic Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

14 Comment

  • This is great–thanks for compiling it! I was just thinking about wanting to look up deals like this the other day.

  • Kudos for the exhaustive list. The theatre I’m most familiar with is Shakespeare because I take part in the Free Will program, which isn’t listed here. Basically, there are a set number of tickets for each show that are made available for free. The upcoming week’s free tickets are made available at noon on Monday, so you have to show up or call then. But the ticket is totally free. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/tickets-and-events/special-offers/free-will/

  • I recommend looking into volunteer ushering, most theaters need ushers and you get to see more theater than you’d probably ever buy tickets for.

    • +1 to this. When I looked at a bunch of theatres’ usher programs in 2011, many required that you volunteer pretty frequently (more often than I was willing). Ford’s Theatre, though, is a super relaxed setup, where you can be on their list even if you usher for zero shows during some runs/ seasons/ etc., so you can be more choosy about ushering just for shows you want to see.

  • Great job putting this all together. I have season tickets to one of local theaters and when I look around, I always comment that we’re skewing the average age down (and I”m almost 50!) You’re completely right, there are so many older people. But then again, I didn’t really like theater that much until I went a bunch of times.

  • Great list-thanks for posting! I’d also recommend subscribing to Goldstar; I’ve gotten lots of great deals through them.

    • Goldstar is worth paying to join if you can afford it. Paying members can often cancel tickets and get credit (not a refund) which is good if your plans are subject to last minute changes.

  • There are a LOT of other theater groups who offer tickets between $10 and $30 regularly.
    http://www.theatrewashington.com has a comprehensive listing of all registered professional theater companies, and the list of producing organizations exceeds even that!
    I’d also suggest people check out http://www.goldstar.com for discount tickets all the time! I know my company’s play (43 1/2: The Greatest Deaths of Shakespeare’s Tragedies by Nu Sass Productions) has $15 tickets available for every performance, and never set our ticket prices about $30. Most of our cohorts in the Independent theater scene do!

  • It’s a full list but not comprehensive – which is a challenge to do when there’s so much to see!

    Just wanted to note that The Welders are starting GIRL IN THE RED CORNER this week (just profiled in the City Paper) and have PWYC tickets to everyone with a 20002 zipcode. Just bring your ID to the Atlas Theatre (1333 H St NE) box office.

  • Adding Faction of Fools – our local commedia del’arte troupe (yes, we have a local commedia troupe because DC is full of nerds). They are the professional company in residence at Gallaudet, but most shows are spoken with occasional Deaf talent incorporated seamlessly into the cast. Top price is usually $35 with frequent discounts early in the run. Next show is Merchant of Venice (they do a number of classics with a commedia twist), and there are $20 tix currently available for the first two weeks of the run.

    Also Brave Spirits Theatre, currently performing out of Convergence in Alexandria (it’s basically across 395 from Signature). Similar price, focuses on Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Spring show is the Incest Rep – Tis Pity She’s a Whore and A King and No King (the latter very rarely performed). Run by women with a focus on opening up the canon to female actors, using original performance practises translated to the modern day (if Shakespeare was using popular musical styles of his day, they are using popular musical styles of our day, etc.), and audience engagement in small spaces. They like the weird, dark, over the top Jacobean stuff that doesn’t get much produced but if you like Martin McDonagh’s work, you should get over to Brave Spirits when they do something you’ve never heard of.

    Easiest usher program to start out with is Ford’s Theatre. you can pick your own dates, unlike other theatres where you are assigned days, and you get the benefit of a free ticket and a half price ticket to bring a friend or return to see the show without working. We need more young people out there with me! (I usher at Ford’s and Studio.)

  • Thanks to Jenny for putting this together, and thanks to PoP for sharing it with us!

  • Studio Theatre has a program for 20 and 30-somethings called Friends with Benefits. I really enjoy the membership events (such as Beers in the Shop) and like the added perk of having tickets to shows. For me, it is a great value. https://www.studiotheatre.org/support/friends-with-benefits

  • Adding Pinky Swear Productions. Most of our shows are $15 – 20. If tickets are more than that, we usually offer a variety of discounts. We’ll be at Anacostia Playhouse in January with LIZZIE the rock opera about Lizzie Borden.

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