Frugal Fun: Community Theater

I am going to share a secret with you.  When I am not reading financial blogs, kayak fishing, or following the The Philadelphia Eagles, there is a good chance that I might be watching a play.  My wife and I love the theater.  There is nothing like seeing a live performance on Broadway.  Over the years, we have seen some amazing shows.  Last spring, for my wife’s birthday, we saw Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce in Hello Dolly.  The previous spring, we saw Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in Blackbird.  We have also seen WickedSpiderman: Turn Off the Dark, and The Humans that was written by the Scranton, Pa native Steven Karam.

My wife is a fan of musicals.  When we first started dating, she used to volunteer as an usher at The Scranton Cultural Center. As an usher, she was able to watch many of the top off-Broadway plays including Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, and Hair without ever buying a ticket. Over the years, she might have volunteered at 50 or more shows.

I am not as interested in musicals as my wife.  Straight plays are my favorite type of shows.  She enjoys show tunes and I like listening to dialogue.

I was introduced to the theater by an English Professor in college.  As an assignment for class, we had to attend a play and write an essay about it.  The play that we had to attend was a performance of Night of The Iguana by Tennessee Williams that was put on by other students who were part of the Drama Club.  That performance turned me on to the theater.

The cost to attend a Broadway show can be expensive.  We have attended matinees where we were able to buy tickets for less than $50.  We have also attended plays like Wicked where the tickets cost more than $250.

If you like theater, but do not want to spend big bucks on tickets, it is worth checking out your local theater company.  Going to see a play at a local theater is fun.  The small theaters provide a more intimate experience.  Plus, you can say you are a patron of the arts without having to be a multi-millionaire.  Tickets can be purchased for less than $25.

At a local theater company, you will most likely not have the grand theatrical sets that are on the stage of a Broadway performance. There will not be a full orchestra in the mezzanine.  Odds are, there will not even be a mezzanine.   You will also not see Tony Award-winning actors.  However, I was once at a performance of King Lear and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jason Miller showed up to give a special guest performance to lend support to that small theater.

Some local small theater ensembles have professional actors.  Some theaters are made up of amateur actors who perform because they love acting.  I have even gone to plays that were put on by high school students.

One of the most creative plays that I have ever been to was performed by a group of high school students.  For their senior project, this group of students turned three of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories into a play.  Their Literature Professor helped them to turn Hills Like White Elephant’sA Clean, Well-Lighted Place, and The End of Something into a three-act play.  The tickets to watch that show only cost $5 and it supported a good cause.

The most recent play that we attended was a performance of Into the Woods.  My wife wanted to go to this play because one of her friends from work was acting in this play.  The play was put on by Theatrical Gems.  The show was at The Performance Art Theater in Cresco, Pennsylvania.

Into the woods is a modern spin on the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.  This musical brings together the classic stories of Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella.  It was a fun play to watch since it was the weekend before Halloween.  It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  The tickets for this play were only $20.

Have you ever attended a show at your local community theater?

If you have, please share your experience in the comment section.

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