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Theatre Tourism: Go Big or Go Home?

Image courtesy of Theater Wit and The Griffin Theatre.

“From the start it has been the theatre’s business to entertain people . . . it needs no other passport than fun.” (Bertolt Brecht – “A Short Organum for the Theatre”). Image from Spring Awakening courtesy of Theater Wit and The Griffin Theatre.

One of the most invigorating nights out is that which includes a taste of live theatre.  Now, I’m sure all us Go Girls secretly wish that we could slide into a red velvet seat for an 8’o’clock show with our shoulders swaddled in mink, sipping an Old Fashioned during intermission.  But, unfortunately, most of us don’t live in a real, live version of Sex and the CitySo, theatre-loving Go Girls on a budget, this is for you!

Big

Go Girls who refuse to accept anything but the best . . . this section is all yours.

If you’ve found out about a show through this year’s Tony Awards, you can be pretty positive that you’ll be ponying up a good chunk of change for a ticket (if there are any seats left available, that is).

Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the Cort Theatre's "Waiting for Godot."

Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the Cort Theatre’s Waiting for Godot.

Now, sometimes this is worth it.  If I could be in NYC right now, I would be yelling, “TAKE MY MONEY” at the box office for The Cort Theatre so I could see Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart together on stage.  In all honesty, I’d be yelling “TAKE MY MONEY” to see Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart read the phone book to each other.

But for big hits, if you can stand it, try and wait for the New York run to end and the production rights to be released to touring companies and/or repertory theaters.  Rep theaters will receive the rights to new plays before amateur companies, and you’ll have the chance to see a show you probably remember from Tony years past and at a much lower price.  I can personally recommend the Milwaukee Rep, where I was able to catch a fabulous production of Next to Normal for around $60.

Likewise, during my formative years, my mother and I were season subscribers at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois — where we saw everything from Les Miserables to Thoroughly Modern MillieSubscriptions can cost a lot up front but will save an average of 15 to 20 percent per ticket and can expose you to works that might not normally catch your eye.  Not to mention, with a standing date at the theater, you have no excuse to stay in your pajamas on a Friday night!

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For Go Girls who don’t mind smelling the greasepaint from afar . . .

When you can’t afford to travel abroad, it often pays dividends to treat yourself to a night out and break the monotony of Netflix.

I love my local Broadway in Chicago theaters (I may or may not have seen Wicked through their program five times), but I also appreciate the value of the off-off-Broadway show.  Theater Wit on Belmont produced a fantastic version of Spring Awakening, a show originally performed on Broadway with Lea Michelle of Glee fame.  I didn’t have Lea Michelle, but I did have $25 tickets.  For more discounts on tickets to your local theaters, sign up for their e-newsletters . . . especially for premieres and originals, you will often receive a coupon code for steep savings.

To find these more obscure theaters, the Theatreland Ltd collection of websites is invaluable.  For every major city throughout the U.S. and Britain, Theatreland has a domain in which a patron can find everything from musicals to improvisation.

If you are lucky enough to be out of town but are traveling on the 10-cent tour and still craving the sights and sounds of a real theatrical experience, look into an architectural or backstage tour where you can explore tons of action in the wings.

My very beautiful, very free view from atop the Guthrie.

My very beautiful, very free view from atop the Guthrie.

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis offers tours backstage Friday through Sunday but is also open to the public free of charge because of its spectacular architecture and unparalleled riverfront view.  The Guthrie’s “Endless Bridge” on the fourth floor was where I spent a lovely half-an-hour just taking in the city views (and I even caught a few minutes of rehearsal on the closed-circuit televisions as I wandered through the building!).

So go forth, Go Girls, and enjoy your night of culture (even if you have to scour Goodwill for a faux-fur stole)!

 

Ann Santori
Blogger and podcaster
Ann Santori is a B.A. graduate in English Literature and Political Science from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. She was born and (partially) raised in Chicago, IL before moving to the suburbs and therefore igniting her life-long desire to travel far beyond towns where the only thing open past 9pm is the IHOP.

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