Cheap Seats, Please

Young and broke? Local theaters make it easy to score discounted tickets to popular performances


“The Servant of Two Masters,” starring Steven Epp , left, and Liz Wisan, comes to the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre on May 15. If you’re under 35, you can score discounted tickets.

Though the state of arts funding in America is disgraceful and we fully encourage you to pay full price for tickets to help support Washington’s theater scene, we know money’s tight these days. Theaters understand your pain, too, and they’ve got all sorts of programs (some brand-new, others tried-and-true) to ensure even the most broke of us can say we saw the latest, hottest world-premiere play.

Signature Theatre

The suburban Virginia outpost known for its productions of classic musicals has branched forward in recent years, commissioning new works and shepherding them to performance. All shows have a limited number of student tickets, which are $30 and must be bought the week of the performance. For the first two public Tuesday shows of any run, all tickets are available for $22 (use the code TUES when you order online) — so “Xanadu” tickets are $22 on May 22. And you can try for $30 rush seats, as long as you don’t mind waiting until an hour before the show.

Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-820-9771.

Studio Theatre

Because Studio has three levels of shows, its ticket structure can become complicated. The mainstage season has a pay-what-you-can performance (cash only!) near the beginning of each run. All tickets to the theater’s 2ndStage shows (including “The Big Meal,” currently onstage) are $30-$35 ($40-$45 for musicals). If that’s too pricey, one show per season is part of the Lab series, a new program that produces world-premiere plays with small casts — which helps justify the fact that all tickets are $25. The next Lab show is Bryony Lavery’s “Dirt,” premiering this fall.

Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW; 202-332-3300. (Dupont Circle)

Woolly Mammoth

Woolly’s pay-what-you-can preview program is well-established — for two shows at the beginning of every run, you decide how much cash you can part with once tickets go on sale two hours before showtime. The next opportunity will be the May 28 and 29 performances of “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play.” Woolly also recently brought back Cheap Date Nights, when all tickets are $20. If you’re 30 or younger (and have ID to prove it), you can buy tickets the week of any performance for $20.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW; 202-393-3939. (Gallery Place)

Shakespeare Theatre

Every Tuesday at 10 a.m. during the run of a show, a small number of $15 “Young Prose” tickets go on sale. They’re for people 35 and younger (you need ID to pick them up), but every person can reserve up to four tickets. Each show also has a Young Prose Night, when all tickets are discounted (usually below $30) and mingling with other young folks is encouraged.

Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW; 202-547-1122. (Gallery Place)

Kennedy Center

The MyTix program, for anyone aged 18-30, posts discounted ticket offers (and chances to win free tickets) to its website frequently — checking and rechecking the site gets old but is worth it if you can snag a cheap pair of seats.

Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; 202-467-4600. (Foggy Bottom)

Arena Stage

Anyone younger than 30 can participate in the pay-your-age program, where a number of tickets go on sale three months before each show opens. You have to show ID to pick up your tickets, of course, so just hope you don’t have a birthday between buying them and the night of the show. Full-time students can also get a 35% discount off regular tickets for any performance — call the theater to use that deal.

Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW; 202-488-3300. (Waterfront/SEU)

Forum Theater

All tickets to Forum Theatre shows are $25 or less, but students and anyone younger than $30 pay only $15 for general admission. Each show also has pay-what-you-can previews and a Young Professionals Night, where tickets are $10 for anyone under 30.

Forum Theatre, 8641 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; 240-644-1390. 

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Rudi Greenberg · May 8, 2012