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Cheap Tickets
By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Updated Friday, October 8, 2004

    Arena Stage Arena Stage is just one of many local theaters that offer ticket discounts.
(Frank Johnston/The Washington Post)

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You're an avid theatergoer living on a video renter's budget. So what do you do? Forget your love of lavish musicals and spend Saturday nights watching that "Chicago" DVD for the umpteenth time?

No. What you need are cheap theater tickets. And they can be found in many places throughout the Washington area. Just follow one or more of the options outlined below, and soon you'll be seeing the best shows in town -- with spending money to spare.

Option One: Visit TICKETplace.
TICKETplace, a service of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, is similar to New York City's TKTS booth. The outlet sells same-day and advance half-price tickets to theatrical performances in the District, Maryland and Virginia. Not every show will go on sale here, but many of the region's major stages, including the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre, sell tickets via TICKETplace.

To see what's on sale, you can check the Entertainment Guide's TICKETplace link, the TICKETplace site or call 202-TIC-KETS for recorded updates. Make purchases by visiting the booth, located at 407 Seventh St. NW, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for selected performances also can be purchased online at www.ticketplace.org, from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Option Two: Look for pay-what-you-can previews.
Many local stages offer pay-what-you-can previews, which allow patrons to see shows and pay whatever price seems reasonable to them. (This doesn't mean nothing. Our performing arts venues deserve something for their trouble. If you cough up at least $10 to see a great show, that's still a bargain.) If you're dying to see a particular show, check that theater's Web site to see if there are any pay-what-you-cans or other preview discounts. (Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Round House Theatre and Washington Shakespeare Company are just a few of the several stages that regularly offer pay-what-you-cans.) And speaking of previews, some theaters offer discounts on preview runs of new shows -- Shakespeare Theatre is just one that does, and Stanislavsky Theater Studio sells $20 tickets for all previews.

Option Three: Go to the theater in a group.
If you love the theater, chances are you have relatives and friends who do, too. So why not go as a group? If you can rally a posse of 10, 15 or more, most local theaters will give you a substantial discount on your tickets. Arena Stage, for instance, offers discounts of 20 to 50 percent for groups of 15 or more. Contact the theater you'd like to visit to get specific details on its group sales policies.

Option Four: Take advantage of special programs.
The bottom line is this: Theaters want your business. And they especially want to attract patrons who might not ordinarily attend plays. Consequently, practically every major stage in the area offers a variety of special discounts. Whether you're a senior citizen, a full-time student or a working twenty-something, you'll find a number of ways to save in the list of programs below.

(Are you a local theater that offers a discount program not included on the list? Send an e-mail and we'll add you to the running lineup.)

Jump directly to your favorite theater:
Arena Stage
Charter Theatre
Folger Theatre
Ford's Theatre
Kennedy Center
National Theatre
Olney Theatre
Rep Stage
Round House
Shakespeare Theatre
Studio Theatre
Woolly Mammoth

Arena Stage
Arena offers the following discounts for all performances except Saturday evenings: 15 percent off for seniors (60 years or older) and for patrons with disabilities. Full-time students receive 35 percent off the regular ticket price. Valid identification is required. Discounts must be redeemed by contacting Arena's sales office at 202-488-3300.
Fivetwentyfive: This special program provides theatergoers between the ages of 5 and 25 with $10 tickets. Tickets must be purchased by 5:25 p.m. the day of the performance, or by 5:25 p.m. the day before weekend matinees. There is a two-ticket limit per person. Call 202-488-3300 for more information.
Hottix: Arena sells a limited number of half-price tickets 90 minutes before curtain time of each show. Tickets remain on sale until 30 minutes before curtain or all of them are sold. There is a limit of two per buyer, and they must be purchased in person at Arena's sales office. Payment is accepted in cash only.
College Night: There is one scheduled college night during each run of Arena's productions; on those dates, which generally fall on Thursdays, students with valid IDs can buy tickets for $10. College nights for the 2004-2005 season are as follows:
"M. Butterfly," Sept. 16 at 8 p.m.
"Anna in the Tropics," Oct. 14 at 8 p.m.
"The Importance of Being Earnest," Dec. 2 at 8 p.m.
"Hallelujah, Baby!," Jan. 6 at 8 p.m.
"Intimations for Saxophone," Feb. 3 at 8 p.m.
"The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?," March 17 at 8 p.m.
"The Piano Lesson," April 14 at 8 p.m.
"Anna Christie," May 19 at 8 p.m.
Southwest Night: There is one scheduled Southwest night during each run of Arena's productions; on those dates, which generally fall on Fridays, Arena's neighbors in the Southwest D.C. area with valid proof of residency or employment can buy tickets for $10. Southwest nights for the 2004-2005 season are as follows:
"M. Butterfly," Sept. 10 at 8 p.m.
"Anna in the Tropics," Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.
"The Importance of Being Earnest," Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.
"Hallelujah, Baby!," Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.
"Intimations for Saxophone," Jan. 28 at 8 p.m.
"The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?," March 11 at 8 p.m.
"The Piano Lesson," April 8 at 8 p.m.
"Anna Christie," May 13 at 8 p.m.
Go to Arena's Web site for more information.

Charter Theatre
Charter Theatre, which specializes in producing new plays, offers two pay-what-you-can preview nights for each production. The company also reserves a limited number of pay-what-you-can tickets for all performances, which are available for sale at the door. Pay-what-you-can tickets cannot be guaranteed or reserved in advance.
Call 202-333-7009 or visit Charter's Web site for more information.

Folger Theatre
By purchasing directly through Folger's box office, patrons can take advantage of the following discounts (these are not available online):
For Students: Students with valid IDs receive 20 to 25 percent off most tickets. They can also buy half-price student rush tickets, which often go on sale at the Folger box office one hour before performances (subject to availability), as well as advance half-price tickets for selected events.
Seniors, Teachers and Military Personnel: Members of these groups receive 15 to 20 percent discounts on tickets to most programs. Seniors must be 65 or older to qualify.
Folger Members: Anyone with a membership to the Folger is offered an up to 25 percent discount on two tickets to most programs.
Standing Room Only: There are a limited number of half-price, standing-room-only tickets for sold-out events. These may be purchased one hour before showtime and are subject to availability. Visit Folger's Web site or call the box office at 202-544-7077 for more information.

Ford's Theatre
Day-of-Purchase Discounts for Seniors and Students: Seniors and students with valid IDs can purchase half-price tickets at Ford's box office for same-day performances. This offer is subject to availability. For more information, visit Ford's Web site.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Specially Priced Tickets: The Kennedy Center offers tickets at 50 percent off the regular price to full-time students, seniors 65 and older, people with permanent disabilities, enlisted military personnel and individuals on low, fixed incomes. Day-of-performance specially priced tickets are sold beginning at noon for matinees and at 6 for evening shows. They can be purchased, subject to availability, at the box office in the Hall of Nations. Proof of eligibility must be presented.
Some specially priced tickets also are available in advance at the box office in the Kennedy Center's Hall of States. Proof of eligibility must be presented.
For more details on this program, visit the Kennedy Center Web site.

National Theatre
Special Patron Ticket Program: A limited number of half-price tickets are available for seniors 65 and older, full-time students, military personnel ranked E-4 or lower, Department of Human Resources card holders and persons with disabilities. Tickets must be purchased with proof of eligibility at National's box office. Each qualified patron may purchase one half-price ticket. Special patron tickets are available only for Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances or Sunday matinees.
Go to the National Theatre Web site for more information.

Olney Theatre Center for the Arts
Student and Senior Discounts: Full-time students and seniors can purchase tickets for all performances for $3 or $4 less than the regular price.
$10 Tuesdays: Tickets for all Tuesday performances are $10 for patrons under 30. They must be bought the day of the show, either by phone or at the Olney box office. Check Olney's Web site for more information.

Rep Stage
Seniors and Staff: Senior citizens and Howard Community College (where Rep Stage is based) staff can receive a $2 discount on adult tickets.
Students: High school and full-time college students with IDs can purchase $10 tickets.
Thrifty Thursdays: Seats for selected Thursday performances are $10. Thrifty shows include "The Seagull" on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. and "The Children's Hour" on March 11 at 7 p.m.
Super Saver Saturdays: Rep Stage sells $13 tickets to selected Saturday matinees (showtimes are at 2:30). This season's list:
"The Seagull" -- Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and 9
"Becoming Adele" -- Nov. 6, 13 and 20
"Kimberly Akimbo" -- Feb. 5, 12 and 19
"The Children's Hour" -- Feb. 26, March 5 and 12
See Rep Stage's Web site for more information.

Round House Theatre
Washington Post Young Audiences Tickets: This program allows patrons 30 and younger to purchase $10 seats. Each purchaser is allowed up to four tickets; only the purchaser must be 30 years of age or younger. Seats can be reserved in advance for any show and any performance, including Saturday evenings, but proof-of-age must be presented when claiming tickets.
See Round House's Web site for more information.

Shakespeare Theatre
Senior Discounts: Seniors 60 and older receive a 20 percent discount on all tickets.
Student Discounts: Full-time students with valid IDs receive a 50 percent discount on every performance when tickets are purchased at the box office within an hour of curtain. During preview week, students can buy advance tickets via telephone and receive the 50 percent discount. Student rush tickets purchased one hour before curtain during preview week are $10 each.
Standing Room Only: Shakespeare Theatre sells standing room tickets for $10 cash to sold-out shows. On sale one hour before showtime, tickets must be purchased in person at the box office. There is a limit of two per person.
C&D Seats: The Shakespeare offers a limited number of discounted seats with obstructed views. Call the box office at 202-547-1122 to inquire about availability.
Visit Shakespeare Theatre's Web site for more information.

Studio Theatre
Student, Senior and Military Discounts: Full-time students, seniors 62 and older and military personnel receive $5 off regular ticket prices for all performances except Saturday evenings.
Student Rush: Full-time students can buy half-price tickets 30 minutes before curtain for all performances except Saturday evenings.
Go to the Studio Web site for more information.

Woolly Mammoth
25 and Under: Woolly Mammoth sells a limited number of $10 tickets to patrons 25 and under for all performances. Call 202-393-3939. An ID is required.
Visit Woolly Mammoth's Web site for more information.