You want to have fun. You don’t want to go broke. We get that.
In our listings of shows, we always try to give you the “Top” or worst-case price, to give you a sense of the maximum you might pay to see the show. In almost all cases, what you really pay should be an improvement on that. You can beat the Top price and have a nice night of theater on the cheap in a number of ways: here are the best ones.
- WHO YOU ARE. First, are you eligible for a deal just by being you? And being willing to do your transaction in person or a phone call, rather than the interwebs?
Almost any theater we’re sending you to will offer discounts for youth. Believe it or don’t, if you’re under 30, your driver’s license is a dollars-off card for most theaters in town.
Similarly, many theaters offer discounts to active duty military and veterans. Being invaded would really screw with a theater’s rehearsal schedules, so it’s the least they can do.
- WHERE YOU BUY. No matter who you are, where you buy your tickets can also save you a bunch of money, and these tips work well online.Goldstar.com and CultureCapital.tix.com offer half-price seats to many of the shows we recommend. There aren’t always many seats available, they are rarely for sale more than a couple of weeks in advance of the show date, and sometimes the discounted seats are pretty far from front and center; but here’s a little secret. At most of the theaters in DC, every seat is good. If you have some time to plan ahead, you can usually save a lot using these sites.
You’ll have to create a free account to use the Goldstar site. Both sites also have regular email messages you can subscribe to that tell you about upcoming deals, and they list lots of things to do besides plays, that are likely to make your time in DC more fun.
- WHEN YOU GO. When you see a show can also keep some dollars in your hands.Generally, Friday and Saturday night tickets are pricier than other night performances. Wednesday or Thursday night performances are more affordable.
If you attend a show at one of its earlier performances, you may be in what is called a preview performance. This mostly means you’re seeing the show before it has been reviewed, and the theater rewards your daring by knocking a chunk off the ticket price. An increasing number of theaters in town do Pay What You Will pricing during previews, meaning it’s literally up to you how much you pay and even $2 will get you in.
- LAST-MINUTE DEALS. Finally, if you’re willing to risk not being able to get in to a popular show, most theaters offer what are called Rush Tickets at a steep discount shortly before the show starts (“shortly” can mean only one hour before, or as many as five or six hours before). Rush Tickets at Forum Theatre in Silver Spring are name-your-price, so you can pay as little as $2 and see the show, for any performance. At pretty much all theaters that have Rush Ticket prices, even if the performance is officially sold out, the box office will put you on a waiting list and charge you the discount if you get in [ask first]. There are often people who paid for very nice seats but don’t show up, and you could wind up in their seats if you get lucky. If you don’t get in to the show, you can always skip the entertainment and go directly to the bar we recommend for afterwards, so that’s hardly a total loss of a Great Evening.
Last but not least, we would be failing at our jobs if we didn’t let you know our best secret for inexpensive tickets: skip the big theaters in favor of the small ones. In every edition of Just the Ticket we include Great Evenings with shows that have Top ticket prices of less than $30, often in interesting and offbeat venues. We’ve done the legwork to make sure they are in places that are easy to get to and have good dining and drinking options nearby. And we give you shows that have a high likelihood of entertainment and enjoyment. DC’s secret weapon as a theater town is that exceptional work is happening at all price levels, so if you don’t normally give small theater companies a look, we hope you’ll use the guide as a way to find some lesser-known, bargain gems.
Please let us know if you enjoy some savings after reading this post either by commenting below or writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.