Friday, July 07, 2006

Subscription Time!

Following Playgoers' breakdown of the breakdown of Broadway as a place for the cultivation of straight plays, I have initiated this year's Subscription Survey of Our Local Theatre's in Boston.

The Winner this Year......(Drum Roll).... Trinity Repertory Theatre, once again, with an 8 Play Subscription Package that you can subscribe to for as low as $16.50 Per Play.

This is a mostly unscientific survey of the subscription packages of most of our theatres that offer them. For my results I take the per play costs of the cheapest subscription package that you can purchase. (Mostly this is the Preview/Weeknight/Matinee packages in the balcony/B tier seating.) I exclude packages that are extremely strict such as "Wednesday Matinees" because I think that most people I know really don't look at those as an option. I also exclude Student Discounts and Senior Discounts as well as Flexpass options. (As a note, Flexpass generally does not provide savings as much as convenience, but more on that later.)

Basically, I am trying to see what your basic, desired theatre demographic would need to pay to subscribe to a local theatre. Also, many theatres are offering multiple subscription packages of different combinations of plays, but for the final results I usually have included the largest subscription package because it generally provides the largest per ticket discount. In other words, the more plays your subscribe to, the larger your savings.

I cannot take full responsibility for my findings, because some of these include Early Bird options, and some of those discounts may change at a moments notice. I have tried to indicate this where I could. So, you may go to the website of the theatre and find slightly different pricing. From my experience last year though, I find that the cheapest remain the cheapest. But subscribing still offers a substantial savings over single ticket buying.

To see quality theatre, you can usually subscribe to a season of 8 plays for only a little more than the cost of seeing Wicked, or the even the touring production of Doubt.

This year I included the price per play of all the different time designations, understanding that some people might prefer to go to the theatre only on Saturday nights. These listings still only reflect the lowest teir of seating options.

If you wish to see the complete list of packages, please click the links below to be connected to the theatre's website. For instance, the Huntington still outpaces everybody with their options for different packages, and I am almost waiting for them to unveil a On Demand Home Theatre package in which the production will come to your home, on a date you choose. However, there is a price for this convenience; the Huntington still is, overall, one of the priciest subscriptions in the region. As I said before, most theatres are offering a Flexpass, or something with a similar name, but these usually do not provide any discount on per play price, but they can make your theatregoing a little less stressful.

A last word on all of this. You can still go the theatre affordably by purchasing tickets to the smaller companies that don't offer season subscriptions, but put on quality productions that generally sell for $15-25 a ticket. These organizations also offer 1/2 price discounts and pay-what-you-can nights as well. This involves some preplanning though, as most of the venues are small and if you try to buy tickets for the latest Rough and Tumble, Whistler in the Dark, 11:11, AYTB, or Zietgeist productions you may find that the 40 seat theatre has sold out.

A good example: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, by one of the country's up and coming playwrights is being performed by Company One this month. Tickets are $25.00, but if you wait till the last weekend when friends of the enormous cast are packing in, (and after, possibly, a good notice has been given by a major paper,) you will find yourself shut out. So do yourself a favor, and buy a ticket for the first week. For complete listings and reviews of these smaller company productions check out Larry Stark's Theatermirror.

Back to subscriptions though.

Here is how things break down, generally. Prices listed are per play. They are in order from most affordable.

Trinity Repertory Theatre: 8-Plays. Matinee/Preview: $16.50; Weeknight $21.00; Weekend $28.50

American Repertory Theatre: 8 Plays. Matinee/Weeknight: $22.00; Weekend: $38.60 (Prices based on Early Subscription.) Not a bad showing this year for a large Regional theatre.

Boston Theatre Works: 4 Plays. $25.00 Per Ticket. One Price. (This is an Early bird special.)

Merrimack Repertory Theatre: 6 Plays. Previews: $28.60; Matinees: $28.66; Weeknights (Incl Friday): $41.16; Sat Night $46.16

New Repertory Theatre: 5 Plays. Weekday/Weekday Mat: $29.20; Weekend Mat/Fri Night:$33.60; Sat 8PM $37.80

Lyric Stage Company: Weeknights Wed-Fri: $32.85; Weekends (Sat Nite, Matinees): 35.71.

Speakeasy Stage: 5 Plays. Off Peak: $36.00; Peak: $41.00

Huntington Theatre Company: Multiple Subscription Packages, 4,5,6, and 7 Plays, All Range from $38-46 In price per play.

Any comments, or if I am off on my calculations, by all means, leave a comment.

One more thing to add: This survey is not artistic, there are interesting and important productions to see in any of the seasons these companies are sporting. However, there are also productions in each of their seasons that I could probably do without. In that case, somebody could look into several smaller play subscriptions.

You could get a three play subscription from New Rep to see The Pillowman, Orson's Shadow, and Silence, and then get a Huntington 4 Play Subscription to see Radio Golf, Well, Streamers, and Persephone. Total Cost to see these 4 recent plays of note, 2 world premieres, and 1 interesting revival : $266 per person.

Just a little more than a Netflix subscription.


The Playgoer said...

Very informative survey. I hope it inspires others to the same with their local theatres.

The upshot is you're right, I believe. Quality theatre IS affordable at these institutions. IF, though, you love quality theatre so much you want to shell out a lot of money up front in order to get the discounts along the way. Sight unseen, of course.

Most people, of course, still prefer to wait for reviews and word of mouth, even if that does mean paying upwards of $50 for a single ticket to that event. bGo figure.

Todd Williams said...

Sorry - the Huntington will NOT be coming live on demand to your living room anytime soon, at least in the literal sense. We would love, however, to see you in the theatre.

Stop by our open house tomorrow (May 5) to get info on the best deal for you, and (as a slight correction) our subscriptions start at $25 per play. Even less with discounts offered to earlybirds, students, seniors, or those who can claim to be BU faculty, staff or alumni.

I would like to take a sec to thank The Mirror up to Nature for the encouragement they have offered to yours truly, the Huntington's blogger, and for adding a link to our site.

Though we might not be performing live in your living room anytime soon we are increasingly making efforts to get there virtually via web based community and outreach.

We would love feedback on how we're doing on the web, what kind of content you would like to see more of, and how we can make our websites (including easier for you to use. Just sign on and let us know.


Todd Williams, Huntington Theatre Company