Ticket Prices 2007: Do You Get What You Pay For?

Posted July 1, 2007

A comment by the producers of The News In Revue that their $40 ticket price was modest got me thinking about the issue of pricing. Compared to New York City, theatre in the Berkshires is a tremendous bargain, but how do the Berkshire theatres that present shows during the high tourist season summer months compare to each other? Most local residents find the prices charged for summer-time entertainment too rich for their pocket books, but are they really considering all the options?

2007 TOP TICKET PRICES

$20 Theater Barn
$25 “Dancing with the Czar” at Venfort Hall
$25.50 Mac-Haydn Theatre
$27 Stageworks/Hudson
$27.50 Chester Theatre Company
$32 Oldcastle Theatre Company
$35 Dorset Theatre Festival
$40 The News in Revue
$40 Tri-Arts
$46 Capital Repertory Company
$48 Weston Playhouse Theatre Company
$49 The Capitol Steps
$56 Barrington Stage Company
$57 Williamstown Theatre Festival
$62 Berkshire Theatre Festival
$67 Shakespeare & Company
$90 Berkshire Opera Company

The prices quoted are, to the best of my knowledge, the most expensive prices for the most expensive seats for the most expensive productions each venue offers. In other words the top ticket price at Weston is for a center orchestra seat for a performance of a musical on a Saturday evening. Generally attending weekday performances, sitting in less desirable seats, and going to non-musical performances is cheaper. Many companies, particularly those whose ticket prices are higher overall, offer discounts and plans whereby you can pay considerably less.

It is important to note that, while all of the higher priced venues offer you high quality productions for your money, lower ticket prices doesn’t mean lesser productions. You won’t see big name actors at the Theater Barn, but their production of “Urinetown” last summer was universally praised by the press and sold out its run. Conversely the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where big name actors, directors and designers are the norm, presented a 2006 season that was judged a disappointment by press and public alike. The Chester Theatre Company and Stageworks/Hudson, both of which have modest ticket prices, are considered two of the best place in the region to see top-notch productions of small scale, cutting edge theatre.

If you live locally, volunteering is the best possible way to save yourself money AND ensure the vitality of the arts institutions you love best. Volunteering to usher, sell tickets or concessions, sew costumes, raise money, rebuild the porch on the actors’ housing, whatever, usually gets you free or discounted tickets and the fun of seeing what goes on behind the scenes, meeting your favorite artists, etc.

Another great way to save money is to visit one of the four Half-TIX booths. Half-TIX makes half-priced tickets to performing arts organizations available to the public on the day-of-performance, on a first-come-first-served basis. Half-TIX customers also receive discounts at museums and other non-performing-arts cultural organizations. In 2007 Half-TIX are available at the following locations:
1) Adams Visitors’ Center, 3 Hoosac Street, Adams, MA
2) Chatham Bookstore, 27 Main Street, Chatham, NY
3) The Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Booth, 362 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA
4) Pittsfield Visitors’ Center, 111A South Street (Colonial Theatre Annex), Pittsfield, MA

Call for daily availability 413-443-9186, ext. 332

And last but certainly not least, keep your eyes open for free theatre productions. Many of these are offered out of doors, so rain cancels and you have to bring your own seating and bug repellent, but there is a lot of family fun to be had by packing the picnic hamper and heading out for an afternoon or evening of theatre in a bucolic Berkshire setting. Last summer Shakespeare & Company’s free offering “The Servant of Two Masters” was judged one of the best shows of the season. So take a chance. At least you won’t leave feeling that you’ve been ripped off!

FREE THEATRE 2007

Helderberg Theater Festival
A new effort by the Classic Theatre Guild, Inc. who will stage Shakepeare’s "Othello" July 27 & 29 and August 2-5 at 8 p.m. and J.M. Barrie’s "Peter Pan" July 28 & 29th and August 3-5 at 6 p.m. at Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont, NY

The Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall
Free, outdoor performances of "Twelfth Night" July 20-30 at various locations in southern Vermont and eastern New York state.

Mettawee River Theatre Company
Free, outdoor performances of Aristophanes’ "Peace" July 5-August 5 at various locations in throughout eastern New York state and western New England. Mettawee creates original theater productions that incorporate masks, giant figures, puppets and other visual elements with live music, movement and text, drawing on myths, legends and folklore of the world’s many cultures for its material. (Artistic Director Ralph Lee created the Land Shark for SNL!)

Park Playhouse
Free outdoor performances of "Grease" July 10-August 19 in Albany’s Washington Park. From July 31-August 12 their youth theatre company will present "Bye-Bye Birdie.” Lots of good energy and fun here!

Saratoga Shakespeare Company
"Much Ado About Nothing" July 17-21 & 24-28 at 6 p.m. and July 22 & 29 at 2 p.m. performed free on The Alfred Z. Solomon Stage in Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, NY

Shakespeare & Company
"Scapin" through September 1 at 6:15 most nights on the stage of the outdoor tented Rose Footprint Theatre. It is under a tent so rain doesn’t cancel. Only complaint here is that the show is presented in two parts, so you have to schedule two trips to Lenox instead of one.

Williamstown Theatre Festival
“Wing It,” a musical based on “The Birds” by Aristophanes, July 9 – July 15 on the Main Stage in the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance. Performances Monday at 7:00 pm and Tuesday through Sunday at 11:00 a.m. This is the only indoor free theatre offering of the summer. Glad to see they’ve added at least one evening performance this year!

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