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What's Playing at Your Local Community Theatre This Month?


Do you participate in your local theatre opportunities? Here in Wilmington, our community houses a couple of venues. Thalian Hall has served the Greater Wilmington district since 1855 with its Opera House Hall that has allowed entertainment to exist for centuries. Today, Thalian Hall houses local children's and adult productions, outside performers, and unique movie nights. 

The Wilson Center, connected to Cape Fear Community College, is home to the community college's theatre & arts program and is a central key in Wilmington being able to receive touring acts. Comedy, Broadway, and musicians seem to appear regularly. 

I hear many complaints that show tickets to these venues costs too much, but honestly, for the quality of entertainment received, I've often found the pricing to be very strategic and affordable. Sure, if you wait to the last minute or want the orchestra level, you will pay, but its nowhere near the cost of venues I've visited in Charlotte, Orlando, New York, and the like. 

Our community theater offers a mixed selection of seats, types of shows from both the local theatre and arts programs (like our Ballet Company) and touring productions. I'm on a rather tight budget myself and I often find something affordable. Sure, I know it costs more to take the entire family, but there are certainly ways to find affordable seats!

I'm blessed to have bought tickets to the Book of Mormon WAY back during a summer community experience and saw it last night. I found a great seat for a low cost because I booked early! In fact, the seat I received was recommended by the box office staff as they indicated it was "on sale" since I was at the showcase opening community event. 

Off-Broadway shows gain a lot of traction in my community. In fact, the Book of Mormon ran for three nights and basically had a sold-out show each night. The cast was amazing, the singing was excellent, and the dancing.. oh my.. the dancing. Plus costumes. 

You never know what type of entertainment you will find in your local theatre venues so I highly encourage you to check schedules. There's often shows for all ages! 

For those of you wanting to take advantage of what your community offers, here are a few tips:

1) Plan. Last minute ticket purchases WILL be expensive. Check your theater's schedule at the start of the season. I know, I know, you don't know what kids events will pop up, what work function will happen, who will be sick.. etc.. But planning helps not only put it on the calendar, but also gives you a chance to find affordable seats. 

If there is a show that you wish to see, purchase tickets right away. Don't wait. Often times, not only will they be cheaper, but you will get the seats that you wish rather than getting stuck with something that doesn't meet your budget or your visual needs. I've also seen ticket prices rise when shows near as well. 

2) Follow the Socials of your venue. Every year, one of our venue offers a Community Day. This is often spread by social media more so than regular advertisements. For us, this is a time when the venue opens to the public, behind the scenes tours are available, and often times, the box office has special deals if you purchase tickets on that day. Last year, raffles and auctions were available too. I watched someone receive free parking for the entire year! Believe me, I would have LOVED that. Parking is relatively easy and cheap in my town, but we all know it can add up! 

Also, throughout the year, our venues offer discounts, last minute ticket sales, and even ways to resell your tickets if your schedule happens to change. 

3) Be aware of your venue's policies. Back in the fall, I had tickets to a ballet show and I felt ill on the day of. Rather than chance it, I called the venue to see what their policy is. For that particular venue, they told me that if it was not sold out, I could exchange the tickets for another night. There was a processing fee attached, but it felt good to not let that ticket go to waste! Of course, for shows like the Book of Mormon (which is entirely sold out), this wouldn't work, but it's nice to know the option is available. I've also heard (although not experienced) that one of the venues will try to resell your tickets if it's a popular sold out show, because they often have waiting lists. As one of the venue's volunteers told me- it never hurts to call or email to ask!

4) Be aware of last minute lotteries. For some venues, if a show is almost sold out, they will hold some tickets for a lottery system. Granted, lotteries are not all-inclusive, and you must "win" in order to get the seat, but it's a good way to get a good seat if you forgot to purchase! Of course, it's always by chance!

5) Purchase directly from the box office and purchase parking early. Ok, I know it's a PAIN to trek to your venue to buy tickets, but skip all of those convenience fees and go down to your box office. Your wallet will be glad you did!

6) Along with that-buying from the box office helps you protect against scammers! Our venue does NOT sell beyond their website and box office. If tickets are bought from a third party source, then most likely they are a scam and will not be honored in our venues. Always check the website before you purchase!

I try to support our artists, community troupes, and actors when possible (and when I really want to see shows too!). Most of the time, local communities acts are not professionals, but can still perform amazingly as a touring NY Broadway show would have!

On the upside, your community probably offers some amazing shows that you can score seats too for relatively cheap compared to major city venues. Now remember, that your fees might seem expensive, but you are helping those up on that stage share their passions with you. Arts & Theatre, while entertaining, is an industry that often gets ignored because people don't want to pay the money. 

The season for most theater venues winds down in the summer, but many are starting to announce their 23/24 seasons soon. So, make sure to look, plan, and follow! 

Right now, our outdoor concert venues are picking up steam and announcing their lineup. Same rules apply- grab tickets early to avoid the higher prices near show day! Now, unfortunately, one particular company has the monopoly on music venues here in North Carolina, so sometimes high ticket prices can't be avoided (nor all those pesky fees with.. here's to you Ticketmaster). Yet, if you watch for the $25 ticket days, watch for general admission prices to be low, you generally can find something in the ballpark range of your budget. You just might have to skip out on those $20 drinks at the venue!

Finished reading this? Search for your local venue now and find something that you want to see. Book those tickets! 

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