While we’re living through a recession, it’s easier to think short-term about the arts. If you’re juggling paychecks, you may be more likely to commit to one play at a time, rather than an entire slate by one theater company.
And that could be a mistake, especially for the 2012-13 season: I’m more excited about the upcoming year than I have been since coming back to the theater beat four summers ago.
Why buy in bulk? Getting discounted season packages saves you considerable dough. More importantly, you’re likelier to take chances on plays you might have skipped: You’ve already paid for the tickets, so you’re more willing to experiment. (And theaters are happier, because they get more money up front for operating expenses.)
We’ve already written about the Broadway Lights season from Blumenthal Arts, which opens Nov. 6 with the tour of the revamped “Jekyll & Hyde.” (Refresh your memory at www.blumenthalarts.org.)
But three locally based companies also offer discounts on seasons and many reasons to take them.
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte starts in September and November with two recent Tony-winners, Yasmina Reza’s ferocious “God of Carnage” (about two supposedly civilized couples trying to discuss their kids’ disagreements) and “Red,” John Logan’s drama about Mark Rothko’s attempt to paint one last huge masterpiece on commission.
But lesser-known titles intrigue, too: Matthew Lopez’ “The Whipping Man” follows a Jewish Confederate soldier home after the war, where he encounters rubble and two former slaves, and William Missouri Downs’ darkly comic “The Exit Interview” has a college professor trying to leave campus during a masked gunman’s rampage.
You’ll save up to 39 percent by buying a flex pass that gives you six tickets, which can be doled out over six mainstage shows or used at once. They’re $84 for preview nights, $150 for regular performances ($144 for ages 62 and over). You can find details at www.actorstheatrecharlotte.org.
Theatre Charlotte continues to widen its scope in its 85th season, which begins with “Fiddler on the Roof” the day after the Democrats leave town. (That’s Sept. 7.)
“In the Heat of the Night” and “The Foreigner” offer familiar touches of drama and laughter, but the final two plays will be button-pushers: Edward Albee’s wrenching “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and the jauntily profane musical “Avenue Q,” in which puppets do and say things never heard on “Sesame Street.”
The company offers flex plans for six, 10 or 12 tickets, ranging in price from $120 to $216, as well as a Star Season Ticket Plan that gets you into the five mainstage shows for $100 ($90 if you’re 62 or older). You’ll find full information at www.theatrecharlotte.org.
Meanwhile, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte gets a jump on everybody with its season of mainstage productions, Tarradiddle Players offerings and imported shows. (The latter range from “Psshh” by PlayPlay Theatre, which kicks things off for the under-4 set Aug. 14, to Grey Seal Puppets’ new “Barker Bill’s Wagtime Revue” on March 23-24.)
The traditional big musical will be “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in October, but I look forward more to two others: “The Secret Garden” (featuring Lucy Simon’s haunting score) in January and a hip-hop version of Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” – yes, you read that right – in March.
Children’s Theatre has a simpler discount plan: If you purchase tickets to at least three different productions at once, you’ll get $3 off every ticket before Sept. 1 and $2 off every ticket thereafter. You’ll find a complete roster of shows at www.ctcharlotte.org.
You might also set aside money for companies that sell only single tickets, such as Carolina Actors Studio Theatre (“Lombardi,” “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”), Queen City Theatre Company (“Bent,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman”) or On Q Productions (“The Social Networth,” “Ruined”). If you buy some season packages now, the savings will pay for more single seats down the road.