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Cheap Theater Series | Go to School

This is the third post in my Cheap Theater Series where I’ll give you some creative ideas on how you can see the theater and other live performances at a low or even no cost. You can read the first part of this series here and the second part here.


There should be giant asterisks beside the words “cheap” for this post because one of the methods mentioned to get cheap theater tickets (when you think about it) isn’t cheap. It involves spending thousands of dollars on post-secondary tuition at a school that has some theater or a performing arts program. With that point in mind there is information in this post to help everyone, students and non-students alike, see theater and other live performances at an affordable price.

Student ID and Student Prices

If you are a student there is a good chance you have some form of student ID. Keep that ID with you when you travel, because a student ID could help save money on various attractions – including performance-related ones. For example, students can save money on tickets for performances at The Edmonton International Fringe Festival. If you don’t have a student ID with your school, you can apply for an International Student ID Card. The card costs approximately $20 and does requires proof you are currently a full-time student.

Theater for Alumni

I’m in the Professional Writing program at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada. While I decided to continue my education in order to get my Bachelor’s Degree I also graduated from the program with a two-year diploma. A few months ago I got an email inviting MacEwan alumni (and a guest) to attend a complimentary performance of Carrie: The Musical that MacEwan’s Theater department was putting on. Yes, that’s the same Carrie as in the Stephen King book/horror movie. MacEwan’s Theater department puts on three different musicals a year, but, unfortunately, they fall right before midterms and finals. In previous years, I was always too busy, but this year I had time to see Carrie: the Musical.

The John L. Haar Theatre at MacEwan University.

The John L. Haar Theatre at MacEwan University where I saw Carrie: The Musical

Carrie: The Musical was one of the most expensive musicals on Broadway when it debuted on May 12, 1988. It only ran for five performances on Broadway before it closed on May 15 costing millions of dollars. Despite Carrie: The Musical being a flop, the show has gotten a cult following and has been performed in regional and local productions. I was curious to see how a horror movie would translate to a stage, and to my surprise the show was quite good. The source material itself (the music, book from the show) was not the best I’ve ever seen or heard. This production of the musical from the MacEwan theatre department (including from the musicians and the crew) however was great.

Not a Student? Go to School Anyway

Maybe you’re not a student, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to school to see a show. Had I not gotten a pair of free tickets for Carrie: The Musical I would have happily paid $20 for a regular priced ticket. If you are looking to see affordable and good quality theater check for schools with a performing arts programs (theater, music, dance, etc) to see if they put have public performances. Chances are the tickets will be a relatively affordable, and you’ll be seeing a show put on by people specifically training to be professional actors, dancers, singers, and musicians.

Finally, I’m going to give a shout out to the less professional school productions of shows. I was lucky enough to attend a High School that, while not being a performing arts school, did have a good drama and music department and had a musical theater class. I was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in grade 11, and in Fiddler on the Roof in grade 12 (chorus both times). Those classes, along with choir, were some of the best times I had in High School. I know we weren’t Broadway level stars, but we did our best to put on a good show. It’s an amazing feeling to see a crowd, even if it’s just 100 people, come to see a show you have put a lot of time and effort into. I believe in supporting the arts at all levels, not just at the professional level. Buying a $10 ticket to watch some kids in Grease or Romeo and Juliet is a great way to support the arts. It also helps to encourage the next generation of performers and artists.

Have you gone to school for a show?

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4 Responses to Cheap Theater Series | Go to School

  1. Mary @ Green Global Travel March 30, 2014 at 3:10 PM #

    These really are great ideas. Students are able to watch shows at a discounted rate. And, even if you aren’t a student or alumni, you can still go to the schools and watch them for cheaper than you would anywhere else. Thanks for sharing. Not many people are aware of this.

    • Alouise April 2, 2014 at 9:21 PM #

      Yes, it’s definitely possible to see shows at a school even if you’re not a student. Thanks for the comment Mary.

  2. Mary Calculated Traveller August 16, 2014 at 5:57 AM #

    My niece went to a performing arts high school and the shows were excellent! Great suggestions!

    • Alouise October 14, 2014 at 11:14 PM #

      How wonderful – I’m sure you got to see some great shows. Thanks for the comment.

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