Let’s just say I was BORN to be in a musical. I remember as a little girl growing up in rural Oklahoma how my nights were planned around the one time a year The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz played on one of our four TV stations. Yes, kids, in MY day, we had no ability to skip commercials, let alone stream our favorite show tunes 24/7. In fact, we didn’t even have a VCR for most of my childhood. So, once a year, when that treasured musical aired, the world in the Davis household came to a screeching halt as everyone gathered around the one TV in the house. One TV with only FOUR channels for a family of seven . . . definitely a rarity in the 21st century!
Imagine my own excitement when my daughter began sharing the same love of all things Broadway and show tunes several years ago. She sang and danced her way through life, vowed to be an actress when she grew up, and started auditioning for shows at school and summer camps. It didn’t take long before she was hooked. We started having theater conversations that I had dreamed of having with her when she was little. She would quiz me on theater lingo and techniques that she was learning in theater class at school. She taught me things I didn’t know. She was going to be my Broadway BFF. She would gladly go with me to any show I wanted, and my husband even more gladly let her go.
So, a few years ago, I did it. I bit the bullet and bought us each a ticket to see Wicked in Dallas. Although I have seen several Broadway shows, this would be her first exposure to one. She knew all the songs by heart, had a Wicked-themed birthday party, and loved every minute of it. There was no going back now; she was a “theater junkie” like her momma. Music to my ears!!!
Except, unfortunately, it wasn’t music to our pocketbook. Our nosebleed seats at Wicked were not something that we could easily afford on a yearly basis, let alone a monthly one. I had to feed her love of theater, somehow, some way, but I knew that her two brothers and dad still needed to be fed and the mortgage paid, so off I went in search of more affordable options to quench her thirst for the arts.
And the good news? There are some ways to do a Broadway experience on a budget. Check out the amazing things I found around Funky Town for ways to embrace your own little thespian’s love of all things Broadway. You won’t be disappointed, I promise!
Local University Theatre Productions
Fort Worth is blessed to be near an abundance of junior colleges and universities that offer shows throughout the year. I found that, compared to the price of larger theaters, the ticket prices are much more affordable. Some even offer a special children’s schedule of shows. I caution you to check the recommended ages for all shows before you purchase any tickets. Theater is art, and sometimes art can touch topics that are heavy and not geared toward children. Many sites that I found gave a recommended age for audience members. You can always call the box office and ask the theater’s opinion of appropriateness for children.
Local High School Productions
Each year, all three of the high schools in our district put on a musical. They are huge undertakings and sometimes require help from children actors. Many will have open casting calls for younger children to take small parts. Anytime The Wizard of Oz is being done, be assured there will be a call for many munchkin children! Oh, and the shows they put on are spectacular! The students do a wonderful job of bringing the story to life right before your eyes. Most tickets I have found for high school productions run around $8-$12; however, the revenue from the tickets sales often fund the theater department’s budget. Definitely a place to which I have no problem donating my hard-earned pennies!
Local School Districts
In the summer, many local school districts offer a wide variety of summer camps for students. These camps range from football to cheerleading, and from technology to art. They are usually run by a teacher from the district and are held in district facilities, such as a school cafeteria or classroom. My daughter has been going to a Broadway-bound camp in our district for the past two years. She loves it. By the end of the two-week session, the camp puts on a full musical with costumes, set designs, and music. The best part? Because it is put on by a school district, I have found the rates for each camper to be very inexpensive compared to other camps I have seen advertised. We paid $85 for a two-week session that lasted five hours a day. We provided a daily lunch and a few smaller items for her costume. They provided everything else. She is already counting down the days until the next one starts this summer!
For more information on upcoming camps, start with your district’s website. I know ours is already advertising summer camps. If you can’t find anything online, place a call to the administration office, and they can direct you where to call.
Season Tickets for Community/Local Theaters
If your child devours a playbill from any show in seconds and can’t wait until 2019 when Hamilton reaches the metroplex, then season tickets might be just what you need. It will be more cost-effective than purchasing tickets show by show. While I wish I could give her a season ticket to Bass Hall or Dallas Summer Musicals, with all of the other needs of a family of five, it just isn’t in the cards. This year, I opted to look into other theater season tickets in the area and see what we could find.
I ended up getting season tickets to the main stage at the Artisan Center Theater in Hurst for my daughter and myself. I had no idea what to expect about the quality of shows and facilities, so we went in very open-minded. I found that if we ordered week night season tickets as opposed to weekend season tickets, the rates were much cheaper. We were given the option to chose which night we want to see each show. The small, quaint theater makes ANY seat a great seat. The set designs, costumes, and acting/singing are all very well done. So far, we are two shows in and we haven’t been disappointed. My daughter counts down the days until the next show.
This particular theater also offers a children’s stage schedule and a second stage with many different show titles to chose from. They often hold casting calls for their upcoming shows (both main stage and the children’s theater), and acting classes.
Last but not least, as the mom of three kids of her own, the last thing I need around my house is MORE toys to pick up! Tickets to shows make fabulous Christmas or birthday gifts. Granny and Pa would love to send you and your child to the theater for the evening instead of buying another plastic toy that requires assembly and a million and one batteries. And the best part? You will never stumble over it in the middle of the night!
What are your money-saving tips to fill your thespian’s life with rich, meaningful show experiences? We would love to hear them!