A Millennial’s Guide to Seeing Theater in Philly and Still Paying Your Rent

Theater tickets are expensive. With so many entertainment options, it’s difficult to justify spending $25, $50, $100+ on a single ticket to a single show of unpredictable quality. What’s a young theater lover in Philadelphia to do?

I have spent years trying to see as much theater as I can on a budget. This is what I have found. I am a teacher and currently under 30 so that bias exists in looking for deals! These discounts might not be accessible to some people, but I have tried to find deals where they are. If a theater has consistently low prices, I have tried to list them below. Most theaters have student, senior, ACCESS card, and industry discounts so I have not included them on this list. If I have missed your favorite bargain or you would like to be added or removed from this list please let the editorial team know!

My will but not my poverty consents.

Arden

Pay What You Can

The final dress rehearsal before previews is pay-what-you-can and tickets are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis. The performance isn’t always publicized, but it’s the day before the first preview. Get there early, doors open at 7.

Young Friends (21-40)

For one “The Scene” nights per production, people under 40 are invited to a pre-show reception an hour before the show followed by the performance all for only $25.  Call the box office at 215-922-1122 or visit the ticketing page and use the code YFARDEN to unlock 50% off tickets!

Azuka

Pay-What-You-Decide…always!

Thanks to generous funders, ALL Azuka performances are now pay-what-you-decide. (Free) reservations are still strongly suggested, but there’s no obligation to pay until after you see the show. You decide how much the show was worth to you.

Curio Theatre Company sells $1 tickets at the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll.

Curio Theatre

Pay-What-You-Decide

One production each year is Pay-What-You-Decide. In 2019–20, Curio’s production of Everybody will be Pay-What-You-Decide as part of  Curiostix, pay it forward initiative. 

Dollar Stroll tickets

Tickets to Curio’s preview performances can be purchased at the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll events. Consult UniversityCity.org for upcoming events.

EgoPo

Student/Industry/Under 30 season subscription is $30 for three shows.

FringeArts

Select performances in the Fringe Festival and all Scratch Night shows are free.

Hedgegrow

30 and under

Tickets for under-30s are $25

Hella Fresh Theater

All tickets $10!

Plus they will give you a FULL REFUND if you don’t like the show.

Interact

Inter/half

On regular performance (not previews, opening, and first Thursday), Interact Theatre will release up to 20 tickets to be purchased in person, day off at the Drake Box Office for half price.

Pay-What-You-Can

On the Thursday before the first ticketed performance of each production, InterAct hosts a public pay-what-you-can final dress rehearsal. All proceeds from this final dress rehearsal go directly to a community partner. Recent partners have included Warrior Writers, WOAR (Women Organized Against Rape), Asian Arts Initiative, HIAS PA, and others. To learn more about our pay-what-you-can, contact the Box Office at boxoffice@interacttheatre.org or (215) 568-8079.

First Thursday Performance: $25 with a special happy hour.

Inus Nua

Look out for three free readings a season!

Many companies have young friends groups with discounted theater tickets and special events.

Kimmel Center

Rush tickets

BROADWAY PHILADELPHIA: Rush tickets for Broadway Philadelphia performances are $30 and must be paid for in cash. Rush begins two hours prior to curtain time at the performance venue Box Office.

KIMMEL CENTER PRESENTS: Rush tickets for Kimmel Center Presents performances are available at the Box Office. Prices vary by show. For events in Verizon Hall and Perelman Theater, rush tickets go on sale at the Kimmel Center Box Office at 5:30pm for evening performances and 11:30am for matinees. For events in the Merriam Theater or Academy of Music, tickets become available two hours prior to show time at the venue Box Office.

MacArthur Center

First previews are often pay what you can.

Montgomery Theatre

Under 30 Discount

Four tickets for $65. This offer is only for people under 30 years of age. The tickets may be used at any performance during the year in which they were purchased, and in any configuration you choose. Bring three friends to one show, attend two shows with a date, or keep all of the tickets for yourself!

Opera Philly

Community Rush

Save 50% on available seats at select performances, starting two hours prior to performance time at the venue box office.

$35 for 35 and Under

Patrons 35 and younger can enjoy $35 tickets to select performances during the season. Spring 2020 availability will be announced at a later date.

People’s Light

Teacher Appreciation

Educators qualify for 25% off theater tickets. Redeem online with promo code THANKYOUTEACHERS, or call the Box Office at 610.644.3500. Please be prepared to provide ID when you pick up your tickets.

Access Dates-(Not to be confused with access card programs)

Tickets to select performances are half-price, no promo code required. Check website for dates.

Philadelphia Theatre Company

$25 ADVANCE SALE TICKETS 

Most performances will have a limited number of $25 tickets available. Available online, by phone at 215.985.0420, or in-person. 

10TIX SPONSORED BY PNC ARTS ALIVE

Ten $10 tickets go on-sale every performance day at 11am

Available online, by phone at 215.985.0420, or in-person at the Box Office at Broad and Lombard. 

RUSH FOR ALL 

Available in person at the box office only, 1 hour before curtain. 50% discount on select seats, not available on every seat, fees apply. Max 2 tickets per person. RUSH tickets are never guaranteed and are subject to availability. Call in advance or check online.

Philadelphia Artists Collection

Check website for free staged readings in collaboration with partner theatre companies.

Quintessence

Pay What You Can.

Tickets to the first preview of any show are pay what you can

Rush Tickets

All shows have a $10 digital rush on TodayTix.

Simpatico

Pay What You Decide!

Tickets to all performances are pay what you decide. Reserve in advance; pay after the performance.

South Camden Theatre Company

$5 for Camden residents.

All tickets $25.

Theatre Exile

$5 off South Philly Discount

(Available to individuals who live in one of the following zip codes: 19145, 19146, 19147, 19148 with I.D.) $5 off any ticket Online Code: HowdyNeighbor

Theatre Horizon

$10 off under 30

The Young Friends of Theatre Horizon is a FREE membership program that brings together fans of excellent theater, between the ages of 18 and 35, with a passion for the greater Philadelphia arts and cultural community. This entitles members to $10 off any performance and other benefits.

$2 Norristown Neighbor Program

Theatre Horizon is offering $2* tickets for Norristown Residents for the entire 2019/20 season! Reserve up to 4 tickets to each production for yourself, friends, and/or family.

$5 off teacher tickets

Educators receive $5 off tickets.

Walnut Street Theatre

Day-Of-Show Tickets

Each morning, remaining inventory for that day’s performances is reviewed to see if any seats will be available for our same-day discount program. If so, they will become available beginning at 10am. Tickets to the Mainstage mezzanine are half-priced with code DAYMZ. Tickets to the main floor are just $10 more than the half-price mezzanine seats with code DAYOR. Tickets for shows at Independence Studio on 3 are just $25 when you use promo code STUDAY.

$27 tickets

A limited number of $27 tickets are available for every Mainstage performance. These full-view seats – available for purchase in advance – help to ensure that a wider audience can enjoy our productions.

Youth Tickets

Remaining tickets are available for $25 for people 24 years of age or younger on the day of performance, subject to availability. Valid for one ticket ONLY per ID with date of birth, in person at the box office.

Wilma

$28 for 21-40

Young friend tickets to any performance are $28. In addition, Young Friends Nights are the third Friday performance of each production with a pre-show reception starting at 7pm.

Other ways to get cheap seats:

TodayTix and Gold Star. I check good deals on TodayTix and Gold Star almost daily. They have good deals on a wide arrange of theatre and events. TodayTix is very good if you are thinking about going up to New York. Both TodayTix and Gold Star are good when looking at shows in DC.

Funsavers by Philly Fun Guide. Check FunSavers every thursday for half-off a wide array of cultural events.

Student/Industry/Senior discounts: I didn’t include but almost every theater I checked had a student, senior, or industry discount. They very widely so check the theater, but assume you will be able to get cheap seats (especially if you are a student). Industry Card information can be found on TheatrePhiladelphia’s website.

Access Cardholders: ACCESS Cardholders (those Pennsylvania residents who monitor their government-issued cash, food, or medical benefits with an EBT card), are invited to visit participating locations at the deeply discounted rate of $2 per person. Check out participating theaters here.

Blue Star (Military): Blue Star Theatres is a collaboration between Theatre Communications Group and Blue Star Families. There are currently 179 participating theatres spanning 42 U.S. states and territories. See Pennsylvania’s here.

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About the author

Joshua Herren

Josh Herren is a writer and third-grade teacher living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Josh has a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated summa cum laude in history (American concentration) and art history, with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. His thesis "Furious Acts: AIDS and the Art(s) of Activism, 1985–1993" won the Rose Award for Outstanding Thesis. Josh is passionate about education, theater, and convincing others that Philadelphia is the greatest city on earth.