Thursday, August 17, 2006

See Plays and Concerts for Free-- Be an Usher!

A friend was telling me recently about some great plays and performances she's been seeing.  When I chimed in with my typical, "Yeah, I'd like to see more shows, but they're so expensive!" (well, some are not that expensive, really, but we've established I'm cheap).  "Oh," she said, "I'm not paying to see the shows.  I volunteer as an usher and then I can watch them for free."

"Really??!?!"  My eyes opened wide and I promptly grilled her for everything she knew.

It's actually one of the things I've been regretting lately: being in the heart of Chicago, with easy access to so much great theater, music, etc, and rarely taking advantage of it.  But since it's not really a high priority per se, just something that'd be nice to do more, I a) procrastinate and b) go into sticker shock, leading to more a).  Well, this won't cure the procrastination, but it sounds fantastic!  My friend says you  just get there a little early and stay a little late, but in between you can watch the show no problem.  And naturally I'm more willing to spend a little extra time rather than a little extra money!

My understanding is that at some of the more desirable theaters, the slots fill up very quickly.  My friend is actually a member of a group called the Saints, which has $55/year dues, informs members about dozens of ushering opportunities at once, and gets them preferential sign-ups.  But most of the theaters also take people who sign up with them directly for free; you just have to be more on top of things.  I think I'm going to pick a theater or three to start with and contact directly.  I'll update you on how it goes, but this was just too good an opportunity to keep quiet before testing it.   And I'd like to hear if anyone else has tried it!

From what I can tell, there are lots of these sorts of opportunities all over, from big cities to small cities to smaller towns.  Check out the website of your favorite theaters, or just Google volunteer usher free <your city/town> and things'll start popping up.  I stumbled across a couple links with lists to start you off:

New York:

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