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Great Deals on Good Seats: Theater Bargains in Washington

Though going to the theater or a concert isn’t cheap, there are deals that can make it almost as affordable as going to the movies—even free.

The first preview night of each performance is a “pay what you can” show at MetroStage. Photograph by Colin Hovde

Free Seats

Free Night of Theater: Theaters including Arena, Shakespeare, and Round House are taking part in a Free Night of Theater on October 16, when a limited number of tickets will be available for each. There will be additional shows with free seats at participating theaters October 9 through November 23. Tickets are available at the League of Washington Theatres Web site,, beginning October 1 at noon.

Monday Night at the National: All Monday-evening performances in the Helen Hayes Gallery of the National Theatre are free. Tickets are available half an hour before showtime. Free tickets are also available for the Saturday Morning at the National Theatre series for children. 1321 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-783-3372;

Kennedy Center Millennium Stage: Free concerts every evening at 6. No tickets required;

Student, Senior, and Military Discounts

Almost all theaters offer these types of discounts. Especially good ones are at the National Theatre, Kennedy Center, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Open Circle Theatre, and Zemfira Stage. Check with individual theaters for details.

Last-Minute Deals

Signature Theatre: Rush tickets are available for $30 one hour before all performances. 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-820-9771;

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: Ten “stampede seats,” located on the side balcony, are sold for most performances (excluding VIP and opening-night shows). Tickets are $15 and go on sale two hours before every show. 641 D St., NW; 202-393-3939;

Kennedy Center: Standing-room-only tickets are available for sold-out shows at the Opera House, Eisenhower Theater, and Terrace Theater. Costs vary by performance; tickets are sold at the Kennedy Center box office. 800-444-1324;

Shakespeare Theatre Company: Standing-room tickets are available for sold-out shows at the Lansburgh Theatre. Tickets go on sale an hour before showtime for $10 (cash only). 450 Seventh St., NW; 877-487-8849;

Olney Theatre Center: A limited number of tickets to all performances are available to students for $10 on the day of performance. 2001 Olney–Sandy Spring Rd., Olney; 301-924-3400; Half-price tickets are sold the day of the performance for some theaters. Online sales are Tuesday through Friday midnight to 4 pm. There’s also a ticket booth—open Tuesday through Friday 11 am to 6 pm and Saturday 10 to 5—that sells day-of-performance and advance half-price tickets. 407 Seventh St., NW.

Music Center at Strathmore: Last-call tickets for some performances are available if you show up in person on the day of the show. 5301 Tuckerman La., North Bethesda; 301-581-5100;

Gen-X and Younger

Arena Stage: On Mondays, and until the tickets run out, theatergoers 30 and younger can buy $10 tickets for that week’s performances. Arena’s temporary locations are 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington, and the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St., NW; 202-488-3300;

Shakespeare Theatre Company: Some $10 tickets are sold at the Harman and Lansburgh box offices starting Tuesdays at 10 am to patrons 35 and younger for each production in that week. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St., NW; Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW; 877-487-8849;

Round House Theatre: Anyone 25 or younger can purchase $25 tickets to any production. 4545 East-West Hwy., Bethesda; 8641 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring; 240-644-1100;

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: Those 25 and younger can purchase $15 tickets to any production. 641 D St., NW; 202-393-3939;

Kennedy Center: The Attend program offers discount tickets, some as low as $10, to patrons ages 17 to 25. Register at

Music Center at Strathmore: Kids 7 to 17 get in free at National Philharmonic concerts; not available online. 5301 Tuckerman La.; North Bethesda. 301-581-5100;

Pay What You Can

American Century Theater: Preview nights and Wednesdays (not including opening night) are pay what you can (PWYC). Gunston Arts Center, Theater II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington; 703-998-4555;

MetroStage: The first preview performance of every show is PWYC. 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria; 703-548-9044;

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: The first two performances of each production are PWYC. Tickets go on sale 90 minutes before curtain time. 641 D St., NW; 202-393-3939;

Round House Theatre: Two PWYC performances are offered for every production at the Bethesda location, and tickets go on sale (cash only) at the box office an hour before showtime. 4545 East-West Hwy., Bethesda; 240-644-1100;

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