It's cold, wet and grey outside. You could catch a movie, but why not head to the theater instead? Too expensive? Nope. Not if you're willing to forego Friday and Saturday evenings. Here are seven ways to catch a play for next to nothing in Buffalo.

Let's start with the Irish Classical Theatre. Enjoy a dress rehearsal for free on the Wednesday before each Opening, or take in the first Saturday matinee after Opening Night and pay what you can. Fully Committed by Becky Mode opens on March 11. That means you can waltz in for free on March 9 or pay whatever you can afford for the matinee on March 12.

Pay what you can night at the Alleyway Theatre is on the second Thursday of the month. Buffalo Quickies, the 25th annual evening of one-act plays at Alleyway, features world premieres of recent finalists and one-act winners of the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition. This smorgasbord of tasty theatrical tidbits opens on March 24. That makes April 14 PWYC night. Mark your calendar now.

Every Thursday evening is pay what you can night at the New Phoenix Theatre. Your last chance to catch Love's Passonate Fire - Shakespeare's Sonnets for whatever you can afford is Thursday, February 25; the play closes on Saturday. John Steinbeck's classic Of Mice and Men opens on March 25. Pay what you can on March 31, April 7 and 14.

The Subversive Theater Collective also features pay what you can every Thursday night. The Mark of Cain, written and directed by Buffalo's own Gary Earl Ross, opens on March 31. This fictionalized dramatization of Clarence Darrow's defense of a prestigious Black doctor arrested in Detroit in 1925 for shooting at the lynch mob that attacked his house is the sixth installment of Subversive's annual "Black Power Play Series." Enjoy it for whatever you can afford in the intimate Manny Fried Playhouse in the Pierce Arrow Building on Opening Night and every Thursday in April.

Sharing this space is Raices, which is performing The Happiest Song Plays Last by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Director Victoria Perez says that pay what you can night is Opening Night, Thursday, March 4. The production only runs through March 13.

The Jewish Repertory Theater offers a free preview on the night before each performance opens. That's March 30 for Compulsion or The House Behind
 directed by Saul Elkin. If you are a student or in the biz, tickets are always just $10, One way or the other, try to see Bad Jews this weekend, before it closes on February 28.

Shea's offers half-price "rush" tickets two hours before some performances. Whether these will be available or not is not known until the week before or even the week of a production, and the only way to find out is to call the Box Office (716-847-0850). So check on Beautiful: the Carole King Musical the week March 15, and on The Wizard of Oz the week of April 5. If you don't mind sitting next to folks you don't know, and don't much care where your seat is (although I once saw Rent from 4th row center), rush can be a great way to afford to see twice as many Broadway plays this year.  

Another way to catch a lot of drama for next to nothing is to volunteer. Nearly every theater, including Shea's, uses volunteer ushers. Take your pay in plays!  

However, if instead of figuring out how not to pay you prefer to support Buffalo's remarkable theatre scene - 21 professional theatre companies in a community of our size is unheard of and no small feat to maintain - consider attending The Wake, the Irish Classical Theatre's annual fundraiser on Friday, March 4 at D'Arcy McGee's. It's a party to die for!

And mark your calendar now for Curtain Up! 2016 on Friday, September 16. It's a chance to be on stage at Shea's (for dinner), and attend the finest block party of the year on one of Buffalo's finest blocks.