It's very cold outside (brrr!), and you want to do something indoors, but bowling feels like too much work. You could head to the multiplex for the latest sci-fi superhero blockbuster, but why not head to the theater instead? Too expensive? Nope. Not if you're willing to forego Friday and Saturday evenings. Here are a dozen ways to catch a play for next to nothing in Buffalo.

Let’s start with the Kavinoky Theatre, which opens Mama Mia!, the hit ABBA musical this Friday, January 5th. They offer pay what you can (PWYC) preview performances on Wednesday and Thursday before opening. If you missed them this time, you can see the historical comedy-drama Ben Butler before it opens on March 2nd. They are also offering 3 shows for $99 for a limited time.

The Subversive Theater Collective features PWYC every Thursday night. How I Learned to Drive, the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning drama about “sexual abuse hiding in plain sight” by Paula Vogel, could not be more timely. It opens January 18th. Enjoy it for whatever you can afford in the intimate Manny Fried Playhouse in the Pierce Arrow Building on Opening Night and every Thursday during the run. Sharing this space is Raices Theatre Company, which also offers PWYC every Thursday. Check their website for upcoming productions.

Also featuring PWYC every Thursday evening is the New Phoenix Theatre. Way Back When: An Evening of One Acts opens February 2nd in this intimate space on Johnson Park.

The Irish Classical Theatre opens The Constant Wife, a comedy of manners by W. Somerset Maugham on January 19th. You can see a dress rehearsal for free the Wednesday before it opens, or take in the first Saturday matinee for PWYC.

The Jewish Repertory Theater offers a free preview the night before each show opens. Opening night is February 1st for Rose, a vivid portrait of a feisty Jewish woman, and a reminder of events that shaped the 20th century, directed by Saul Elkin. If you are a student tickets are always just $10, and if you're in the biz, take a seat for $18.

Musicalfare offers up Smokey Joe’s Café opening February 7th. Tickets are half-price for the preview show the night before.

PWYC night at the Alleyway Theatre is on the second Thursday of the run. The world premiere of Beginning Again, by David Allen Brown opens February 15th, which means that PWYC night is the 22nd.  They also have discounted student/industry tickets.

Shea's offers half-price "rush" tickets two hours before some performances. Whether these will be available is not known until the week before or even the week of a production, and the only way to find out is to check in at the box office.  Waitress plays February 6-11. If you don't mind sitting next to folks you don't know, and don't much care where your seat is, rush can be a great way to afford to see twice as many Broadway plays this year.

Many theaters, like ART of WNY, which opens Jesus Christ Superstar in March, have student/veteran/discounts. Check websites for these prices. And then there are the ubiquitous senior discounts. There are so many ways to save!

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

However, if in addition to figuring out how to pay less for performances, you also want to support Buffalo's remarkable theatre scene by attending fundraisers for local theater, consider attending The Wake, the Irish Classical Theatre's annual fundraiser on Friday, February 23rd at The Atrium @ Rich’s. It's a party to die for. The always free Shakespeare in Delaware Park holds their annual Fabulous Feast on Saturday April 14th. Check website for details.

We are blessed with 21 professional theatre companies, almost unheard of in a community of our size. Take advantage of this abundance. You’ll be glad you did.

Mama Mia!

Weekly: Sun, Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Jan 28th)
The Kavinoky Theatre
320 Porter Avenue Buffalo, NY 14201

Ben Butler

Weekly: Sun, Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Mar 25th)
The Kavinoky Theatre
320 Porter Avenue Buffalo, NY 14201

How I Learned to Drive

Weekly: Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Feb 10th)
The Manny Fried Playhouse
255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor Buffalo, NY 14207

The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham

Fri Jan 19th - Sun Feb 11th
Irish Classical Theatre Company
625 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203

Rose presented by the Jewish Repertory Theatre

Weekly: Sun, Thu, Sat
(ends Feb 25th)
Jewish Repertory Theatre
2640 North Forest Rd Amherst, NY 14068

Smokey Joe's Cafe

Weekly: Sun, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Mar 11th)
MusicalFare Theatre
4380 Main Street Amherst, NY 14226

Beginning Again

Weekly: Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Mar 10th)
Alleyway Theater
1 Curtain Up Alley Buffalo, NY 14202

Waitress

Weekly: Sun, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Feb 11th)
Shea's Performing Arts Center
646 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14202

Jesus Christ Superstar

Weekly: Thu, Fri, Sat
(ends Mar 31st)
American Repertory Theater of WNY
330 Amherst Street Buffalo, NY 14207

The Wake 2018

Fri Feb 23rd
The Atrium @ Rich's
1 Robert Rich Way Buffalo, NY 14213

Fabulous Feast

Sat Apr 14th
Atrium at Rich Products
One Robert Rich Way Buffalo, NY 14213