Here at Montreal Theatre Hub we’re all about getting people to go out into our wonderful city and see more live shows! We get it, however: tickets can be crazy expensive. (It’s not that we don’t want to support our local arts community and companies, it’s just that the starving artists’ and students’ struggle is oh-so-real…)
However, the notion that theatre is a luxury is a misconception; there are many ways of getting your theatre fix and seeing Broadway quality performances right here in Montreal for less. Financially challenged and frugal friends, we’re here to help! Check out the master list we’ve compiled on tips and tricks on scoring great seats to the best shows in town without breaking the bank:
- Buy early. If you know there’s a show coming up that you’re absolutely keen on seeing, be a step ahead of the game and purchase your tickets in advance as many theatre companies offer early bird discounts. Not only that, but you’ll get your pick of the best seats in the house (if it’s not general admission seating) and save yourself the hassle of having to hunt a hot stub down later (last-minute ticket buyers looking to catch Kaleidoscope Theatre‘s Captain Aurora musicals this year at the Wildside and Fringe Festivals, for example, were left in the dust). Furthermore, popular shows can sometimes see a bump in price if demand is high.
- Attend matinees or early weekday shows. Many productions offer early afternoon presentations (usually around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m.) and more times than not the ticket prices to these show are less than those of their evening counterparts. (As a comparison example, tickets to Centaur Theatre‘s Constellations this October are regularly priced at $51, but matinees are only $39 and early weekday nights are $45.) If you want to pinch pennies, the general rule of thumb is: avoid Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
- Go to a preview. Most shows will have at least one night of preview performances before officially opening (sometimes previews will last a week or so if it’s a long run). Previews are usually discounted – and sometimes significantly so (i.e. 50% less)– as the show is still technically “working out some kinks.” Fear not, though, it can be an exciting (and less expensive) experience to see something before everyone else! Some previews are even entirely FREE (such is the case of the National Theatre School‘s performance of Much Ado on Monday, October 24th).
- Become a QDF member. If you are a theatre artist, practitioner, educator or student, you can get industry discounts (minimum 10%) to numerous theatrical productions around the province by becoming a member of the Quebec Drama Federation. By signing up and joining you also receive several other perks such as access to the QDF’s resource centre and professional development workshops. It’s super fast and easy and can be done online at quebecdrama.org.
- See a show at a training facility. Institutions such as the National Theatre School, Concordia University, John Abbott College, and Dawson College have professional theatre programs that put on high-quality productions throughout the year. McGill University also has a multitude of student-run groups such as the Savoy Society, Players’ Theatre, A.U.T.S. and Tuesday Night Café Theatre. Tickets to great shows put on by the next generation of theatre artists can be as little as $5 or are given to the public on a pay-what-you-can basis.
- Ask for rush tickets. Rush tickets are last minute discounted tickets offered based on availability, on the day of the performance (usually a couple of hours or less before curtain time), and they must be purchased in-person from the box office. Some theatres, such as the Segal Centre, will offer a limited number of rush tickets for certain shows. Before making your way to a venue, however, give them a call and ask them about their current rush policy.
- Support small, indie companies. Some of the best shows we’ve seen in Montreal were put on by the lesser-known or up-and-coming professional independent companies that offered tickets in the range of $10-20. The MainLine Theatre, FreeStanding Room, M.A.I. and La Chappelle Theatre, for example, are creative spaces that showcase many local and touring indie productions year-round and are excellent places to discover theatrical gems.
- Join mailing lists and follow theatre accounts on social media. If you get your names on the mailing lists of your favourite theatres and follow them on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc., you’re bound to receive newsletters and announcements of discounts, previews, and special performances. The Segal Centre, for example, regularly holds giveaway contests on social media for FREE tickets to their main stage productions. (Tip: your odds of winning are surprisingly good).
- Volunteer. This is perhaps our best-kept secret. The fact of the matter is, essentially ALL theatre companies are understaffed and most will be more than happy to offer discounted or complimentary tickets to their shows in exchange for your time. Reach out to them and ask how you can help.
- Take advantage of your youth. The overwhelming majority of local shows offer student discounts (simply present your I.D. to show proof of age/status at the box office and ask for the reduced rate), but some of the larger regional companies such as the Segal and the Centaur even have special programs for young theatre-goers under 30. (Learn about the Segal’s Class Act Card at the official launch event on October 1st and save up to 70% on tickets. Seventy-percent, we reiterate).
- Get a group going. Most – if not all – shows are willing to offer special rates for a large party. (Infinithéâtre, for example, is offering discounts for groups as small as six people for its upcoming production of Battered – $17 instead of $25). In all cases, your best bet is to call the production company directly to bargain; the more, the merrier.
- Become a member of ELAN. The English-Language Arts Network is a not-for-profit organization that connects, supports, and creates opportunities for Quebec’s English-speaking artists and arts communities. There are many terrific benefits to becoming a member, among them industry rates on Centaur, Segal, MAI, TOHU, MainLine Theatre shows and more.
- See community theatre. You’d be surprised at how many community theatre companies in your own backyard are putting on professional quality plays and musicals at accessible ticket prices. Some of our favourite shows EVER have been performed by theatre troupes such as the Lakeshore Players, WISTA – West Island Theatre Association, Lakeshore Light Opera, and the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society.
- Visit or sign up for ticket alerts at www.lavitrine.com. The Montreal equivalent to Broadway’s TKTS Booths, La Vitrine is a unique information centre situated in the heart of city’s Entertainment District (2 St. Catherine Street East) that functions as central box office for all shows (French and English) in the Greater Montreal area – many of which are offered at special last-minute prices.
- Check out free festivals and outdoor performances. Free does not always equate to inferior, as Repercussion Theatre‘s Shakespeare-in-the-Park summer theatre tours would uphold. Infinithéâtre’s recent The Unit Festival was also an exceptional example of how theatre can be incredibly accessible in Montreal.
- Become a subscriber. If you like what a particular theatre is doing and you plan on seeing many of their shows in their upcoming season, buy a subscription package. This supports the company year round and, in the long run, really does save you dough as you’re paying significantly less (usually 25-35%) for each individual ticket. Not only are you also guaranteed great seats, but you get perks such as free exchanges, discounts to other events, and so much more. Theatres with awesome subscription programs include Geordie Productions, Hudson Village Theatre, The Centaur, and The Segal Centre.
If you do things right, going out to the theatre can be no more expensive than going to a movie on a Saturday night (with concessions). Just wait until the movie comes out on DVD — trust us, you’ll see the same acting. Go support live theatre and your local arts community — you’ll never know what you’ll see! And, by following us on Facebook and Twitter, we’ll keep you posted on announcements regarding promotions and ticket discounts from all of the local theatre companies!
Did you know that you can search the events in our What’s On Calendar by price? Narrow your results by using the “Ticket Price” filter on the left-hand side on the screen and find shows that fit your budget!