Theater Packages: Cheaper by the Dozen

Subscription packages to local theaters and music venues are a great deal

The best gifts are the ones that keep on giving.

For Evanston residents and newlyweds Marc and Emily Zarefsky, it was season tickets to the Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire. Gifted to the couple by Marc’s parents, who themselves have been season ticket holders for 20 years, it not only guaranteed time with the kids, but also a fun cultural diversion.

“It was something we definitely would not have done for ourselves, and a break from the nightly sit-on- the-couch-and-watch-TV routine,” said Marc. “We had so much fun, we suggested my parents continue the tradition and we are doing it again this season.”

In addition to the bonding factor, there are financial benefits to purchasing season tickets. Multi-show subscribers on average can save as much as 25 percent compared with individual ticket purchases. Even better, cultural organizations have become more flexible with their subscription offers, with myriad options for varying levels of interest.

For example, the Goodman Theatre, located in the heart of the Loop’s revitalized theater district, offers numerous packages for subscribers, ranging from the “Ultimate Cultural Adventure,” which is a five-play subscription for $98, to a three-play subscription for $60, to the “Intimate Stage” package starting at just $38.

At the Northlight Theatre in Skokie, subscribers can shave anywhere from 15 to 25 percent off individual ticket prices and, as an added benefit, they can pick their seats before the tickets go on sale and keep those same seats throughout the season. Northlight subscribers can buy a four-play subscription or a weeknight Flex Pass, which allows you to choose three shows. Other benefits include discounts at nearby restaurants, free date exchanges and free replacement of lost or stolen tickets.

Music and dance venues also offer discounts when you buy in bulk. At the Joffrey Ballet, which performs at the Auditorium Theater on Congress Parkway in Chicago, subscribers save up to 10 percent by purchasing two-or-three-show packs, which also include parking and dining discounts. Lyric Opera has subscriptions for four, five, six or eight operas with significant discounts for patrons who choose weeknight or matinee performances. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra offers discounts of 30 percent or more when you to create your own performance package with additional discounts on merchandise and parking, plus priority seating and free lost ticket replacement.

Lastly, while Ravinia Festival doesn’t offer multi-performance packages, lawn seats are available at a 20 percent discount by purchasing a 10-Punch Lawn Pass. At Ravinia, a contribution at the “Friend” level ($250+), includes advanced ticket sales, 20 percent off pavilion tickets (which could pay for the contribution if you go frequently), two single-use lawn passes, early parking, early dining reservations and a 10 percent discount at the gift shop.