Beginning this weekend—with the world premiere of award-winning local playwright John Crutchfield’s Malverse, “an urban myth in two acts,” about a white couple buying and renovating an old house in a traditionally black neighborhood, in a town suspiciously like Asheville—The Magnetic Theatre announces an experiment with dramatically lower prices. From now through November, tickets to most Magnetic shows will be $12 for previews and $16 for regular performances, tax and fees included. $10 student rush tickets, as available, can be purchased at the door 15 minutes before each performance, with valid I.D. This represents a discount of as much as a third off recent prices.
“We’re taking a chance, because we want audiences to take a chance,” says Magnetic Theatre Artistic Director Steven Samuels. “Since we specialize in ‘new plays, locally grown,’ and we produce an astonishing variety of plays—comedy, drama, musicals, experimental theatre, verse drama, historical plays, sketch comedy, etc.—we know that not everything we do will be to everyone’s taste. Most of the works are world premieres, so our audiences really don’t know what they’re in for. We’re hoping these new lower prices will make it easier for more people to give us a shot more frequently. And remember: if you don’t much care for the show you just saw, there’s another very different one coming right up!”
“We think of this as ‘popular prices,’” Samuels continues. “Since we’re covering tax and fees, seeing a live Magnetic performance is comparable in cost to going to most movies. In fact, we’re cheaper than the typical 3D movie, and theatre is the original 3D! Plus, you don’t have to wear those headache-inducing glasses!” He also points out that concessions at the company’s venue, Magnetic 375 (375 Depot Street in the River Arts District), which include beer and wine, are cheaper than what you’ll find at most movie theatres.
Why make it an experiment? “Because we’re taking a big risk,” Samuels says. “We’re betting on generating enough additional business to make up for what we lose on each ticket sale. If the public doesn’t take us up on this, we’ll have to reevaluate going forward.”
Not all shows are part of the experiment. For example, this weekend’s late-night offering, Boo Velvet’s The Great American Strip-Off! (which sold out a three-weekend run in January) and the perennially popular Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular, will continue to cost more.
But some shows cost even less. The new late-night lineup of The SuperHappy Radio Hour (the first Friday of each month) and Jeff Messer’s Maintaining an Election (the first Saturday of each month) cost only $8 each, only at the door. The quarterly, open-mic-style Magnetic Midnight (next up Friday, May 19, 9:30 to participate, 10:30 just to watch) remains $5. And the third weekend of June brings the debut of a new, exciting, late-night reading series, The Off-Off Broadway Project. Admission to these rehearsed readings of amazing plays from the sixties and seventies, with many of Asheville’s favorite actors, will be free.
For information and tickets: www.themagnetictheatre.org. For information only: 828.239.9250.