A (very) quick and dirty guide to the basics of discounted preview theatre tickets.
If you're a frugal theatregoer, you've no doubt noticed that the first couple of nights of a show's run, the tickets will often be less expensive than any other night of the run—sometimes significantly so. These shows are usually on a Wednesday or Thursday and are labeled "preview" when you go to buy the tickets. It sounds enough like a movie preview that it would be fair to wonder if you were buying tickets to a highlights reel, but nope! A preview is technically a final dress rehearsal of the entire show in front of a live audience, so that the director and cast can make sure that everything works before critics are invited to review the work. Anecdotally, there are of course stories of shows being hastily and dramatically reworked when a preview failed to land with audiences, but that's pretty rare. A preview show is fully costumed, fully off book, and usually set to formally open the next night.
We use preview nights on the calendar as a way to see great shows that might usually come in over our $25 budget, plus, you're guaranteed to see the director there—they'll be the one peeping reactions and taking notes. And the best part? Seeing the show before it opens means you have the entire run to recommend it or take a different friend and see it again!