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Egyptian Theatre lowers ticket prices

When "Cabaret" opened at the Egyptian Theatre in February, artistic director Terence Goodman thought he had a smash hit on his hands.

The show had a strong cast, garnered good reviews and won the Critic’s Pick from The Salt Lake Tribune, the first time the Park City nonprofit had received the honor.

Then the twist: empty seats.

Cabaret cost $135,000 to stage and lost $25,000 during its two-month run.

"We were surprised we were only filling 60 or 70 percent of the house," Goodman said. "We started asking ourselves, ‘What’s going on out there?’"

What Goodman and the cast and crew saw were the ill effects of an approaching recession.

"I’ve been in touch with artistic directors across the country and everyone is being hurt," he said.

Goodman decided to slash ticket prices, restructure the theatre’s season and offer local discounts. The historic Main Street venue now offers different prices for the front and back halves of the Theatre and tables near the stage.

"We’ve looked at the economy and what’s going on in the country," Goodman said, "and this phantom recession we’re supposedly not in is going to get worse before it gets better. . . . We are trying to stay ahead of the curve."

Goodman said reducing ticket prices is a way for the theatre to draw more people and reward patrons in Park City and Salt Lake City. ""Historically, people really need theater just to relieve stress and forget about bills and forget about the recession," he said. "Our main concern was to make sure people were still coming. We want to stay ahead of the curve."

The price reductions are considerable, Goodman said. An adult ticket to Cabaret cost $38. But a ticket to Altar Boyz, opening June 27, costs as little as $26, not including a 10 percent discount to people who live in Summit County.

"The idea of driving up the hill [from Salt Lake] and spending $40 on a ticket, that’s a lot to spend," Goodman said. "We wanted to make it accessible to people."

The economic squeeze has force the Egyptian to consider smaller, less expensive musicals. Altar Boyz, a musical farce about a Christian rock band, came with an $80,000 price tag and has just one set.

In addition to lowering prices, Goodman reconfigured the theatre’s season. The Egyptian’s annual gala celebrating the start of the new season will be held June 14 and provide patrons a chance to show their support for the nonprofit.

"No theater makes it from the box office alone," he said. "We need sponsors and support. All we’re looking to do is break even."

Prices

Back of House: Wed./Thurs.: $23, Fri./Sat.: $26

Front of House: Wed./Thurs.: $27, Fri./Sat.: $30

Cabaret tables: Wed./Thurs.: $31, Fri./Sat.: $34

Cost of putting on shows

$50 three hours of electricity

$75 rehearsal space rental for one day

$200 – $400 one costume

$550 Batteries for body microphones for one show

$600 one wireless body microphones

$800 to replace one lighting instrument

$1,000 rental space for building sets

$1,400 orchestra rentals

$15,000 royalties to produce one show

$24,000 set construction and installation

2008-09 season

"Altar Boyz" June 27 to Aug. 2

"Pageant" Sept. 12 to Oct. 18

"The Music Man" Nov. 21 to Jan. 3

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" Feb. 13 to March 21.


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