Keeper of the Plans

Music Theatre Wichita does what few dare in 2019: Drop ticket prices

Behind the scenes at Music Theatre Wichita

From first rehearsals to final build and opening night, MTWichita employs 300 seasonal employees to make Broadway-scale musical entertainment possible right in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Courtesy of Music Theatre Wichita / Steven C. Smith / D
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From first rehearsals to final build and opening night, MTWichita employs 300 seasonal employees to make Broadway-scale musical entertainment possible right in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Courtesy of Music Theatre Wichita / Steven C. Smith / D

In this age of ever-escalating ticket prices, it’s pretty rare to actually slash admission.

Especially when it’s to one of Wichita’s most popular summer events.

Yet that’s what Music Theatre Wichita has done for 2019.

The theater company, which annually produces a five-show summer series of musicals featuring guest actors from Broadway and talented collegiate actors from around the country, now offers tickets for its shows starting at $25.

Last year tickets started at $32 for matinees and $34 for evening shows.

Ticket prices are the same for all performances this year.

Angela Cassette, development director for Music Theatre Wichita, said the company reworked its pricing structure for this summer “to make tickets accessible to as many people as possible.”

“We’ve been working on kind of an outdated model where we had price distinctions based on arbitrary rows, rather than where people really want to sit,” Cassette said. “Some of those seats in the first few rows on the sides aren’t people’s favorite seats, yet they were as expensive as seats in the center, the ones that tend to fill up first.”

There will be about 100 $25 tickets available for each performance — and they’re the five or six seats closest to the aisles on both sides of the theater, on both the orchestra and balcony levels.

“It used to be that if you wanted one of the less expensive tickets you had to sit in the balcony,” Cassette said. “Now there are several places in the house that you can sit on the main floor with the lower price points.”

In Century II’s Concert Hall there are no partial views of the stage. All of the seats have an unobstructed view of the stage, yet seats in the center are inevitably more popular — just as they are in a movie theater.

“We try to take care as much as possible to make sure that no matter where you’re sitting that you can see,” Cassette said. “Even in the planning of how the sets are built and how the show is directed, there’s consideration for that.”

The theater company hopes the lower prices will encourage people to buy tickets earlier, Cassette said.

“This is a last-minute town,” she said. “We’re really trying to flip that narrative a bit, trying to encourage people that when they buy tickets early they will get the best price instead of waiting for last-minute discounting, where the people who bought early feel like there’s been some sort of bait-and-switch.”

Here’s how many tickets there are at each of MTW’s ticket price points:

  • Level 5 ($25): 100 seats per performance
  • Level 4 ($34): 120 seats per performance
  • Level 3 ($44): 285 tickets per performance
  • Level 2 ($60): 675 tickets per performance
  • Level 1 ($70): 965 tickets per performance

Despite it seeming like the vast majority of tickets are sold at the $70 price point, Cassette said many of those are season-ticket holders, who get “a pretty substantial discount with their subscription.”

Music Theatre Wichita’s 2019 season will feature “The Sound of Music,” “An American In Paris,” “A Chorus Line,” “Chicago,” and “In the Heights.”

“The Sound of Music” opens Wednesday and runs for seven performances through Sunday.

For more information, visit www.mtwichita.org or call 316-265-3107.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.

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