Monday, March 9, 2009

Free culture! Theater for nuttin'.

What's white on top, black on bottom, and watching a hit theater performance for absolutely free? A volunteer usher! Just because financial times are tough doesn't mean you have to miss out on one of the biggest advantages to living in NYC. Volunteering to usher an off-broadway show usually requires that you show up an hour before the performance, pass out programs, and sometimes help ticketholders to their seats. When the performance starts, you get the pick of empty seats (recession girl has only had to stand once, and for only half a performance), and sometimes even free drink tickets! Seriously, what's better than free drinks? Our favorite places to usher are listed below, but many more off-broadway theaters give you a free performance in exchange for your ability to tear tickets. It's a recession no-brainer.
(Please feel free to comment and tip us off to other great usher spots).

New World Stages, 343 W 49th St.
One of Recession Girl's favorite places to usher, and not just because of the free drink tickets. Minimal effort, major performance gratification, and frequent celeb sightings. Long-running critical hits as well as provacative new works.
Usher instructions:

Lucille Lortel Theater, 322 Eighth Ave, 21st Floor
This 50-year old famous theater has a full schedule of performances.
Call 212-924-2817 ex. 207 or email and leave the name of the show you would like to usher, two possible dates, and names and numbers of ushers.
Now playing: THE ILIAD, March 27-April 25 2009
CORALINE, May 6-June 20, 2009
Check theater website for upcoming performances.

New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW), 79 E 4th St.
Notable for its innovative productions, NYTW was the original producer of the Broadway smash hit Rent.
Email Bobby Wolf at
Now Playing: THINGS OF DRY HOURS, Begins May 2009
Recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and an OBIE Award, among many other awards, playwright and poet Naomi Wallace (The Fever Chart, One Flea Spare) follows up the NYTW production of Trestle at Pope Lick Creek with this powerful and poetic examination of the unintended conflict between race and ideology. In Depression-era Alabama, black Sunday school teacher and Communist Party member Tice Hogan lives on the edge of trouble. When a white factory worker on the run demands sanctuary, Tice and his daughter Cali may be pushed over that edge. Ruben Santiago-Hudson, award-winning actor/writer/producer (Lackawanna Blues, and Tony Award-winner for Seven Guitars) directs.

Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St
Email: now with interest to get an email when the usher spots open up for each new performance. Or, call the usher line at 2125641235 x3100 well in advance of the performance you wish to see. This is a very popular spot to usher, so think ahead.
Now Playing: INKED BABY, (showing now so call for possible usher cancellations)
The World Premiere of a new play by Christina Anderson. Featuring Tony Award winner LaChanze, Angela Lewis, Nana Mensah, and Obie Award winner Nikkole Salter. Directed by Kate Whoriskey. Stuck for money and unable to conceive, Gloria enlists the aid of her sister to make the child that she and her husband can't. As they uneasily await the baby's arrival, a mysterious contamination spreads outside. But consumed by their own struggles, is anyone paying attention? In this imaginative, other-worldly new drama, one family fights to find its place in a neglected neighborhood.
Coming Up: OUR HOUSE, May-June 2009
The New York Premiere of a new play by Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck. Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer. What happens when news and entertainment are interchangeable? In a cautionary tale ripped from today’s headlines, a power-hungry TV mogul faced with dwindling ratings installs America’s favorite news anchor as host of a popular reality show. Meanwhile in Middle America, a houseful of roommates bicker over high-stakes real-world conflicts: Merv doesn’t clean the bathroom, someone ate Alice’s yogurt, and the rent is long past due. When reality suddenly collides with reality TV, we find ourselves front and center in a thorny hostage drama that holds the nation riveted. Our House is a deliciously scathing new comedy that takes on a media-obsessed culture intent on turning even the most sobering crisis into sexy entertainment.

Second Stage Theatre, 307 W. 43rd St.
Email the house manager at JSchleifer@SecondStage or call the usher hotline with names, phone numbers, as well as name and dates of performances you wish to see, at 212-787-8302, ext. 216. Playing Soon: EVERYDAY RAPTURE, April 7– May 17, 2009
EVERYDAY RAPTURE is the story of a young woman’s psycho-sexual-spiritual journey on the rocky path that separates her mostly Mennonite past from her mostly Manhattan future. Her life takes her from the cornfields of Kansas to the clover fields of New York (with a disturbing detour through YouTube). With a cast of five led by Sherie Rene Scott, EVERYDAY RAPTURE also features songs made famous by David Byrne, George Harrison, U2, The Dap Kings and Judy Garland.
Coming Soon: MR. AND MRS. FITCH, Spring 2009
Meet gossip columnists Mr. and Mrs. Fitch. When the social circuit no longer provides juicy morsels, they find that great celebrity can appear out of thin air. Tony Award nominee Douglas Carter Beane’s (The Little Dog Laughed, Xanadu) wicked new comedy is a scathing look at who is in, who is out and who may not even exist at all.

The Signature Theatre Company, 555 W 42nd St.
Each season, the signature theatre company explores the works of a single living playwright. This season highlights the Negro Ensemble Company. Email asap for usher spots for Zooman and the Sign, its current show. Also, if you are not interested in ushering, there is a special performance April 26 with all tickets only $20.
Now Playing: ZOOMAN AND THE SIGN, March 3-April 19, 2009
By Charles Fuller , Directed by Stephen McKinley HendersonA random act of violence leaves Reuben Tate and his family questioning their friends and neighbors, but their once caring community has been scared into helpless silence. As young Zooman terrorizes the neighborhood from the shadows, Reuben makes a dangerous appeal which may tear their world apart. This powerful drama by Charles Fuller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Soldier's Play depicts the devastating aftermath of violence on a family and an entire community.

The Joyce Theater, 175 EIGHTH AVE
World famous dance companies and troupes from around the world vosit the Joyce 9and a Recession Girl favorite, as she once ushered Paul Newman to his seat here!) Call and leave a message with the usher hotline two weeks before the performance (or later), with preferred dates, 646-792-8355. See full schedule:
Now Showing: SAVION GLOVER, March 3-22
In Savion Glover's Solo In Time, the renowned tap master invites audiences to appreciate his "Hooferz style" approach to tap dance as he merges acoustically melodic tap sounds with the energy of live Flamenco music. Celebrating tap dance as a form of music, Glover highlights his style of hoofing as the leading instrument in the production. Savion Glover's Solo in Time displays the infinite versatility and virtuosity of Glover's genius as not only tap master, but tap dance choreographer as well.

The Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce St.
This theatre is home to workshops, readings, and is a mix of Off-Broadway classics and provocative works. Call the usher line and leave a message with usher names and dates available.
Now Playing: JAIL BAIT, March 19-April 25
Two fifteen year old girls spend a night at a Boston club posing as college students. When the girls cross paths with two thirty-something men they must decide how far they are willing to go while playing at adulthood.

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