I accompanied our own Nancy V. to a preview performance of Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter this afternoon. Now, it’s impolite to say bad things about a play before it opens, but I will say this: don’t waste your money.
That’s not a play critique; I am strictly talking dollars and cents. Nancy graciously provided complimentary tickets; otherwise the cost of each ticket would be $65. That’s high, but it’s not an unusual off-Broadway price.
But there’s a history here. Red Light Winter is a transfer from Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. There are no cast or designer changes. The one change? Tickets in Chicago were a mere $15 each.
Over four times the price for the exact same thing! I’m sure the numbers work out. An open-ended New York run has a vastly different budget than a limited-run regional theatre production.
Still, a $65 ticket feels like an investment. I spend $15 regularly without thinking about it. For example, The Bent Spoon starts selling their hot chocolate mix for $15 and the next moment I’m broke and eating the powder straight from the tin.
Meanwhile the lovely Curt and Mel have moved to Chicago and are paying a reasonable rent for a reasonable apartment. They see shows, and often pay for their tickets! I don’t think I’ve ever paid for a show in New York—except for ones by Mac Rogers.
In the second act of Red Light Winter, the set becomes the decrepit, one-room apartment a character rents in the East Village for $285 a month. A few years ago I was paying $150 more than that each month to live under the same conditions in Princeton; I can’t imagine New York being a better deal.
So before Red Light Winter opens, they’d better jack up their fictional prices to go along with their real ones.