December 18, 2008

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Big things that come in envelopes
Gifts that keep on giving for the theater lover

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Short on time? Need an impressive gift? Try picking up some tickets for a touring Broadway performance in 2009.

National touring shows come to a few presenting houses in New Hampshire, including the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, where Footloose visits Friday, Jan. 9, Sweeney Todd is on stage Thursday, Feb. 19, Hairspray is Thursday, March 26, and Annie is presented Monday, May 18 (www.ccanh.com, 225-1111). 

Sales are final for tickets, unless the original purchaser is a Capitol Center member, said Angela King, marketing manager.

The Capitol Center has an interesting deal going on now. If you buy a gift certificate of $25, you can — and this purchase is separate — get a second ticket free when you buy one. You can’t use the gift certificate toward that ticket purchase. If you are buying tickets for family members whose schedules you know, and a gift certificate for a friend, it might work out.

To the south at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, the season includes Hairspray Jan. 21, Oliver Feb. 15, The Wizard of Oz Feb. 26, The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee March 29, and Movin’ Out May 7 (www.lowellauditorium.com, 978-454-2299).

Hairspray also visits the Colonial Theatre in Keene on Tuesday, Jan. 20, and Footloose arrives there Saturday, March 14 (www.thecolonial.org, 352-2033).

The Music Hall in Portsmouth is hosting Sweeney Todd Sunday, March 1 (436-2400). You can get credit for tickets for events presented by the Music Hall by exchanging them up to two days before the show. Sales are final if the show is presented by outside promoters, according to box office manager Chris Greiner. They sell gift certificates that can be used for any Music Hall-presented event. “Budget Buys” for less than $29 are listed at www.themusichall.org.

Presenting houses offer other touring entertainment.

For comedy improvisation fans, Chicago’s Second City sends troupe members (Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and John Belushi are alumni) to the Colonial on Saturday, April 19. The Capitol Steps bring their musical satires about politics to the Capitol Center on Saturday, Jan. 10, to benefit CATCH Neighborhood Housing. They’ll be at The Music Hall Saturday, Jan. 31, to benefit the Housing Partnership. Defending the Caveman comes to the Capitol Center Saturday, May 9.

A New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players production of The Mikado is Saturday, March 21, at The Music Hall.

For dance lovers, consider tickets to see Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago at the Capitol Center on Sunday, April 5. The Russian National Ballet brings Cinderella to the Colonial April 25 and presents Don Quioxte Friday, April 24, at the Music Hall. Trinity Irish Dance is at the Colonial Saturday, March 28, and at the Music Hall March 26.

For the opera fans, Opera New Hampshire brings Verdi’s Aida to the Palace Theatre on Sunday, Jan. 11, at 2 p.m. (www.operanh.org). Granite State Opera presents Verdi’s Macbeth at the Music Hall Friday, May 15, and the Capitol Center, Sunday, May 17. 

For marching band geeks, Drumline LIVE is Wednesday, March 4, at the Capitol Center.

Stories from Americans serving in the military, Letters Home, runs Thursday, May 21, at the Capitol Center.

National shows often have only one performance per venue, but there are professionally produced regional shows with longer runs. 

A top choice for those into serious theater is Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, which has a really good holiday deal going on. The Holiday Flex Pass of four tickets costs $100, and a six-ticket pass costs $150. The recipient can go alone to four different titles, bring a bunch of friends to one, or come up with another variation (www.merrimackrep.org, 978-654-7550). Seats normally run from $26 to $56 ($15 for students). This is practically a two-for-one deal, said Dan Berube of MRT.

The Holiday Flex Pass is considered a subscription, and subscribers can switch ticket dates. If you buy single tickets, they can’t be exchanged.

MRT is in its 30th season and recently sold its one millionth ticket. The four shows left this year are A View from the Harbor, by Richard Dresser (Jan. 1 through Feb. 2); Tranced, by Bob Clyman (Feb. 12 through March 8); Bad Dates, by Theresa Rebeck (March 19 through April 12); and A Moon for the Misbegotten, by Eugene O’Neill (April 18 through May 17).  

The Palace Theatre in Manchester runs a series of professional musicals featuring New York and local actors in its Citizens Bank Performing Arts Series. A Christmas Carol continues through Dec. 28. There’s a special holiday deal for which you can use their family four pack (two adult and two child tickets for $100) at any show, rather than just matinées. Normally tickets cost between $25 and $40. Little Shop of Horrors is next (Feb. 20 through March 7), followed by The Producers (March 27 through April 11) and Sweet Charity (May 8 through May 23).

All ticket sales are final, but they do offer gift cards, said marketing director MarcyKate Connelly. You can also buy Flex Tickets, passes to six Performing Arts Series shows that can be used in any combination. They are offering gift drama camp registration (www.palacetheatre.org, 668-5588).


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