Author Topic: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater  (Read 5233 times)

BaldingStoic

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 83
Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« on: December 11, 2014, 12:51:36 PM »
Yesterday, I took my two older kids (ages 6 and 9) to see their first professional musical - The Grinch - performed at the Old Globe in San Diego's Balboa Park.    It was a terrific performance; excellent cast, wonderful set-design, live orchestra, and good costuming.  My girls were mesmerized...enraptured...enthralled.  In short, it was a wonderful experience; But it cost a whopping $165 ($55 dollars a ticket * 3 tickets) for the cheapest available seats! 

My general spending rule, especially where the kids are involved is to spend money on experiences rather than stuff.  Spending centers on music lessons, gymnastic, camps, and on toys like Lego's, puzzles, and Snap-circuits, where we spend hours build things together.

So circling, back on point...professional theater, musicals & concerts are wonderful & memorable experiences - and it feels good to support the arts - but they are also quite expensive.  How do you, fellow Mustachian, approach these expenses?

My conclusion is that I should spend more liberally...theater simply falls in a different category then restaurant spending by providing a truly memorable experience and soul-fulfilling experience.  Budgeting for one performance a quarter (~$600 year) seems worth the spend.  What are your thoughts?  How much do you spend on attending performing arts (or on live sporting evens if that's your thing)?     

FLBiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 960
  • Age: 42
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2014, 01:05:03 PM »
I agree with you.  My wife and I go to shows (both theater and concerts) a few times a year, and this is definitely something I will include our kid(s) in.  $600 a year seems totally reasonable to me.  I'd guess that we're probably lower, but I might be wrong.  I tend to be more stingy frugal than my wife, so she goes to some stuff without me.  Also, some of the best stuff we've seen (especially in terms of dance) has been at the local university.  And those tickets are quite cheap.

BaldingStoic

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 83
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2014, 01:10:30 PM »
Yeah. I like the idea of tapping the colleges & universities - good suggestion FLBiker.  MMM had a good posting on Frugal vs Cheap which centered on ethics.  But there's also Frugal versus Tightwad...for those of us that are fortunate enough to be debt free.    Hence it becomes a quality-of-live issue of higher spending (in this case on performing arts) vs higher saving.  Especially with the kids involved, I want to make sure I strike the right balance. 

TerriM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2014, 01:16:53 PM »
My conclusion is that I should spend more liberally...theater simply falls in a different category then restaurant spending by providing a truly memorable experience and soul-fulfilling experience.  Budgeting for one performance a quarter (~$600 year) seems worth the spend.  What are your thoughts?  How much do you spend on attending performing arts (or on live sporting evens if that's your thing)?   

Why a different category?  Why is a really awesome meal any different from a theater play (unless your wife is a professional cook and you can do that at home)?

I think there's a difference between indiscriminate eating out to make up for lack of time or lack of willpower and a well-planned birthday dinner or special occasion.

I'm glad you asked the question, though, as my husband wants to get this for the kids for Christmas:

https://sfbay.iflyworld.com

Is there a limit on what kind of experience you would buy?  I guess this is outside my comfort range, though $55 tickets to a play would be also.

pagoconcheques

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 190
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2014, 01:20:18 PM »
where the kids are involved . . . spend money on experiences rather than stuff. 

BINGO!  If they like theater, once a year sounds reasonable to me.  We took the kids to live shows in DC maybe once a year, and when we visit relatives (no hotel) in NYC we typically catch a show as well.  For little kids, just take them to whatever play/musical the local high school is putting on.


SuperSaver

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2014, 01:22:24 PM »
I will give you the kids perspective. Parent & kid outing to the theatre is appreciated! I adore the arts and more importantly loved spending time hanging out with my dad. We also would go to movies- just the two of us then later we'd bring my boyfriend too (the three of us saw Harry Potters and the Hobbit). Super special outing!
   Now that I am older I have the honor of taking my dad to see Wicked when the tour comes to the Hippodrome in April. Tickets were $169 each for the very best seat, (so $338 for one show) but my dad freaked out incredibly surprised/ ecstatic when I told him I bought the two of us tickets. Priceless! 

Overall  I think it depends on what you value. If you value the arts and want to take your kids to a couple shows a year and can afford it I think it's great!

MandalayVA

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1575
  • Location: Orlando FL
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2014, 01:28:13 PM »
I'm a sports fan, and our vacations generally center around sporting events.  Richmond does have the San Francisco Giants' Double A team, the Flying Squirrels, and a Squirrels game is a cheap good time--you can get a great seat behind home plate for about $12.  We're fortunate, however, that the company we work for has a suite at the park, and this past year all the games we went to were company functions so all we had to pay for was parking ($3) and beer if we wanted it ($6).

The major sports, however, are expensive since I'm spoiled and generally hate the cheap seats (my exception to this are the bleachers in Yankee Stadium).  We went to Pittsburgh in October and saw a Steelers game and two Penguins games.  All of the tickets together cost about $1300.  BUT ... the seats were great, the games were fun and I got to cross Heinz Field off my bucket list, so the experiences were worth it.  We budget through the year so everything is paid for up front.

As an aside to the OP, we went to San Diego three years ago.  Yes, we saw a Padres game (the Chargers were on the road).  Since the Padres were terrible I think we paid around $45 a ticket for good seats.  And Petco Park is cool-looking. :D 

TerriM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2014, 01:32:48 PM »
PS:  The way we budget for these things is that each of us has an allowance--both adults and kids, and both eating out and experiences come out of those allowances (whereas kids' activities like gym and piano classes have a different category).    So there's a cap on how much can be spent on any sort of entertainment, and it's the individual's choice as to how its spent.  Sometimes the kids offer to use their allowances to take everyone out for burgers.  I feel a bit guilty about that, but it's their choice.

BaldingStoic

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 83
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2014, 01:50:55 PM »

Why a different category?  Why is a really awesome meal any different from a theater play (unless your wife is a professional cook and you can do that at home)?

I'm glad you asked the question, though, as my husband wants to get this for the kids for Christmas:

https://sfbay.iflyworld.com

Is there a limit on what kind of experience you would buy?  I guess this is outside my comfort range, though $55 tickets to a play would be also.

Thanks for the reply TerriM.  The Flying does indeed sound like a blast but definitely pricey; my daughters love Get Air, a wall-to-wall trampoline park which averages out to $12 dollars/hour per-person-per-hour when purchased in blocks of ten.  Not quite as unique as Flying but it's a blast and phenomenal exercise. 

Regarding your question, for me restaurants simply don't fall into the same category.  I love hole-in-wall ethnic places where I'm eating for $10-$15 per person over fancy-pants fusion cuisine that tends to be over-influenced by French cooking techniques.  Thus the differential simply doesn't justify eating out an an expensive restaurant. 

I guess it all comes down to which experiences are most memorable.  If you're a totally foodie and will reminisce fondly for months (or years) to come about a great meal cooked by a reknown chef then it becomes a worthwhile expense.       

socaso

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 511
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 01:56:11 PM »
I have a lot of theatre experience and I can heartily recommend community theaters and college theaters. I've seen some amazing productions and they are generally quite a bit cheaper than professional theaters. But they are a training ground for people who end up in professional theaters. Also if your kids really like theater you might consider getting them involved in community theater. There are always some kids needed for productions. I started doing community theater in high school and it was a great experience for me.

Chranstronaut

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 713
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2014, 02:15:38 PM »
I have a lot of theatre experience and I can heartily recommend community theaters and college theaters.

Absolutely!  There are many low cost but high quality theatre experiences to be found in nearly any city.  Community theatre groups will often perform limited time shows at play houses owned by other groups, so keep an eye out in your local paper for advertisements and reviews.  Depending on your area, there are likely children's shows all year round and some may even travel to schools on mini-tours. 

If kids really like the theatre experience, getting them involved in school plays as actors, set builders, costume and props crew, etc is a great and "free" way to participate (free except the cost of local taxes for public school and possibly fundraising for their productions).

My family is BIG on theatre; my mom and sister are trained stage actors.  Growing up in a small city, we would see a big name tour show every few years for a special occasion and see local shows more often.  Honestly, I remember most fondly the "cheap" shows because the actors let us meet them afterward and gave us a tour backstage.  As an adult, I have seen some REALLY shitty big name shows (I'm looking at you 2006* Peter Pan touring cast), and some magical community college productions.  It just depends.  I see shows maybe once every month or two in Seattle and usually find $20-30 tickets or $10-20 with a student ID.

TL;DR You just have to look around and seek out what you might normally pass over, just as you would in other aspects of Mustachianism.

*haha, fixed date as I am not a time traveler

Also: edited to add that you should get to know some local actors/directors/crew members.  They often get free comp tickets to give to friends and family, or half off ticket deals for slow nights.  Many professional theatres also allow you to "rush" which means they will give you discounted tickets right before the show starts if there are any left.  Rushing is not a great idea with small kids who will be disappointed if they can't get in the show or with large groups of people because you probably won't be able to sit together.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2014, 02:19:42 PM by ChransStache »

eae550

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2014, 02:22:33 PM »
I'll chime in that when I was a kid (under 8 or so) it was just exciting to see local musicals put on by teenagers than it was to see big expensive theater shows...I would stand around after and get the actors (who were just local teenagers) to sign my program, and i was just thrilled as when we met Robert Goulet after some expensive professional show. As i got into my teenage years I thought going to community theater with my parents was awful but I did like going downtown for shows.

That said, I've been wanting to see Book of Mormon for years but cannot stomach 200+ tickets per person! I think the tickets are great presents for kids instead of more stuff.

Gen Y Finance Journey

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 209
  • Location: CA
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2014, 03:00:35 PM »
$55 is actually pretty good for professional theatre. In my area, community theatre tickets run anywhere from $25-45. I'm very involved in local theatre, and it would get way too expensive to pay to see all of my friends' shows, so I usually volunteer to usher, which typically gets you a free seat for the show. 6 and 9 are probably a little young to usher, but as they get older that's a great option. I  also agree with the suggestion of college theatre, as that's usually even cheaper than community theatre.

But the bottom line is, you've got to just decide if it's worth it. If your kids love theatre, I think you should budget for it. You could do mostly college and community theatre productions (hell, even high school ones!), and make professional theatre outings more of a rare special occasion.

And as someone who was so heavily influenced by my theatre experiences when I was young, that I now volunteer pretty much all of my free time to doing theatre, of course I'm going to say it's worth it. :)

lexie2000

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 222
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2014, 04:20:44 PM »
$55 is actually pretty good for professional theatre. In my area, community theatre tickets run anywhere from $25-45. I'm very involved in local theatre, and it would get way too expensive to pay to see all of my friends' shows, so I usually volunteer to usher, which typically gets you a free seat for the show. 6 and 9 are probably a little young to usher, but as they get older that's a great option. I  also agree with the suggestion of college theatre, as that's usually even cheaper than community theatre.

But the bottom line is, you've got to just decide if it's worth it. If your kids love theatre, I think you should budget for it. You could do mostly college and community theatre productions (hell, even high school ones!), and make professional theatre outings more of a rare special occasion.

And as someone who was so heavily influenced by my theatre experiences when I was young, that I now volunteer pretty much all of my free time to doing theatre, of course I'm going to say it's worth it. :)

We did something very similar.  DH and I would usher and our grades school son would pass out playbills and we all watched for free.

TerriM

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 507
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2014, 05:06:33 PM »
I will give you the kids perspective. Parent & kid outing to the theatre is appreciated! I adore the arts and more importantly loved spending time hanging out with my dad. We also would go to movies- just the two of us then later we'd bring my boyfriend too (the three of us saw Harry Potters and the Hobbit). Super special outing!

I take my sons out to eat one-on-one and it's a "date."  It is indeed special to them even if I can cook the same food for 10x less. 

Simple Abundant Living

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 580
    • Simple Abundant Living
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2014, 05:09:24 PM »
Here in UT, we have fantastic local theater. Pioneer Theatre Co. is associated with the U of U, and puts on first rate shows. If I buy M-Th season tickets in the nose bleeds, it averages out to about $10/ticket which is awesome! We have other local theatre companies that have awesome talent. Tickets to their productions range from $15-27 ea. I'll sometimes splurge for the Broadway Across America productions, but I usually feel like I get a way better bang for my buck with the local productions. Also, check out your local university or even high school theatre productions!

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2014, 05:51:52 PM »
I enjoy live theater very much.  The most I ever paid was to see a LaCirque production in Vegas; it was about $500 for our family of four, but we had fantastic seats and my youngest talked about it for two years.  Even now, 5-6 years later, if I mention it, she smiles and remembers if fondly.  My thoughts: 

- I enjoy attending the plays at the high school where I teach.  I get in for free (they want to encourage teachers to come), whereas visitors pay only $5.  Bring a couple more dollars and buy the kids a soda and snack at intermission -- it goes to the high school theater department -- also, if you need to discard old furniture or unique clothing, contact your local high school to see if they'd like to have your items for their future productions.  I must admit, I did admit I got a kick out of seeing my 1980s prom dress on stage, but that's off-topic.  Typically the audiences are small, which means your kids can sit close and feel more a part of the action.

- I enjoy the high school choral concerts at Christmas -- but not so much other times of year. 

- My daughter is always telling me how much she enjoys the cultural offerings at her university.  For example, she heard Maya Angelo speak, and I considered driving up to hear her -- but I decided not to because the free event was on a Tuesday night.  Now that opportunity is gone forever, and I wish I'd accepted going in to work tired the next day.  My husband still talks about having heard Star Trek's Scotty speak at his university. 

- Colleges often offer not only plays, but concerts. 

- A few years ago my husband surprised me with tickets to hear a lecturer speak . . . and I was surprised to see how many senior citizens were working as ushers.  I struck up a conversation with one and learned that they do it on a volunteer basis . . . in exchange for seeing the shows for free.  My husband and I are very interested in this in the future; the only downsides are that the theater is an hour away, and we'd probably have to pay to park. 

Seeking out opportunities like this will not only help your kids learn to appreciate the theater -- it'll teach them to look for ways to do it while sticking to a budget. 

queenie

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2014, 06:33:26 PM »
I love going to the theatre.  We haven't in ages, and when we did we would typically go to really cheap high school productions, but I still enjoyed it so much.  I definitely think it is worth the money though.  I also really enjoyed going to an NHL game - like really, really enjoyed it, and I don't even watch hockey.  So I'd be tempted to include a couple of sporting events per year as well.  (But we won those tickets; they are super expensive.)

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3249
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2014, 08:15:11 PM »
I don't know where you are, but here in St. Louis there are live theater events for children that aren't that expensive. We have a theater rich culture here.

If you ignore the big blockbuster stuff, you can find high quality live theater performances at reasonable prices, well, for $20 -$30 anyway. I pretty much ignore the big performances at our Fox Theater where all of the big glitzy shows come, and I seek out much smaller venues becuase I find those more interesting, anyway. Of course with children's theater there are fewer choices.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3249
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2014, 08:21:19 PM »

...  My husband still talks about having heard Star Trek's Scotty speak at his university. 

-

Hey, tell you husband that DH (a big Star Trek fan) and I stumbled into Scotty's "home town" in Linlithgow, Scotland a few years ago. It is a real town, a suburb of Edinburgh, and is where Scotty was supposed to be form. There was a small Star Trek Museum there, in honor of him. They had a Tribble and lots of Scotty mementos.

It's funny that we also stumbled into Captain James Kirk's home town in Iowa, the town is called River something and is so tiny it's barely there.

imustachemystash

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 413
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2014, 08:24:09 PM »
My husband and I purchase season tickets for around $300 for the theatre.  It is what we do for date night every other month.  Remember, being a mustachian is all about spending your money on what you value.  We feel this is worth the money.

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3415
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: Mustachian reflections on taking kids to the Theater
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2014, 08:50:10 PM »
I think supporting the arts is great. We go to symphonies, operas, and theatre performances pretty regularly - usually about one or two shows a month, depending what's available. We just hunt down every discount program that exists - some we qualify for because of age, sometimes we get same-day half-price tickets, sometimes we buy from scalpers at a discount, etc.