It's that time of year: millions of students, young and old, descend upon campuses of higher learning around the world with shiny new backpacks, packages of ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils, a full rainbow of highlighter pens and criminally over-priced textbooks. (Honestly! $100 for a paperback textbook less than a half-inch thick! Is anybody regulating this?)
What this means for we aficionados of theatre is an opportunity to see a selection of plays and musicals outside of the usual commercially-viable community productions performed by young and hungry thespians who haven't even yet begun to be jaded by the idea of balancing a day job with yet another audition for Grease or I Hate Hamlet.
You see, most universities and colleges have a budget for production that is independent (somewhat) of ticket revenue. Since most schools make their productions available to their students at no cost (apart from the multitude of mysteriously-acronymed fees), they are less concerned with choosing shows that are proven commercially-viable old chestnuts. College theatre is an opportunity to see productions of those shows that we often hear about but seldom see because of a (justifiable) timidity on the part of artistic directors who actually have to ensure that they can make their nut.
Additionally, a ticket to a college production can often be paid for with the booty found in the cushions of your living room couch. (Seriously! I once paid for a Metro State show with four unmatched buttons and half a Twix bar!)
So, in addition to checking the Colorado Theatre Guild website for upcoming theatre fare, don't forget to drop in on the websites for schools like Metro, CUs both Boulder and Denver, Colorado State, DU, UNC, and the numerous community colleges in our area. Admittedly, though, many of these schools are not as diligent as they could be about updating their performing arts calendars, so watch the local papers as well. It's not always as easy to find college shows as community theatre shows (almost none of the budget is spent on promotion outside of the campuses), but the extra effort in unearthing these shows is almost always well worth the trouble. I'll help out as much as I can, too, and, as always, feel free to use the comments sections here to promote upcoming productions and help me to spread the word.
Welcome back students, support local theatre, and, remember, nobody actually borrows a pen. Just kiss it goodbye and chalk up the good Karma points in your head.