When the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society stages Anne of Green Gables: The Musical next month, regular attendees of WRAPS theatre productions will notice a difference.
In the past there was no reserved seating, and attendees paid by donation and took their chances on getting a seat at a given performance. WRAPS will now be selling tickets for individual performances, allowing audience members to guarantee that they have seats for their desired performance.
WRAPS theatre committee member Jessica Clement says that the move will also help the organization raise enough money to cover all the costs of the production, when combined with grants and individual donations the group receives.
“We appreciate the grants and donations,” says WRAPS director Susan Mclean. “But grants are very time-consuming to apply for, especially for a volunteer organization.”
McLean notes that WRAPS made a huge leap in 2015, when the group staged My Fair Lady. “We decided to move to recognized, well-known plays and musicals. And at this level, scripts, scores, and royalties cost more.”
Clement says that the productions the group staged before tackling My Fair Lady cost in the region of $5,000 to put on. “But we made a decision to change the calibre of our productions. The scripts, scores, and royalties for Anne of Green Gables cost $3,000. Our total budget on My Fair Lady was $15,000.”
Since My Fair Lady, WRAPS has staged two well-known plays: Shirley Valentine and Arsenic and Old Lace. The feedback the group has received indicates that audience members enjoy the opportunity to see productions that already have a certain name recognition, and that they appreciate the professional quality of the productions.
“The feedback we received after My Fair Lady was that the production was of the same calibre as shows people paid big bucks to go see,” says McLean. “Mary Poppins was on at the Sagebrush Theatre in Kamloops at the same time, and people said we were as good as that production.”
However, Clement says that the donations collected during the last three productions worked out at an average of $6 per person. “Our cast and crew put in more than 2,200 volunteer hours on Arsenic and Old Lace, and we’re already past that amount for Anne of Green Gables,” she says. “We definitely feel that the time and energy we spend on each production is worth more than that.”
Tickets will be priced at $15 for adults and $10 for children in advance, and will be $20/$15 at the door (children under six are free).
“We made this decision because what we were doing in the past didn’t work,” says McLean.
“People will pay $35 per ticket, plus travel to Kamloops, to see something there, and we’re not charging nearly as much. We wanted tickets to be affordable, and felt $15 was fair.”
Clement adds that “We do recognize that this is not a do-able dollar amount for some people, so there will be 40 tickets available on a ‘pay what you can’ basis for the matinee on November 5.”
Clement says that when admission was by donation, they often had people—especially those coming from out of town—ask for reserved seating so they knew they would get a seat. “It was a logistical nightmare. Having physical tickets and a set number of tickets means we can easily keep track of how many seats have been sold for each performance. And people don’t have to get here an hour early to make sure they can get in.
“We hope that, over the last three productions, we’ve proven that we’re worth the price.”
Tickets for Anne of Green Gables: The Musical are on sale at the Ashcroft HUB office now through November 3. Tickets can also be ordered online at eventbrite.ca (http://bit.ly/2xI6vRC).