The downside of life as a student: no paycheck. The upside: sinfully long vacations.
How to fill these delicious winter days?
1) Shows at the Paramount
The majestic Paramount is just one of several concert halls and music venues along the downtown mall in Charlottesville. I had never attended a show there, but my friend Jinna lured me along with tantalizing thoughts of "The Nutcracker Ballet." We had hoped to snag half-price student tickets, which are reportedly freed up 45 minutes before the show. Alas, this particular show was exempt from that sweet deal, but I believe the offer is good to go for most events. (Upcoming: screenings of shows at the Metropolitan Opera.)
I won't go into the drawn-out details here, but the ballet was sold out. Jinna, a New York-savvy art girl, managed to finagle us two seats, anyway! The elegant hall feels intimate; even the last row has a closeness that cavernous Broadway venues can't match.
2) Shows at Live Arts
Live Arts theater is Charlottesville's answer to New York's black box off-Broadway venues. Again, I had no idea what to expect. According to the online diagram, seats ring the stage from all sides, and another few rows overlook the stage from the balcony. Undecided on which seats to pick, I journeyed down to the box office to ask advice (and avoid the online order charge). Turns out that there is not a bad seat in the house — the venue is positively tiny!
We saw "The Drowsy Chaperone," a hilarious spoof on old-timey Broadway musicals. (Apparently, it won five Tony Awards in 2007. Who knew?) A magnificent cast and crew of volunteers put on a riot of a show, complete with catchy tunes and even tap-dancing. It plays through Jan. 16, and Jan. 5 and 12 are Pay-What-You-Can nights. Mark your calendars now!
3) Wonderful U.S. Army Band concerts (free!)
This idea requires a jaunt northward to D.C., but the U.S. Army Band (and all the military ensembles) is well worth the trek. We caught the U.S. Army Band at DAR Constitution Hall, a magnificent concert hall in downtown D.C., for its annual holiday performance. The price was an amazing $0, though I would have gladly paid much more for the fine orchestra music, the singing, and the silly moments with Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and The Grinch.
The concerts go on throughout the year, including summer shows on the Capitol. Check out the Army Band's calendar here.