By: Mary Fran Bontempo 

There’s nothing quite like seeing a play on Broadway. Of course, there’s nothing quite like the price of seeing a play on Broadway, either.

If you’re close enough to get to New York, travel, whether by train or car, will set a couple back at least $70 to $100. Add several hundred for theater tickets and throw in a pre or après theater meal and, cha-ching! Count on a $400-$500 outing.

Which is why regional and community theaters are such a vibrant, and necessary part of the arts life.

Local playhouses bring theater to the doorstep of the masses, often with a commitment and devotion to the arts that adds an extra dimension to the experience of seeing a play or film.

The Civic Theater of Allentown, PA, is just such a venue. Founded in 1927, the Civic Theater “stands on three pillars: theatre, film and education,” offering a professionally run theater featuring the best of local and regional talent, as well as a “full time cinema exclusively showing art, independent and foreign films.” And in order to foster interest and devotion to the arts, Civic Theater has played host to a theater school for over 50 years.

Currently, the Civic Theater is presenting a production of the 2007 Tony Award winning Grey Gardens on stage. A musical based on the likewise lauded documentary (available on Amazon-click here), the play introduces viewers to Edie Bouvier Beale and her daughter, “Little” Edie, cousins to the much more famous Jackie Onassis. By turns funny and heartbreaking, Grey Gardens follows the mother and daughter from their heyday as well-known socialites in 1941 to their eventual reclusive isolation as their former lifestyle vanishes along with their fortune in the 1970s.

An impressive cast gives life to these endearing, eccentric characters, giving the audience a glimpse into worlds by turns enviable and frightening, all for a ticket price ranging from $20-$31. Reasonable travel and meal expenses allowed fellow blogger, Chrysa Smith and I to enjoy a delightful, non-budget-breaking experience.

Check out details on the Civic Theater’s production of Grey Gardens, below. And if you’re not local, do a bit of digging and seek out and support your own area theaters.

Broadway is amazing, but there’s something to be said for being close to home—and having a little change left in your pocket.

Grey Gardens: The Musical, at The Civic Theater, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown, PA. 7 PM Thursday, 8 PM Friday and Saturday, 2 PM Sunday, through May 19th. Tickets: $25-$31; $20, $28, students and seniors. 610-432-8943, .