The college student experience at the Fulton Opera House

Nikki Schaffer

Staff Writer

It is impossible to miss the bright lights that illuminate the streetscape near the Fulton Opera House.

The Fulton Opera House provides discounts for college students.
The Fulton Opera House provides discounts for college students.

Considered to be the nation’s oldest continuously running theater, this building’s home on Prince St. in Downtown Lancaster has seen decades of live music and theater since its first staged production in 1873.

Thriving from the local support they receive, the Fulton Theatre reaches out to all members of the community and encourages everyone, including the many students in the area, to attend its shows and performances.

For many of the often cash strapped college students, however, the relatively high ticket prices can become a roadblock to enjoying a theatre experience. But students are often not aware of the availability of reduced price tickets through the Fulton’s “Student Rush” program.

Through this policy, full-time students can show their current student ID at the box office window starting one hour before curtain time to be given the best seats available at a reduced price of $10.

Currently, Student Rush is only available for Fulton Theatre main stage productions, which is not applicable to non-Fulton events, according to the Fulton’s website. Recently, the Lancaster Symphony has included itself in the Student Rush discount, which students may use to attend performances scheduled for the coming year:
• Cabin Fever, January 16th – 18th
• Of Significance, February 20th – 22nd
• Jubilation, April 10th – 12th
• In Tribute, Memorial Day weekend, May 22nd – 24th

Irving Berlin’s classic, “White Christmas,” is currently being performed at the Fulton.
Irving Berlin’s classic, “White Christmas,” is currently being performed at the Fulton.

The addition of the Lancaster Symphony to the discount program came as a pleasant surprise for one Millersville University student, who has always wished to attend one of their performances.

For Marie Lynagh, a senior, who is a music minor and has been a member of Millersville’s Orchestra for four years, the new $10 price tag for the Lancaster Symphony has come late in her time as a student here.

“It was unfortunate that I was able to afford seeing the Fulton’s theatre productions but unable to see the—presumably equally as stellar—orchestra performances,” she said.

Another Millersville student, senior Luke Helker, who is a music major, appreciates the Fulton productions that he has seen.

“I saw Mary Poppins and Les Miserables. I enjoy seeing shows at The Fulton because they provide the same quality as a professional Broadway show in a convenient and affordable fashion. The Fulton represents the pinnacle in which the Lancaster’s art district can grow and inspire the community,” said Helker.
For students who hope to acquire a behind the scenes perspective, opportunities to volunteer are available.

“We have three different ways to become directly involved with the Fulton that are learning experiences as well – volunteers, shadow opportunities and intern/apprentices,” says Jennifer Ridgeway, Director of Community Engagement at the Fulton Theatre. “Our usher program is the easiest way to volunteer and see shows.”

“Les Miserables” was performed at the Fulton in June, 2014.
“Les Miserables” was performed at the Fulton in June, 2014.

Those who wish to volunteer as ushers must be 16 years of age or older and should exhibit qualities such as being energetic, hardworking, team-oriented and self-motivated. Job shadowing and interning remain as other possibilities for students who wish to gain experience in the theatrical field or possess a love for theatre.

“High school and college students have shadowed our production team in various stages of the process, and college graduates have worked with us for one full season as an apprentice in positions of stage management, electrics, sound, scenic properties and costumes/wigs,” said Ridgway.

The opportunity to become involved in The Fulton extends beyond simply working behind the scenes or seeing a show—individuals are also given the chance to become involved in an adult acting program which offers a musical theatre class which will be taught by Fulton Theatre actress Jessica Dey this winter.

This spring a scene study class will also be offered. In 2015, The Fulton Theatre will expand their adult program as well as the opportunities they offer professionals, including emerging professionals.

Above all else, Ridgway hopes that students will learn from whichever arts experience they choose to take.

“Always consider the educational experience of the opportunity. Reflect on the inner workings of the organization, how to people relate to one another. When did things go well? What elements supported the success of a productive production meeting? What elements challenged the success of the experience. What would you do differently? This kind of opportunity builds your skills in the business of the art,” she said.

More information can be found on the Fulton Theatre’s website at www.thefulton.org