Is Philly Ready for $60 FringeArts Theater Tickets?

The new venue is about to find out.

It seems like forever ago that we first heard about FringeArts, the waterfront arts venue just across from Race Street Pier. The 225-seat theater was scheduled to be open in time for the annual September festival bearing its name.

But then it wasn’t ready, which surprised absolutely no one familiar with trying to get something done in Philadelphia. (Hello, Roxy Theater).

Finally, this week, tickets for the first events at FringeArts went on sale. And some folks in the arts community tell me they’re experiencing sticker shock.

In December, Pig Iron Theatre Company will stage its rollicking 2011 hit Twelfth Night, or What You Will at FringeArts, and general admission tickets for the show are priced at $59, with advance purchase fees bringing the cost to $62.95 per ticket. A $120 date night, and that’s without taking into account food and drink.

That’s a lot of money by any standard. But it’s especially hard to reconcile that number with something branded “fringe.”

I remember seeing people complaining on Facebook about FringeArts festival ticket prices like $25 and $39. Those same people must be having heart attacks right about now. (It’s worth noting that Twelfth Night tickets for the 25-and-under crowd are $25, though that doesn’t help you much if you’re 30 and under-employed.)

The $60 ticket price was set by FringeArts administration — not by Pig Iron. And I hear that not everyone inside the theater company is thrilled with the pricing, although they issued a “no comment” when I asked for one.

“It may be a reach,” admits FringeArts president and producing director Nick Stuccio. “It’s pushing the boundary, no doubt. But we aspire to be world class, getting work that is of high quality. And this work is as good as it gets. There are some people who will pay for it. But we do want all strata of people in the room.”

Stuccio explains that the pricing is also part of a tactic to boost FringeArts membership, since a $65 individual membership ($100 for two people) gets you 30 percent off the pricey Twelfth Night ticket. That’s a great bargain if you’ve got $100-plus to spend on one ticket and a membership. Not so great if you don’t.

But what do you think?

[Twelfth Night photo courtesy Pig Iron Theatre Company]