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Steppenwolf | Steal vs. splurge

How to get cheaper Steppenwolf theater tickets.

SPLURGE Individual tickets to Steppenwolf Theatre Company(1650 N Halsted St, 312-335-1650, steppenwolf.org), $42–$75
STEAL Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep(1624 N Halsted St), $20/play, three-play pass $45
It’s common wisdom that the 35-year-old company is one of the city’s best theater bets—and common wisdom is spot-on at the moment, with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton playing spousal sparring partners in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in the Downstairs Theatre (through February 13) and Sally Murphy and Stephen Louis Grush facing off in Laura Eason’s modern-lust tale Sex with Strangers, opening this week in the Upstairs.

But Steppenwolf doesn’t always come cheap these days. True, there are $20 day-of tickets at the box office (see cheap tip), but for a hot seller like Woolf you’re pressing your luck playing that game. To guarantee a seat, you’ll pay up to $75 at regular price.

For a Steppenwolf-curated experience at a wallet-friendlier price, consider the second annual Garage Rep: Three of the city’s most promising young companies present their work in rotation, with the enhanced resources and imprimatur of big sib Steppenwolf. This year’s lineup includes offerings from Sideshow Theatre Company, Strange Tree Group and UrbanTheater Company; if one of them becomes the fabled “next Steppenwolf,” you’ll have gotten bragging rights on the cheap.

Money saved with steal:$22-$55/play

If you’re looking for dramatic savings, the League of Chicago Theatres offers half-price tickets to Theater District spectacles, off-Loop hits and tourist faves; buy online (hottix.org) or at its outlets (72 E Randolph St, 113 E Pearson St). Goldstar.com also offers significant theater and comedy discounts. Impulse buyers can reap big rewards: Every weekday at 11am, Steppenwolf sells 20 $20 tickets over the phone and at the box office; if they’re available, you can buy half-price rush tickets in person an hour before curtain. All available Goodman mezzanine tickets go at half price starting at 10am online and noon at the box office on the day of performance (170 N Dearborn St, goodmantheatre.org); a student ID drops the price to $10. Broadway in Chicago offers an array of promotions; check its website (broadwayinchicago.com) for up-to-date info.—John Beer