TheatreVirginia is trying out a special singles-night series of performances 

Staged Meetings

In this day and age, opening lines such as "What's your sign?" or even "When's your IPO?" have long worn out their novelty. TheatreVirginia hopes to add a new, more genuine icebreaker to the lexicon: "What did you think of the show?"

With "The Last Night of Ballyhoo," its first production of the 2000-2001 season, the theater is trying out a special singles-night series of performances. According to Eileen Cowel, TVa's director of marketing and sales, "I have a lot of single and divorced friends who are looking for companionship, but they don't want to participate in events that are branded as singles' activities. These are mature people looking for real companionship who don't want to hang out in a bar."

To attract this elusive crowd, TVa is offering a subscription package that provides tickets for all five shows in the TVA season at 30 percent off the regular price. All the shows are on Thursday nights and will be followed by a reception where there will be a cash bar available and free hors d'oeuvres. Non-singles are free to come to the performance, but are discouraged from attending the reception. Depending on the size and mood of the crowd, a topic for discussion may be suggested. Cowel explains, "It'll be something simple like 'What did you think of the ending?'"

While working at the prominent Roundabout Theatre in New York, Cowel initiated a similar program about 15 years ago. "We had a hoot at the Roundabout," she remembers. "It's been very successful for them. They have two or three [targeted] subscription series now."

Though the marketing of the program has been pretty low-key, "we've had about a half-dozen people inquire about it," says Cowel. "We expect to attract a fairly sophisticated crowd of all ages. It should attract people who are just looking for friendship, not necessarily romance, though we hope that happens, too," she adds with a laugh.

The Singles' Night performance of "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" will be Oct. 19. Call 353-6161 for

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