It’s costing a lot to keep the lights on at the Hippodrome Theatre. A recent article in the Baltimore Sun explains that rising utility costs and declining attendance are jointly causing concern at the downtown Baltimore performing arts center.

Recall that the reconditioned venue re-opened with considerable hoopla back in 2004. This past February’s highly successful four-week run of “Jersey Boys” proved that people will still turn out in large numbers at the Hippodrome. But other shows in recent seasons haven’t all been as big a draw.

Now officials are weighing various options to improve the theater’s fiscal status. Some of the number-crunching aspects of this issue mostly concern bureaucrats, but the diminished attendance figures obviously relate directly to our own theater-going habits.

What’s your own theater-going experience at the Hippodrome? Looking at the situation in a constructive light, what booking and subscription strategies do you think might improve attendance figures?

Playwrights Fest enters final laps

As the 30th annual Baltimore Playwrights Festival heads into its final few weeks, you may want to make plans to see some of these brand-new plays. It’s a chance to see a lot of local theater people testing their skills by bringing these scripts to life.

The already-opened “Unraveled on the Gravel”: A New Musical — about a troubled young man’s pre-wedding jitters — runs through Aug. 21 at the Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, at 817 St. Paul Street in Baltimore. Call 410-752-1225 or go to www.spotlighters.org.

Steve Schulze’s “Abraham and Isaac,” about the aftermath of a Columbine-evocative shooting, runs Aug. 11- 28 at Theatrical Mining Company, which does its shows at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland at 4701 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. Go to www.theatricalminingcompany@yahoo.com.

Nancy Murray’s “Asking Questions,” about family secrets, runs Aug. 12- 28 at Fells Point Corner Theatre, at 251 S. Ann Street in Baltimore. Call 410-276-7837 or go to www.fpct.org.

And closing out the summer season will be Alonzo LaMont's "Zulu Fitts," a political drama, running Aug. 18-Sept. 4 in a Heralds of Hope Theater Company production being done at Load of Fun Theater, at 120 W. North Ave. in Baltimore. Call 410-997-3997 or go to www.heraldsofhopetheatercompany.com