The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's popular Flex Pass package of five tickets will be more expensive this year, but people will be able to use the tickets in the summer, not just during the spring and fall.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's popular Flex Pass package of five tickets will be more expensive this year, but people will be able to use the tickets in the summer, not just during the spring and fall.

A favorite of local theatergoers, the Flex Pass package cost $99 last year. It will be $119 for 2012.

OSF had held the package cost at $99 since 2006. The cost per ticket was $19.80 at that price, OSF Marketing Manager Bob Hackett said.

With the Flex Pass package now costing $119, the price per ticket will be $23.80. "It really is an invitation for local audience members. The price per ticket is at least $20 below the average ticket price," Hackett said.

OSF launched this year's Flex Pass package sale on Tuesday. Theater fans have until March 15 to buy the package. "We encourage people to buy by March 15, even if they don't know exactly what they want to see yet," Hackett said, noting that people can select seats and performance dates later.

Flex Pass tickets must be used on selected Sunday through Thursday performances.

In previous years, the tickets could be used only in the spring and fall, but OSF has opened up summer performances for this year, OSF officials said.

In July alone, the tickets can be used for 31 different performances, according to OSF data from this week about qualifying performances.

The number of available performances will shrink as Flex Pass ticket-holders make their selections.

A+ section seats and box seats cannot be purchased with Flex Pass tickets, but buyers can choose A, B or C section seats.

People who buy the Flex Pass package should choose the performances they want to see and the seating they want as early as possible for the best selection, Hackett said.

Flex Pass packages cannot be purchased online. Call the OSF Box Office at 541-482-4331 or 1-800-219-8161, or visit the Box Office in person at 15 S. Pioneer Street to purchase a Flex Pass package.

OSF will kick off the 2012 season with a Feb. 17 performance of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."

"The White Snake," based on a Chinese legend about a snake spirit disguised as a beautiful woman, will open on Feb. 18.

The musical "Animal Crackers" opens on Feb. 19, followed by Anton Chekhov's "Seagull" on Feb. 23.

Seven other plays will open as the season progresses.

Hackett said season pre-sales of all tickets are slightly down compared to this time last year.

For more information on the OSF season, visit http://www.osfashland.org/.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.