Shoving My Way Into Broadway

Last night I had a fantastic
theatrical experience on Broadway, and a horrific experience on Broadway.

First, the good news. Frost/Nixon is
a superb play – particularly if you like political drama. The performances are
riveting and the theme is painfully germane.

Now the bad news. I arrived at the
theatre at 7:45 PM – having paid about $180 for two tickets. The crowd outside the
theatre was worse than any Times Square subway rush hour, with hundreds of people
cheek-by-jowl, pushing and shoving to get into the theatre. I noticed that there
were no fewer than 5 double-doors in the theatre, but only two single doors were
open, with just two ticket-takers. By 7:55 PM people are pushing more and more,
and the guy taking my tickets is shouting for people to keep moving and that the
show is starting.

I felt like I’m in the middle of a
herd of cattle. Once at my seat, I realize I’m sitting in the closest thing to
coach class on American Airlines – tiny seat, no leg room. And then it hit me.
At $90 a ticket, it is undeniable that Broadway is a luxury experience. The
actual product itself was indeed worth it. However, the horror of getting into
the theatre was anything but enjoyable.

People remember all sorts of things
that go into an experience. It’s undeniable that the 10 minutes of pushing and
shoving were as memorable to me as the show itself. That’s not good, and it’s
not excusable.

Broadway shows are on every night.
Why can’t they handle crowd control any better? I suspect they could care less.
We’re not seen as an audience to be wooed – we’re lowly consumers who are buying
at the highest price possible, with the fewest benefits. "No refunds, no

But you know what? We’re living in a
different world today — more and more of a luxury world. The local Cineplex has
reclining seats that feel like I’m in my living room. JetBlue lets you change
tickets for a small (and reasonable fee).  You can resell your sports tickets if
you can’t use them (

Broadway just doesn’t get it. And so
much of the rest of the arts world doesn’t get it either. As a follow-up to my
post on "stupid ticketing fees" I also want to add that the box office
representative that sold me those Carnegie Hall tickets (with the abhorrent services fee) sold me two seats that were separated by the column that
supports the balcony of the Hall. So the person I was with and I didn’t
actually sit next to each other.

If the arts were thriving we could
afford such transgressions. But unfortunately. it’s not enough just to simply
have great art on the stage. The whole experience has to be great, from start to
finish. From the Web site, to the box office to the parking lot. Those arts
organizations who understand this have a better chance to thrive in this
increasingly luxury-oriented world, in which people expect to pay high prices,
but also expect a first-class experience. 


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