Tuesday, April 11, 2006

To rush or not to rush?

As a person who spends most of their time in These Hallowed Halls (40 hours as a marketing dude and most nights and weekends as Artistic Director for Jobsite Theater), I get perspective from all sides - employees, volunteers, patrons and of course artists.

One of the more recurring things I think I see, specifically in regards to our Jaeb Theater and Shimberg Playhouse, is a mindset that advance ticket purchases are not required and that you can always walk up right before a show and buy tickets.

That notion sends both the marketing dude and artist in me into fits. First, both sides hate to see anyone get turned away at the door. It's awful. It's embarrassing and disappointing. Often it makes people mad enough to at least say they won't be back at a future date to see the show because they just wasted all this time coming down for nothing. With shows in the Jaeb and Shimberg, there are often plenty of other performances that people could have gone to had they called ahead and bought tickets in advance. It can be rather feast or famine. We can have a Tue. or Thu with a third to half a house and then Fri. and Sat. nights where we turn 20, 40 people away at the door. There are of course the entire sold-out weekends or runs, or entire weeks without a sold-out show.

I just can't stress enough that the thought that those shows "never sell out" is just an ugly old lie. A current illustration: Saturday night performances for I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change are consistently selling out, and the show has been running since Feb. We've also had the same happen with Fri. or Sun. night or any of the weekend matinees. All of the Sat. evening performances of The Goat in the Shimberg sold out prior to the day of show as did most of the Fri. shows.

So what to do about all of this? As a person who goes and sees shows myself, I too deal with this. In the hopes of not sounding preachy or condescending (Which is genuinely not my intention. Both artist and marketing dude have no greater desire than to see all patrons happy and all seats sold), I have a few bits of advice. But, considering you're reading a blog off the TBPAC website, I may just be preaching to the choir. If that's the case, feel free to share.

  • You wouldn't just walk up to see Chris Rock or Harry Connick the night of the show and expect there'd be tickets, right? Truth is, any show can sell out, especially if it's in the smaller theaters (268 for the Jaeb, 75-130 for the Shimberg). If a Fri. or Sat. night is the only day you want to see or can see a show - buy in advance.
  • We know ticket surcharges are less at the window. Instead of just coming down right before the show to save the money, why not call and check on availability first? The TBPAC Ticket Office operators should be able to give you a good indicator if advance purchases are necessary (though they can't give out exact house counts) or if you might fine to walk up.
  • If you really want the walk-up surcharge, why not come down in advance on your lunch hour or after work and get the same lesser service charge instead of waiting to just before the show?
  • You're not sure of your plans til the last minute? Sure, that makes sense - we're all busy. Again, call before you come down and just check. I met a woman one night who drove down from New Port Richey and arrived 5 minutes prior to curtain of a popular show in the Shimberg and couldn't believe there were no seats, when in fact the show had sold out days before.
  • Also keep in mind that most shows in the Jaeb and Shimberg have student, senior and military rush ticket opportunities as of 30-90 minutes to curtain. It may appear there are plenty of seats open until a class or two of college students or a senior group comes down right before curtain and buys the rest of the seats up. I've seen it happen! Arrive early if you simply can't buy in advance!
Have any other myths about TBPAC you want to see busted? Looking for other helpful bits of advice? Have you always wanted to know something or have anything about the facility you'd like to see demystified? Ask me!

- David J.

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