Friday, March 2, 2018

Nota bene: Ticketing Angels

One thing I love is going to the theatre on my birthday. I did it in 1998 when I went to see the then-brand-new Sam Mendes Cabaret; I did it in 2015 when I went to see Hamilton (also still brand new) at the Public. This year, Angels in America is going to be playing on Broadway, in the celebrated new National Theatre production, so naturally I thought that might be a great thing to go see. I saw the original NT production, in the small Cottesloe Theatre, in 1992, and it blew me away; the word from London is that this latest version is at least as good, if not better.

Going to see Angels in America on my birthday would not be cheap. Tickets are still available: They didn’t sell out in a matter of hours, as happened in London. But a pair of mid-orchestra seats for April 21 would cost me – wait for it – $1,067.20. That’s $498 each, plus a $3.20 per ticket “order processing fee”, plus a $34 per ticket service fee.

In London, by contrast, ticket prices topped out at £65 each, or about $90. Admittedly, that only got you in to one of the two plays which comprise Angels in America; my $1,067.20 would include both of them. But still, that’s £775. It’s not even close.

Besides, I don’t even want to see the second part! I’ve seen it, it’s long, it’s self-indulgent, I have no desire to see it again. And I certainly don’t want to see it on the same day that I saw Part 1.

But the Broadway producers have made the decision that they will only sell tickets in package deals, where you need to commit to seeing eight hours of theatre in one day. (Or, sometimes, one evening and then the following matinee.) That decision effectively persuaded me that I wasn’t going to see Angels in America in New York.

Then, today, my very own guardian angel came to my rescue. I was walking past the TKTS kiosk in Brooklyn on my way to record Slate Money when I saw that it was advertising Angels in America tickets for 50% off. I checked the website, and yes, that was just Part 1, no need to go to Part 2 tomorrow and pay twice as much.

A few minutes later, I held in my hands two mid-orchestra seats for $86.50 each, plus a $5 fee to TKTS. Total price: $183, or just 17% of what I had been asked to pay online.

Amazingly, and to put that number in perspective, these ultra-discounted tickets are still more expensive than the most expensive tickets in London. Also, this is a preview performance, and the most expensive preview tickets in London were just £45, or $62, each.

The guy at the TKTS kiosk told me that the producers had tried to ask them, too, to bundle the tickets together, and only sell a ticket to Part 1 if they also sold the same seat to Part 2. But the folks at TKTS, quite rightly, weren’t having it. So thank you, Theatre Development Fund, for giving me the opportunity to see Angels in America tonight. And thank you even more, for not making me schlep to tomorrow’s matinee.

Meanwhile, if you want to see this play, I’d recommend keeping an eye on the TKTS availability. Otherwise, you’re in for an extremely expensive marathon.