What do you do when the actor you came to see is out of the show? And are the producers obligated to tell you about the absence of a "name above the title" performer before you buy a ticket?
I'm asking those questions because apparently I won't be seeing Kelsey Grammer as Georges in the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles this weekend. Grammer's understudy, Chris Hoch, posted on Facebook that he'd be performing Wednesday through Sunday.
I found out about it Saturday night, on the Broadway World message board, and contacted Telecharge to confirm. They checked with the Longacre Theatre, which wasn't aware of any absences. I called back this morning and was told that yes, indeed, Kelsey Grammer will be out.
Hoch posted his message on Thursday. That means producers Sonia Friedman, David Babani and Barry and Fran Weissler used Kelsey Grammer's name to sell tickets knowing full well the Cheers and Frasier star would not be appearing.
I know there are no ironclad guarantees. Actors get sick, they have emergencies. I had a wonderful experience seeing Saycon Sengbloh go on for Fantasia in The Color Purple.
But as soon as the producers of La Cage knew about this absence, they should have informed the ticket-buying public. I asked the Telecharge representative why there was no notice online and he said there should have been.) Update: After my call, a note was added.
In contrast, the producers of A Little Night Music made it very clear far in advance the weeks that Catherine Zeta-Jones was going to be out.
We all know that nearly 65 percent of tickets to Broadway shows are purchased by tourists, people like me who plan our trips far in advance, often pay full price and can't return for a second chance.
I was lucky. Most people won't find out about Grammer's absence until they get to the theatre. And by then, it'll be too late to change plans.
In this case, while it would have been nice to see Kelsey Grammer he's not a make or break for me. The question mark is Hoch. I'm sure he's a fine actor but I'm worried that at 34, he's too young to be believable as a man with a grown son.
While I could get a refund, I don't know when I can make another trip to Broadway. I'd still like to see the musical and Tony winner Douglas Hodge as Albin. Telecharge says as far as they know, he's in.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed and I'll be stopping by the theatre a little early just to make sure.
Update: I've posted my review of La Cage aux Folles - I loved it. Both Chris Hoch and Douglas Hodge were terrific. They make such a lovely couple! Hoch was giving 110 percent and I'd see him on stage again anytime. You can hear him, and other performers, talk about what it's like to be a Broadway understudy in this NPR story.