Since I started going to Broadway shows, in April 2007, most of my experiences have been great. But I've also learned a lot about what can go wrong. So here's my suggestion for a ticket-buyer's Bill of Rights.
Sure they're obvious to veteran theatergoers but maybe not to people seeing their first show. And they're pretty simple steps. Let's face it, the producers are selling a product and we consumers should be able to make an informed purchase.
1.) Websites and promotional materials should list the date of preview performances and the expected opening night.
Sure, you can find the date a play or musical begins previews by Googling it - but why should you have to do that? You don't have to go to a third-party website to find out basic information about any other product.
In fact, not properly labeling preview performances may be a violation of New York's consumer protection laws.
Ticket buyers, 63 percent of whom are tourists and some of whom may be first-time Broadway theatergoers, should know when they're seeing a work in progress as opposed to the finished product.
2.) The ticket seller should list the dates when an above-the-title star will not be performing.
Right now if you go to Telecharge you can buy a ticket through the first week of November for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe.
There are no dates listed for Radcliffe's vacation but he could take a week off in the summer or fall and when that happens, there are going to be some mighty disappointed Harry Potter fans. Of course they can get a refund but what if they've come to New York expressly to see him and can't easily return?
(I'm just using this show as an example since he'll be one of the biggest names on Broadway this spring. He may not take a vacation, the show may not last until November. Who knows?)
As I learned with La Cage aux Folles, sometimes there's no way to tell when you buy your ticket whether or not the star will performing. And I'm talking about planned vacations. While I ended up loving the musical with the understudy, it's an expensive crap shoot that ticket-buyers shouldn't be forced to play.
Producers, make an agreement about vacation time at the beginning of the run and inform the public. I realize this will result in your box office dropping for that week but selling tickets knowing the star won't be appearing is false advertising.
3.) Promotional material should state that the play or musical could close at any time, even it's advertised as a limited run.
What? Everyone knows a show could close at any time. Well as I found out with Elling - not everyone does.
When the producers announced it was closing, a week after opening night, I went to the show's Facebook page and saw comments from disappointed Brendan Fraser fans in England and Australia. They bought airline tickets and booked hotel rooms in anticipation of seeing him onstage. And it sounded like they couldn't easily get their money back.
If they'd known the play might not last its advertised 20 weeks, they might have waited until after the reviews came out before making their plans.