Saturday, May 30, 2009

Not all seats are created equal

The higher up and farther back you go in a Broadway theatre, the cheaper the seats get. So what about if you're off to the side?

I sat in the right orchestra for all three shows I saw last weekend: God of Carnage, Hair and Rock of Ages. Most Broadway houses have a fairly cozy orchestra section so it's usually not a problem if I'm not in the dead center. But this time, I definitely felt like I was at a disadvantage.

For God of Carnage, at the Jacobs Theatre, I was fairly close but a few seats from end. There were a few moments where I couldn't see everything that was happening with James Gandolfini's character on the far right side of the stage. It was just outside of my sightline.

Same thing for Rock of Ages, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. I was farther back, three seats from the end. My view of the video projections on the back wall was partially blocked by the set.

I was about six rows from the stage for Hair, at the Hirschfeld Theatre, but one seat from the end. I don't remember missing any of the action onstage, although I wish I'd had a better view of the band.

Now, I'm not too steamed because I don't feel like where I was sitting interfered with how I felt about the shows. It was just frustrating not to be able to see everything. And I paid full price for my tickets to God of Carnage and Hair.

I know producer Ken Davenport has written about variable pricing for Broadway shows. And Steve on Broadway has written about poor sightlines in the orchestra at Studio 54.

Isn't time to admit that not all seats in the same row are created equal and offer a discount for the last two or three on the end?


Vance said...

Tell me about it. I feel bad since I usually go for rush and lotto and get those side seats so I deal. But I did standing room for God of Carnage and preferred my centre spot. When I have paid full price (or nearly), I still got side seats so sometimes I'm like, why bother?

They really need to gradient the prices for the seats a lot more. Hammersmith Lyric in London REALLY has a gradient. It's a little complicated but literally the farther you away from the direct centre, the cheaper it gets. (Even by row and by section of the row!)

Esther said...

You know, I saw people standing at God of Carnage and I actually thought, it's only 90 minutes ... I could do that! I definitely would have had a better view.

I know what you mean. It seems lately, unless I buy my tickets way in advance I usually end up with side seats, although closer to the aisle. But since I don't live in New York and don't get to the city that often, I don't want to risk rush or lotto.

And I think that's great about teh Hammersmith Lyric. More theatres should it!

Vance said...

Yah, that's the problem with trips and guarantees. I find it's less a problem with rush, as long as you are willing to work for it and go early (never had a problem but my sis and I go EARLY sometimes to make sure, sometimes overly so). Lotto is trickier.

Also, do you check with what the second and third best seats avail are when you buy online? Sometimes i find they spit out close sides first, then farther back centres (or closer to centres at least).

Esther said...

Hey Vance, that's a good point about checking the second and third best available. I definitely do that. Maybe next time, I'm thinking it might not be so bad to be farther back but in the center.