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05 August 2010 @ 09:19 pm
Confessions of a persistent theatre-goer... OR My adventures trying to get ANGELS IN AMERICA tix  
On Tuesday, I got up at the unGodly hour of 3am to purchase Angels in America tickets from Signature Theatre. Since I'd heard the subscriptions sold out really quickly, and there was a lot of interest in the production, AND tickets were only $20 for the initial run,... I knew that if I waited for a more decent hour, they would all be gone.

Well, when the box office opened at 4am, I went online AND started calling the box office (I figured whichever went through first, I'd go with...) Well, the box office line was busy and the website would simply not load... So I tried redialing, and redialing, and... well, you get the picture. :P When it was two hours later and I had redialed approximately 250 times and I STILL couldn't get through either on the website or on the phone, I decided to get ready for work and give up all hope that I'd be able to see the show on my upcoming trip. :( I was pretty disappointed, not only because of the early hour that I gotten up for this, but because it was the highlight of my Fall trip and one of the shows I was most looking forward to.

I decided to try calling again on my way in to work. After about 100 more redials, I finally got their voice response unit - the "Thank you for calling... blah, blah, blah... your call will be answered in the order it was received..." I thought, "Hallelujah! At last!" I listened to the muzak and was on hold for a few minutes and then the phone actually rang!! WOO! However, it just rang, and rang, and rang, etc... But I had tried for roughly 4 hours at that point to get through, so if they thought I was just going to hang up, they were sadly mistaken. :P

It rang for a good 18 MINUTES straight!! (I kid you not, I checked the time on my iPhone!) before someone picked it up and said, "Signature Theatre, please hold." By then, I'd made it to work and I was sitting in the bottom lot of my office waiting (AGAIN!) for someone to come back on the line. FINALLY, someone picked up the phone (4 & 1/2 hours after I initially started trying to call) and I found out that there was a single Part 2 ticket available on a night that I could actually make it, but no Part 1 tickets for the entire time I was in NYC. :P I bought the Part 2 ticket anyway, since I didn't want to come away empty-handed after all of that!

Whew!! I guess persistence pays off! As a side note, the FB page of the Signature Theatre as well as theatre MBs, and their Twitter account confirmed that there were TONS of very unhappy folks who had been trying all morning like I was to get tickets and barely any of them succeeded. Sad that such a great theatre company who produces such quality shows is going to be known as the theatre that wasn't prepared technology-wise (or man-power-wise) for what they knew was going to be a HUGE rush for tickets.

I still adore them, and their work, but SHEESH... 4 & 1/2 hours of continually trying both online and on the phone is a bit much to take. :P Thankful, at least that I got a ticket... even if it is just one part of 2.
Current Mood: thankfulthankful
Mme Bahorel: thelmammebahorel on August 6th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
Having worked at a box office where the phones were ringing off the hook all day for a week straight (and they didn't calm down all that much until both those shows closed), here's the deal: there are only so many phone lines. If we had every single phone in use, we could have eight people answering phones. We usually had something like six people on staff, so let's say overtime for two people if able to plan ahead.

That's probably all that Signature Theatre could do. If they outsourced the "buy by phone", it would cost vastly more money (because instead of paying overtime to two people, you're paying for a phone redirect, a computer set-up, and a number of people larger than 8 by the hour), but they can only sell the exact same number of tickets.

The 18 minutes ringing is because someone somehow managed to go to lunch without turning their phone off properly and no one could get a breath to get to the damned thing. I also wonder if it was able to happen because every single line was in use and this one was in a side office rather than the main room.

The web system is a different story and depends on how it is structured. But the web system has to hook into the computer system the people on the phones are using, and there's only a certain amount of bandwidth that's going to be available at the theatre. I'm not sure how much of an upgrade can be done for something that will be temporary - it doesn't make financial sense to double the cost of internet access over an entire year when it will be needed for a couple of days. It certainly doesn't make financial sense to have fiber optic cables strung over one show that will sell out anyway. If donations are down or unsteady due to the recession, there has to be belt-tightening somewhere if prices won't be jacked up for this production. I can see the accounting department making the decision to not spend money they don't have, particularly if they are counting on Angels in America to shore up the rest of the season (two sold-out shows can put a season in the black that otherwise would have been in the red - I watched it happen at Arena).

I know it sucks for everyone involved, but it sucks for EVERYONE involved. Everyone in that box office had a shitty day at work today. Comparatively few people are going home happy tonight. I'm just afraid that even if they did everything they possibly could, for a company of their size, they will get eviscerated on the blogs/boards because of customers' inability to consider the costs and other logistical blocks to perfect service of thousands at a venue that usually sees hundreds.

I know you're just getting your frustrations out privately. But having worked it, my heart goes out to the box office staff. (that said, something's up when a phone can ring for 18 minutes without throwing you back into the hold queue. That's a phone system error that again leads me to believe they were putting additional terminals into service - there's no way an ordinary call could ring that much before audibly knocking back to the queue or going to some form of voicemail.)
Sheri: Sleeping Beauty Wakes 2shutterbug93 on August 7th, 2010 06:25 am (UTC)
I agree with you completely!! I totally felt for everyone working there!! And you're right, most people don't think about the man power needed (phone lines needed) and bandwidth that an Off-Broadway theatre of their size and what would be realistic for them to be able to handle. Part of the problem was the $20 tickets, I think. EVERYONE and their sister wanted to get those $20 tickets (plus it's an amazing show with a stellar cast...) which I think only added to the madness. I would've gladly paid the full price ($85) for tickets if the madness could've been avoided for both the theatre staff and those of us just really wanting to see the show. And I wasn't so much complaining as I was more relaying a story about how persistent I was.
Markmarkbuster on August 7th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
Your level of devotion is insanely strong. Or maybe just insane. :-0

I don't think I have ever tried for ANYTHING for 4 1/2 hours. lol. I am so lazy.
Sheri: Pippin 02shutterbug93 on August 7th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
Haha!! Insane is right! But after the first hour had passed, it almost felt like if I didn't keep trying, I would have gotten up and tried all that time for nothing. I'm nothing if not determined. ;)