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rec.arts.theatre.* Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): part 3/3

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 )
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Archive-name: theatre/part3
Last-modified: 1995/09/19

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
FAQ Part 3: Broadway and London Ticket Information

# = new or significantly revised

9. BROADWAY INFORMATION [AK]
   9.1 How do I find out what's playing?
   9.2 Buying Regular-Priced Tickets
       9.2.1 In Person Purchases
       9.2.2 Telecharge/Ticketmaster 
       9.2.3 Mail Order
       9.2.4 Cancellation Lines
   9.3 Discount Tickets
       9.3.1 TKTS (Officially: New York City on Stage) [MB/AK]
       9.3.2 Bloomingdales [MB]
       9.3.3 Standing Room
       9.3.4 Twofers
       9.3.5 Student Tickets
   9.4 Premium-priced Tickets
       9.4.1 The Actor's Fund of America
       9.4.2 Scalpers
       9.4.2 Brokers
   9.5 Returns/Exchanges
   9.6 Size of Bway theatres and Floor Plans [AK/DF/DP]
   9.7 Additional New York Information

10. LONDON INFORMATION [DF]
    10.1 Venues
       10.1.1 The West End
       10.1.2 The RSC and the RNT
       10.1.3 The Fringe
    10.2 How to find out what's playing
    10.3 How to get tickets


*************************************************************************
** 9. BROADWAY INFORMATION                    ***************************
**    [AK,comments: aku@leland.stanford.edu]  ***************************
*************************************************************************

9.1 How do I find out what's playing?

Check out Joseph Geigel's "On Broadway" WWW homepage.  It lists all
the shows currently playing on- and off-Broadway (as well as upcoming
productions) with prices, schedules, and theatre locations.  It is
updated very regularly.  URL: http://artsnet.heinz.cmu.edu/OnBroadway
Also check out Playbill Online's Web site.  
URL: http://www.webcom.com/~broadway

More traditional sources for finding out what's playing on Broadway
(and off-Broadway) are the Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure
section, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker.  All three have
capsule summaries and list a phone number for ordering tickets.
Better bookstores and newsstands may carry TheaterWeek, which also
carries detailed listings.  If your site subscribes to the clari.news
hierarchy, a weekly posting entitled "Broadway Boxscore" in
clari.living.entertainment lists current Broadway and off-Broadway
attractions, and ticket availability.

The League of American Theatres and Producers has a telephone line
with recorded information: 212-563-2929
                                   BWAY


9.2 Buying Regular-Priced Tickets

9.2.1 In Person Purchases

Many people prefer buying tickets in person at the box office: there
are no service charges; you can refer to a floor plan in front of you;
and you are handed the tickets on the spot.  The major drawback, of
course, is that you have to be in New York to buy tickets this way, or
at least have a friend do the schlepping around for you.  If you
are visiting from out of town, you can always gamble and wait until
you arrive in NY to do your ticket shopping.  If you only need singles
and don't go after the monster smashes (PHANTOM, SUNSET, SHOW BOAT)
you may be pleasantly surprised by the (full price) seats you
can get a day or two before the performance.

The manner in which ticket inventories are maintained has always been
shrouded in secrecy, but some have felt that the quality of seats sold
via the telephone agencies weren't as good as those sold in person.
That perception may have been largely shaped by the refusal of the
phone agencies, in the past, to reveal seat location, thereby allowing
them to stick phone purchasers with poorer seats that would have been
refused by an in-person ticketbuyer.  Now with both Broadway ticket
agencies (Telecharge and Ticketmaster) giving out seat locations over
the phone, this perceived disparity may no longer have any basis.

9.2.2 Telecharge/Ticketmaster 

TELECHARGE sells tickets to shows playing at Shubert and Jujamcyn
houses (PHANTOM, THE TEMPEST, LES MISERABLES, MOON OVER BUFFALO, etc.)
as well as Lincoln Center Theater (THE HEIRESS), Circle in the Square,
and selected off-Broadway theatres.  Telecharge now gives out seat
locations over the phone, but usually only during daytime hours.  For
books that contain floor plans to Broadway theatres, see section 9.6
of the FAQ.

(212) 239-6200 
(800) 432-7250 outside NY/NJ/CT

The 800 number is a relatively recent addition, and only gets
advertised with some shows, notably the more tourist-friendly shows
like CRAZY FOR YOU.  If you are out of town and the show you are
interested in lists the 239-6200 number, try the 800 number instead if
you want to save on long distance charges.
 
TELECHARGE has a service charge of $4.75/ticket

---

TICKETMASTER sells tickets to shows playing at Nederlander houses
(SUNSET BOULEVARD, SHOW BOAT, VICTOR/VICTORIA, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST,
etc.)  as well as selected off-Broadway theatres.  Ticketmaster now
gives out seat locations over the phone.

(212) 307-4100
(800) 755-4000 outside NY/NJ/CT

TICKETMASTER has a charge of $5.50/ticket plus an overall transaction
fee of $2.50 for the order.

9.2.3 Mail Order

In this age of instant gratification, people often overlook snail
mail, a slower, but far cheaper means of buying tickets.  There is no
service charge involved, and you can request seats in a particular
area of the theatre and for a particular date or range of dates (but
if you are overspecific, you'll get your check returned and a "no can
do" note).  I have found that I have always gotten better seats via
mail order than through phone orders, but now that seat locations are
available over the phone, this point may no longer be valid.  Some
shows will offer mail orders weeks or months before telephone orders
are accepted.

Payment: By check only. >>> Include a self addressed stamped envelope.

Turnaround: 2-3 weeks, but this is ballpark

Address: You can find the address to send your payment and SASE
  in the alphabetical listings in the Sunday New York Times, OR
  you can call Telecharge/Ticketmaster (make a note of which
  agency your show uses) and they will tell you an address to send
  mail orders to.

9.2.4 Cancellation Lines

Cancellation lines sprout when a show reaches sellout status.  The
term "cancellation line" is a bit of a misnomer, because most of the
tickets sold this way are actually house seats reserved by producers
to give to VIPs, and are only sold to the public at the last minute,
just before the curtain rises.  These seats can be very good indeed,
but the possibly of not getting in (the number of available seats 
isn't announced until the last minute) can deter many.  Tickets are 
full price.

9.3 Discount Tickets

9.3.1 TKTS (Officially: New York City on Stage) [MB/AK]

These are the well-known "1/2 price" ticket booths that sell
day-of-performance theatre tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
Starting in mid-1992, TKTS started offering 25% off tickets to more
popular shows (under pressure from producers) in addition to 50% off
tickets.  Keep in mind that some shows are almost never available at
TKTS, like PHANTOM and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  TKTS adds a $2.50 surcharge 
that goes to the Theatre Development Fund, a non profit agency that 
runs TKTS and does a lot of work in promoting and supporting the theatre 
community.  TKTS accepts cash or travellers cheques *only*.  No personal 
checks or credit cards.

Recorded information: 212-768-1818

LOCATIONS:

** Duffy Square (Times Square: 47th St. at Broadway)

Right in front of the ticket windows are electronic LED signs
listing all the shows with discount tickets available.  As a show 
sells out, its name is removed.  "Runners" from the various theatres may
drop off new ticket inventories during the day, so the selection
continually varies (although it is almost certainly the best when the
booth first opens).  By the time one gets close enough to the see the
boards, one has only about a minute before having to step up to the
ticket window.  It is always good to wait at TKTS in pairs, so that
one person can walk to the front of the line at regular intervals to
check on what's available so one isn't caught making a snap decision.
The ticket sellers can be pretty surly at times, so don't dawdle.  A
nice addition in the past year or so has been a table that features
flyers, discount coupons, twofers (see below) to shows (primarily
off-Broadway).  These coupons can be used to buy advance, discount
tickets at the boxoffice of the show in question.  Some date and/or
seat location restrictions may apply.  

While standing in line, you may be approached by people selling
tickets to hit shows (LES MIZ, CATS, etc.), often at significant
discounts.  DON'T buy them!!  There will certainly be the occasional
person who is legitimately trying to unload an extra ticket or two, if
someone cancelled on him (most shows don't allow refunds), but it is
more likely that the tickets were purchased with stolen credit cards
or obtained by equally shady means.  It's probably not worth the risk.

Hours:

Monday thru Saturday   3pm-8pm for evening shows
Wednesday and Saturday 10am-2pm for matinees
Sunday noon-"closing" for Broadway matinees and off-Broadway matinees 
        and evening shows

** World Trade Center (2 World Trade Center Mezzanine)

Matinee tix are sold 1 day prior.  This booth also sells full 
price Broadway advance tix.

Reopened: April 5, 1993

Hours: 

Monday thru Friday 11am to 5:30pm
Saturday 11am to 3:30 pm

** Brooklyn (Court and Montague (sp?) Streets)

THIS BOOTH CLOSED ON NOVEMBER 27, 1993, AND WILL NO LONGER BE
OFFERING DISCOUNT TICKETS.


9.3.2 Bloomingdales [MB]

Bloomingdales has a Ticketmaster outlet on the third floor by the
Credit Office, supposedly open store hours which are 10-6:30 on
Saturdays.  They sell discount tix on a sliding scale for day of
performance only.

9.3.3 Standing Room

A sellout show does have a potential silver lining: the theatre may
begin to sell standing room.  Provided that the theatre can accomodate
standing room (for example, the Broadway Theatre doesn't) and the
day's performance is expected to sell out, standing room is usually
sold first thing when the box office opens at 10am.  Unfortunately,
not many shows sell out these days; PHANTOM and HAMLET are among the
recent ones that have and thus offered standing room.  If you can get
standing room, they are an excellent buy: typically, they are $15 or
$20 for spots at the rear of the orchestra section (where seats cost
$67.50 for most musicals).  To find out what time you should start
standing in line, ask the person in the ticket booth the day before,
and get there 1/2 or 1 hour before the time he gives.

9.3.4 Twofers

"Twofers" is now a bit of a misnomer as well; formerly, these
ticket-shaped coupons allowed one to buy 2 advance tickets for the
price of 1 at the boxoffice, but now they now offer widely varying
discounts to both Broadway and off-Broadway shows (and you can buy
only single tickets).  Usually seat and date restrictions apply, but
the nice thing is that you can buy them in advance (but not *too* far
in advance, at most maybe one month ahead of time).  Twofers are
distributed around New York (hotel desks, recreation centers, the
table at the Times Square TKTS booth), but if you live out of town,
you can send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Hit Shows, 630 Ninth
Ave., New York, NY 10036 and they will send you some for assorted
shows.  Usually only older shows that are slipping financially will
offer twofers.
 
9.3.5 Student Tickets

Some Broadway shows sell student tickets; often these shows have run
awhile and use these offers to attract business.  [Notable exceptions
to the rule were Cameron Mackintosh shows, which sold student tickets
(albeit in the rear balcony) to shows like LES MISERABLES and PHANTOM
from the very first performance.  Since revamping the ticket scales to
$15-$65 for everyone, student discounts for the CM shows have been
eliminated, but student discounts may still be available for his
touring productions.]  One often has to inquire about these tickets at
the boxoffice, as they are not posted to the "Scale of Prices" sign
outside the boxoffice.  Student tickets are only sold in person at the
boxoffice, and require a student ID.  They usually aren't prime
seating. 

Student tickets are more readily available off-Broadway, especially
at the non-profits like the Public Theater.  Some offer only
student/senior rush seats (ie. 30 minutes before showtime).

9.4 Premium-priced Tickets

These are only options that the most wealthy or fanatical would use.
Choice seats to popular shows may be snapped up by scalpers or brokers 
and resold at a premium, often at several times the face value of
the tickets.  

9.4.1 The Actor's Fund of America

Broadway producers assign a few seats to every performance to The
Actor's Fund of America to help raise money for the Fund's charitable
work in the entertainment industry.  Seats are double the box office
cost (1/2 is a charitable donation).  Tickets are on a first-come,
first-served basis (subject to availability) (212) 221-7301 ext 133.

9.4.2 Scalpers

You can sometimes find these people loitering around the front of the
theatre of a "hot" show just before the performance. Keep in mind that 
you are taking a chance when buying a ticket from an unauthorized dealer: 
even if the ticket looks authentic, it could have been purchased with a
stolen credit card and have been invalidated.

9.4.2 Brokers

These are essentially legalized scalpers and typically, as in their
ads, they offer seats in the first 12 rows of the orchestra to the
hottest shows (PHANTOM, SUNSET, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) for a substantial
premium.  You can find their postage stamp-sized ads among the theatre
ads in the Sunday New York Times.

9.5 Returns/Exchanges

It says right on the ticket NO RETURNS OR EXCHANGES, so you will have
a tough time getting either from a Broadway show.  If the show is a
sellout, there is a slim chance that this will be allowed, but the
transaction has to be done in person.  If the show you attend features
star who gets billing above the title in the advertisements, and the
star doesn't show, you *may* be eligible for a refund.  Check at the
box office before the performance begins.  

9.6 Size of Broadway Theatres and Floor Plans [AK/DF/DP]

Theatre                 total   orchestra    address
                        seats   seats

Ambassador              1125     602         215 W 49th St
Brooks Atkinson         1090     608         256 W 47th St
Ethel Barrymore         1096     620         243 W 47th St
Belasco                 1018     532         111 W 44th St
Martin Beck             1302     686         302 W 45th St
Biltmore                 948     520         261 W 47th St
Booth                    783     515         222 W 45th St
Broadhurst              1157     702         235 W 44th St
Broadway                1765     909         1681 Broadway (at 53rd)
Circle in the Square     681     681         1633 Broadway (50-51st)
Cort                    1089     506         138 W 48th St
Criterion                499     499         1514 Broadway (at 45th)
Gershwin                1933    1298         222 W 51st St
John Golden              805     468         252 W 45th St
Helen Hayes              499     311         240 W 44th St
Imperial                1452     755         249 W 45th St
Walter Kerr              949     541         219 W 48th St
Longacre                1220     523         220 W 48th St
Lunt-Fontanne           1478     858         220 W 48th St
Lyceum                   938     411         149 W 45th St
Majestic                1629     895         245 W 44th St
Marquis                 1601    1016         1535 Broadway (at 45th)
Minskoff                1621    1039         45th & Broadway
Music Box               1010     539         239 W 45th St
Nederlander             1216     592         208 W 41st St
Eugene O'Neill          1077     711         230 W 49th St
Palace                  1686     807         47th & Broadway
Plymouth                1077     660         236 W 45th St
Richard Rogers          1342     802         226 W 46th St
Royale                  1058     622         242 W 45th St
St. James               1636     702         246 W 44th St
Shubert                 1483     697         225 W 44th St
Neil Simon              1334     683         250 W 52nd St
Virginia                1220     744         245 W 52nd St
Winter Garden           1513     989         1634 Broadway (50-51st)
Vivian Beaumont         1050     723         150 W 65th St
 (at Lincoln Center)


Books of floor plans to NY theatres are available:

1) The New York Theatre Soucebook by Chuck Lawliss ISBN# 0-671-68870-7 
   Fireside Book, published by Simon & Schuster Inc.

2) STUBS is a booklet with seating plans for about 100 Broadway,
   Off-Broadway, and other theaters in the NY region.  It is 
   available at some theatre souvenir shops in the Broadway district
   and is also available by mail order.  Send a check for $12.20 
   payable to STUBS to:

        STUBS Magazine
        226 West 47th Street
        New York, NY  10036

The price includes shipping and handling (the list price is $9.95).


9.7 Additional New York Information

To keep the size of the FAQ manageable, further New York tourist
information has been archived.  A "New York Survival Guide" was compiled
by Paul Goldsmith in preparation for the 1993 RATcon in May.  

This document has been combined with hotel listings, and archived
by Elizabeth Lear Newman at ftp.std.com as:

/archives/RAT-archive/NYCguide.Z

It has also been archived by David Pirmann at quartz.rutgers.edu as:

/pub/theater/nyc-info.gz (gzipped)
/pub/nyc/nyc-info.gz (gzipped)

While you are connected to this archive, check out the NY information
that David has been writing and saving from other newsgroups.  Located
in the directory /pub/nyc/, there are files on restaurants, clubs,
and book and record stores in NY.  The quartz archive is available 
via gopher.

*************************************************************************
** 10. LONDON INFORMATION                  ******************************
**     [DF,comments: davidf@world.std.com  ******************************
*************************************************************************

10.1 VENUES

Just as theatre in New York can be divided into Broadway and
Off-Broadway (and Off-Off-Broadway ...), theatre in London can be
divided into the West End and the Fringe.


10.1.1 THE WEST END

The West End corresponds closely to Broadway; it is the home of big,
commercial theatre.  Like Broadway, it is dominated by large, long
running musicals such as LES MIZ, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, MISS SAIGON,
CATS, etc..  And like Broadway, critics keep writing its obituary, but
you can still find quality theatre here, often revivals of classic
plays (Shaw, Wilde, etc.) with top British actors (familiar to American
audiences from Masterpiece Theatre), or transfers from the Fringe or
the RSC or RNT.  Prices are comparable to Broadway, or perhaps a bit
cheaper depending upon the current exchange rate; top prices range from
almost 30 pounds for the big musicals down to around 20-25 pounds for
plays, but you can pay much less if you aren't choosy about where you
sit.


10.1.2 THE RSC AND THE RNT

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the Royal National Theatre
(RNT) are the real jewels in the crown of British theatre.  Although
often lumped together with the West End, the RSC and RNT are different
from the other, commercial theatres, in that they are subsidized, which
allows them to mount more adventurous productions with less attention
to the bottom line, and both present plays in repertory, with several
different shows being mounted over the course of a week. Although the
RSC does, as it's name implies, concentrate on Shakespeare, both
theatres perform plays from all periods, including new works.  The
RSC's home in London is the Barbican Centre, with two theatres -- the
large Barbican Theatre and the smaller Pit.  The RNT is based in the
South Bank Centre, with three theatres -- the large Olivier, with its
unusual fan-shape, the more conventional Lyttleton, and the small,
flexible Cottesloe.  Both the Barbican Centre and the South Bank Centre
are huge, concrete, post-war architectural monstrosities, but the
theatres themselves are quite nice.  Ticket prices range from a high of
22 pounds down to 5 pounds; the top ticket price for weekday matinees
at both the RSC and RNT is only 10 pounds.

The RSC has a second home in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it has three
more theatres, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan, and The Other
Place.  Many RSC productions start in Stratford and run there for a
season before transferring to London.  Stratford is less than two hours
from London and is well worth a trip; the RSC even runs a shuttle which
allows you to visit for a day and catch a show.


10.1.3 THE FRINGE

The term The Fringe covers all the other theatres in and around London.
 It is of wildly varying quality, but much of it is quite good, and the
prices are generally lower.  Some Fringe theatres are run as clubs,
which means they are covered by somewhat different regulations than
normal theatres.  In most cases, this just means that if you aren't
already a member you have to pay an extra pound or two to join the club
when you buy a ticket.  Many of the clubs have reciprocal memberships,
so if you go to several different Fringe theatres you may only have to
join once.


10.2 HOW TO FIND OUT WHAT'S PLAYING

I maintain another document, The London Stage Gazette, which is
currently being updated monthly.  It lists what's playing at all West
End theatres, the RNT, the RSC, and selected Fringe theatres, with box
office phone numbers and in some cases capsule reviews.  It also
reports news on upcoming productions.

The latest version of The London Stage Gazette is posted to the Usenet
group rec.arts.theatre.misc.  It can also be found on the World Wide
Web at "http://www.tiac.net/users/davidf/london.html" as well as the
London Home Page at "http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/misc/uk/london.html".
Finally, you can also get it by e-mail by sending your request to
davidf@tiac.net.  I also have a mailing list which is sent the latest
version every month (as well as new versions of this document when
major changes occur); if you would like to be added send mail to the
same address (makes sure you specify whether you want to be added to
the list or just want the latest update).

In London, the weekly magazines TIME OUT and WHAT'S ON have complete
theatre listings, including all the Fringe theatres not covered in my
listing -- I always pick up the latest issues in the airport when I
arrive in England.  They can occasionally be found in larger newsstands
in the States; in Boston TIME OUT can usually be found at both Out Of
Town News in Harvard Square and the main Tower Records on Newbury
Street.  Another thing to pick up once you are in London is the Theatre
Guide, a free brochure put out bi-weekly by the Society of West End
Theatre and available at most theatre box offices.

London newspapers are also a good source for current listings; many of
them include information on ticket availability so you can check which
shows are selling out.  Again, in the Boston area you can find London
papers at Out Of Town News.

In the States, the monthly newsletter London Theatre News reviews
recent productions and has a listing of West End theatres.  The only
drawback is that it often doesn't review shows in time to help with
advanced planning (and the reviews are not always worthwhile in any
case).  For subscription information, write London Theatre News, 12 E.
86th Street, Suite 620, New York, NY 10028, or call 1-800-779-0077.

 
10.3 HOW TO GET TICKETS

If you are planning in advance, the easiest way to get tickets is by
calling the box office and using a credit card; pretty much all the
West End box offices, as well as the RNT and RSC, will be happy to take
phone orders, and most of them can tell you exactly where you will be
sitting (by the way, the ground floor seats that are called orchestra
seats in the States are called the stalls in Britain, while the
mezzanine becomes the dress circle).

Another possibility is to buy in person at the box offices once you
reach London; this allows you to look at a seating chart and see
exactly where you will be sitting.

If saving money is important, try the Half Price Ticket Booth in
Leicester Square.  Similar to the TKTS booth in New York, the Booth
sells same day tickets for many West End shows at half price plus a
small service charge, cash only, limit four tickets per person.  These
are tickets that the producers haven't been able to sell elsewhere, so
you won't find the most popular shows or the best seats, but you can
see some great theatre at a bargain price.  The booth is open from 12
noon for Matinee tickets, and 2:30-6:30 for evening tickets, Monday
through Saturday (although you should get in line early for the best
choice).

If the show you want to see is sold out, don't despair.  First, check
with the box office; if you are flexible about which performance you
want to see (especially weekday matinees), you may get lucky.  Second,
most shows offer "returns" (in theory already sold tickets which have
been returned, but often house seats or other held-back seats finally
being released) for sale on the day of the show; ask the box office how
early you should show up to get in line.  Both the RSC and the RNT
reserve a small number of tickets which only go on sale the day of the
performance, at 9 am at the RSC and 10 am at the RNT, although
depending upon the popularity of the show you may need to be in line
well before that.

If you don't have time to wait in line for a ticket and are willing to
pay a premium, there are a large number of ticket agents in London who
would be glad to sell you a ticket for a fee over and above the face
value of the ticket; you can find them by checking ads or simply
walking around the West End.  There are also a large number of touts
(or scalpers) outside the major shows, but it is recommended that you
don't buy from them -- there is no guarantee that the ticket is
legitimate, and you have little recourse if you discover you've been
had.

Finally, West End Cares' Charity Ticket Hotline can help you get into
sold-out shows and help a worthwhile cause.  Theatre producers donate
house seats to their shows (which are usually good seats), and they are
then sold for twice their face value, with the money being donated to
an AIDS charity.  It's expensive, but it allows you to do a good deed
while you see a good show.  The number is 071 976 6751.

-- 
Andrew Ku                             |
aku@leland.stanford.edu               |   
andrew@chemeng.stanford.edu           |     "What to do?  What to say?"
http://www-leland.stanford.edu/~aku/  |


-- 
Andrew Ku                             |  
aku@leland.stanford.edu               |    "And what are you that live    
andrew@chemeng.stanford.edu           |     with Lucifer?"
http://www-leland.stanford.edu/~aku/  |

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