Saturday, March 30, 2013

What's Next in Rush and Lottery Policies

Rush policy for cheap tickets to see shows started with RENT. Jonathan Larsen wanted students, artists, and other people who would not be able to afford to see a show at full price to be able to have the chance to see a show. The first two rows of seats were reserved for people to be able to show up early (and sometimes the day before) to wait and then be able to purchase these seats affordably. Later on the show changed to a lottery policy as there were so many people willing to stay all night out for the show.

Rush and lottery policies have evolved since then. Some theatres reserve the first two rows, others give whatever seats are left in the theatre. Some have a rush policy. Some have a lottery policy. Some are specific to students with a student ID. It depends on the theatre and it depends on the show. It seems that the most popular shows (like Book of Mormon, Wicked and Annie) stick with a lottery policy. It’s a gamble, depending on the show. If you want a guaranteed seat it may not be the smartest move for you.

American Idiot had a lotto policy when it was on Broadway for the first two rows, but also had a “lotto losers” policy that sold other seats in the theatre for slightly more than the lotto seats if you didn’t win the lottery. I tried to lotto several times for American Idiot and never got it, but always managed to get other seats under the lotto losers’ policy.

Honestly, lotto and rush seats are the only way that I get to see as much theatre as I do. I can’t afford full priced seats regularly. Actually, I can RARELY afford full priced seats. I don’t fault theatres for needing to make enough money to run a show. It’s an expensive business. But people who are like me, or in an even more difficult financial situation than I am (I’ve got it okay), still have the right to see a show. Lotto and rush policies help out.

To my knowledge, the only show in Broadway that doesn’t have a rush or lottery policy is The Lion King (correct me if I’m wrong, please) and I think that’s horrible. Honestly, I’d love to see The Lion King, but there’s no way I can afford to see it in New York. And with no lotto or rush policy, there’s no way I’ll be seeing it anytime soon (unless someone wants to buy me a ticket).

But recently there have been two shows open that have taken a whole different stance on the rush policies. Cinderella and Matilda have been two of the most talked about “family friendly” musicals to open this spring. Both are shows I’d love to see. Neither are shows I’ll be seeing anytime soon. But are student rush only, which means I’m out. But that’s not what makes me the most sad about the policies for this show.

Both Matilda and Cinderella have a student rush policy for Monday through Thursday performances only. Matilda has also tacked on that said students can only get 2 tickets per 30 day period (something that I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing). But the Monday through Thursday thing is ridiculous.

First off, a student is typically in school during the week. Which means that unless they skip classes during the week, it’s going to be difficult to rush the show. Even if they attend school in New York. Secondly, what about those students who don’t live in New York? Perhaps they live close enough to take a train or a bus in (or even fly in for the weekend).  But then they can’t student rush the show on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

I understand that both shows are selling extremely well. I understand when a show is selling that well that they want to make as much money as possible. But why should the rush or lottery policy be made so difficult? Especially for students? I’m not sure what’s worse: Not having a lottery or rush policy at all, or having one that’s nearly impossible for a patron to access.

I don’t have all the answers. I’m not a producer, or a business person. But I would think that the more accessible that you make your shows, the more likely you are going to attract lifelong patrons. People that will pay full price when and if they are able at a later time. If your show is selling so well, why not have an open lotto for a set number of seats each performance? They don’t have to be front row. But it equalizes availability to everyone. Or even if you want it to be a student rush lotto (something I don’t think has even been done yet) to make it specifically students, let them come on the weekends. When, you know, school is out.

Do you have an opinion on rush or lottery policies? Do you think this new trend for shows is something that will continue to happen? 

You can find rush and lotto policies listed on each show’s website or on for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. 

1 comment:

  1. Matilda has changed their policy to a lottery .
    Motown and Phantom also don't have real rush policies- though they do sell inexpensive SRO tix if the performance is sold out.
    Phantom also has cheapy rear mezz seats which The Lion King does not.
    Plus if you do decide you want to see The Lion King during a trip to NY- you are better off splurging for orchestra seats- some of the impact is lost from higher up.