05 January 2007

Why Not Just Hire Orange Sellers?

A horrifying article in the New York Times today about the state of allowed audience behavior in Broadway theatres. According to the piece, eating in theatres is now not only known, but PERMITTED. Disney theatres, some houses owned by Jujamcyn and ALL the Nederlander theatres let patrons take all sorts of munchies back to their seats, just like the popcorn monkeys we see at the cineplex every day.

Now Disney you're going to expect. They're all about concessions. But Jujamcyn, which is run by Rocco Landesman, and the Nederlander organization, run by one of the oldest of most powerful theatre real estate families in America, should know better. They're theatre men, or pose as such. They know what's at stake. They know how easily the theatrical illusion is broken by the sound of cell phone and candy wrappers. Now, you can't help old biddies smuggling in candies in their coin purses, but you can stop Mr. and Mrs. Fatso Cornbelt from purchasing a jumbo popcorn and a tuna wrap at your own concession stand.

“It’s a reflection of changing audience habits,” said Jim Boese, the Nederlander organization’s weasly, prevaricating vice president. “As the audience for Broadway expands, there are changing audience needs. This is part of a broader attempt to enhance the audience experience.” Reflection of changing audience habits, my ass. Reflections of never-changing corporate greed is more like it. The Nederlanders et al stand to make a mint off such food sales—particularly when they can pretend to be conscientious by making theatregoers buy a "spillproof commemorative cup" for $12 if they want to bring it back to their seats.

As for enhancing the theatre experience, how do at-your-seat salads and hot dogs enhance a night at the theatre. They liven up the show down in the glutton's stomach, for sure; his mouth is alive with pleasure, no doubt. But I doubt he's concentrating on what David Hare has to say or the nuances of Christine Ebersole's performance. And his non-eating neighbor's experience is surely diminished.

I'd like to visit Mr. Boese in his office during business hours and eat my lunch. I'd like to enhance his work experience.

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