04 November 2008

Gotham Conundrum #17

Encountering the long lines at my polling place today, I was reminded of one of the more enduring mysteries of city living. That is: why do ticketholders line up at Broadway shows for which they have assigned seats?

I went to "American Buffalo" last night and once again encountered this nonsensical behavior. You can't get Americans to line up properly for a bus or at a deli counter, but they'll go positively British outside a Broadway theatre. For 20 years, tourists (and I imagine they're mainly tourists—that and theatregoing newbies) have queued up for "Phantom of the Opera," often waiting for a half hour before curtain. They do the same for "Hairspray," "Spring Awakening" and other shows. The behavior is less common at plays, though I recently experienced it at "Equus." (Daniel Radcliffe fans, anyone?)

Surely they see the row and seat numbers on their tickets. There's no general admission on Broadway. Instead of boring themselves cross-eyed, they could be out strolling, having dinner, downing a pre-show drink, taking photographs. I guess it must be chalked up to inexperience, but that's a lot of clueless customers.

Maybe the MTA should start assigning seats with each Metrocard. Finally, people will stop bunching up outside the opening subway doors.


Anonymous said...

THey are waiting for the $20 front row tickets.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

They weren't, actually. I watched them file in. They had seat everywhere, and they were holding their tickets.

Anonymous said...

I have lived in NYC for nearly a quarter of a century (!) and have been to four Broadway shows. Two were with visitors from out of town and two with a former roommate who worked on the productions. I suspect some of those on line are clueless, but some are there so they can rush the coat check, buy a souvenir and get a drink before curtain. Give me off-off Broadway any day.