Following an apparently successful experiment in Chicago*, it looks like more theatres may offer some kind of "money-back guarantee" for unhappy playgoers, no questions asked. Now Syracuse Stage is offering a kind of opt-out clause for subscribers:
At Syracuse Stage artistic director Tim Bond wants audiences to go home happy. In an unprecedented guarantee of artistic satisfaction, Bond promises season ticket-holders a refund on the remainder of their subscription if they’re dissatisfied with a single show.Now I only assume this was "successful" in Goodman in that the company, it seems, did not go broke handing out refunds. But you gotta wonder...are such offers really made in good faith? Not that they wouldn't honor the promise, of course. But surely (consistent with the whole business philosophy of the "or your money back" tactic) they're counting on folks not doing this. Whether out of politeness, laziness, whatever. It's a gimmick to instill confidence in the product, of course.
But what if, eh? What if just one of the shows at Syracuse is so lame--or so offensive, or just so long, or what if a guy and his wife just have a bad parking experience?--that, say, 20-30 subscribers bail mid-season. After all, these are unstable economic times. A family shells out $200-$300 bucks on a year's worth of theatre tix, then someone loses a job or incurs unexpected health expenses, and round about January, Mr. and Mrs. look at each other at intermission of yet another tired classic or bland new 2-character play and say, "do we really need this?"
*P.S. Boldface section emended in light of Patrick's comments below--which offer valuable clarification on the Chicago production happening at the Goodman, not produced by it. More on that project here.