The Playgoer: $66.50

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Thursday, October 22, 2009


"Tickets as low as $65.50"

So boasts a print ad for the new Off Broadway Avenue Q.

Ponder that pitch for a second.

As low as $66.50??? Talk about power of suggestion. (As if I'm supposed to go into a hypnotic trance and nod, "Wow. That's a bargain.") Are they aware what's been going on in the news the last year, something about the economy? Well I guess they are since that's why they moved. Maybe they feel it only affected them.

Also notice: as low as $66.50. That's the lowest price. Which seats are they? Not the $89.50 seats, that we know.

And certainly not the $101.50 they are already charging for performances over the holidays, between Christmas and New Years.'s OFF Broadway for chrissakes. Smaller theatres, lower budgets. Am I wrong, or this the first ever 3-figure ticket price for an Off Broadway show?

Defining Off Broadway has always been difficult. But at least we could always say, "cheaper tickets." Now...

I mean, how many folks actually paid $66.50 to see Avenue Q on Broadway???


Mike Mariano said...

I did some digging; next Tuesday evening's performance of Avenue Q is priced like this on Telecharge:

$69.50 (Left/Right Mezz)
$89.50 (Mezz)
$101.50 (Orch)
$126.50 (Premium)

I went to to find the Broadway prices of Avenue Q for weekdays one year ago:

$66.50 (Rear Mezz)
$111.50 (Front Mezz & Orch)
$151.50 (Premium)

So the lowest off-Broadway ticket price advertised (which I couldn't find online) is the same as the lowest Broadway ticket price a year ago. Ticket prices at the other levels are comparable to what they were at the Golden Theater.

I'm also curious how this ties into the Actor's Equity non-dispute you brought up a few months ago concerning this transfer.

During the Broadway time period I linked to, Avenue Q was playing to an average of 529 people per performance (66.4% of a 796-seat house). Stage 3 is a 499-seat venue, so even with comparable ticket prices, they cannot bring in as much revenue now as they were averaging on Broadway.

But, the loss of revenue from ~30 seats is nowhere as severe as the step down in minimum weekly actor salaries you listed in the previous post ($1,500 on Broadway, $1,100 off---more than a 25% pay cut.)

I hope the Avenue Q actors are getting a better deal than that. The audiences certainly aren't.

Mike Mariano said...

I guess I should put in a disclaimer: there are dozens of ways I could have framed those numbers incorrectly---the Broadway week I chose could have been a fluke low, I compared a Broadway average to an off-Broadway maximum, the number of tickets per price zone could make a difference, etc.

Still it doesn't seem like a slam-dunk situation where Equity should have told the producers, "well of course the situation is so fundamentally different we should waive our previous agreement and let you renegotiate salaries...."

Thomas Garvey said...

I know Playgoer just can't let this one go, but I'll repeat, as has been pointed out elsewhere, that it was actually the Golden Theatre management that kicked Avenue Q out, as they had a contractual right to do when its grosses fell to a certain level. It wasn't a decision of the producers.

As for your seat comparisons, they're specious. Equity rules are based on the number of seats in the house, not on how many seats actually get sold. I'm sure you can understand why. The Golden Theatre is something like an 800-seat house. That's why the Equity terms for the actors are lower in the 500-seat new theatre.