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July 13, 2011

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Michael Ahn

lol re sightlines

Art Hennessey

I have to say, I've noticed this military-like enforcement of the pre-show photography rules get a little out of hand.

Mostly the crackdown happens to harmless young audience members, usually in their early twenties and obviously just out for a fun night together. (I'll add that this is precisely the demographic that most theaters are moaning about not being able to get.)

They probably heard the show was great in a local alt weekly, or by word of mouth. They are, as you say, impressed by the set and want to snap a picture and, yes, maybe tweet it out to their friends.

Suddenly, an usher or a member of the theater staff is demanding their camera and ordering them to delete all of the photos. The audience members look they don't know what the heck the big deal is. I once watched TWO theater staffers continue to demand to see that the photos were deleted off this poor girl's phone.

I understand the intellectual property issues to do with the set, etc. But sometimes this just seems a little extreme.

isaac

I understand the IP issues, I suppose, but count me 100% unsympathetic to them. It's just insane to punish your audiences for liking your work. And I agree, Art, every time I see this happening, it's exactly the audience groups that producers claim to want to see their work. Which goes to show you once again that what theaters really want, if you follow their actions, is the money those people bring it, but not the people themselves.

Brian

I always wonder about the photo thing. If I show my friends a photo of the set, and they like it, do they go "WOW! That is a great photo! I guess I don't have to see the show now, because the entire experience is encapsulated in this still frame before the show even starts!"? No, of course not. They say "Wow, that looks great. I should check it out." and then go buy tickets.

I mean... seriously. What's the problem with it? I don't even understand the IP problems.

Ken

That a cell-phone photo of the set taken from one particular (and not necessarily good) vantage point would endanger the producers' ability to maximize their profit is patently absurd. Using ushers as stormtroopers to enforce this draconian restriction makes it a double affront.

And cheers for the expose' of the ridiculously un-user-friendly Telecharge.

Lucia Jacobs

Is this designed to sell the medicre seats first, to the suckers who trust the site? Do you always get better and better seats the more you persevere on the site??? Talk about customer 'service'!!!

Jon Mitchell

The photo ban isn't about maximizing profit it is about respect for the copyright of the designer not to mention the designer's approval for the way his set is represented. Sure, the guy to your right is just snapping a pic for his momentos, while the guy to your left is snapping a pic to run on his blog with his review or whatever. The ban also exists to keep people from snapping photos during the production - I took my family to see Lion King only to have the final moment ruined when the blackout happened and the flashbulbs went off and we all got to watch the actors scramble to their positions for curtain call. At that same performance, if you'd had epilepsy, you'd have had an episode from the strobe like flashing of cameras throughout the theatre before the show started. But then some people just want to think that rules are there to inconvenience them, and for those people I have no sympathy. You're not employed in the theatre, perhaps, just perhaps, there are some things you dont' understand about the front of house operations. How about a photo outside the theatre under the marquee or in the lobby by one of the many posters for the show? I think your good word of mouth would sell the production to your friends more than a crappy, grainy photo of a set that has no meaning without the action that takes place on it.

isaac

As to the IP designer stuff, Jon, in the age of the internet, that bird has simply flown. You can no longer control how stuff gets represented in the media, now that the media has been more democratized. We can argue about whether or not that's a good or bad thing (honestly, I feel conflicted about it) but i think it's unarguable that it's happened and we have to deal with it rather than exist in a perpetual state of denial.

You also have to balance that kind of representational interest with antagonizing your costumers and, frankly, I think we should err on the side of treating the people plunking down $125 to see our work with a bit more respect.

As to the other stuff, stopping someone from snapping a photo before the show has no impact on stopping them during the show, as your Lion King example actually illustrates. They don't let you take photos of the set of the Lion King either, and clearly that didn't deter people from ruining the final moment.

Dianne

I ordered tickets through telecharge to a John Edward show in Vancouver BC Canada in Sept. 2012. My spell check fixed my email address which I noticed just as I hit the final confirm button. I immediately sent an email saying so. I received a reply right away from JE site saying I would have to email telecharge which I did right away! I have yet to hear from them after my 4th email. They obviously do not know what customer service is! I am so upset I may just cancel. Then of course I think they keep all or part of my $400.00 plus dollars I spent. I am so angry! I will never do business through them again and I will make sure I tell everyone I know the same!

andy

At Lion King they are militant about not taking pictures in the theatre before the show, because really it does prevent a lot of photography during the show. People just don't know they can't do it unless they see others getting scolded for it. I'd much rather ushers do this before the show than during.

The tone could definitely be more agreeable. But just try politely asking people stop snapping constantly for 45 minutes, 8 times a week, for 10 years, only to be berated, insulted and ignored. You'd get snippy too.

Telecharge sucks!

Alejandro

I'm all for limiting photos and as much cell phone usage at the theater, movies, opera, concerts, etc. Phones are no longer unobtrusive and all those screens lit up really do ruin the effect. If I've paid good money to see something I want to be able to see it or hear it without interruption. It sounds a little draconian, but it's the way I was raised. My parents took me to the movies and theater from an early age and I learned to social conventions of being in those spaces. Lately, I see people at the movies texting or even taking calls while the film is going on and it's getting to the point where I just don't want to bother going out any more.

Fortunately I've taken up opera and they are hardcore at the Met. Some of these opera queens are mean and fierce. Unwrap a candy and you will get shushed. But I'm there to hear the music in the best conditions possible. Not so on Broadway where I sat next to a couple at How to Succeed eating packs of Twizzlers and slurping at sodas. I kept hearing crinkle and slurp next to me throughout the entire show.

Telecharge Web Feedback

At Telecharge we are in the middle of redesigning our website, including adding the ability to choose your seats from a seating chart, and seeing a view of the stage from your seats before you choose to buy them. We recognize the shortcomings in the way our system chooses 'best available' seats, which is why we are moving away from it with our new technology. We always recommend and encourage customers to do multiple searches on our current website, so you can find the best seats. On every search we offer the ability to search for alternative seats on the same date, which will often give you 'better' seats (further back in the center rather than closer on the side, for instance).

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Jiles

Second the comments on the obnoxious search features. To that I'd like to point out a cute little disclaimer on their site that reads "Due to technical difficulties, there is a delay in the processing all types of orders being emailed. Your tickets will be emailed in time for your performance. Thank you for your understanding."

Probably not a huge issue for most people but it did actually matter to me. Regardless--there is no reason whatsoever, other than total technical incompetence, for such a "technical limitation". What, when the orders are received, electronically, are they loaded onto a pony express that runs across America to the other computer that sends the emails?

Bruzote

Telecharge AND other ticket sites suck. They just plain suck. Their search mechanisms are all unnecessarily limited. They do not allow you to search for price over a period of dates and sort output by price/section/date/time. It's easy to program, these jerks just won't do it. If I want to quickly search for the cheapest orchestra tickets over the next six months, you should let me. I have not seen a Broadway show in three years (and I live nearby) simply because I HATE these jackasses refusing to give me information in a straight-forward fashion. I CAN already find every ticket price if I work hard at it. So why make it so VERY hard? It's unreasonable and highly insulting. "Resellers" (scalpers) with lots of employees can build their own database and then search by price, but I can't - the guy who wants to see the show and buy souvenirs. So, telejerks - keep up the "good" work. You chase away customers and you think you're so smart because your marketing analysts tell you so. Well, I'm actually in that biz - I do marketing analyses - and I think your marketing analysts have ZERO knowledge of how many customers you chase away. The people who are sick and tired of your poor service can actually *increase* demand and price, but they won't simply because you boneheads think that the customer should be told what to accept and that's that. It's really sad, since telejerk only does this out of arrogance and misguided greed (misguided because it *reduces* their revenue). I was going to buy about $1000 of tickets to Broadway. F it. I'm sick of dealing with intentional obfuscation by telejerk. We'll save the money and go out for a few more dinners instead.

SB

Try calling Telecharge and talk to a half wit who gives you the wrong information and then fails to send the tickets. Convinces you to go to the box office and then you find out you showed up on the wrong night which youwould have known had you had the damn tickets. I will never use them again.

notyourtypicalliberalmoron

My wife and I decided to stop seeing Broadway shows altogether for the reasons stated in the article and more. The experience of going to a Broadway show is absolutely nothing like it was 30 or more years ago. The comment in this article that struck me the most was the one about the venues wanting the money, but not wanting the people. This is exactly how we feel, as if we are some kind of cattle or even enemy in some cases. Never again. Our world seems lost to insanity and gross stupidity.

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