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Anyone Been Berated In Rush Ticket Line By Al Hirschfield Ticket Personnel?

nyla
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When out of town relatives asked my parents to purchase June 29 Rush tickets for “Kinky Boots”, they checked online and called Hirschfield Theatre about Rush ticket policy. They were told 2tkt limit, first come/first serve and arrive (with chairs) as early as 6am. And so they did!! They arrived at 5:30am (with two chairs) for 10am box office opening.

My mom stayed in line until around 8:40am and then went home to let the relatives into her apartment. She came back around 9:10am. Shortly after she left, a Hirschfield employee asked each person in line their arrival time and desired # of tickets. My Dad said two tickets for each chair (meaning 4 tickets in his mind-I know- he could have been clearer) and told the employee he arrived at 5:30am.

When my mother came back at 9:10, she was concerned that my Dad had left the employee with the impression they only wanted two tickets. So she called the Hirschfield employee over and told him they wanted 4 tickets. The Hirschfield employee immediately waved his finger in my mother’s face and said at least four times in a loud voice: “he (my Dad) told me two tickets”, “he told me two tickets” and I have guaranteed a couple behind you in line two tickets and you were not in line”. When my mom said she was in line at 5:30am, left at 8:40am, came back at 9:10am, he then started saying she was never in line until people in line ahead said she was. He then loudly switched his accusations to: “you were not in line since I arrived and the Rush policy is you can only leave the line for 15 minutes!! When my mom tried to tell him she was not aware of the policy, the employee talked right over her in a loud voice, continued to wave his finger in her face and said: “you should have known you could not leave the line for more than 15 minutes!” My Dad asked the employee to please calm down and listen three separate times, but each time the employee also waved his finger in my Dad’s face and quickly moved around him to continue to berate my mother. He then said to my mother: “you left the line for more than 15 minutes and if you ask for more than two tickets at the window you should be ashamed of yourself because you will be deliberately taking a ticket from someone who was in line longer than you. You should be ashamed to even think about doing that”.

At this point, my Dad shouted “stop this now; you want let us talk and yet are trying to make us out like criminals”. I am tired of your finger wagging and accusations”. The employee then said, “I know how to fix this, you’ll see”. How did he fix it? He talked to the Theatre manager so that when my Dad got to the ticket window he was told all the Rush tickets were gone!! My parents ended up having to buy standing room only tickets.

When my parents spoke with the Theatre manager about the employee’s behavior, she said in a sarcastic voice, “my employee told me the whole story, you cannot leave the line”. My Dad said leaving the line is not the issue; your employee’s behavior is the issue... But before my Father could say another word, the manager cut him off and said again “you cannot leave the line, you cannot leave the line”and ended the conversation with this statement: “As to my employee’s behavior, he told me that at least 10 people behind you in the line applauded his behavior”.


Has anyone experienced or seen similar employee behavior at the Hirschfield Theatre Rush line? I am pretty disgusted because my parents are senior citizens and always play by the rules. My mother actually started crying in front of the manager because she and my Father were publicly cast as villains trying to flaunt Rush line rules they were totally unaware of. It really ticks me off to have had my parents publicly berated and accused of sleazy behavior while simply trying to buy a Rush ticket.



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CapnHook
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1) I haven't looked this up on the KINKY BOOTS website, but it seems that this "rush" policy has elaborate rules that make this rush policy unique to other shows' rush policies. You ARE permitted to leave for 15 minutes? They have a line monitor that works 90 minutes before the box office opens? Very unusual.

2) You should write a letter to the Jujamcyn office with your verson of the events.
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Greatwhiteway3
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Short answer, NO. BUT, IMHO. Not that I doubt your version of events, but I think its very nice of Kinky to have a 15 minute leaving policy. I actually think it makes it very hard to monitor. Although your mother may have been there all morning and left for 30 minutes, how is it fair that a "chair" gets to have tickets? Whats to stop some person coming at 7AM with 3 folding chairs and then 30 minutes before the box office opens his or her 2 friends show up, nice and rested, to claim their 2 tickets each. People already attempt to do this. It happened to me at Evita.. I almost lost out because the 1st person in line conveniently had 4, YES FOUR additional people casually roll up just before the box office opened and squeeze in line like it was no big deal. Every coward in line just stood there, rolled their eyes, but didn't say a word.. I made a HUGE stink and the people got embarrassed and left. Had they stayed I would have missed out on tickets.
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I have to agree with the staying. a 10 or 15 minute potty break, or a run to grab a drink is reasonable. A half hour is not. A chair doesn't save a spot.
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Maybe if your mom had explained the situation to the rest of the line before she left? That way they wouldn't have thought they were getting shafted. Although if ten people on line thought the employee was right there's probably more to the story.
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The guy seemed like a jerk to me. I met him last weekend while rushing. Not impressed with the way he monitors the line. There were 2 people in front of me that got there at 1:30 in the am and about 7:30 both of them disappeared for about 90 minutes. Nothing was said by anyone. Also watch this line. it is ripe with scalpers. Get there early and don't leave for longer than 15 minutes (as previously stated).
Visceral_Fella
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I understand the ruling, but I'm very sorry that your family was treated this way. The outcome would have been the same even if he handled the situation differently. Your mother wasn't going to get the tickets. Okay, that's punishment enough. The finger waving and sass, he could have kept all of that. I would have been furious. Granted, I'm assuming that your story is true, and that your mother was victimized.

I've seen a few theatre staff members behave this way, and I hate to see patrons, especially those who are genuinely confused, mistreated.

Don't worry, I'm sure he will behave this way again with someone else, and they will kindly tell him to "have a seat". With a show like Kinky Boots it's just a matter of time before he comes across the wrong one.

Updated On: 6/29/13 at 10:30 PM
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I would just like to add a thanks to the Al Hischfeld Theater and Kinky producers for actually HAVING a line monitor who took his job seriously. At "Book of Mormon", which is a four or five hour wait for standing room, the day I was there, there was no line policing whatsoever, and you had to be vigilant the whole time that a bozo ahead of you wouldn't have four friends suddenly show up and grab the spots. It was a real Wild West the day I was there and after a wait of many hours you couldn't be sure what would happen, there was no one there to check that things were even a little fair to those who waited for hours. There wasn't a person to even talk to. And don't think the bad apples don't see that there is no monitor and get on their cell phones and call friends to just join them on the line...see what I am saying?

Your father should have made extremely clear to the monitor that your mother stepped away momentarily but would be back, and apologize, and ask to be included for a correct head count.
Assuming she really was only away a short time...

Updated On: 6/29/13 at 10:32 PM
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The line monitor at BOM was very intense about his job when I saw it in Aug. 2011...He made everyone know their place line (I was first) and that any deviations were to be handled. He even let me sneak across to the church to pee (I had been there since 5:45 AM).

Also, he enforced against people who walked up and tried to coerce people into buying tickets for them.
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Sorry....I meant to write this in my initial post: even with not disagreeing with her not getting tix after the absence, the behavior you describe is unacceptable. But keep in mind, there is your parent's version, the line monitor's version and then there's the truth that likely lies somewhere in between the two.
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Chris at BoM is great, but he's the lottery manager, not the line manager. There is no line manager. He'll watch out for things, and they do have a camera, but they don't enforce anything too often. The line at BoM has to police itself.
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nyla, I happened to be in the rush line this morning rushing for friends from out of town who couldn't even get house seats for tonight's performance, and I'm sorry to say that your mother's version of the events is not entirely accurate.

As you say, your parents showed up at 5:30am and were about twenty people back in line. I don't remember what time your mother left, but it wasn't for a half hour from 8:40 to 9:10 as you say- it was much closer to forty-five minutes to an hour, which she admitted when the controversy erupted shortly thereafter (I believe she kept saying, "I was only gone for forty-five minutes!") While she was gone, the line monitor went down the line asking people how many tickets they wanted and your father clearly said two tickets, which everyone around him heard. When your mother came back later and said she also wanted two tickets, things escalated because that threw off the count the monitor had established. He'd already gone down the line and promised two people they had tickets that wouldn't actually have tickets if your parents were able to get four.

Obviously I wasn't involved in the conversation directly, but I never once thought the monitor crossed the line in dealing with your parents. I'm sure they both meant well, but I was more offended by your mother thinking it was okay for her to leave for an hour and come back simply because she'd gotten there early initially. The way the line works is simple- when you're in it, you're in it, and when you're not, you're not. Besides bathroom breaks, you can't leave or you forfeit your spot, plain and simple. As the house management person said to your parents, the entire line backed up the line monitor when he established that your father said he wanted two tickets and nothing more, and everyone was also very vocal about expressing their frustration with your mother trying to come back and still claim tickets. Had your father said he wanted four tickets when he was asked, the monitor would have told him then and there that that wasn't happening. Your parents may not have been clear about how everything worked initially, but they sure weren't apologetic when they were made aware of it later.

As others have said, I applaud the producers for employing someone to handle situations like this. Had there not been a monitor in place, the whole thing would have gotten even more out of control.
Tonya Pinkins: Then we had a "Lot's Wife" last June that was my personal favorite. I'm still trying to get them to let me sing it at some performance where we get to sing an excerpt that's gone.
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Updated On: 6/30/13 at 12:29 AM
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Not to derail the thread but on the same topic: I was in the standby line for Shakespeare in the Park the other day. The Public's official policy for those who aren't familiar is that they begin monitoring the line at 6:30PM. Up until 6:29, you are allowed to hold peoples' places, come and go as you please, etc. but after 6:30 other than bathroom breaks and things like that, you are not allowed to leave. I personally have never loved the rule about people being able to hold spots, but that is the policy they have set.

The day I was there, a woman and her friend were in front, and the woman's friend left, I believe to go buy food for them or something, and a man a few people behind them FLIPPED out and stormed off to try to find an employee to "deal with" them and eventually had to be told repeatedly by the employee what the policy was. After the staff member left, he began ranting loudly to those in front of and behind him about how unfair the policy was and how the woman shouldn't be allowed tickets and really honestly just acting out and out crazy. I guess the point I'm making is it feels like the rules always get people riled and I think personally it's a really nice trend that shows are employing people to handle these disputes. It sounds like this situation is multi-faceted and clearly can be argued in different ways so having somebody to mediate feels necessary.

I also agree that leaving for more than a 15 minute bathroom break in a rush line is inappropriate. For me, that feels close to "cheating".
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I wanted to add that, as far as someone's point about scalpers at KINKY BOOTS goes, that is absolutely already a problem. The first four people in the line today were all older gentleman who all scalped their tickets (my friends who I was getting tickets for came to meet me just before the Box Office opened and confirmed tonight that none of the four were actually at the show).

The very first guy in line amongst the scalpers was a 90 year old man, and what was even more bizarre to me is that the line monitor made it a point to praise how often he's there and how, if he can wait in line at his age and follow the rules in order to enjoy the show, everyone else should too. I guess he isn't aware that the man never actually sees the show and sells his tickets.

In truth, I wouldn't be surprised if the producers decide to follow MATILDA's lead and convert the rush to a lottery. The scalpers got there at 3am today and the line seemed to be over 100 people long by the time the monitor showed up to say who would get tickets and who wouldn't a little after 9. The last people to get tickets got in line just before 6am, and I imagine it will only get worse as the summer goes on. According to the line monitor, they've revised the ticket allotment since the Tonys and now strictly only have 20 box seats and 11 SRO spots available at the rush price per performance.

EDIT: I went online and actually found the Craigslist ad where one of the scalpers was trying to sell four of the tickets they got at rush for tonight's show. They paid $37 each for them at rush and were marking them up to $75 each in their attempt to resell them. So sad.

http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/tix/3902905144.html
Tonya Pinkins: Then we had a "Lot's Wife" last June that was my personal favorite. I'm still trying to get them to let me sing it at some performance where we get to sing an excerpt that's gone.
Tony Kushner: You can sing it at my funeral.
Updated On: 6/30/13 at 02:24 AM
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If the original poster's version of the story is true, then I think the staffer could have handled the situation better; however, regardless of whether or not your parents knew about a policy, isn't it common sense to know if you leave a line for 30-45 minutes that you forfeit your spot? Like others said, bathroom breaks are understandable, but I don't understand what makes someone entitled to a spot just because there was a chair there for 30-45 minutes.

While I don't condone rude behavior, line monitors have probably seen many cases of this happening before and have to be strict. Even to your parents who normally "play by the rules." And I don't think it's fair to the people in line who wait and don't leave. The box office was well within their rights to not sell your parents the rush tickets.

EDIT: I also don't think you should call out the box office for not explicitly stating that you could only leave the line for 15 minutes. Even that amount of time is generous. I think people should take responsibility, especially when it comes to leaving a line that could possibly forfeit your spot, and check with the line monitor.

I'm wondering if we'll ever hear from the OP again.

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Updated On: 6/30/13 at 08:04 AM
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Well, there you go, Nyla -- the truth prevails. Thanks, something wicked, for the unbiased reporting. Doesn't even sound like the truth is somewhere in the middle....but WAAAY over to the side of line monitor.


(BTW....I think Nyla is a beatiful name.)

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Updated On: 6/30/13 at 08:15 AM
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When your mother left the line at 8:40 AM, after having gone to the trouble of getting there at 5:30 AM, for tickets that were going to be given out at 10 AM, didn't she know she was taking the chance of losing them?

Why were these relatives so needy to get into the apartment that they couldn't wait till 10 AM? Didn't they know how important staying on that line was?

I detest rudeness from anyone, but I also detest people who try to circumvent the rules and then go on a chatboard to complain that the people who tried to maintain the rules were rude.

Your mother left the line. You should be blaming the relatives not the staff.

Updated On: 6/30/13 at 09:16 AM
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Good points PJ! Except: the blame is all on the parents. I'll guess that mum INSISTED on going back to meet them at the apartment to let them in. Because leaving the line for nearly an hour wouldn't mean anything.

(And if it wasn't their idea, these guests are truly self centered. Asking others to give up 1/2 the day to sit on line for you AND rush back to let you in. Entitled much?)
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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Shame on this person for leaving the line for that long. I would be livid if a "chair" was able to get tickets. It's one thing to step away for a minute to use the bathroom, but it's totally taking advantage of the situation to step away for 30 minutes.

Good for the Hirschfeld employees to enforce the rules. Some nerve for this person to try this "chair" trick. It's abhorrent and unfair to everyone else who waited patiently on the line. I have been to that theater many times and they have been very professional and courteous to everyone.
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Slightly related, but I find it really helpful to make friends with the people near you in line. I rushed Macbeth back in April. The Barrymore is right down the street from Starbucks. Every hour or so one of us would get up to go get breakfast, ask the others if they wanted anything, etc. I should point out that this only went on till about 8. After that we all implicitly understood that getting up would mean losing your spot.
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Being friendly to those around you is a big deal. Last summer (?) I needed 4 SRO tix for BOM. My dd and I stood in line. A few hours later, my sis and niece joined us. LONG before they got there, we made sure everyone knew that they were there just to keep us company, and we were ONLY getting the tix the original 2 of us were entitled to.

We were careful to repeat the info a little further down the line when they did get there, and as soon as they started releasing the tickets, we made them step to the curb so everyone could see we weren't trying to scam extra tix.
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I love all of this especially the part where nyla's parents got called out for their false version of the events.
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(To be fair, it could have been Nyla herself that changed the story -- we really don't know.)
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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Nyla's parents sound completely clueless. They clearly don't understand how the whole rush thing works. Even though some of it seems kind of obvious.

I don't know if they are liars as opposed to having their own interpretation of life. I have to deal with customers like this at work sometimes. They show up 5 or 10 minutes late to their appointment and insist that they aren't late because of some grace period that they made up in their own head. Even after you tell them that there is no grace period, they will insistently argue with you that they are not late.

They say things like, "Look, it says I checked in at 2:37 for my 2:30 appointment. I wasn't late!" It is completely bizarre and nothing you say will convince them that they are, in fact, late. Because they live in some alternate reality.

Updated On: 6/30/13 at 12:09 PM
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Wait, the 90 year old scalper only marked up each ticket to $75? That actually seems a very generous price given that he gets there every night at 3 AM in this heat and humidity.