Saturday, February 02, 2008

"Mel Fought Me Tooth And Nail"

"Mel Fought Me Tooth And Nail"

With all the justifiable racket caused by $450 premium seats, non-reported grosses, dumping the St. James Theatre for the Hilton Theatre and seemingly countless other indiscretions that have caused a jolting negative backlash in both critical response and popular perception, Young Frankenstein producer Robert F.X. Sillerman squarely accepts all the blame for the business decisions made, claiming in Variety:
One of the biggest mistakes I made was the pricing of these tickets, against the good advice of some very smart Broadway people... But there's no way to undo it. Those days are gone.
In other words, don't expect the higher-priced seats to go away anytime soon, and don't expect grosses to suddenly be reported on the show that reportedly has already taken in around $20 million.

Sillerman also adds on the ill-will created by the sky-high ticket prices:

I think I did that... I gave people something to focus on that had nothing to do with why they should be in the theater. The whole emphasis was not on the art, but on the commerce.... Mel fought me tooth and nail.
Now that that's settled, let me share my experience from this past week.

As regular readers know, I have not spared my criticism for the production's cornucopia of bad decisions in the name of commerce. But I did enjoy the show when I saw one of its very first previews in Seattle and think that the critics have been far too harsh on the show itself.

During the course of this week, I had to be across the street for a news conference at the Hilton Times Square, which by the way, I never knew existed for all the times I walked right by on 42nd Street. It's entry way is practically hidden in amongst Applebees and Buster & Dave's.

But since I knew I was going to have be at the Hilton Hotel, it dawned on me that after my business was completed, I might venture across the street to the hotelier's namesake theatre and finally see Young Frankenstein on Broadway. So I checked online prices early that morning and found the best I could do for the $120 tickets was row M orchestra. Not bad, but nowhere near as good as what I found surfing the net a couple weeks earlier. I even checked to see what premium seats were available and found that for $275, I could have a row B seat.

Of course, I had long since vowed never to indulge Messrs. Brooks and Sillerman (sorry, I guess now I should only have issue with Sillerman...) by paying anything more than the going regular rate at all other shows. So, I recalled the success of the West End Whingers in scoring $25 front-row seats through the daily lottery and decided to try my luck.

Much to my delight, the number of other "contestants" was relatively small, and although my name was one of the last to be called, my odds were exceptionally good and my name was called. So I paid my $26 (taxes were included) and made my way to the performance, which I'll report about later.

For those wishing to follow my money-saving lead, it's this easy. Show up three hours prior to a performance and line up. You'll be invited into the theatre, three persons at a time, where you'll complete a form that includes your name, address and e-mail address, along with the number of tickets you want (choices being one or two). Make sure you take your ID with you.

At precisely two hours prior to the performance, you'll have to be present at the second level of the McDonald's directly across the street when the production pulls names out of box. If your name is called, be sure to have your ID with you. You'll need to show it at this time to ensure it matches up with the name drawn.

Once all names are drawn, all winners will proceed across the street and be placed in a line in the order the names were drawn. You'll need to present both your ID and $26 in cash for each ticket.

It's that easy to get a front row seat. Naturally, going midweek enhances your chances, particularly if the weather isn't so great. Tuesdays and Wednesdays may afford even greater chances since the process starts earlier than other days -- on Tuesdays, the evening performance begins at 7, so the lining up begins at 4 in the afternoon; on Wednesdays, the matinee performance is at 2, so the lining up begins at 11 in the morning.

Nothing like beating Mel and Robert at their own game -- sorry, beating Robert at his own game.

Oh, and those $275 seats that I found available the day of the show? An entire row of seats was empty during the performance. However, the rest of the Hilton barn appeared packed.

Post Script: On this Saturday afternoon, I just found a row A orchestra seat available for $120...

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Is It Just Me, Or... (Part III) (January 22, 2008)
Live By The $450 Ticket, Die By The $450 Ticket? (January 4, 2008)
SOB's Singular Sensations Of '07 - Honorable Mentions (December 31, 2007)
Did Critics Think Young Frankenstein Was Putzin' On The Shtick? (November 8, 2007)
It's Alive! Young Frankenstein Opens On Broadway (November 8, 2007)
Bart's Back: Bad Omen? (October 24, 2007)
The Broadway Theatres Not Impacted By Labor Dispute (October 17, 2007)
Shubert Alley Schadenfreude, Or Mel's Funk (October 11, 2007)
Once Again, I Have To Ask.... (September 20, 2007)
Young Frankenstein's Gross Out Factor (September 7, 2007)
Seattle Times: Young Frankenstein's Shtick Gets Old (August 24, 2007)
Riedel's Deep Abby Normal?(August 17, 2007)
Young Frankenstein (The SOB Preview) (August 13, 2007)
Will These Eyes Meet? Hoping For Better Than 75% (August 10, 2007)
Is Mel Worth It? (August 4, 2007)Thanks, Mel! (July 6, 2007)
What Motivates You To See A Broadway Show? (July 5, 2007)
That's Franken$$$$$TEIN! (June 29, 2007)
Cloris To Mel: Put Up Your Dukes! (June 13, 2007)
Pirate Queen Set To Abdicate Hilton Throne (June 6, 2007)
Billion Dollar Broadway Baby? Almost. (May 30, 2007)
Mel Brooks: "It Looks Like The Hilton Theatre" (May 25, 2007)
End Of Plank For Pirate Queen? (May 18, 2007)
It's Official: Mullally Cast In Young Frankenstein (March 9, 2007)
The Hits From Coast To Coast (March 8, 2007)
Whither Goeth Chenoweth? (February 27, 2007)
Producers Out, Young Frankenstein In (February 22, 2007)
That's FrankenSTEEN: Just In Time For Halloween (January 24, 2007)
M-G-M: Movies-Going-Musical (January 3, 2007)
Young Frankenstein Workshop To Feature Monster Casting (October 11, 2006)

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At 02 February, 2008, Anonymous Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

The West End Whingers are thrilled to have been able to teach Steve On Broadway a trick.

If you need any other advice, please don't hesitate to ask.

At 02 February, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Whingers, Now if you can just divulge -- I mean "advise" on -- the super secret location of the watering hole that you-know-who likes to go...


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