Monday, January 29, 2007

PO'ed at the Theater

I attempted to see "Spamalot" at the Shubert Theater in New York on Saturday. From what little I saw of it, it seemed funny.

I'm sure it would've seemed a lot funnier if I'd actually been able to sit in a real seat, with an unobstructed view of the stage. Which is what I thought I was getting when I plunked down over a hundred dollars for the seat.

I got to the theater about 1:20 p.m. for the 2:00 p.m. matinee. Theaters in New York typically open their doors about a half hour prior to curtain. And, indeed, that's what they did. I knew where my seat was located. I'd seen it on the seating chart when I ordered it over the internet. Nowhere on that website did it mention anything about the peculiar nature of the seats. By which I mean, that the seats were designed for 1913 asses and legs. Oh, I had some idea that the seats might be a tad smaller than the ones in newer Broadway houses, but I had no idea just how bad it was going to be. And I even had an aisle seat! I thought I'd be able to swing my legs out into the aisle, if I found that the seat in front of me was a tad too close for comfort.

Well, the people in front of me might as well have been sitting in my lap. Worse, I couldn't swing my legs to either side because there were these "rails" instead of armrests, which protruded out so far that I was forced to sit straight-legged in my extremely narrow seat.

That seat, G114 in the Mezzanine, was without a doubt the most uncomfortable seat it has EVER been my misfortune to have been sold.

I immediately told the ushers in the Mezzanine that I couldn't fit, front to back, in the seat. My femurs are simply too long. In the airline business this is known as "pitch." Even the worst seat on an airliner I've flown paled in comparison to the pitch of the Shubert seats.

The Mezzanine ushers told me that the only solution was to put a chair in the area BEHIND the rail on the mezzanine level, where I could view some of the show through a handrail, with half the stage (the upstage half) being blocked out by the low overhang of the Balcony level, above us.

I paid a Hundred and Eleven Bucks for that? They then suggested I should go (I SHOULD GO???) downstairs and tell the head usher, Susan somebody or other, about it. I did that. She disappeared out into the box-office lobby for about five minutes and then came back to tell me what I already knew. The show was a sell-out. There was nothing else available. The chair in the aisle was the only option.

So that's where I wound up, sitting on a chair (lots of legroom, I'll give 'em that!) behind a rail, unable to see upstage, trying to enjoy (HAH!) the show.

Oh, and the minute the lights went up for intermission, some other usher came over and practically grabbed the chair out from under me. There's a bar on the mezzanine level and they didn't want ME "cluttering up" the valuable drinking space where people who'd overpaid for no-name liquor could enjoy their booze.

It was not a pleasant day.

I will never set foot in the Shubert Theater again.

The Shubert Organization (no longer run by the Shuberts) will, undoubtedly, take refuge behind the "landmark status" of the theater to plead that "there's nothing we can do" about the dismal seats in the theater.

Perhaps not. But there is very much they CAN do about warning an unsuspecting public that the seats in the Shubert were NOT built to contemporary standards and that ticket purchasers should be aware of the fact that the seats may be quite uncomfortably small for the AVERAGE theatergoer and probably unusable by tall and/or large theatergoers.

So here's a big raspberry to the Shuberts who, by the deliberate sin of omission, intentially mislead an unsuspecting public into purchasing unusable goods.

Kiss my Femurs, Shuberts!


Bev Sykes said...

I had a seat like that in London for "Lion King." And given that "Lion King" is really all about Act 1 and who gives a crap about Act 2, it was one of the most unpleasant evenings I've spent in the theatre, once the opening number finished.

There was another theatre we attended which had a (thankfully unsold) seat at the end of our balcony row of seats which actually faced the wall!!

One wonders if the builders of theatre ever ATTEND theatre.

JoyZeeBoy said...

The newer theaters in NY (the Gershwin, the Minskoff) are fabulous. Lots of length and width in every seat. No "clunkers" and no "obstructed views."

I'm about to embark on a 3-show series for Roundabout Theater, the 1st of which is "The Apple Tree", with Kristen Chenowith, at the old Studio 54. Luckily for me, I schmooze my regular salesperson every year and he gives me seats which I know will fit me.

But what in the hell do the tourists do?