I'm a hybrid of theatre geek and musical whore. So you can imagine my delight when I happen to be in Los Angeles during the opening of "Heathers: The Musical."
But a review is not the story. In fact, when I begged the General Manager of the show a month or so before opening night, she said reviews and press are not permitted on opening night and it was already sold out. Sold out? But tickets weren't even on sale yet. Can the long awaited musical spoof of the 1989 cult classic with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater really have such a following that people hungered for it to me musicalized?
I was persistent with the GM about being on a waiting list, especially since I went online to buy tickets the moment they went on sale (like I used to do for a big star concert) and when I tried to book opening night I sadly read on my screen: Sept. 21 SOLD OUT. But how? Why?
Since I don't go to LA every day, I couldn't leave without seeing this musical. I decided to show up super early and charm my way into a seat or at least ensure I am at the top of the standby list.
I arrived at 6:30pm for a 8pm showing - I was there even before the box office opened. Yet the place was already filled with excitement at the theatre bar with its wonderful coffee and food options and the producer getting a pre-show dinner ready for the cast.
When the box office did open, I got to be first on the standby list. Promising. But then I started to do the math and I realized why opening night was sold out even before tickets went on sale - it was the investors, friends and family of cast and crew.
In doing the math, the theatre has 99 seats. There are 10 producers, 17 cast members, 12 in the production team and 7 in the band. This didn't include the Hudson Theatre staff, the casting department and PR people. Without even including them, that's 46 people who all get one free ticket to give away to a guest. Then there's those guest's guests who may have invested in the show as a angel (investor in productions) or just as a companion to go with the free ticketed person. So if all 46 people brought one additional guest, that's 92 people pre-sold for opening night. Only seven other seats for theatre staff, PR, casting and marketing....and me and the other standby guests.
The wait seemed like a Southwest Airlines flight. Everyone on the list with a ticket, got a number - that's their entrance into the show. VIPs had the lowest numbers so they can enter first (like First Class). Then everyone else was called into the theatre in groups. So I was on the standby list and there was no other flight (show) that night.
Will I used my charm and made sure everyone knew I was a writer and from San Francisco so I couldn't come back tomorrow. But I started being toppled from the top of the list. I started seeing mistakes happen in which other people got tickets instead of me.
First there was someone who was on the list for one ticket but he had a guest. So while they waited for it to be sorted out with me, I told them if they couldn't get the second ticket, maybe they should come back tomorrow.
Darn...they got a ticket.
Then there was a pushy lady who was appalled she was lower on the list than me. I saw her push her way into the sold out parking lot and now she is using her connection in the show to move up the line ahead of me. Why couldn't I have been a friend of the violinist or known SOMEONE...ANYONE...in the show.
Everyone was getting in before me.
It's after 8pm - curtain time. But they are still awaiting some VIPs. Thank god sometimes for VIPs. Since they had free tickets, they likely wouldn't feel the loss of they didn't show up. Also, should they decide to come tomorrow, they can use their VIP status to get in even if sold out.
All ticket holders are inside. There's now just me and some sweet old couple. The final VIPs did not show up so all three of us got in. I made the flight! And I got the first row...normally not my favorite, but with such an in-your-face show it was like First Class.
Did I like the show? I'm not suppose to review it - but I do have comments. But that's another article.
If you too want to be part of the popular crowd, try to get tickets to "Heathers," playing through Oct. 6 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre. With the serious talent involved, don't be surprised if it ends up in New York. But see it in Los Angeles first.
All performances are sold out, but I managed to get in and it's definitely worth the wait...oh yeah, they don't want a review.