Producer of The Swing
When iMedia student Stephanie Olsen was an undergraduate in the dance program at Elon University, she would get tickets for plays weeks in advance and show up for performances nearly an hour early. The line to get into McCrary Theatre often extended down the hallway and wrapped around the corner, past the box office in the Center for the Arts.
Getting a good seat for a sold-out show meant a great deal of dedication.
It’s largely for this reason that the Department of Performing Arts has recently started employing a reserved seating system much like those used on Broadway and in other professional theaters. Instead of general admission, each ticket holder may choose his or her seat from available spaces on a seating chart.
“I like it better because then you don’t have to come here 45 minutes ahead of time,” Olsen said. “You can just come and you know you have a seat.”
Fred Rubeck, chair of the Department of Performing Arts, said he has heard only positive feedback about the move to reserved seating.
We’re really trying to model the professional world for our students in training them. This is one of the important things, that we have professional front-of-house policies.
“It’s especially more humane for the people who come from out of town, like parents,” Rubeck said. “We’ve heard feedback from people who appreciate the fact that they don’t have to wait around in the lobby for hours just to get a good seat.”
Part of the Department of Performing Arts’ goal is to give its students the most realistic experience possible, and reserved seating works to increase the professionalism of student performances, Rubeck said.
“We’re really trying to model the professional world for our students in training them,” he said. “This is one of the important things, that we have professional front-of-house policies.”
While many people have expressed approval of the new system, senior Brent Rose said it is more challenging for students to sit with friends to see a show. Instead of acquiring tickets separately and meeting up shortly before the curtain goes up, students now need to take a trip to the box office together to sit as a group. Conflicting schedules can often make this a challenge, he said.
“I can see the benefits of it and that sort of thing, but it’s nice when, if I had gotten my ticket (the day of the show), I still would have been able to sit with people who got their ticket three or four days ago,” Rose said. “Especially by (that day), they only had two or maybe three spots open together.”
Junior Nonye Obichere, a music theater major who served as an usher for “She Loves Me,” said she appreciates the organization reserved seating brings to a production. Obichere shared Rose’s concerns about students getting to sit with their friends, but in the end, she said it makes McCrary just like any other theater.
“As someone who comes to see the shows when I’m not in them, I like how organized it is,” Obichere said. “But if you don’t buy your ticket at the same time as people who you want to sit with do, you can’t sit together. If you buy them too late, you end up in the balcony. That’s really the only drawback, but that’s how it is with any other ticketed event with any other theater you would go to.”
The solution for students who can’t get to the box office at the same time is to keep track of where they’re sitting and get tickets as far in advance as possible, according to Rubeck.
“It rewards people who get their tickets early so they have a good seat or the seat of their choice rather than it being up for grabs for whoever gets to the door first,” he said.