Overheard at Angus: Volume VII

I eavesdropped on a couple of veteran producers the other day, one of whom was obviously in negotiations over a theater for an upcoming show.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Veteran #1:  I’m thinking of letting the audience drink during the show like they do at Rock of Ages.

Veteran #2:  Why not? Everyone’s doing it.  I bought my wife a sippy cup full of wine at Jersey Boys just last month. Boy are those theaters making more in bar revenue than ever before. The wine was 11 dollars!

Veteran #1:  11 dollars?

Veteran #2:  Yeah.  I had to ask them if it included a facility fee.

This conversation was funnier in person (partly because of the awesome pair of tweed pants Veteran #2 was wearing), but it also made me remember one of the downsides to capitalism in industries with challenging models.

The facility fee was tossed on top of ticket prices years ago to defray the costs of renovation, upkeep, etc. of these historic buildings.  It was getting more expensive to keep them in shape, so the theaters needed another revenue stream to offset some of the costs.

Now, at some shows, bar revenues are sky-high as drinking in your seats is encouraged.  I’d bet there is some serious found money being counted.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this economic windfall was passed back to the consumer by eliminating the facility fee?

Or what about upping the price of the sippy cups by .50, as a drink tax (like a cigarette tax), and putting that towards the theater renovations, etc, making it an optional expense?

Doubt it’ll happen.  Once an income line hits your books, it’s hard to get it to disappear, even if 10 other lines follow it.

And that’s too bad . . . because the lines at our box office may suffer because of it.

Comments
  • Lizeeek says:

    Ken,
    As usual I love the way you think. I’d love to see the facilities fees reduced or done away with it. Anything to make ticket prices more manageable, I think they are a real deterrent to our box office numbers. Purchasing alcohol at the show is optional. Just get the audiences in the door, and keep ’em coming back!

  • Adam807 says:

    Also, why aren’t those sippy cups reused or recycled? Or at least printed with a how logo to encourage patrons to keep them as souveniers instead of trashing them?

  • I’m coming to NYC in September, and Angus is officially on my lunch stop. I hope to overhear something good . . . or at least have a good burger. If I see you there, you have to say something good for me to overhear.

  • Stephen Buckle says:

    Funny how it appears from previous comment that Broadway has been slightly slower than UK to allow food or drinks(usually in plastic cups) in the Auditorium. One would have expected such a ‘popular’ habit to have infiltrated the Brit’s stiff-upper-lip from the USA! By the way – on the London fringe I have witnessed three incidents of real glass flying across the stage during a show – disgraceful. Real glass used as props and the audiences being allowed real glass. I remember around 1970 having a cheese, bread and beer lunchtime theatre at Kent University’s Gulbenkian – very forward thinking

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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