Subscribers to the Broadway Across America series began getting their renewal notices for the 2010-11 season this past weekend, and at least one of them isn't happy.
"I've had the same seat for four years, and now I find that I'm getting moved eight rows back," says Valerie Gordon. "It's not a very nice way to treat your devoted customers."
Fran Macferran, president of the Hobby Center, tells Hair Balls that subscribers may indeed be getting what they might consider bad news this year.
"For seven years, every show we've brought in we did for two weeks," he says. "We looked at the business model, and some of them don't warrant two weeks."
So two weeks' worth of subscribers have to be shoehorned into one weeks' worth of shows. Something's gotta give.
(Two of next season's productions -- West Side Story and Shrek -- will have two-week engagements, but only one of those will be reserved for subscribers.)
Gordon says BAA told her she had few options. "In order to try to get my seats changed, I had to pay for them first and ask to be put on a priority change list," she said. "It's like being held hostage -- you pay for seats you don't want on the chance you can get better ones."
Macferran says he hopes most customers will end up satisfied, especially after normal year-to-year attrition takes place in the subscriber base. All seat changes were done "hand by hand," he says, and were based on the length of subscribers' tenure.
"Some people were moved a row, some were moved many rows, some weren't moved at all," he says.
So far there hasn't been much feedback, he says, but that doesn't mean he isn't expecting some: "The thing that is a blessing and a curse for what we do is that people are really passionate about our product," he says. "We have a lot of loyalty. Unfortunately, when you make a business decision that you think is right for your business that changes something for people, because they are so loyal and passionate, they are very expressive about it."