Friday, September 18, 2009


By Linda Markwica, TeleSales Manager

“Is there a script?” is a common question during job interviews. “No,” I respond, “you’re not delivering a monologue; you have to be able to converse with someone with whom you have something in common. It’s your personality and your enthusiasm that sells season tickets.”

Actors, writers, musicians and just plain folk populate the basement offices of Broadway/L.A.’s Telesales department. We’re here not just because a part time job suits our needs – but because this part time job suits our personalities. We’re the people who call you in the evenings (maybe during dinner) to talk about Broadway/L.A.’s next season selection of musicals at the Pantages Theatre.

“When I talk to a patron,” says Tracey, “I feel an instant connection; the person has been to one of our shows, and I’m working here because I’m an actor who loves live theatre.”

My sales force is filled with creative people who need to be as close to a creative environment as possible. This isn’t just some telemarketing job. Quite often a successful applicant doesn’t have any telesales experience, but exudes a passion to be connected to the world of theatre. All have distinct personalities, boatloads of enthusiasm, and a shared passion that what they’re selling has exceeding value.

Inevitably, there are times when that energy starts to wane – when no one is answering the phone (think Lakers play-off time!). – It is time for a bit of a reminder of why we’re here. Through the basement we roam, past the rehearsal room where, during a show, dances steps and songs are practiced by understudies and newcomers. We follow a trail of dotted yellow lines painted onto the floor, left behind by a production as “breadcrumbs” to ensure that its performers wouldn’t get lost. If there’s a show going on – we make our visit brief – we glance at all the costumes hanging about, the wigs, and various props, the evidence of a show that is soon to go on. I can feel the energy of my staff start to return. If the theatre is dark – we walk up to the stage – the way the players do. And my actors imagine what it would be like to be in a musical, and my musicians and writers visit their own fantasies, and I have to move them along with the reminder they need to work to pay their rent. From the stage we go to the empty theatre and remember shows we have seen and look forward to the shows that are coming. Then on to the lobby we proceed, and here I add my own bit of drama – I slowly raise the lights. And my people look up and around, and any chatter ceases. Even empty this old Art Deco theatre invokes a sense of awe.

Backstage, onstage, the auditorium, the lobby –the mighty Pantages motivates her subjects, infusing them with the old spirit of excitement. The ghosts of past performances, of past audiences, give us the impetus to return to the phones – to help fill the seats of the Pantages Theatre – reborn in the power of the gift we are bringing to others.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


By Benny Aguayo, Marketing Associate

My world is filled with love. As I sit here typing these words, I find my memories returning to my sixth grade classroom, and Mrs. Doby is asking us to write a paper on the one thing we love the most.

I never thought I would find myself 17 years later, writing the exact same sentiments on the exact same love affair. My relationship with the dramatic arts is absolutely the longest relationship that I have had (aside from my loving family).

So often, my friends have asked, "Benny, why do you love what you do?" The plain and simple answer: I love what I do because my job consists of giving other hopeless romantics in the world the reasons and the tools to fall in love, just as I have.

I find absolute beauty in the idea of 2700 strangers coming together to experience a united, emotional journey, sharing with one another their own stories. While patrons sit in their seats, with 10 minutes till the curtain rises, I find myself walking up and down the aisles of the Pantages Theatre imagining the individual stories unfold amid our beautiful maroon seats.

If you look to your left, you will see the couple who has been married for over 50 years, still madly in love, who have brought the magic of the theatre into their marriage. Look to your right, and you will see the young father and mother sitting with their three young children, each of them as yet unaware of the gift they’re about to receive. Strain your neck just a little, and you will see the group of aspiring actors and actresses coming down to get a closer look at our stage, chatting up their knowledge about those who have succeeded in achieved the ever-coveted Equity Contract. And see all the way in the back, there’s the single mother of two, who because of our special discount offer for this show, was able to afford tickets, a luxury she manages once every few years.

The Pantages Theatre is filled with a million stories nightly, not just the one on the stage.

In an age where mobile communication, texting, social networking sites and e-mail have begun replacing actual human contact and interaction, what can compare to the thrill of sharing an emotion with a community of friendly strangers. The world of the theater lover is the world of open arms, open ears, and open eyes. All ideas and all stories are meant to be shared, and we congregate in unspoken agreement to celebrate our similarities and our differences.

As I look at all the smiling faces on our patrons, and at all our hard-working staff members, I find great satisfaction in knowing that this art form of ours will survive. There is so much love within the theatrical community, and every performance is a gift to all involved.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


By Steve Cisneros, Pantages House Manager

I love people.

I love theatre.

I love the people that go to theatre.

I have the perfect job.

Every night, at every performance, I get to speak to our patrons. Some of you are visiting us for the 50th time, some for the first time, and most somewhere in between. One guest, now entering her seventies, shared memories about her childhood, dressing up in the fanciest of gowns, pretending she was Ginger Rogers as she came down one of the grand staircases in the opulent Pantages lobby. Some can list every movie they ever saw here, back when movie theatres were big places and not cubicles. As I am often told, theatre was an Event, capital E, back in “the good old days.”

For me, it still is. Eight times a week.

As I stand at the front doors, I enjoy greeting our patrons. I smile at the couple who walks in, dashing in tuxedo and formal gown, dressed to the nines. I smile at those who arrive wearing suits and dresses. And I smile at those who wear t-shirts, baseball caps, and flip-flops.

Sometimes I scan the thousands of patrons enjoying their special time on the town. They appear to come from all walks of life. Some planned their night with us months in advance; others bought their tickets just 20 minutes before the show, their original intent simply being to buy a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a nearby street vendor. One man recently saw Legally Blonde The Musical while on a layover from a cancelled flight back to his home state of Colorado.

Every so often, I speak with patrons who wonder why we don’t enforce a dress code. Some might prefer that everyone be in formalwear, like “the good old days.” I can imagine how impressive the lobby might look in a sea of penguin suits. (I saw that scene in The Aviator, which was filmed right here.)

However, after much thought, I’ve decided that I wouldn’t want to change the attire of a single patron. You see, it’s our special combination of people, in all manner of attire, that ultimately creates the special brand of excitement at the Pantages Theatre – the standing ovations, the autograph lines, the laughter, the tears, and everything else that makes live theatre like no other experience on earth.

So the next time I get one of those calls (and there are many) asking what the “dress code” is for the Pantages Theatre (as if staff will be at the front doors with a measuring tape checking for gown length!), I’ll carry an extra smile in my heart as I say, “We have no dress code at the Pantages – You’ll find folks in everything from tuxedos to flip-flops. While we encourage our guests to dress up to make the occasion more special, please wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.” Because in my mind, I don’t want to see anything get in their way of taking that first step – walking through our doors because they’re interested in seeing what everyone’s talking about!

That alone, is enough to get my aforementioned smiles of approval as I stand at the front doors, show after show, knowing every day at the Pantages is one of the “good old days.”