Monday, March 29, 2010


by Wayne McWorter, VP Marketing

I readily admit it. It was my idea to begin this blog. And I thought that I could get everyone excited about the possibilities of communication with all of you out in the land of WebNet, where information is power and content is king.

Well, it's about eight months since my original hello-to-blogdom, and I've had a rude awakening. (Since we are into Broadway musicals, and it's just a few days past the vernal equinox, I'll call it my "Spring Awakening.")

Blogging is hard work. And it's easy to let this particular task fall by the wayside, especially when you're neck-deep in documents related to announcing a slew of new shows. Which we did, by the way. And if it's hard for me -- "the marketing guy" -- imagine how it feels to be the person responsibile for programming ticket functions, and being asked to write a story.

This has all got me thinking ("a dangerous passtime, I know").

Starting right now, we're going to start taking our "Postcards From Pantages" more seriously as a real tool for real information, in addition to real fun. I still think there's value in sharing what goes on behind the scenes at a big theatre like the Pantages ... but I think we need to expand our horizons by using this soapbox to share news and information beyond our internal ramblings.

If you're out there reading this, and there's anything you'd like us to cover, please share. This is a conversation, after all.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


by Adam Nedeff, Pantages Usher

On the second-to-last night of “The Color Purple,” a 73-year-old man in a sweatsuit & cap quietly walked out of the stage door and autographed Playbills and souvenirs for audience members. He came to one fan, signed a photo, and began to move on. Then he stopped, did a double-take, and took another look at what he had just signed. It was a photo of him, 35 years younger, in a butterfly collar and leisure suit, standing at a podium to host a TV game show. “Where did you get this?” he asked. “I collect game show memorabilia,” the fan answered. “I know all about you.” The old man looked at the photo one more time, smiled, and said, “I looked pretty good back then, didn’t I?”

The old man was Adam Wade, and he played Ol’ Mister for every performance of “The Color Purple” at the Pantages. Decades before he ever set foot onstage at the Pantages, he made history on the stage of another theater, and in another medium.

In 1975, CBS was THE network for game show fans. Their line-up included “The Price is Right” with Bob Barker, “Gambit” with Wink Martindale, “Tattletales” with Bert Convy, and the crown jewel of the lineup, “Match Game ‘75” starring Gene Rayburn. “Match Game” was averaging a historic 15 rating each weekday (a record still unbeaten), while “The Price is Right” would become the longest-running game show of all time, and “Gambit” & “Tattletales” would each enjoy respectable runs (five & six seasons, respectively). Riding that wave of success, CBS introduced a game show to the fold during the summer.

The show was “Musical Chairs.” It was produced by Don Kirchner, known in the music industry as “The Man with the Golden Ear” for his role in discovering The Archies, The Monkees, Kansas, Bobby Darin, and Neil Diamond. It would emanate from the spectacular Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, which had seen music history and broadcasting history made again and again since 1936. Its time slot: Immediately following “Match Game ’75,” in the hopes that the record-setting audience would stick around for the next half-hour. Its host was the one and only Adam Wade, and Wade gained a unique footnote in television history: he became the first black master of ceremonies on a game show. “Musical Chairs” sought to be something special and different in daytime games. Not content to just have a host who stood there reading questions for 30 minutes, “Chairs” cast Wade because Kirchner wanted an engaging host with a background in music who could sing & dance his way through each half-hour.

With three Billboard Top Ten hits on his resume, Wade was the right man for the job. “Musical Chairs” set sail on June 16, 1975. Each weekday at 4 p.m., Wade took to the stage for each program joined by four contestants and three musical guests. A formidable list of acts joined Wade on “Musical Chairs”; among them, Lou Rawls, Irene Cara, The Spinners, The Stylistics, and Sister Sledge.

Like any great game show, “Musical Chairs” was simple to explain. The four contestants would listen to the musical guests and Wade perform a hit song. The singing would abruptly stop at one point and Wade would show the contestants three choices (A, B, or C) for the next lyric. The contestants would press buttons on their chairs to register their answers. Anybody who was correct won $50, but if all four had been correct, only the first three to lock in would get the money, so speed was important. Wade and the singers would give the contestants three opportunities to score during each song in this way. After this, the low-scoring contestant would be eliminated from the game. How “Musical Chairs” did so was unique: The contestant’s chair would whisk backward through a splitting partition behind them, sending a loser crashing through a wall on their way out of the theater. The remaining three contestants would then listen to Wade and another guest. This time, the reward was $75 for a correct answer, with only the first two scoring if everybody was right. One more contestant would be sent hurdling through a wall, and the two remaining contestants would compete for $100 per correct answer, with only the first contestant getting the money. The last player, or last survivor, depending on how you looked at it, got their cash winnings doubled, as well as a chance to win $2,000 more in a bonus round by filling in ten blanks in a song lyric.

For all its creativity & star power, however, destiny was not on the side of “Musical Chairs.” After only 19 weeks, “Musical Chairs” quietly disappeared on Halloween, 1975. It faced reasonably stiff competition from NBC’s soap opera “Somerset,” and two game shows from ABC, “The Money Maze” and “You Don’t Say!” The hip-looking “Musical Chairs” was also thought to look inferior to a similar game airing in prime time, the glitzier, grander, more glamorous “Name That Tune.” Despite coming & going so quickly, “Chairs” seems to have succeeded in making a mark on television. Elements of the game reappeared in later years on MTV’s “Remote Control,” Fox’s “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” and even an international game, “Keynotes,” seen in the UK and Australia. It seems to hold a special place in the heart of its host; with dozens of film, television, and stage credits under his belt, Wade chooses to list “Musical Chairs” first in his professional biography.

It would be easy to roll the eyes and dismiss being a game show host as no big deal. That may be true, but then one could argue that not being such a big deal was, in itself, a major achievement. There was an earlier time in television when game show producers were encouraged to keep the use of black contestants to a minimum. Too many would alienate sponsors. Showing them smiling & celebrating with whites would make viewers uncomfortable, it was argued. But in 1975, Adam Wade was quietly welcomed and accepted as the man in charge of his own game. Television and the country had evolved.


In addition to being an usher, Adam Nedeff previously worked for “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Price is Right.” He is the webmaster of Game Show Utopia (, as well as the fan badgering Adam Wade at the beginning of this story.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


by Jeff Loeb, Associate General Manager

I am not one who is overly impressed with celebrities that visit the theatre. The seat you are sitting costs the same whether you are famous or not and either you have a ticket for a seat or you don’t. So it came as a shock to me that I became excited to find out that Sir Tim Rice was to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame directly in front of the theatre. You have to understand that Sir Rice wrote what my family considers to be the two best musicals of all time. "Evita" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."

(Moment of silence in honor of these two shows, please)

It was every Saturday while starting to do our weekend cleaning that we would put on one of the two albums and turn the stereo up loud enough to hear over the vacuum. There was nothing like vacuuming to the overture of "JCS" with those cymbals crashing. Is it even fair to say that my sister and I loved doing chores then?

Jump forward to recently when I am told that Sir Tim Rice will be receiving his star directly in front of the theatre lobby and that we are to host a small private reception for him prior to the event in our lobby. In past when events like this have happened there are usually 20 or so people affiliated with the person and the only interaction between us and the person is to welcome them and coordinate any additional last minute needs. That day I was surprised when Sir Rice showed up with three other people and we walked inside the theatre, just the four of us.

Sir Rice was all excited to be in the theatre and started asking questions about its history. I am a historical theatre nut and was more than happy to recount stories about the theatre. Wait, I was having a conversation with Tim Rice. Didn’t he need to coordinate the logistics of his star ceremony, practice his speech, use he restroom? I certainly would have to step into the men’s room if I were about to receive a star on the walk of fame.

Then something happened that stopped my heart. Sir Rice looked to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to do 'Chess' here?” Now mind you they had recently completed a concert version with Josh Grobin, Adam Pascal and Idina Menzel in London and I have dreamed that a tour of "Chess" would happen and we would have the good fortune of presenting the show. In full cardiac arrest he followed that up with “Jeff, what do you think about the idea of doing 'Chess' here?”

Are you serious? I thought to myself. Sir Tim Rice is asking me what I thought about the prospects of his show in our theatre. Was I really having a conversation about this show with the man who could make it happen? I composed myself and calmly I replied, “I think 'Chess' would be a very well received by our audiences.” Sir Rice added “I would love to see the show in this theatre.”

We chatted for about 20 minutes until the ceremony happened. At the end, I was standing out on the side walk and turned to go inside to my office when I heard over my shoulder “Jeff, Jeff” and there was Sir Rice walking briskly over to say thank you for taking care of him. He was genuine, he was warm and he was very charming. That meeting is one that reminds me how thankful I am to be working here at the Pantages Theatre. I relish in the special moments we create for our patrons and once in a great while, those moments are my very own.

Friday, January 22, 2010


By Ali K. Owens, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator

Beginning work with a new company can be a daunting endeavor for any recent graduate.

I began work at Broadway/L.A. exactly 3 months ago. It is hard to believe the amount of work that has been accomplished and the knowledge I have absorbed over this hectic time. There is not a day that goes by that was anything like the last. Working for a theatre company, which hosts some of the most noteworthy Broadway shows in one of the most legendary Hollywood venues, is an absolute dream come true. It was almost like I asked my fairy godmother “please give me a job in Broadway,” and POOF she gave me the perfect position in the best theatre in town.

Marketing and Promotions Coordinator. The term alone gives you a hint into my everyday responsibilities. But, as I mentioned before, no day is similar to the last. Each day I walk into the office, hearing the quick typing of my ‘already been working for 3 hours’ colleague Benny and the always-productive conversations of ‘my boss’ Wayne. I must admit walking into a work dynamic with two men who have solidly carried the Marketing Department of Broadway/L.A. for the past 6 years was a bit intimidating. Thanks to my fairy godmother, she granted me two of the most helpful men on earth. I am never afraid to ask questions, and I always ask before I act.

The first show I worked on was “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.” The day I begin, the show’s opening was 3 weeks away. The first day, Benny and I worked on editing and proofreading the Playbill. My second day I was introduced to all of our trade advertising partners, and I began to put together booking schedules. On my third day, I began requesting and negotiating radio promotions. And by the end of the week I had organized and categorized every loose Playbill, tear sheet, and season brochure stashed in the office. If you can imagine all of this happening in one week, just imagine sitting in a STOMP marketing meeting where you brainstorm 450 other promotions to put on your ‘to do’ list! While the task may seem overwhelming, the challenge has proven to be invigorating and rewarding. Who wants to do the same thing everyday? Not I.

With shows coming and going and people continuously flowing through the theatre with smiling faces, I know I have found a great community at Broadway/L.A. The best present I got this year was my desk completely wrapped in wrapping paper and a card that said ‘Welcome home! ’ I have found it is not always about what you do for work, but the people with whom you work. For this reason, I am thankful to be amongst the best in the business. The individuals who work for Broadway/L.A. are truly the best and most experienced at what they do. With the economic climate being in a state of recession, I know I am one of the few and far between who can say I got my dream job straight out of college.

Friday, January 15, 2010


by Stephen Benson, Pantages Box Office Treasurer

Show time at the box office is exciting and stressful at the same time. From the program sellers barking for your attention in the outer lobby, ushers directing you toward you seats, the occasional live sidewalk entertainment in front and other theatre patrons enjoying conversation in the lobby, there is a lot to see and do before the show even begins.

From time to time (for a myriad of reasons) there are issues with tickets. With all the noise and excitement, it can be stressful to arrive at the theatre to find a ticketing issue just before curtain.

Problem solving is my favorite part of my job. This must sound odd. After all, why would anyone consider a stressful situation enjoyable? I do, but it’s not the stress -- it’s getting to the core of the issue to find the solution to the problem.

In the customers mind, there are usually three stress factors to any ticketing issue in the customers mind:

Time – Will the box office resolve the issue before the show starts?

Money – Will the solution cost money?

Admittance – Are there seats available to solve the issue?

Once you pinpoint the particular stress trigger, I reassure the customer that we WILL resolve this issue, and the mood changes and process becomes easier.

The most common issue is a patron who’s simply left the tickets at home, (or the restaurant, or the office, or in the other bag, or on the moon). That’s an easy problem to fix … at least once we know where the tickets were purchased. That would seem like an easy bit of information to obtain.

You would be surprised how challenging this question can be.

The biggest issues I have to solve relate to stolen or fraudulent tickets. Most of the time these tickets are sold on the internet by “brokers.” A search on for Pantages lists 2,300,000 listings.

Only 2 of these are legitimate:

If you’re reading this, please absorb that information!

This past summer, an unscrupulous broker used a stolen credit card to purchase several sets of tickets to one of our shows. He photo copied the same ticket several times and sold them on He would not take credit cards, but instead told his customers to meet him in the parking lots of malls or fast food stores with cash to complete the transaction and pick up the tickets.

Is it just me, or does meeting a stranger in a parking lot with several hundred dollars cash in hand sound like a bad idea all the way around?

Unfortunately several of out customers chose to buy their tickets through this broker, and of course the tickets were rejected by our scanners at the theatre door. We had to work really hard to accommodate these customers on this sold-out show, but in the end it all worked out and everyone left happy.

The moral to my story is:

Meeting strangers in a dark alley with cash is probably a bad idea, but visiting your local box office to support the arts in Los Angles is a good idea!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


by Lesli Bandy, Broadway/L.A. Season Services Manager

In all my years in the ticketing field, I have come to realize that every ticket manager and director I have met all started their careers on the “front lines.” They become mangers and directors because they’ve been through the experience of helping customers face-to-face and working with that initial level of questions or problems that all events have with tickets. If you think about it, there is no specialized class or schooling you can go to become a ticket seller. It’s all experienced based. And, I would bet they all have a unique story as to how they got their first job.

My first job in ticketing started from a series of events. I credit it to taking my dog out for a sunset walk on the beach. That day, I met a chatty guy and we talked about our dogs, and I then learned he worked for the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Stadium. I was still in school and in between part-time jobs, so he told me to come to the stadium the next day after class and he would introduce me to the Director of the “Compadres Crew,” their Fan Rewards Program.

After starting a position there, it didn’t take long to meet a group of roaming Suite Representatives from the Chargers, the pro football team that shares use of Qualcomm. Meeting them led to a position as a Customer Service Rep in the Chargers Season Ticket Office, which was my first job in ticketing. I still work for them now, helping out on busy game days, and I wouldn’t be writing this blog had not met that chatty guy while walking my dog, or met the roaming suite representative during the games, or worked with all the football fans who needed help with their tickets at the box office.

As you might imagine, working with Broadway shows is vastly different than baseball or football, but ticketing is easily translatable. If you can understand the details of tickets -- how they relate to each other and the customer -- then you can understand ticketing in any venue. And I enjoy that detail. It poses many challenges in all its confusing complexities, but for the most part, by the time tickets reach the customer the complex process appears surprisingly simplified.

That’s the mystery of ticketing, and maybe it is so because those who are in the position to direct and manage the tickets once worked on the front lines. And if you ever find the need to call the customer service line or approach the box office window, it might just be one of those directors or managers assisting you, since occasionally we still like remembering where we started.