Last weekend, I was heading down to New York City for one of my regular theater weekends. I don't usually see shows on Friday night, mostly because I don't want to contend with Friday-night traffic. But I was using a discount code to see The Color Purple, and it wasn't good for Saturdays. So I figured I'd break with tradition and get a ticket for Friday night. I mean, how bad could the traffic be?
Bad. Really really bad. I left Boston 1:30 PM, and I didn't make it to New Rochelle until 6:30 PM, which is bad enough. But then it took me TWO AND A HALF HOURS to get from New Rochelle to the George Washington Bridge (which should only really take about 20 minutes), only to find out that the GWB doesn't go into Manhattan from route 95, it goes to New Jersey.
Needless to say, I missed my Friday night show, which was actually to be my first visit to The Color Purple. I had heard great things about Fantasia Barrino, so I was kinda looking forward to it. It was also to be my first time ever in the Broadway Theater, which I was actually a bit more excited about than seeing the show. There are only four Broadway theaters that I've never been in -- the Lyceum, the Longacre, the Winter Garden, and the Broadway -- and I was looking forward to crossing that last one off my list.
Of course, as for missing curtain time, I was pissed, and I cursed the theater gods repeatedly from the front seat of my Jetta. But then I remembered an article that I read on Playbill.com: a recent Ask Playbill column focused on the issue of what you can do when you miss a show that you have tickets for. It's called "past dating," it's not really an official policy, and it varies from theater to theater. For some shows, you can call the theater on the day of the performance and see if the show is sold out. If not, you might be able to snag a ticket.
I called Ticketmaster and told them my tale of whoa, and they mentioned a similar policy. I told them I come from out of town and that I'd really rather have a set date. So they told me to write a letter and explain my situation, and to give a number of alternate dates when I could see the show, as long as those dates are on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Given that the official policy is "no refunds or exchanges," I think that such courtesy arrangements are more than fair. They don't have to replace my ticket, so the fact that I will need to see the show on a weekday seems a minor inconvenience at best.
So, if you should ever get caught in traffic on a rainy Friday afternoon, or if your dog starts barfing his brains out on a show night, don't despair. Depending on the show that you have tickets for, you might still be able to see the show at a later date. If it's a big hit like Jersey Boys or Wicked, it might be much much later. But it's better than eating a $120 loss.