For two years, Chicago's half-price ticket booth, Hot Tix, has been located at 700 North Michigan Avenue -- but no longer. In April, the booth was relocated to the landmark Water Tower at Michigan and Chicago Avenues -- gateway to "Magnificent Mile."
According to its May/June newsletter, The League of Chicago Theatres instituted the move, April 21, to strengthen the booth's sales and variety of offerings. The Water Tower is considered the city's foremost tourist information center. Hot Tix is on street level and directly accessible to people passing through the Visitors Center.
New policies on tickets at the booth include the assurance that some half price tickets will be availabe for "virtually every production" staged by a League member theatre. Theatres will also have the option to make tickets to weekend performances available on Friday, as opposed to just same day.
A 900 phone number, (900) 225-2225, has also been set up to give performance schedules, theatre locations and other information, for a $1-per-minute charge (calls generally average three minutes). If your phone is blocked for 900 calls, you can call (888) 225-8844 and charge the call to your credit card. The new phone service replaces the old Hot Tix Hotline.
In other League news, the organization has a new official logo, featuring a spotlight beaming down over the words "Chicago Theatres." The League's new slogan is "Get into the Scene," which executive director Marj Halperin said was chosen to make Chicagoans feel that by attending a production, they're not only members of the audience but members of an "exciting theatre community." The League's even looking for a new name for its newsletter (currently called "Newsletter"). If you have any suggestions, send them in before May 31. The winner gets dinner for two at Yvette or Yvette Wintergarden.
Ironically, the changes in Chicago are occuring while New York still waits to hear what, if any, changes will occur to its mid-town TKTS booth operation. Contention between producers, who provide tickets to be sold at half-price, and Theatre Development Fund, which runs the booth, came to a boil in March when Jed Bernstein, executive director of the League Of American Theatres & Producers, was removed from the TDF Board, accused of going behind TDF's back in coming up with a study to change the booth's policies and, perhaps, governance.
Reached May 1, producer James Freydberg told Playbill On-Line that talks between TDF and the producers haven't started yet, basically because of scheduling during the busy end-of-season. "Talks will probably will take place sometime this month. I still think all this was a result of a misunderstanding of our report, which TDF assumed was more than just a study."
--By David Lefkowitz