Several thousand hopeful ticketbuyers queued up at the St. James theatre in a line that snaked eastward along West 44th St. and down 7th Ave. A show employee indicated that the line had been moving very slowly since the box office opened at noon, with only about 25-30 people being served per hour. The box office was allowing people to buy up to 8 tickets per month per credit card billing address.
As of 2:30, the employee stated that the box office would close at its usual time - 6PM - and then reopen at 10AM on Monday.
Those waiting in line were being advised to keep redialing Telecharge.com (212-239-6200) on their cell phones.
Along the ticketbuyer line, arguments were erupting between theatregoers standing elbow to elbow with ticket scalpers who were also trying to buy tickets. The show rep allowed that there were scalpers in line (most of them bunched up at the front), but that the box office couldn't do anything about the situation. "When they buy tickets at the box office," she said, "they're conducting a legitimate transaction. It's only when they turn around and resell the tickets does it become illegal. Who's to say what your motives are when you buy your tickets? We can't discriminate based on whether or not we think you are a scalper".
The line for tickets originally began forming at 5AM on Friday, though the police ordered people to disperse until Saturday night at midnight. Nathan Lane, who won a Tony Award for the 2001 Mel Brooks musical comedy, and Matthew Broderick, who was nominated, return to the St. James Theatre starting Dec. 30 for 112 performances. Their return — at a reported salary of $100,000 per week per actor — comes at a time when the smash show's sales have gone soft two years after the musical made theatre history by winning 12 Tonys.