Since The Producers first began the practice in 2001, Broadway audiences have become more and more accustomed to premium ticket pricing for sought-after shows, which can fetch up to $477 in the case of the 2011 Tony-winning musical The Book of Mormon.
A handful of Off-Broadway non-profits have also initiated premium-priced tickets for high-profile productions that are generating press and audience buzz.
MCC Theater, which is staging the world premiere of Jeff Talbott's hot-button play The Submission, is selling premium tickets for $95, while the anticipated revised staging of the cult musical Carrie has priced premium orchestra and mezzanine seats at $149. Tony nominee Marin Mazzie and Molly Ranson star in the musical based on the Stephen King novel.
MCC is also making $95 premium seating available for Thomas Higgins' Wild Animals You Should Know, starring Tony Award winner Alice Ripley and Tony nominee Patrick Breen. Standard ticket prices for both plays at MCC this season are $65, while Carrie tickets are priced $89.
A representative for MCC said that typically 8-16 prime seats per performance are set aside for the unique pricing. The practice began with the 2009 musical Coraline by Magnetic Fields songwriter Stephin Merritt and playwright-actor David Greenspan. The Vineyard Theatre, which is currently presenting the world premiere of Nicky Silver's The Lyons, starring Tony winners Linda Lavin and Dick Latessa, has made $100 premium tickets available. Regular tickets sell for $70.
Vineyard executive producer Jennifer Garvey-Blackwell said the premium-ticket scale, which affects less than ten percent of their seating (8-12 seats per performance), was established during Adam Rapp's The Metal Children in 2010, but has not been advertised.
Garvey-Blackwell said she was a bit hesitant, but after creating a development and marketing task force to research the practice, decided to launch the program, and audience demand has proven its sustainability. Premium tickets were also available for the developmental lab production of Now. Here. This. from the creators of [title of show], which sold for $60 (normally $30).
St. Ann's Warehouse is also selling $125 premium tickets for Stop the Virgens, the new opera from Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocalist Karen O, which opens the Dumbo non-profit theatre's 2011-2012 season. Standing room tickets sell for $55. It is the highest price point of any show in the organization's upcoming season. All other St. Ann's productions offer premium seating options at various price points.
The Transport Group production of Michael John LaChiusa's Queen of the Mist, which is staged in a unique environmental setting, has general admission tickets for $58, while premium reserved seats are priced at $65. The practice was instituted in 2009.
New York Theatre Workshop managing director William Russo said his organization did not offer premium seating in a traditional sense, but in the case of sold-out productions, NYTW did make a handful of remaining tickets available to individuals who wanted to become patrons. The company is currently presenting the extended run of Elevator Repair Service's The Select (The Sun Also Rises).
Second Stage Theatre has also followed a similar procedure in the past, with $125 premium tickets available ($75 ticket and $50 donation) for certain productions, according to a spokesperson.
Representatives for the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Lincoln Center Theater and the Atlantic Theater Company told Playbill.com that their organizations do not offer Off-Broadway premium ticket pricing. A spokesperson for Manhattan Theatre Club said the company had no plans to initiate premium tickets for its Broadway productions at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre or Off-Broadway at New York City Center.
In recent weeks the Signature Theatre Company announced that it was launching a new ticket initiative that will price all seats at $25 for the initially scheduled performances of each production for the next ten years. In prior seasons, the Signature priced regular tickets at $75 prior to extensions (those tickets were underwritten and available for $20).