When you go into a Broadway or Off-Broadway theatre, and an usher hands you a Playbill, there's no charge for that magazine.
That's the lesson to be learned from a recent incident, reported in the New York Post, wherein four ushers were apparently fired for charging up to $20 for Playbill magazines for the Broadway show, Cats, at the Winter Garden Theatre. According to the Post, the employees also charged tourists $60 to upgrade their seats -- to obstructed view boxes. Two bartenders were also apparently let go for doubling the prices of drinks.
Asked about the incident, Playbill's President and Publisher Phil Birsh said (Sept. 17), "The Shubert Organization is an extraordinary foundation run by industry leaders. It's a shame that a scant few people working within their organization can cause them such trauma."
Press agent Max Eisen told the Post (Sept. 17), "I've never heard of ushers selling free Playbills in all my years in the business."
The Union of Ushers, Ticket Takers & Doormen (Local B-183) could not be reached at press time. A spokesperson from the Bill Evans press office, which handles Cats, declined comment (Sept. 17). Another source close to the show doubted the veracity of the NY Post story, which did not cite its sources by name.