Repeat Attenders: The Stories Behind Broadway Superfans

By Kelsey Balzli
20 Oct 2013

Seeing a show so often that theatregoers hit the triple digits doesn't come without a cost. While fandom is not free, is can be more affordable than one might think.

Sarah Packard with Rock Of Ages star Dominique Scott

Heather Card, who has seen Newsies more than 40 times, has only paid for a full-price ticket once. Sarah Packard, a self-proclaimed "RoA-holic", has seen Rock of Ages 109 times on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on tour and in Toronto, but her love for hair metal hasn't broken the bank.

"Rush tickets help save on the cost, and of course there are discount codes as well," Packard said. "I admit I hardly ever pay full price for the shows I see because I have a limited budget. I work in the theatre business, and I am lucky to get invited to a lot of shows. I am also grateful for rush, lotto and standing-room pricing."

Another way to see a show multiple times is to stand in line for rush or lottery tickets. Sure, it takes a lot of planning, but the camaraderie in the lottery is unique to the New York theatre scene. Jonathan Cort, a fan of Wicked since 2004, said there is an art to the lottery.

"Most of the 48 times I've seen Wicked have been via the ticket lottery system," Cort said. Oftentimes, Wicked fan friends will coordinate and help each other out with lottery when someone wants to see the show."

Rachel Sather’s Book of Mormon tattoo

Rachel Sather, who has seen The Book of Mormon 28 times, shows her support for the show with a "Man Up" tattoo on her forearm. While such dedication might cause those who fear needles to cringe, she said she enjoys bonding with her fellow fans.

"It becomes a very communal thing, in a way, and it was a comfort zone after I moved to New York," Sather said. "Being with fans becomes very ritualistic, not to mention the basic love for the show itself."

And cast interactions are a must. Cort works on a blog called "Innuendo & Outuendo," which allows him to interview Wicked cast and alumni. But he said the connection that he, as well as fans of other shows, have made with Broadway casts is unique.

"I've developed relationships with performers just from seeing the show multiple times and talking to them at stage door," Cort said. "This can sometimes lead to an actual friendship beyond the stage door."

Emma Story’s Sleep No More tattoo

Emma Story has ventured into the dark, mysterious world of Sleep No More 64 times in the last two years. The cost of that many tickets to Punchdrunk's immersive production might cause even Macbeth's dagger to quiver, but Story has always paid full price for the elusive experience. Pricing aside, what draws her to the show is the aspect of the unknown, as well as the thrill of seeing new cast members fill the roles.

"There's a huge amount packed into each three-hour experience. I attended very frequently in an effort to see it all — follow every character for a full loop, experience every one-on-one and explore every room," Story said. "I even got my Sleep No More tattoo after the first few times. When I go now, it's because of an interesting performer/role combination I've heard about."

Bettie Laven also attends Wicked for the sake of seeing nuances in each new cast of the show.

"I still go back to see Wicked when there is a change in actors or just to see if the cherry picker is still functioning properly," Laven said. "I had so many buttons from the lottery that I returned them in a large plastic bag to the house manager."