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For years, D.C.’s half-price ticket booth languished in virtual exile at Lisner Auditorium, unknown to tourists, forgotten by locals, and too far from downtown to be convenient for lunchtime visits by office workers. But a summer at the Old Post Office Pavilion has evidently gone a long way toward rectifying that.
Summer was once the booth’s slowest period, but this August, with sales of about $10,000 a week, the booth set an all-time record. “I’ve been too busy to figure out if it’s double or triple what we were doing at Lisner,” says Steve Klopper, who manages TICKETplace for the D.C. Cultural Alliance. “But it was easily the biggest month I’ve ever had here, and I’ve been with the booth for seven years.”
This despite the fact that the Shuberts, who book the National Theatre, don’t like discount booths, apparently as a matter of national policy. And that Phantom of the Opera, which is at the KenCen, a TICKETplace booster, hasn’t had any empty seats to sell at half-price.
Klopper says there’s generally a line when he opens up but that after the first half-hour, “We basically keep up, so that there’s usually not more than two or three people in line at a time.”
Not everyone heads there out of necessity. Philanthropist Jaylee Mead, after whom Studio Theatre named its Mead Theatre, was one of the first people to buy a ticket at the booth’s Old Post Office debut (to Shakespeare Theatre’s Mourning Becomes Electra). And actors drop by, too. Richard Kline, who played Bertie Wooster’s butler Jeeves in the musical bearing his name, came by this summer when his comps were committed elsewhere. “Could I have two tickets,” he asked, eyebrow characteristically arched, “to that show starring me?”
Full-price tickets are also available at TICKETplace, and Klopper says some people prefer coming there to dealing with ticket brokers.
“We know so much about what’s going on we can recommend something if a customer’s first choice isn’t available at half price,” he says. “In fact, we’ll even call the theater and ask them if they’ll give us tickets for something if someone’s standing here asking for it. Once we get someone to come here, we want to sell them something.”CP
Half-price tickets must be purchased in person and with cash. For daily listings, call (202) TICKETS (842-5387), or check the booth’s web site at www.cultural-alliance.org/tickets. TICKETplace is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Tues.-Sat., and is located on the mezzanine level of the Old Post Office Pavilion, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.