This week's question comes from Paula Fuhrmann of Long Island.
Question: Due to illness, my sister (who lives on Long Island, NY) could not use her tickets last April to Jersey Boys. She called the theatre the morning of the show to say she would not use her tickets and was told she would have to wait a year to re-use them. Why? I also live on Long Island and have never waited that long to re-use tickets. I know it is a popular show but it doesn't seem fair.
Answer: Broadway theatres tell patrons that ticket refunds and exchanges are not allowed. But if you have a ticket to a Broadway show and for whatever reason you end up missing the performance, or know you're going to miss a performance, the show may allow you to trade in the tickets for another performance of the same show. This policy, known as "past dating," varies from theatre to theatre.
A theatre manager for Jujamcyn — the organization that controls the August Wilson Theatre, where Jersey Boys plays, in addition to the St. James, Al Hirschfeld, Eugene O'Neill and Walter Kerr Theatres — summarized the company's past dating policy as follows: Traditionally, if you've missed a performance, you should call Telecharge after 11 AM on the day of the performance that you wish to attend instead. That performance must be an evening performance on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. If tickets are available, a Telecharge representative will grant you new tickets. When you show up to the theatre, you must bring the original tickets, to trade them in for the new ones. The Jujamcyn theatre manager notes that "the courtesy of past-dating is at the sole discretion of management and subject to availability and black out dates, and there is no guarantee that the patron will get a seat location comparable to her original location. Past-dating is also usually not available during holiday weeks or the final week of a production's engagement. For a hit show, past-dating may not be possible until several years into the show's run."
Jersey Boys is a hit show. In fact, because of the show's continual popularity, past dating has never been available for Jersey Boys. So the reason why Ms. Fuhrmann's sister was told she would have to wait a year to get a replacement ticket for the show is that it'll probably be at least a year before Jersey Boys has tickets still available at 11 AM on the day of a performance.
When told of Ms. Fuhrmann's question, a spokesperson for Jersey Boys responded in an email message, "For Jersey Boys, the past dates would be honored once the show is in a position to be able to offer tickets. This would be when the show is no longer selling out, which would not be in the near future."
A spokesperson for the Nederlander Organization — which controls the Nederlander, Brooks Atkinson, Lunt-Fontanne, Gershwin, Marquis, Minskoff, Neil Simon, Palace and Richard Rogers Theatres — says that, as with Jujamcyn, if you miss a performance at a Nederlander theatre, you can call the theatre on the day of the performance that you would like to see instead. The substitute performance must be Monday through Thursday. If the performance isn't sold out, the theatre will accommodate you. To inquire, you should call the general number for the individual theatre, which is listed in the White Pages. If you're really stuck you can call the organization's general number at (212) 840-5577.
A spokesperson for the Shubert Organization, which controls 17 Broadway theatres, said that the organization has no formal policy on past dating, but "generally, if you can't make it, we make an exchange for you for another date." You should ideally contact the point of sale, though if you bought a ticket at the physical box office and can't make it back there, just call Telecharge. In addition, "it's always better if you call before the performance happens," the spokesperson says.