Sunday, April 30, 2017

Got Tickets to Hamilton in September - Thanks to AmEx!

For a couple of months, I have been preparing for April 30th, the day the Pantages Hollywood tickets go on sale for Hamilton, the 11 Tony award winning Broadway play.  Knowing that tickets were going to be difficult to purchase, I knew that I had to zero in on a specific date, a Saturday, and a specific time. Weekend shows of plays usually have a matinee and an evening show. My birthday this year falls on a Saturday, so I wanted to shoot for a 2pm show on that day. About two weeks ago, I emailed a new local friend asking her if she was interested in going to see Hamilton with me if I got two tickets. I was aiming for the lowest prices between $75 to $125 naturally, and therefore, making it easier for me to get two tickets. However, I have not heard back from her so I reckon she's not interested.

The day has arrived and I logged onto my Ticketmaster account, and updated the payment information with my new Gold Delta Skymiles American Express card. And at 10am sharp, I clicked on the September 30th date, and I was automatically placed into a 40 minute holding pattern. I opened up another browser on my computer, and waited. I then logged onto my ipad, and waited. Then I figured I should call Ticketmaster while on hold online. I've been through many stressful ticket buying experiences before, but this one was strange. This is a FIVE month run for a play that has a show every day except Monday and I just thought that it would be a challenge, but not this much. I pushed the redial button at least 3 dozen times before I got through. Meanwhile, on the computer, a $650 ticket popped up. I clicked 'try again' to get lower priced tickets.

So as I'm on the phone, it took forever to have the 'system' find me a ticket, but at this time, I was still trying for 2 tickets at the lower prices. After they found two tickets and asked if I wanted to pay $1332, I said, 'hell no', try again, but this time, I just went for one. I was willing to buy two tickets up to the individual prices of $125, but not two tickets at $650 each! I'm not one for buying tickets only to resell at a profit to a person eagerly wanting to go to this show just like me. That's greedy and rude. So since this is a birthday gift to myself, and the ONLY way I was going to see Hamilton on my birthday was to splurge and buy the expensive $650 ticket, I bit the bullet and purchased it. Thank God I have this new American Express card - which was used for a true emergency, as in this case! I'll have my ticket mailed to me, and I was told that the ticket is in row H, so that's like 8 rows from the stage. AWESOME!!! (Click to see seating chart & prices)

I cannot justify paying this price for any other play, unless it's staring my favorite actor. But now that I have proven to myself that I am willing to pay at most $650, I should not trip out if in the future I need to consider buying a top ticket hovering around the $300-400 range for an excellent theater experience. But this will in no way be a habit. I don't anticipate being in the position of wanting a ticket with such high interest in the foreseeable future, so this is why I'm not too disturbed about paying this kind of money to see Hamilton.

What does irk me is that the tickets are priced in a way that scalpers buy all the cheaper tickets, and then go resell them at 4-6x the face value. So if someone really wanted to see this play on their birthday, and the only tickets that are available are through Stubhub or resold via Ticketmaster, that person will be paying through the nose for those tickets.

Case in point: The image above is for the September 30, 2pm performance, the same show I will be attending. The tickets listed for Mezzanine Left Center were bought by the seller at $95 each. The bastard is now selling these tickets for $415. I pity the desperate fool who buys those tickets, I really do.

I think the Hamilton theater company got wise about the horrible ticket pricing and scalping on Broadway, so they upped the tickets for the very best seats, knowing that those who really wanted to see the play and had the money to buy at that price, were set. But those who had to fight for the rest, risk possibly paying just as much if not more for the regularly priced expensive seats if they had to resort to the greedy, evil scalpers and resellers. You know what... let's just lump them all together. Someone deliberately buying tickets TODAY, with NO intention of going to that performance, and reselling at 5x the face value, is a damn scalper too.

But alas, the theory of supply and demand for extremely popular events will always have scalpers reselling affordable tickets to good fans who could not buy them fast enough from scalpers. I'm lucky I was able to be in the position to buy a high priced ticket on my own, and not resort to buying a poor seat at premium seat prices. Those who do buy a mezzanine seat at a premium seat price need to have a better understanding of the value of their seat and experience, at the value they are willing to pay for it. Is it ok to spend over $400+ for a nosebleed seat instead of a superior seat at just $200 more? If they think that's fine, they are justifying the existence of scalpers.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Evening with Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey at Film Independent - April 20, 2017
I'm not the biggest Oprah Winfrey fan, but you have to give credit where credit is due. She's a remarkable, multi-talented/multi-hyphenated person who does a lot of good for the world. When I realized that she was going to appear at the screening of her new HBO movie, I had to be there! The latest thing Oprah has done was help bring the very important story of Henrietta Lacks to life. Based on a New York Times bestselling book by Rebecca Skloot, Oprah produced and starred in the HBO film (airing this weekend), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, directed by George C. Wolfe. I had the pleasure to attend the Film Independent screening for Immortal on April 20th, where Oprah and the director engaged in a lively conversation afterwards. Oprah admitted that even she wasn't aware of Henrietta Lacks, and it really saddened her. Ms. Lacks was a black woman who lived in Baltimore and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She died in 1951, but Johns Hopkins hospital removed her cancer cells and used them for research and study that would lead to groundbreaking medical and scientific breakthroughs that have revolutionized all of humanity. Back in those days, it was protocol for human tissue to be used without consent for research. For those with a background and interest in science, you may be more familiar with the scientific name for her cells as HELA cells.

According to the wiki definition of HELA, it is described as, "A cell type in an immortal cell line used in scientific research. It is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line." HELA is abbreviated for HEnrietta LAcks, the human donor of these important and immortal cells. Read up on Henrietta's legacy from this current article at CNN.

The conversation with Oprah was very engaging and informative. She's really proud to be a part of this film. She plays Deborah Lacks, Henrietta's daughter. Deborah had a life long crusade to bring her mother's story to life. Oprah explained that she was hesitant to take on the role, but when she heard one of the interview tapes of Deborah talking to the writer of the 'Immortal' book, Rebecca Skloot, which the movie in based on, Oprah learned that Deborah wanted Oprah to play her if a movie were ever made. Well, her wish came true.

I was able to get my autograph from Oprah and I thanked her for bringing this very important story to our attention, and she said, 'You're welcome'. I shook the director's hand and told him how much I enjoyed the film. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks airs on HBO this weekend. Please watch it, it's a very important film. We have all benefited from Henrietta in ways we can't comprehend.

Oprah deserves an Emmy nomination for 'Immortal'

Director George C. Wolfe and Oprah

Fans getting their autographs

Heading to the wine and cheese reception afterwards

A variety of wines to enjoy