Some DPAC ticket holders upset show went on
The Durham Performing Arts Center took the phrase “the show must go on” seriously this week when snow, ice and a declared state of emergency weren’t enough to cancel the Wednesday night performance of the sold out tour of “The Book of Mormon.”
As snow and ice bore down on the Triangle, DPAC posted a notice on its website that all shows this week would go on as scheduled.
Evan Kubitschek had two tickets for the Wednesday night show, but was blocked by a wreck in his neighborhood in Raleigh. He works in Research Triangle Park and said traffic coming home became a parking lot because of the snow. He reached out to DPAC via Facebook and Twitter, but got no response.
Kubitschek said he still wants to see the show and would be happy to reschedule.
“Even credit for a further performance would be great,” he said. “But stonewalling and radio silence? I’ll never buy again. And a lot of my friends feel the same way. And I got only cheap seats.”
Kubitschek spent $60 with fees for his ticket, and knows others who spent much more.
“This show was the reason many people got season passes; it’s a real shame,” he said. Kubitschek also said that “ignoring social media and stonewalling is the worst thing you can do to young people.”
John Schriner of Knightdale said that he and his wife decided it was too dangerous to drive to Durham to celebrate their 19th anniversary.
Schriner said given the warnings to stay home, shelters opening and weather-related injuries, it was “dangerous and irresponsible for the DPAC to not cancel the performance.”
Schriner said that, given the tour is sold out, he doesn’t expect to get tickets to another performance of “The Book of Mormon.” He’d prefer a refund, but would accept a credit.
Season ticket holder Sara Greene thinks DPAC will “lose more money by the number of patrons they’ll lose from this incident than the amount it would’ve cost them to refund tickets for patrons who were unable to attend due to the storm,” she said.
However, Greene did receive an email response from DPAC that “…for those that could not attend the Wednesday night show, we hope to be able to offer some options and will be in touch when we have more information or if something changes.”
Greene, who lives in Durham, said ideally she’d still like to see the show.
“I know that they had to cancel a show with a touring cast of ‘The Book of Mormon’ in Atlanta and they created another performance to accommodate those individuals,” she said.
Indeed, the opening night of “The Book of Mormon” last month at Fox Theatre in Atlanta was cancelled because of Georgia’s declared state of emergency. An extra show was added.
Elaine Farstad of Raleigh also complained to DPAC about its response that tours rarely cancel shows, considering what happened in Atlanta.
“I never thought Atlanta would act more responsibly than Durham,” Farstad emailed to DPAC customer service.
Erika Martinez said that strangers who helped push her car out of trees during her commute “had more concern for my safety than an establishment that I have given thousands of dollars to. Though I only live 10 minutes from DPAC, I was not venturing back out after nearly hitting trees,” Martinez said.
DPAC senior marketing director Rachel Gragg told The Herald-Sun that they “are following our normal procedures and handling internally through our customer service department.”
Gragg said that people with concerns can contact DPAC at firstname.lastname@example.org, “and we will follow up with them individually from there.”
For the show that went on, about 500 people made it to the Wednesday night performance in the 2,800-seat theater. Jeff Shaw was one of them. He walked to DPAC from his home in Old North Durham, on the edge of downtown. Shaw posted a photograph to Twitter that went viral for the number of empty balcony seats, but he said it didn’t quite show the entire picture. The center orchestra section, where balcony ticket holders were allowed to move, filled in.
“The show was great, the cast really seemed to put full energy into it and the staff was really nice. I’m glad I went,” Shaw said. He said his girlfriend would give it five stars, and it gets four from him. They walked home on mostly empty streets in downtown Durham.
“We bundled up; it was fine. I’m from Minnesota. But then I’m heartier than a lot of folks,” he said. Shaw guessed that about half of the crowd left the show walking, and the rest went toward the parking garage.
“I actually see DPAC’s point here more than a lot of folks do, maybe because I’m not a season ticket holder,” Shaw said. “I can completely understand why people are upset. I see it as an unfortunate situation for all – Broadway shows already have DPAC’s money, but DPAC could have taken long view about long-term customer impact.”
In Raleigh, The NC Theatre and Broadway Series South production of “Les Miserables” at Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center cancelled performances on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13. A performance was added for Monday, and offered to ticket holders of the cancelled shows.
Daniel Worrall, who lives in Greenville, got DPAC tickets as a birthday gift to his wife.
“I'm not angry with them for not cancelling, even if they had 500 people there, and were able to get their employees there safely, they should let the show go on,” Worrall said.
DPAC should offer some sort of concession, he said, and “not act as though they have no choice in the matter, but acknowledge that they could have closed their doors and offered refunds, but chose not to for what I’m sure are valid reasons,” he said.
Worrall isn’t asking for much as a concession.
“Heck, offer me a voucher for a free beer. Just do something to show that you understand I'm out $75 per ticket and it’s not my fault,” he said.
Thursday evening, the N.C. Department of Transportation was still advising that drivers stay home.
DPAC’s performance of “The Book of Mormon” was still scheduled to go on.