Despite the discovery of a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday, May 1, Broadway did not go dark that evening. All scheduled shows went on, through the confusion and blocked streets, though some theaters opened late in the midst of increased police activity and barricades, and the ensuing delays to traffic and transit.
While the Great White Way would not be deterred that evening, apparently a number of ticket holders to shows in the area could not get through in time to attend the productions. During that weekend, there seemed to be confusing options for shut-out ticket holders, as well as to those who may have been too frightened to enter to the area to use their tickets that evening. Both the New York Times and New York Daily News ran stories about patrons unable to get to their shows.
Even days later, there still seems to be no definitive word on a ticket refund policy in response to this incident. Although optimistic that ticket refunds were in fact happening, staff at Telecharge, a major Broadway ticketer, referred TicketNews to theater trade association the Broadway League for news of any standardized refund/exchange policy in relation to the May 1 incident. An attempt to reach the Broadway League secured only the most recent statement from the League’s Executive Director, Charlotte St. Martin. The statement reads, in part, “For exchanges or refunds, theatergoers should contact their point of purchase. Theatergoers who secured tickets through discount services such as TKTS should inquire about refunds/exchanges at the box offices of theaters.”
Refunds do seem to be happening on a theater-by-theater basis. The New York Times quoted a Disney spokesperson as confirming that refunds and exchanges were available to ticket holders who could not attend performances of the Lion King or Mary Poppins on May 1st.
Sellers on the secondary market don’t have much clarity on the situation, either, but they are doing what they can for ticket holders. Jason Berger of All Shows told TicketNews: “Our understanding is that some companies are offering refunds. We have made a company policy to refund tickets for the evening’s performance for anyone who was unable to make that performance.”
Leor Zahavi, owner of Admit One tickets, notes that no customer has called to request a refund or exchange for the shows in question, but that “anytime there is a customer complaint, we handle them on a case-by-case basis.”
There also seem to be conflicting opinions about how the Times Square incident has affected Broadway’s box office. The Times piece notes a drop in box office receipts of $1.4 million over the previous week, and it suggests that the accessibility issue on that evening impacted earnings.
However, St. Martin disagrees. Per the Broadway League’s press statement: “Last week’s grosses were not affected by the events of Saturday night because the tickets were sold and the performances were not cancelled. It’s logical to assume there may have been financial impact on Sunday and this coming week, but the grosses do not definitively reflect that assumption.”