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Me Tarzan. You ... Why For?

Me Tarzan. You ... Why For?

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Let's start things off with an e-mail from Tony, who asks ...

Hi Jim,

I have been following your Tarzan stories and got depressed after reading today's "Why For." Why for? Because I had purchased tickets when they first became available and shelled out extra money to buy the VIP tickets at $200 a pop. Where am I sitting? Row M center. Is there truly limited seating starting at row K?

Best,

Tony

Tony --

Well, there seems to be some significant differences of opinion when it come to which seats at the Richard Rodgers theatre are actually being affected here. As I mentioned in my March 31st "Why For" column, the seating chart that Playbill.com has for this particular Broadway house (Which I've taken the liberty of duplicating for today's column) ...


Copyright 2006 Playbill.com

... features some language that (Again, taking some liberties here) I've also copied and -- by making larger -- made that much easier to read ...

... Which seems to be rather clear, don't you think? So -- if "Front Mezzanine Row A overhangs Orchestra Row J" -- it only stands to reason that this low overhang would start having some sort of visual impact on the theatregoers seated in Row K, right?

Well ...

Judging by the large number of e-mails that I received on this subject this week, not everyone out there agrees with my opinion. Take -- for instance -- this note that I got from Kevin M. Which states:

Just a quick note regarding your TARZAN article 3/31. I sat in orchestra row N 3/24 and there were no obstructions whatsoever. Your statement, "... those sitting directly behind row J (K,L,M N,O,P...etc.) will have their Tarzan viewing significantly impacted ..." is completely inaccurate.

You do begin missing the very top of the stage at row Q and therefore miss a tiny bit of the very high aerial choreography. Also, as per my "Stubs" seating guide, the mezzanine overhang is at row L, which is correct. The row J you quote is from Ticketmaster, which is incorrect.

I don't work for Disney. I have nothing to do with the show. I do, however, want to make you aware of these facts.

Regards,

Kevin M.

Okay. So according to Kevin M., the Richard Rodgers' low-hanging mezzanine doesn't really start having a negative impact on "Tarzan" until Row R. Except ... Well, that's not what Daniel C. said in his e-mail:

Jim,

Just saw Tarzan on Thursday night and -- unless several major changes were made since you saw the production -- I am not sure what all the fuss is about.

I sat center orchestra five rows from the back of the theatre in row S and saw all the action. My tickets were not marked partial view. But I did ask at the box office the day before (Thanks to your first article) and was told that partial view started the row behind me.

The only thing that was not in full view was Tarzan's entrance. Which I saw most of once he swang into view. With the tilt of the orchestra behind me, I would guess that the very back rows may not have seen anything. But no one complained.

As you said, we cannot discuss the play as it has not opened. But let's face it: The main problems Tarzan has is anything but partial view seats. Enough said.

I am going again in early May and do expect to see a much different show (I hope).

Greg

Alright. So -- just to recap here -- the real sightline problems at the Richard Rodgers seem to begin in Row T of the orchestra. Which Brian E. was kind enough to confirm:

Hi Jim,

Good article on "Tarzan." Don't know if you pay attention to the theatre boards and chat rooms but it seems that the problem starts in row T. That's what people who have already seen the show have been saying. A lot of talk about this on the boards.

Brian E.

Sooo ... Now we seem to have finally zeroed in on the real impact area (So to speak). But is Disney Theatrical doing everything that it can in order to make sure that the people who are actually seated in this affected area are then made aware of the problem? A different Brian seems to think so:

Jim,

You state in your article about Tarzan on Broadway:

"More importantly, all of the tickets that were sold for this particular part of the house were clearly stamped "Obstructed View."

My tickets did NOT have that printed on them. They were labeled "Partial View." Which -- in my opinion -- is extremely different than "Obstructed View."

Just thought you should be made aware.

Thanks!

Brian

But -- that said -- the "Tarzan" production team as well as the house staff at the Richard Rodgers theatre are now clearly aware that they're dealing with a serious situation here. That this whole sightlines issues could wind up becoming a real PR nightmare for this new Disney musical. Which is why they've now decided to become proactive with "Tarzan" 's partial view problems.

"How so?," you ask. Well, listen to what happened to David G. this past weekend when he dropped by the Richard Rodgers to catch a performance of "Tarzan":

I bought tickets to the show in December for last Saturday's preview. My ticket, for Row T of the orchestra, was clearly marked "PARTIAL VIEW."

I was prepared to sit there and not complain, knowing that the house staff had their hands tied. When the ticket taker scanned in my ticket, he called over the house manager who took me to the box office. I asked him about the partial view seats and said that there was nothing to worry about in Row T.

The box office staff then informed me that my seat was being upgraded to Row O. I was dead center with the full, 100% view.

The production team is constantly making changes to the show to accomodate the last 4 rows (the obstructed seating). Until they are finished, the box office is doing what they can to upgrade as many partial view seats as possible (depending on the number of empty seats). Fortunately for me, there were a few left over.

I had a great seat for a show that left a lot to be desired.

So there you have it. The folks at the Richard Rodgers are now obviously doing everything they can in order to allievate "Tarzan" 's sightlines situation. They are doing so by moving as many people as possible out of the affected area in the theater into much better seats.

When those seats are actually available, mind. Which isn't all too often. Given how well seats have been selling to this new Disney musical during its preview period.

Anywho ... That's not to say that other seats in the Richard Rodgers don't offer their own unique challenges. Or that -- in the long run -- this Broadway house's bad sightlines may turn out to be the least of the problems currently facing the "Tarzan" production team. As Lila McC. now explains:


Jim,

I wanted to comment on your article about Tarzan and the sightline issues. My party viewed the production on March 30 from the main floor somewhere in the second tier of seats from the front.

Believe me, this location presented its own set of problems. All one could focus on were the snaps and hooks and cables and pulleys being used. Actors or stagehands were constantly snapping the giant hooks on and off their costumes and props, and all this activity as well as the cables were often illuminated by the spotlights.

In our opinion it just really interferred with concentrating on the dialog as they obviously had to break character just a tiny bit to perform each technical function.

From a story perspective, while there was a lot of big talent up there on the stage we all felt that, as written, the main characters just failed to engage among themselves or with the audience in any meaningful way. There was no "gotcha" moment that rationally solidified ditsy Jane's romantic attraction to Tarzan or explained Jane's father's acquiescence, if not blessing, to their relationship. At the end we felt very bad the silverback died but really didn't care much what happened to either Tarzan or Jane.

Overall, we were terribly disappointed in the production and talked late into the night about what, if anything, can be done to do fix this mess before opening night.

While I said (in my original piece about this new Disney musical) that it really wouldn't be fair of me to comment about "Tarzan" until after this show officially opened on May 10th ... I have to admit that I share many of Lila McC.'s concerns. I'm now wondering if "Tarzan" 's production team will actually be able to get a handle on all of these problems in the less-than-five-weeks that remain 'til opening night.

Mind you, I plan on making another trip down to NYC next month so that I'll then be able to attend the very last preview of "Tarzan." Which would then allow me to chronicle all the changes that were made to this new Disney musical before its official Broadway debut. So look for that particular article to pop up on JHM sometime in mid-May.

Now as what will happen to "Tarzan" after its Broadway debut (More importantly, what impact Disney Theatrical Productions' future plans for this particular production may have had on the decision-making-process that ultimately led to this new musical being loaded into this specific NYC theatre ) ... Well, that's a story that I hope to get to here at JHM sometime early next week.

Til then ... well, you folks have a great weekend, okay?

j

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  • First off I do not work for Disney nor have I seen Tarzan as of yet. I do work in the Biz and have been following the posting about this and think that it is time for me to chime in.

    Obstructed/Partial View... This is a common occurance in the theatre 90% of the shows out there have obsrtucted view seats. Obstucted view means that part of the performance will be obstructed whether by a pole or and  architectural element.

    Partial View ussualy means that you will miss part of the stage due to angle or sight lines.

    A bit of advice, if you want the same view as the directors sit aprox 10 rows back ctr or in the aisle break if there is one.  

    I think that this  obstructed issue is being blown out of proportion. If you Buy a ticket and it is stamped Obstructed view you know that you will be missing something it's your choice and if you accept those seats don't complain about missing part of the show to the House Manager.

    You are also presently seeing a show in previews and the show has a top ticket price that is at least a 25% off the full price. Shows change greatly during previews. Whole acts are rewiten, scenery is thrown out, actors are replaced. This is the time in the development of the piece where everything is in constant flux and trying to get it sea legs. Alot of shows go out of town for this reason. Unfortunately Disney decided not to take this route due to the technical requirements of the show.

    Lets give them the time that they need to do thier work before judging. If you want to see the final product wait until the show is frozen and officially opens.
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