Crowd lines up for ‘Young Frankenstein’ tickets as box office opens

By Michael Kuchwara

NEW YORK – It was a sight you don’t see too often in this age of telephone and Internet sales: a line at a Broadway theater box office, stretching almost halfway down 42nd Street from the Hilton Theatre past the Hello Kitty store.

By midmorning Monday, an estimated 150-200 people were waiting patiently to purchase tickets for “Young Frankenstein,” the Mel Brooks musical, whose box office at the Hilton opened at 10 a.m.

“How could it (the show) not be great?” asked Beth Ratzer, who joined the queue after 10 a.m., “although the ticket price is rude.”

Ratzer, a resident of Queens, was referring to the $450 “premier” price for certain prime seats for the show, which begins preview performances Oct. 11 and opens Nov. 8.

But what had lured Ratzer was an ad promising the sale of a limited number of good “center section” seats for $120 each – plus the $1.50 theater restoration charge.

“I am a theater nut,” said Tammi Cooper of Voorhees, N.J., who got up at 5 a.m. to get to Manhattan by 8 a.m. “So I want the best seats, and I am very particular.”

Ticket buyers were limited to eight tickets. And some were there to sign up for a $25-ticket lottery (for front-row seats), to be held later Monday, for most of the show’s first two weeks of performances. Thereafter, the lottery (not available for Saturday evening performances) will be held on the day of performance.

“Young Frankenstein,” based on Brooks’ 1974 film comedy, stars Roger Bart as the title character. Also in the cast are Megan Mullally (of TV’s “Will & Grace”) playing Elizabeth (the Madeline Kahn role in the film), Andrea Martin as Frau Blucher, Sutton Foster as Inga, Fred Applegate as Kemp, Christopher Fitzgerald as Igor and Shuler Hensley as the monster.

The producers of “Young Frankenstein,” Robert F.X. Sillerman and Brooks himself, have been reticent about revealing its box-office grosses. Last week, Sillerman said the musical would not publicly report its weekly Broadway grosses. It didn’t for the show’s recently completed Seattle tryout.

For theatergoer Cooper, the morning was a success. More than three hours after she first got in line, Cooper emerged triumphantly from the Hilton lobby. She was clutching three fourth-row center tickets for the Saturday matinee of Oct. 13 – the day after her birthday. “Now I’m going shopping,” she said.