Potterheads were in a “pensieve” mood last week while trying to get tickets for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which opens on Broadway in the spring.
The eighth part of the famed Harry Potter series authored by J.K. Rowling officially opens at the Lyric Theatre, which is currently under renovation, on April 22, 2018. The play’s ticketing partner, Ticketmaster, held an initial sale on Oct. 18, but only a few Chosen Ones were given a chance to snag tickets to see “The Boy Who Lived” in action.
As part of Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan ticketing program, which was initially adopted by “Hamilton” to impede bots and ticket scalpers, Potter fans had to register for a chance to get an access code that allowed them to purchase tickets to the two-part show at an assigned time. Parts 1 and 2 were priced separately, but fans could checkout with both in their carts at the same time. Many ended up not receiving an access code, but even for some of those who did, the process was less than smooth.
With an assigned time of noon, John Marino, 37, was at his desktop at 11:55 a.m. ready to order. His initial hope of finding cheap seats on multiple dates Disapparated when his selections were met with a spinning circle that buffered for almost five minutes each time, and ended up showing him zero availability.
“I cannot stress enough the way the site was set up gave the hope that the tickets were available on another date, so you kept clicking, and kept clicking,” Marino, who ended up spending three hours trying to buy tickets, said.
In the end, the only tickets he could purchase were priced at $199 per Part, which the wand-owning, Snape-loving Marino decided to forego.
“I’m going to go eventually, just not anytime soon unless the tickets fall into my lap,” the Rockville Centre resident said.
Marino’s experience was echoed on Twitter by hundreds on Oct. 18. Potterheads with access codes said they were met with long buffer times and complained of alleged site glitches that charged their credit cards without sending them a ticket confirmation. Ticketmaster’s official fan support account took several hours to tweet back, due to the sheer volume of complaints, but by then their chances had “to use the common phrase, done a bunk” -- as Professor Minerva McGonagall would say. By 2 p.m., Cursed Child NYC, the play’s official Twitter account, announced that tickets were sold out.
Tickets started appearing on StubHub.com soon after, with prices ranging from $400 to more than $1,000 per Part.
Another famed play that is no stranger to high-priced ticket resales is “Hamilton,” which has been on Broadway for more than two years. Scalpers, who employ bots to buy tickets and then resell them on other websites at marked-up prices, made $10 million off the Lin-Manuel Miranda creation in the two months after the play won 11 Tony Awards, The New York Times reported.
The high demand for “Hamilton” tickets, combined with high ticket prices via scalping, have deprived fans of the experience even after two years on Broadway.
“It’s an incredible work done with an incredible purpose, and it’s dramatically changed the landscape of modern musical theater and diversity in casting,” Nicole Crosby, 21, said. “I, of course, would love to attend but tickets are insanely expensive and there’s no way I’ll be able to attend unless I win lottery tickets.
“But because it’s so popular, I haven’t been able to win,” Crosby, who lives in Manhattan, added.
In an attempt to make tickets more accessible to true fans, “Hamilton” partnered up with Ticketmaster to employ the Verified Fan program in August. And if “Hamilton’s” trajectory is any indication, Harry Potter tickets will remain elusive for quite a while.
Another issue, according to Harry Potter fan and New Yorker Jocelyn Bonneau, 45, was the ticket maximum set on single purchases. A single access code could score a maximum of six tickets, which increased the likelihood of them being resold at higher prices, she said.
“People would be less likely to resell tickets if they only could purchase two,” Bonneau added.
For other muggles, however, the system worked like a charm. A Mrs. Weasley-loving Brooklyn resident, Brady Blevins, 31, was able to buy two tickets for an August 2018 show in the $40 to $80 range without any trouble.
“I wasn’t able to buy ‘Hamilton’ tickets because the bots would swoop in and pick up all the tickets,” he said of his frustrations before “Hamilton” switched to the Verified Fan system. “I was psyched by the access code method” of “Harry Potter and The Curse Child.”
While ticket-holders like Blevins are planning to read the entire Harry Potter series ahead of the show in preparation, those who couldn’t Accio tickets, like Manhattan’s Bryna Shuman, only have the books to keep them company.
“I just don’t want to pay a lot of money,” Shuman, 23, said. “But I read the book so hopefully that will tide me over for a little bit.”
Organizers of the play have promised to provide more chances to buy tickets before previews begin on March 16. So fans might still be able to Alohomora their way into the magical world of Albus Severus Potter, named after the bravest man Harry Potter ever knew.