At 9:00 AM on the morning of Monday, February 11th, Sydney Theatre Company opened up general sales for the second half of their 2013 season.
By approx. 9:00:15 AM their website crashed due to the overwhelming traffic, and it was not to come back online with full functionality for several hours. The majority of people trying to phone the box office were met with an ‘engaged line’ signal, and it didn’t take too long before a stream of complaints, messages of frustration, and even a few insults started to appear on the STC facebook page.
STC spokesperson Tim McKeough said that the company had been aware of intense interest in this season since it was announced, but Monday’s launch was met with an unprecedented demand that resulted in STC’s highest ever volume of ticket sales on Monday and Tuesday.
“For the first time, we had split the release of tickets for this season across two days”, McKeough said. “Secret River & School Dance (shows from the first half of the season) had sold out, and the season of Mrs. Warren’s Profession has been extended due to high demand”.
McKeough admits that the sale of tickets for the second half of the season could have been split further, and that they had just not anticipated the overwhelming demand for tickets. Over the course of two days, over 13,000 tickets were sold.
Despite the difficulties faced by many would-be-ticket buyers, McKeough said that the majority of ticket sales were sill conducted via the website, and that they were working with the developer to improve the site and ensure greater stability in the future. In a press release, Executive Director Patrick McIntyre said “we are very grateful that customers stuck by us for what was sometimes a frustrating experience. It is a priority for us to improve our online facility for major sales days.”
A possible contributing factor for the high demand is a season containing many popular plays starring some big name Australian celebrities. Proving to be the most popular at the box office over the two days have been The Maids with Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert, Waiting For Godot with Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with Tim Minchin and Toby Schmitz. Also selling strongly were family classic Storm Boy with Trevor Jamieson and Peter O’Brien, perennial favourite The Wharf Revue and the much anticipated international hit from the National Theatre of Great Britain, One Man, Two Guvnors.
“Many of these shows have long runs,” said McKeough, “so there is good availability despite the high demand, however we advise that people get in quick to secure tickets.”