Despite how cool we think we are here in LA, there’s really no competing with the ultra-hip eastern folk in New York. Sure, we have Hollywood and the movie studios, but they have Broadway. Having seen The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway myself, it’s hard to dispute the quality and excitement of a live-stage performance.
Lucky for us little people in LA, we have the Pantages Theater which hosts all of the most popular touring musicals from Broadway. Situated right on Hollywood Blvd. and Vine, the theater is accessible from the Red Line metro (shocking, I know) if you’re not down to sit in traffic moving at a crawling pace. You’ll be dumped off right by the Walk of Fame and other kitschy shops and eateries, though the main attraction really is the Pantages Theater.
We took my mom to see Wicked for her birthday at the Pantages. It was the same crowd (sup, fam) with whom I saw The Phantom of the Opera in New York, so the standards were high. Here are the highlights:
- Disregarding some of my sarcastic comments above, the Pantages is actually in a great location. You could easily spend a few hours walking around Hollywood drinking, eating, and shopping before a show. Think of it as a mini Times Square, but with weirder people.
- The theater, although appearing small at first glance, is spacious and beautifully decorated.
- Even though I personally enjoyed the music and storyline of Phantom better, Wicked‘s touring group was extremely talented and very entertaining to watch. The caliber of performance is comparable to what you’d see on Broadway. Generally, you can always expect to see a quality show at the Pantages.
- With the ticket lottery system you can score some great seats at a cheap price — more details below.
- Buying tickets outright ain’t cheap. But there are ways to get around this – see below.
- It is crowded – as Hollywood Blvd. typically is. I point this out simply because some people hate crowds.
- The parking situation is out of control – be prepared to circle around for a while to find a reasonably affordable lot if you absolutely have to drive there (i.e. take the metro).
Price: Pricing for tickets varies the most by seat or section, though prices sometimes are higher on weekend evenings. The Pantages’ ticket vendor is Ticketmaster, which also doubles as a resale market. Usually resale tickets are more expensive for a worse value, so try to buy direct from the vendor. Unfortunately, Ticketmaster slaps on an additional $20 or so of fees, which they don’t include in the price you’re initially seeing. For Wicked, the cheapest tickets were about $85 plus taxes and fees. If you want to go on a specific day and want guaranteed seating with your party, this will undoubtedly be a “splurge” experience.
For those who have a flexible schedule and are flying solo or don’t care about sitting next to your significant other, there is an option to “win” tickets at a heavily discounted price. The terms of this lottery may vary slightly by show, so be sure to check the Pantages website for the most accurate information. My aunt and cousin were successful at getting these lottery tickets for Wicked – so their experience was as follows:
To be eligible for the lottery, you have to arrive at the Pantages box office 2.5 hours prior to a scheduled performance, where your name will be placed in the lottery. Thirty minutes later, the winners are announced. Those whose names get called have the option to purchase two orchestra seats at $25-30 each (which are typically side-by-side). If you’re not one of the lucky ones to win the lottery, sometimes the theater will offer single seat tickets for $40 each. You won’t get to sit with your friend, mom, dog, etc., but it’s still a great deal.
For those of us who would rather not leave our couch only to come back empty-handed, digital lotteries are also sometimes offered. Entries for the digital lottery can be submitted online with Broadway Direct beginning two days prior to the performance at 11am until 9am one day prior to the performance. Winners will be notified via email and will have an hour to pay for the tickets online – same pricing as the in-person lottery.
Is it worth it? Definitely yes, regardless of whether you purchase tickets outright or get them through the lottery. Of course, buying full-price tickets would probably be a special occasion for most people; if you have a lot of free time, then trying to score tickets from the lottery could be a way to enjoy this experience more often. Furthermore, the theater is a gorgeous attraction and Hollywood always provides hours of entertainment. A Broadway musical event does offer a different kind of magic than a movie at the cinema – go see for yourself!