Tonight's hottest ticket in town? The election
By Richard Chin
11/04/2008 07:14:48 AM CST
Can a night of song and dance match the drama of a historic presidential election?
When the Minnesota Opera saw ticket sales slump for tonight's performance of "The Abduction from the Seraglio," it decided to offer an Election Night special: tickets that cost up to $110 discounted to $20.
Overall sales for the Mozart opera that runs through Sunday at the Ordway Center have been strong, said opera marketing and communications director Lani Willis. Tonight is the exception.
"Obviously, this election is really a heated one for a lot of people," Willis said.
The Guthrie Theater is trying something similar to lure people away from watching television pundits opine over Electoral College votes. For the Guthrie's performance of "Shadowlands," tickets that normally go for $24 to $45 are $15, "just for Election Night only," said communications manager Lee Henderson.
"On Election Night, you just take your lumps," said Kris Howland, public relations director for Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. "We're about a third full (tonight), which is not so great."
Howland estimated about 200 people will show up for tonight's performance of "The Producers," compared with about 400 for a typical Tuesday.
"No matter what you do, even discounts don't bring people in," she said. "They want to watch the election. I actually think it's a good thing."
Maps of blue and red states and exit polls are no match for Bob Dylan, however. For his show at the University
Advertisement of Minnesota's Northrop Auditorium, it "was almost instantaneous how quickly it sold out," said Northrop marketing director Cari Hatcher.
But even Dylan had to make a concession to the electoral process. His show normally starts at 7:30 p.m. But the Northrop performance won't begin until 8 because of a state law that prohibits state colleges from holding events between 6 and 8 p.m. on Election Day. (Regularly scheduled classes are exempt.)
Northrop operations director Sally Dischinger said that in her 18 years on the job, no one until Dylan has wanted to rent Northrop on Election Day.
Some businesses predict they'll be economic winners today - no matter who prevails at the polls.
Sue Hosler, owner of Ramaley Liquor in St. Paul, said she usually does better business on Election Day than a typical Tuesday as voters stock up to either toast victorious candidates or cry in their beer.
"They'll come in and buy something and stay up in front of the television," she said. "Most elections we always do a little bit better. But this time will be better than normal."
"Beer is always a big one," said Brent Gregoire, manager of Haskell's liquor store in St. Paul, of Election Day sales. But Monday he said, "We've already seen a lot of people buying champagne for tomorrow."
There also will be a lot of coffee sold today.
Phil Werst, general manager of the Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis, said he'll have an employee coming in to work at 3 a.m. to start brewing about 40 gallons of coffee that have been ordered by campaign organizations and get-out-the vote groups. Werst said the cafe plans to stay open later than normal and set up a screen to show election returns in the evening.
Lois Berg, manager of the Green Mill restaurant in St. Paul, expects more sit-down diners and takeout pizza orders because many people will be too busy waiting in polling place lines to cook.
"It should be better than a typical Tuesday," she said. The restaurant also is offering a free pint of beer with a meal to people who come in wearing "I Voted" stickers.
But you probably don't need a reservation tonight at the St. Paul Grill, said maitre d' Mandy Brewster.
"It actually is looking quite slow," she said. But "the bar could get busy because we have a television there."
Across Rice Park at the Ordway, Minnesota Opera officials said they have discussed setting up a television in the lobby so people can check election results during intermissions.
They didn't consider adding election updates to the supertitles, the English translation of the opera lyrics projected on a screen above the stage.
But if conventional wisdom holds true, maybe the opera-goers will still have time to catch the concession speeches after the final curtain drops about 10:15 p.m.
After all, both politicians and aria lovers agree it ain't over until the fat lady sings.
Richard Chin can be reached at 651-228-5560. firstname.lastname@example.org