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Fans Line Up for Tickets to Disney Hall's First Season

September 08, 2003|Louise Roug | Times Staff Writer

Fans arrived at the box office by the hundreds beginning at 5 a.m. Sunday, fortified with snack bags, beach chairs and books. A familiar scene for a Bruce Springsteen concert, perhaps, but this was the first day of single ticket sales for the inaugural season at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Although they paid up to $120 for a concert ticket, some said they were really in line for a ticket to get inside the downtown building, Frank Gehry's $274-million, steel-swathed concert palace, L.A.'s newest cultural landmark.

"I'm not a music person but a building person," said Russ Leland, 62, a Silver Lake designer who waited five hours for his tickets to Mahler's "Resurrection" symphony, during which "I'll probably fall asleep."

While waiting for hours, strangers chatted like friends and gossip flourished: Are those people at the front of the line scalpers? Will there be enough tickets for everyone?

At the end of the day, the staff at the Los Angeles Philharmonic had sold 4,135 tickets totaling $275,549, about quadruple the usual amount for first-day single ticket sales. Also, they sold out several series, including the Jazz and First Nights series. Tickets for most performances in the 2,265-seat hall, which opens next month, sell for $35 to $120. A limited number of single tickets cost $15.

Most in line carried notepads or programs scribbled with favorite dates and complicated ticket combinations.

Phiroze Titina, 31, of Highland Park had brought computer printouts of the entire season. On a separate piece of paper, his system of numbers, letters and dates resembled a racing form. To get the cheaper tickets, one had to be scientific about it, he said.

Nearby, at the corner of the building, three couples declared themselves "line buddies" during the hours of wait. "Unless they take my tickets," said Danny Justman, referring to JW and Kathy Cheatham, in front of him.

"We're on the north side of the building so that puts us at the top of the hierarchy," said Kathy Cheatham, 27, of her place in line. The couple claimed to be the first non-scalpers in line. In front of them, six teenagers in baggy pants and oversized T-shirts talked on cell phones.

"They don't look like L.A. cultural aficionados," said Kathy Cheatham.

The teenagers declined to say who they were, what they were buying or why they enjoyed classical music.

But just the thought of scalpers at the head of the line prompted worries that tickets to the most popular performances would be cleaned out. Before the box office window opened, however, an announcement prompted cheers of relief: Eight tickets per person, per performance.

A woman looked over her list of ticket choices again, taking out her credit card, getting ready to spend.

At noon, the blinds went up.

"And they're off," JW Cheatham said.

The Cheathams wanted tickets for Mahler on opening night and the Jazz series, but the teenagers beat them to it. The couple got Mahler, no jazz.

As he inched forward in line, Justman of West Los Angeles scanned the faces of those at the windows for signs of what to expect.

"I don't see any unhappy faces. That's a good sign," Justman said. After his turn at the window -- and $1,500 in purchases -- his own face appeared a bit pale.

He had gotten some of the tickets he wanted, except for the sold-out Youth Series.

Kuilay and Jennifer Uner of North Hollywood wanted to hear Haydn, and they wanted the best seat in the hall.

"One of the goals is to try the different areas," she said. They spent $864 for five nights of music. A lot of money, they conceded, but worth it.

"Now let's take these to the [safe deposit] box," said Kuilay Uner.

Next in line, Gerry Kim, 24, of Santa Clara did some Christmas shopping. She also got a birthday present for her fiance Casey Zak, 23.

She tallied her tickets.

"They were out of Vivaldi," she said, "But I'm happy with what I got."

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