The Geffen Playhouse announced last week a return engagement of "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants," July 9 through Aug. 26. But magically appearing with the sleight-of-hand master will be a $250 ticket -- a record-setting price for a sub-99-seat L.A. theater.
The special VIP seats -- there will be 10 per show -- are the result of audience demand during the theater's sellout run of the Ricky Jay show in 2006, said Geffen spokeswoman Allison Rawlings. "There was a huge demand for front-row seating last time around," she said. "People were saying, 'I want front row, and I'll pay this much.' "
Regular admission, $75 to $115, remains the same as it was in 2006, when the show played in the 96-seat Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater.
This isn't the first time a $250 premium price ticket has been offered in L.A.: Last summer, the 2,200-seat Ahmanson Theatre offered VIP seats (with no extras) to the blockbuster musical "Jersey Boys." But the price is a new high for the Geffen and a rarity for Los Angeles theater -- especially for a small theater.
Premium tickets for the blockbuster musical "Wicked" at the 2,700-seat Pantages Theatre in Hollywood are $175 and $200 and include parking.
"We decided to differentiate between the front row and the two rows behind it this time and make it a little more formal and throw in things people expect when they purchase a VIP ticket: parking, drinks, access to the Founder's Room and then a little token -- Ricky Jay playing cards," Rawlings said.
Despite the overall economic downturn, Rawlings doesn't anticipate any of the seats will go unsold. "Yes, it's a different climate," she said, but "last time around, significantly more than 10 people wanted special front-row seating."
But, she noted, it isn't a trend: "We're not looking at raising any of our other ticket prices."