There’s something to see here, folks

As ticket prices rise out of reach for many, there’s great, affordable entertainment close to home

Unless you’ve been blessed with fingers as fast as a robot, are among the lucky few to win a contest or go to sleep each night on a huge pile of money like Scrooge McDuck, chances are you won’t be in the audience when P!nk performs at Rogers Arena this spring.

At least, not in a seat that falls within the same postal code as the stage.

Almost as soon as tickets went on sale earlier this year for the May 12 Vancouver concert, they were snapped up by ticket re-sellers — using automated systems — at speeds the average human has no hope of matching. Moments later, those tickets reappeared on multiple secondary sites at (no surprise) grossly inflated prices.

The mid-$200s will now get you a nosebleed seat, while being within sweat-spray distance of the artist could cost upwards of $3,800. Angry would-be concertgoers quickly started tweeting their disappointment directly at P!nk, but the truth is that’s how it goes for most big acts these days.

And that’s just the sticker price. Buried in there, too, are some usurious service fees.

For what service, exactly, no one knows.

If you’re not paying attention to which site you use, you could also be blindsided by an exchange from U.S. to Canadian dollars, further boosting the cost of your already overpriced tickets.

There’s no reason this practice should be legal. And yet it is, because the only law that applies, apparently, is the law of supply and demand.

I got burned earlier this year when a birthday present for my mom — two seats to k.d. lang — ended up costing more than $600. Luckily, it was an amazing show, but I would have enjoyed it just as much had I paid face value for the seats.

As I looked around at the capacity crowd that August night, I tried to mentally calculate just how much the re-sellers had raked in for doing basically nothing. Now multiply that by the literally dozens of shows and concerts at venues across the city every year and the numbers are staggering.

Two months later, because I’m apparently not organized enough to manage even my meagre social calendar, I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two local theatrical performances in a single day on Oct. 28. During a matinee performance of Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s farce, the Hound of the Baskervilles, three actors and one stage tech worked up a sweat racing back and forth across the stage at the ACT Theatre in Maple Ridge, changing costumes, sets and characters on the fly — and being hilarious in the process.

And they did it all for a crowd of fewer than 30 people — a pretty sad sight in an auditorium that seats 486.

That evening, at Trinity Western University’s SAMC Theatre, during a performance of the period drama, The Cover of Life, a slightly larger cast gave an equally terrific performance to a somewhat larger crowd, but it was by no means a full house.

To see so many empty seats twice on a Saturday was a bit disheartening for me. I can’t imagine how it felt to the actors who spend months rehearsing their parts.

Think about how great it would be to have A-list celebrities perform to thousands of empty seats — even once. Ticket re-sellers would lose their shirts and the artists themselves might find some incentive to step in.

That’s a fantasy, of course. People won’t stop going to see the big-name acts, and they’ll continue to pay through the nose to do it. Rogers Arena will be full on May 12 and P!nk’s show will no doubt be out of this world.

I won’t be there; I can’t afford it.

If there’s a local production or concert happening that night, maybe I’ll make a point of seeing that instead.

It might not have the cachet of a best-selling musician or a touring Broadway production, but as far as local entertainment goes, much of what we get here in the Valley is top-notch. Add to that the fact that ticket prices usually range from $15 to $50, that you’re supporting local talent, and that the drive home won’t take an hour, and it makes sense to spend a few more of your entertainment dollars closer to home.

And best of all, re-sellers won’t get a cut of the action.

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