Showgoers warned to book early

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People need to start booking tickets in advance if they want shows to keep coming to Oamaru, Opera House director Frances McElhinney says.

On Friday, the Opera House had to cancel the Dunedin RSA Choir’s Anzac review, due to be performed next Monday because only five tickets had been sold.

Mrs McElhinney said the show would not go ahead because not enough people had booked.

She said two people had told her they had planned to buy tickets on the day, which was typical of people in Oamaru, she said.

“It’s really hard when you’re actually putting on the event.

“Putting on a show is a high risk and promoters often will not come to a town if they know people are not going to book early.

“It makes them really nervous.

“If we want to encourage them to come, it’s really important to book early.”

Smaller productions could not afford to take the risk of audiences not turning up, she said.

Another issue with not booking early, evident at the Oamaru Garrison Band’s concert last week, was that on the day a production could be delayed.

More than 200 people attended the WW1 commemorative concert at the Opera House, with 130 of them trying to buy tickets half an hour before the show was due to start, because only about 80 people had pre-booked, she said.

This caused the show to start 30 minutes late.

In the eight years Ms McElhinney had been in the industry, she had never seen so many people not book in advance.

“It makes it really hard for everyone.

“I just want to encourage people to book early.”

Other people had to be turned away from the Musical Theatre Oamaru (MTO) children’s theatre production Aladdin at the Opera House last week. People had come on the day to several of the shows expecting to buy tickets but they had sold out.

Aladdin director Pat Gunn said she had been doing children’s shows in Oamaru for years and each time would have to send children home in tears because there were no spare seats.

It was always very stressful when the ticket sales for bigger MTO shows were slow, she said.

Promoters needed to know costs would be covered, she said.

By Ruby Harfield