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Many people may be shocked to find this about me: I am a big fan of musicals.
That was not always the case, however.
I remember when I was an undergrad at Johns Hopkins, my close friends wanted to go make a roadtrip to New York City and catch a performance of Miss Saigon on Broadway.
I hemmed and hawed at the thought of going there just to see a musical.
In the end I reluctantly agreed to go and mainly looked forward to eating out in the Big Apple.
I will tell you that I had an absolute blast watching Miss Saigon and I was hooked.
Throughout the years I have seen numerous musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid, Wicked, Beauty and the Best, Matilda, and Hamilton.
Every musical was absolutely incredible and transported me to a place of bliss during the typical 3 hour performance.
But there was one musical that was absolutely head and shoulders above the rest, Disney’s The Lion King.
The production value of Disney’s Lion King was amazing, with the incredible costumes, interactions with the performers, and of course the phenomenal soundtrack.
I have loved this musical so much that I have seen it four times in my life and in two countries (US and Canada (Toronto)).
Alas these performances were before my daughter was born.
I knew my daughter shared the same love of musicals as I have (she has seen the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Matilda, and her favorite thus far, Hamilton).
I was itching for the opportunity for my daughter to attend the Lion King musical in person and always kept an eye out for potential tour dates visiting our area.
The last time the Lion King was in my neck of the woods was before I moved here in 2006.
Our theater would often ask for suggestions for future performances and without fail I would always ask them to bring back the Lion King.
Lo and behold the theater made an announcement that a Lion King tour date for our city was in the books for the year.
I was absolutely ecstatic.
The problem was that that particular year in question was 2021, and unless you were living under a rock, you can predict what ended up happening.
That’s right, due to a certain microscopic pathogen the entire tour got canceled for 2021.
It was definitely heartbreaking news and another missed opportunity.
My disappointment did not last long however, as near the end of 2021 the theater announced that they had secured tour dates for the Lion King in January 2022.
I quickly secured 5 tickets for a Sunday evening performance (the second weekend of the tour), with plans to take my fiancee and her two kids as well as my daughter and myself.
I was fortunate that I was able to secure excellent seating with VIP passes, row D, center stage.
With anything Disney, there is quite a premium, and with service charges and taxes included, those 5 tickets set me back $1023.
Even with the high prices for these tickets, demand was great given that there was only 18 days available.
Essentially all performances were sold out within a few days of the ticket offering.
The Best Laid Plans….
I often question the decision-makers and tour company about bringing in a premier event to my area in the dead of winter.
Although we certainly do not have the severe blizzards, etc of our northern neighbors, January and February still can pack a punch and disrupt plans.
I had a bit of foreshadowing of what was to occur when the week before my scheduled showing our area was hit with an ice storm.
Roads in certain areas were impassable, including near my home.
My work actually decided to shut down and let the employees stay at home for that Thursday and Friday.
The theater made an announcement that the opening 2 days of the Lion King were also canceled with no ability for the patrons to reschedule.
I knew there would be a lot of disappointed people because of the inclement weather cancellations.
I kept my fingers crossed but had high hopes as the week between this ice storm and my showing actually had much milder temperatures and the roads had opened up completely.
Then of course news started coming out about Winter Storm Izzy that had me a bit nervous.
Original weather reports anticipated up to 9 inches of snow being dumped by Izzy, quite a rarity in this area.
With an incredible bit of bad luck it seemed that Izzy would cross my area on the exact day of my performance before heading north to wreak havoc.
That fateful day…
The day of the performance finally arrived.
Although there was already snow on the ground it was far less worse than what was expected.
There were periodic flurries that occurred throughout the morning at my place but nothing to the level that would prohibit the show from going on.
My assessment was confirmed when I called the theater’s phone line and was greeted with a pre-recorded message saying that the weekend’s performance was set to go on and emphasized that refunds were not going to be issued.
Prior to leaving home I called this number 4 times (from 10:30 am to 2:20 pm) just so I still had an assurance that the Lion King performance was still slated to go (it was).
I then left with my daughter and carefully drove to my fiancee’s house, about 35 miles away, to pick the rest of the party up.
After that it was on the theater, another 35 miles or so away.
The roads were not that bad, especially the interstate, with nothing sticking on the ground (and just mild slush on the smaller side roads).
After taking my time driving, we arrived at the parking garage I had already reserved a space at (ParkWhiz) for $10.
The venue was only 1/4 of a mile away so we braved the cold temperatures and set out on foot to our destination.
When we finally arrived my heart sank.
The doors were locked and we were only greeted with a note pasted on the doors saying that the evening performance was canceled due to inclement weather and the last show performed was the afternoon one.
A wave of emotions flooded over me.
Anger, disappointment, frustration to name a few.
I could not believe I drove almost 80 minutes in total through flurries and not ideal weather conditions to be told that the event I was looking forward to was canceled.
I was especially furious because I had checked so many times prior to my departure and received assurances that the performance was to go on as scheduled.
The theater company did not send out an email or text (it had all that information as I am a regular patron) but just decided to make its patrons come to the premises only to be turned away.
This was like breaking up with a longtime girlfriend via text, pretty classless if you ask me.
While my party was standing outside the doors looking dumbfounded another patron came by and told us that they had driven 3 hours to get there.
I decided to call the theater line and now the pre-recorded message had been conveniently changed to say the evening performance was canceled and to expect a refund in the next 7-10 days.
I am not sure when that change occurred but it was certainly after 2:30 pm after I had started on my trip (the show started at 6:30 pm and we arrived there early (around 5pm) because there were all sorts of COVID protocols that we had to go through prior to being admitted (documentation of vaccination or negative COVID testing, etc).
We were there only for a few minutes but in that short time frame we saw the same thing play out with 3 other groups of theater goers.
Defeated, there was nothing else for us to do but to head back to the parking garage which I had utilized for all of 25 minutes.
Trying to salvage the evening, we ended up going to a restaurant where I drowned my sorrows with a steak dinner.
I felt especially bad since I had been previously hyping up the show to the rest of my group who had never seen the Lion King musical before.
A final hail Mary.
The next morning, still stunned by the turn of events from the night prior, I thought maybe there was a chance I could still obtain tickets to see the show which was now in its final week here.
I checked every performance date and time on the official theater website and sure enough it had marked everything as sold out.
As a last resort I decided to see if any 3rd party sellers had any tickets available.
The pickings were incredibly slim and incredibly pricey.
Not wanting to miss work or pull my daughter out of school just to see the Lion King I was essentially left with one option, the very last day they were scheduled in town, again another Sunday but this time the 1pm performance.
I just so happened to find a pair of tickets available, listed for $563 each (!) and with service charge and tax came to a whopping $1536 total.
These tickets were far more expensive than the ones I purchased and, to add insult to injury, were in a far worse location (row X, in the right section).
They say beggars can’t be choosers and I reluctantly hit the purchase button.
I decided that I would have to bite the bullet and pay the premium because there was a high likelihood that it would be a long time before the Lion King musical would again grace our city.
My daughter would likely be in college or have a life of her own at that point.
I also figured that this option would still be less expensive than flying to New York and buying tickets for a performance on Broadway.
The very day I bought the heavily marked up replacement tickets I wrote an email to the theater box office.
I described the events of the night in detail and told them that this is not how they should treat their patrons, even mentioning the group that had traveled 3 hours to get there.
A few days later, when I called to arrange for the refund, I spoke with a ticketing agent and mentioned how I was disappointed how the show’s cancellation was handled.
He was surprised saying that emails should have been sent out.
I assured him that I never received on and then he looked on his end and said that indeed there was no record of the venue trying to email me and he apologized.
I am happy to say that the weather was far more pleasant for the last day of the performance and my daughter and I did indeed get in this time.
My daughter absolutely loved the show and said it was now her favorite of all time.
In the end just to see her enjoy the Lion King so much made the whole ordeal and extra expense worth it.
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