People warned to buy Nutcracker tickets from authorized sellers

‘Nutcracker’ organizer finds tickets online for more than face value

“The bottom line is don’t ever buy tickets from anybody but the authorized ticket seller.” Todd Mitchell, River Center executive director

Organizers for the upcoming “Nutcracker” productions in Baton Rouge are urging patrons to buy tickets from authorized ticket sellers, not third-party websites where the prices can be several hundred dollars higher.

Molly Buchmann, co-artistic director for the production, said ticket prices range from $20 to $45, but she said she heard complaints over the weekend from people on social media sites about the tickets being too expensive.

Buchmann said she Googled “Nutcracker Baton Rouge” and found three websites at the top of her search page promoting tickets for the show ranging in price from $34 for a balcony seat to more than $300 for seats in the orchestra section that, Buchmann said, cost $45 through one of the authorized retailers.

Buchmann said the authorized ticket sellers are the Baton Rouge River Center, the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre and Ticketmaster.

“We keep the tickets at a low cost so the families can come and see them,” she said.

A Google search Monday afternoon brought up three websites that call themselves “secondary markets” — The Baton Rouge Box Office, which a customer service representative said is based out of Connecticut; Tickets Center; and Tickets-Center.com — that were all selling tickets above face value.

The first two companies were websites Buchmann said showed up on her search.

Efforts to reach representatives for the companies were not successful Tuesday night.

Each website has a disclaimer stating it acts as a ticket reseller and is not affiliated with the events for which it’s selling tickets.

“We hate it that a lot of people have already bought them at these more expensive prices, and there is nothing we can do about that,” Buchmann said.

Since 1993, “The Nutcracker — A Tale from the Bayou” has been performed each December in the Capital City, incorporating local landmarks and featuring world-class guest artists, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and area children who make the cut in auditions.

This year the production will be performed at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 21-22 at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Buchmann said they normally sell between 6,000 to 6,800 tickets annually for the four productions and have sold about 5,000 so far for this year’s productions, counting the tickets bought by third-party websites to resell.

She said she is afraid complaints on social media about the steep ticket prices will drive some people away.

River Center officials told her there was nothing she could do to stop the third-party ticket sellers since most of the sites operate out of state, Buchmann said.

River Center Executive Director Todd Mitchell said third-party websites selling tickets at higher prices are a problem they deal with regularly.

“These scalpers, they’ve got these automated ticketing programs, and the big ones will have hundreds of legitimate credit card accounts and they’ll have these ticketbots that we call them in the industry, and they’re just programs that fill out the Ticketmaster forms over and over and over and over again with different information trying to buy tickets,” he said.

He said River Center has several safeguards in place to try to prevent those websites from buying a large number of tickets to resell, including putting limits on the number of tickets people can purchase.

Mitchell said one way ticket resellers stay one step ahead of people like him is they do not post the row and seat number for the tickets sold on the website.

If that information were available on the websites, Mitchell said, he could track down who bought the tickets through River Center’s database and cancel the tickets from his end.

Mitchell said one trick he has seen ticket resellers pull is to purchase tickets from an authorized seller, sell them online, then contest the charges with the credit card companies.

The company gets its money back and keeps the money from the person who bought the tickets, while the tickets are canceled, leaving the person who bought them high and dry.

“The bottom line is don’t ever buy tickets from anybody but the authorized ticket seller,” he said.