Many Toronto theatre fans who tried to buy tickets yesterday to the highly-anticipated musical The Book of Mormon had to deal with long queues, busy phone lines and online error messages.
Public ticket sales for the popular Broadway show began yesterday morning, and high demand, driven in part by foreign scalpers, clogged the system, leaving some buyers frustrated.
Resellers, particularly those using automated software to buy large quantities of tickets, were part of the problem, according to John Karastamatis, director of communications for Mirvish.
Karastamatis said the problem was "a huge demand for the show and a limited number of tickets."
"We sold over 16,000 tickets yesterday so [the website] was available to many people," Karastamatis said, adding that it's likely ten times that number tried to buy tickets.
People took to Twitter and Facebook to complain of Mirvish's slow-loading website and of difficulties reaching the theatre box office by phone.
Foreign scalpers 'clog the arteries'
Karastamatis explained that there is a huge underground business in reselling theatre tickets online.
"People do this and they make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars a year…One of the things they do is clog the arteries into websites," he said. Some resale websites offer tickets that were bought for as little as $45 for more than $1000.
Karastamatis said that Mirvish cancelled "thousands and thousands" of suspicious transactions yesterday, adding that the theatre company has a list of known resellers. Mirvish also put in place protocol to deter foreign resellers, including setting limits on the number of tickets that could be purchased at one time, and requiring buyers to have a Canadian address.
"We put many, many checks and balances in place for this not to happen," he said. "This is not our first rodeo."
The Book of Mormon, the Tony Award-winning musical that debuted on Broadway in 2011 to rave reviews, will run from April 30 to June 9 at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre. It was created by Avenue Q co-writer Robert Lopez and South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Limited tickets are still available, but Karastamatis urges buyers to only purchase tickets from official sites and to be wary of online scalpers.