This is always an awkward time in the theatre year. Having unveiled the coming season and encouraged everyone to get in on the season pass savings, it may appear to some that everything has come to a grinding halt.

That of course is not the case as there are lots of things happening behind the scenes. For example, our box office manager Jim Frost, and his wife Marilyn have been busy sorting through the orders we have received. And, they continue to process the ones that arrive almost daily as patrons firm up their season selections

This is our eighth year managing the Highlands Summer Festival box office,” Jim said recently. “It is a great position to have. I am the first one to greet everyone as the season begins.” Over the years, Jim has come to know our patrons personally. “Even if the order comes in by mail or email, there is often a personal connection. Marilyn and I have gotten to know our patrons really well. Often people will ask for ‘the same seats as last year’ and we try to ensure we meet their requests.

They are also known to have played matchmaker. “Sometimes orders will arrive with instruction indicating the patrons want to be seated with another couple” Jim explained. “We locate the order, placed by the other couple, and try to ensure there is a match.” For many groups like this, the Highlands Summer Festival has become a focus for a great summer evening out, with everyone enjoying dinner and then a performance at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.

Filling ticket requests and ensuring the patrons get the seats they want is a major task at this time of the year. To be fair to everyone, all ticket requests are held in the order in which they are received. When the assigning of seats begins, Jim starts with the earliest order received and works his way through the mountain of requests. The one exception to the “first come-first served” rule is that donors to Highlands Summer Festival and Highlands Opera Studio receive priority service, no matter when their order is received. It is one way we can say thank you to our patrons who support summer theatre and music not only with ticket purchases, but by making a donation to help further enrich the Festival experience.

Over one-third of the season tickets are sold as a result of the Christmas season pass promotion along with the extra tickets ordered in conjunction with those requests. That amounts to over 2000 ticket requests. “We handle each order separately,” Jim explained, “making sure we have the necessary details, that the dates and show elections line up and that any special requests are tended to.”

If Jim has started processing the orders, why haven’t you received your tickets yet, you may ask? A reasonable question, which deserves an answer. We don’t start printing tickets and mailing them out until early April for a number of reasons. First, organizing all the paper work that is part of the process is a daunting task. Jim is meticulous in ensuring everything is done correctly. And, quite frankly, we have found that if we send out the tickets too early, they have a higher tendency to get misplaced, you know, lost in the back of a drawer, tucked away in a safe place that no one can remember. So we wait until early April to begin the actual mailing of the tickets.

And, if you do lose your tickets, not to worry. Jim has a computerized record to help ensure you don’t miss one single performance this summer. Just give him a call.

So, while perhaps it seems very quiet on the theatre front, there is a great deal going on. One of those crucial tasks is the processing of ticket orders already received by our box office manager, Jim Frost. Watch for your tickets arriving in the mail in April.

– Jack

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