I have friends that are not really theater people. Shocking, I know. Not to say they hate the theater, but, they aren't joining me to see Raven-Symoné in Sister Act. The majority of them did want to see Shatner's World: We Just Live In It. My friends probably didn't think of buying a VIP ticket to meet the man himself, they do have that option however. For $251.50 per ticket, a mere $125 more than a normal orchestra ticket, you will receive a photo with Shatner and an autograph.
Many people are surprised this gimmick has not been tried before, but I don't think it has. After all, it is more Comic Con than Broadway. On Broadway, we're more into VIP lounges -- the original production of Ragtime had a VIP ticket that included a visit to a special lounge and non-profits have lounges for their members -- and meet-and-greets with stars for a charity's sake. Yes, big spenders could meet Hugh Jackman, but only after he raffled off the opportunity in order to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. If the for-profit type of meeting Shatner is doing has ever happened before on Broadway, it's been extremely rare.
There is obviously something cheap (not literally, but figuratively) about this type of thing. That doesn't mean I'm opposed to it -- if people want to pay to meet William Shatner, they should be able to do so. Now 20 people a night have the opportunity. Why not? It's all about having a game star. I don't know William Shatner personally, but I am not surprised he is such a star. His show, a meandering and sometimes somewhat self-effacing walk through his life, paints him as someone who fully embraces his place in the pop culture lexicon. His fans enjoy him, he enjoys his fans. It is a perfect set-up for extra cash.
I doubt this is the last we'll see of this sort of VIP ticket. These days, when it is increasingly hard to make any money, I am surprised we are not seeing more gimmicks. I am sure How to Succeed could add $30 per poster if Nick Jonas just wrote on them, "I'm burning up, Nick," or even, in keeping with the show, "I believe in you, Nick." And what party group wouldn't want to pose with alcohol and the cast of Rock of Ages? Some of this type of thing has been done before, but Broadway hasn't taken it to the extent one might suspect in tough times. See, for years there had been a veneer of class associated with Broadway; I believe it is the tiny remnants of that mentality that kept producers from going all-out on the money making schemes. I also believe we're now somewhat past caring about the Broadway of old (though I will personally never eat in the theater, text, take pictures, etc. during a show).
Let me welcome the William Shatner VIP ticket and all the stunts to come. I do so love the fun of it all. Of course, there is no dignity associated with it, but you can't ask too much these days.