One day before its official debut, the coordinators of Grasshopper revealed a major announcement: tickets for the annual Family Weekend performance had fully sold out, and the only opportunity for students to obtain seats for the annual Family Weekend performance would be through waiting in a line for around 20-30 minutes before each showing.
Historically, Grasshopper’s ticketing system has always been easily accessible; just last year, the organizers used a link to give students the opportunity to book tickets weeks in advance for both themselves and their families. Yet according to Bradford Seymour, Chair of Theatre and Dance Department, this convenient structure also presented a larger issue—an increase in amounts of no-shows amongst the student audience members.
“Through the [previous] system, the department learned that students were taking advantage of the system and reserving the maximum number of tickets, even if they didn’t need that many. Roughly a third of the tickets reserved were not used at all and another third were forwarded to another person. The department felt that this was an abuse of the system,” wrote Seymour in an email to The Phillipian.
To combat the problem of unsatisfactory turnouts, this year’s Theatre and Dance Department decided to work alongside the facilitators of Family Weekend—the Office of Alumni Engagement—and establish a different method for ticketing. Their new approach consisted of sending out key details about Grasshopper only to Andover’s family bulletin.
In the collaborative written response by Seymour, Rachel Anderson, Administrative Assistant in the Theatre and Dance Department, Meaghan Blanchard, Administrative Assistant in the Office of Alumni Engagement (OAE), and Mary Corcoran, Assistant Director in OAE, the organizers explained that they hoped to find a balance between fair and productive ticketing by giving reservation responsibilities to parents.
“For a very long time, there has been feedback from parents that they have had trouble securing tickets. They consistently expressed interest in having the ability to obtain the tickets directly…With the vast number of no shows [in previous years], this year’s ticketing was open directly to the families. The hope was to create an equitable opportunity for all parents to access tickets at the same time,” wrote the two departments in an email to The Phillipian.
Yet increasing the equity of ticketing also resulted in uneasy access for families of student performers. With the absence of the typical early access ticketing options, seats were ‘sold out’ before performers could secure them for visiting family members. As new students, Asian Performing Arts Club (APAC) dancer Riya Patel ’26 in particular commented on how she and her friends struggled to adjust to the sudden release of information and lack of ticketing accommodation for their families.
“I realized that we had to get tickets, [but] I didn’t really think about it that much until my parents said that there weren’t any tickets available…We were [eventually] able to get tickets, but I know there’s many people who didn’t, like my friends who didn’t get tickets for their families. There weren’t any more slots available…she’s also performing and her family wants to see her,” said Patel.
In light of these circumstances, the Alumni Engagement and Administration Offices responded promptly in providing seatings for the families of student performers, which helped resolve Patel’s situation. However, other concerns surrounding the situation also involve the change in atmosphere of the show. As Hypnotiq and Footnotes dancer Alex Giarnese ’25 noted, performing in front of a largely unfamiliar crowd of parents might be “a little disheartening” for many of the livelier, more dynamic acts.
“Last year, there was more energy and more hype in the audience as it was dominated by students. As a performer, it was way more fun to be on stage and have all of my peers and student friends be able to cheer me on and yell, scream, have fun, and interact with me. This year, I feel like it’s going to be a big shift, because a lot more parents are going to be there. No parents are going to be screaming, yelling, and cheering as much as students would be, but definitely last year, I think, [there] was a lot more energy,” said Giarnese.
Yet there are still opportunities for students who have yet to claim tickets to watch the show. As stated in The Weekender update by the Theatre and Dance Department, students can line up to claim any available balcony seats that had been blocked off specifically for this purpose. However Jaeho Lee ’24, expressed concerns over the lack of seating options for regular students compared to last year’s sign up system.
Lee said, “ In the past [regular students] were able to rush for tickets, but this year we didn’t even have a chance. Instead, we will have to stand in a queue the day of the performance, and I think that will turn many people off of attending Grasshopper.”
While any ticketing crises seem to have been placated for the time being, some performers believe that there are still greater problems within Grasshopper’s ticketing and overall management. Photon and JVNE performer Darla Moody ’24 commented not only on issues of transparency, but also on the complex consideration of who and what the coordinators of Grasshopper should aim to prioritize.
“I also think the larger issue is also unresolved. We need to decide: Who is Grasshopper for, and how can we plan Grasshopper in a way that is the most fair to everyone, or [angers] the least people?” said Moody.