Saturday, June 2, 2012

Magic Smoking Monkeys Theater -Star Trek: The Review that Wasn't

The Magic Smoking Monkeys are a fun offshoot of the St. Louis Shakespeare Company.  They are a talented group of performers with a wacky sense of humor that has always appealed to me.  They are known for taking a “classic” film and adapting it in an irreverent way.  Their performances are marked by high energy, creativity and laughter.  I had planned on doing a review of their latest production of “Star Trek”. I had been looking forward to it since last December. I am unable to do so because they lost our reservations.
Our misadventure started because a member of our group had received two passes from a St. Louis Shakespeare Company board member at a Kiwanis Club meeting. The passes were for any show, and they had no expiration date on them. To redeem the passes, reservations were supposed to be made through the box office number on the passes.  I called to make reservation and got their voice mail. I explained about the passes, left my number and asked for a call back with instructions on how to redeem them.
Two days after leaving the message, a MSM member called back. She took my name, phone number and the number of people in our party. I explained about the passes and told her we would be purchasing two more tickets through their ticket vendor. She assured me that it would make more sense for her to reserve a block of six seats and we could pay at the door.
On the evening of the performance (May 19th), we arrived in the Central West End at 6:00 pm.  We met our part for a leisurely dinner.  We arrived at the theater at approximately 7:25 pm for the 8:00 curtain. This is when things went from a good evening to bad for us.  Kathy, who ran the box office, looked at us like we were crazy. She told us we didn’t have reservations and the show was sold out.  She said we couldn’t be seated because the fire code wouldn’t allow additional seating. She denied ever receiving or knowing about our reservations. She said she hadn’t received an email from Kim. We were told that there were openings for the 10:30 performance. Our very disappointed and somewhat humiliated group left the theater.
None of us wanted to wander around for three more hours to show time. It didn’t make sense to go home and come back especially with traffic on the Delmar loop. When I arrived home I posted the following on their Facebook page:
To the Magic Smoking Monkeys:
We were very disappointed that you lost our reservations to Star Trek. We had been given 2 passes to admit 4 people to any show. We called your box office to ask for instructions on how to redeem them. A member of your troupe called to make the reservations (4 passes-2 tickets at door)...and yet tonight we were turned away. My advice...if you're not going to honor your guest passes, then do away with them.
Sunday afternoon, I received this response from Kim:

On behalf on MSM, I apologize for the oversight and that you weren't able to see Star Trek last evening at 8pm. I am not sure how this happened since I was the person you spoke with and I did give you our box office your name. 4 comps and you were going to purchase 2 additional tickets as well. I remember speaking to you about this.

Would you mind sending me your phone number so we can speak about this personally? I did not keep your phone number once I gave your name and number of people to see the show.

I do apologize for not being able to get your group in to see the show.

Kindest Regards,
I responded with the following:
·         Hi,
Thank you for your apology. I was beginning to think I imagined the conversation making the reservation.

Kathy said she didn't get an email informing her of the reservations. She checked her print outs multiple times, but couldn't find us.

My phone number is 314-XXX-XXXX
·         ( since this is a blog posting -I deleted my phone number here)
Kim responded:
·         She didn't get an email because I personally told her last week and saw her write it down in the computer.

I am not sure how/what happened to your reservation.

I spoke to Donna N.

She is going to give you a call. Right now, she is at strike (breaking down the set).

I let her know that I spoke with you.

I am really sorry this happened - especially to a Trekkie!

A week went by without a phone call…so I posted:
It's been a week since we were turned away from "Star Trek" because the monkeys lost our reservations. Only one member has contacted us with an apology which was appreciated...She confirmed that the reservations had been given to the box office...but I guess the rest of the Monkeys were too busy smoking to worry about their poor customer service and damage to the group's reputation in this fiasco. Shame really...had been a fan and attendee since your Art Loft theater days...Have to think long and hard about trying to attend another production. If we do, it'll be with purchased tickets because the Monkeys don't honor their comp vouchers or reservations made through their box office number.
I received the following response from an unknown somebody:
Mr. Asher: I understand our house manager contacted you to apologize for the mix-up with your reservation. Since our 8pm performances generally sell out, we unfortunately were unable to accommodate your group without evicting audience members who were already seated. And, considering the size of our venue, there is unfortunately not enough space to add additional seating without violating fire codes. I'm so sorry your party wasn't able to stay and attend the 10:30 performance that night, as we had seating available for that show.

The St. Louis Shakespeare/MSMT comp certificates you had were provided in 2011 by one of our board members as a donation to the Kiwanis Club. Since we would still like to show our appreciation to Kiwanis, SLS has already sent a check directly to the Kiwanis Club, which exceeds the cash value of the tickets you were planning to use that evening. In this way, hopefully the inconvenience you suffered is benefiting the Kiwanis Club and the children they serve.

I posted the following reply which was evidently ignored:
My frustration stems from 3 points: First was the reaction, my group rec'd at the box office. My group as a whole felt that our lost reservations were no big deal. Sorry. No...we never received them. At this point, the house manager should have been notified. That never happened until after our group left. Secondly, your house manager told me that she saw the reservations entered into the computer. She was unsure what happened to them. To me, this indicates a broken system. Perhaps if you continue your comp vouchers, you might require an email address so your company and the reservation holder would have a record. Finally, your house manager told me that someone would be contacting me this week by phone to discuss the situation. That never happened. If we knew you were going to lose our 8:00 reservations, we would have planned for the 10:30 show...but I remind you that they are called reservations for a reason..... If the Kiwanis Club has received the check, it will go a long way to setting things right. On their behalf, thank you.

After careful consideration, it does and it doesn’t:
Here are the questions that remain:
·        If the reservations had been entered in the computer, what happened to them?
·        Why haven’t I received the promised phone call to discuss this matter?
·        Why was it mentioned in the official reply that these undated/no expiration date passes had been given in 2011?
·        We do appreciate the donation to the Kiwanis Club (if it was made)...however...the Kiwanis Club wasn't turned away that evening...a party of 6 was...shouldn't we have been offered something for the inconvenience...passes...mug...tee shirt...or is customer service truly dead?
Some members of my group think we were bumped by someone connected to either the Monkeys or St Louis Shakespeare.  All of us are still angry about the lost reservations…but I guess it could have been worse: Our Trekkie friends who live over a 100 miles away could have been with us that night…or we actually could have had two tickets purchased from their RELIABLE ticket vendor and the useless comp passes. 
You might ask us: “Will any of my group ever attend another Monkey production?” I honestly don’t know.  I do know they have lost any chance that the other four in the party will be back. My wife and I have been fans for years…so we might…but we’ll never fully trust them again...and you can bet your last dollar on the fact that we will have purchased the tickets from their ticket vendor and not rely on comp passes that probably wouldn't be honored anyway.



Whispered Promises said...

I feel like I am angrier than you are, as you have responded so kindly. It wasn't Kiwanis that was burned. You surely have NOT been compensated, your apology falls at your feet in dust as it is only words without any actions and this is ridiculous.
I would want the performers to know how their box office is screwing them over.

Bookworm said...

Thank you for your comments. In real life times, it was an evening ruined. I can accept the lost reservations. The things that continue to rankle are I was lied to twice since I never received that phone call. An apology on Facebook is okay...but don't promise a real phone call if you're not going to deliver. I don't think they take missing reservations seriously. Ah well, life goes on.

Whit's Whittlings2 said...

So they had seating available for the 10:30 performance. You can bet they did. Pretty shabby treatment.

Bookworm said...

The only one that acted concerned at all was Kim...She was the house manager and should have been notified immediately.....but the box office seemed unconcerned.

If we had known they were going to lose our reservations, we would have planned for the later show...but I always thought a reservation was a reservation. Seems like monkey business to me.