Jed Canaan knows how to “paper” the house.
From his office in White Plains, Jed Canaan can pack a house. His business, Theater Extras, provides enthusiastic seat-fillers to achieve that standing-room-only look.
Theater Extras’ 4,200 New York members pay for the privilege: $99/year for access to pairs of tickets or $175/year for packs of four tickets, plus a $4 processing fee per ticket used (a portion of which goes to Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS). They can then log into theaterextras.com to request first-come, first-served tickets.
Why would managers want to give away tickets for free? “They don’t,” Canaan says. “But if Tony voters are coming, or if they know a critic will be there, they’ll come to us because they’re confident we can fill the house on short notice.”
For obvious reasons, theaters want Theater Extras to remain a secret, which leads to a lot of misconceptions, Canaan says. No, it’s not just the worst seats at the worst shows (seats are all over the house, and even great shows want full houses on the days the critics arrive). No, tickets are not offered only at the last minute (theaters know within two or three days how the house is selling). No, it’s not just used for theaters (there are also tickets to sporting events, concerts, and museums).
Canaan came up with the idea for Theater Extras while working in PR. He discovered the need for the service after talking to theater owners—he’s always been a theater fan himself. “My favorite show is The Book of Mormon,” he says, “but that’s not available through my site because, obviously, it’s been selling so well.”