Crowd enters daily lottery for bargain-priced 'Wicked' orchestra seats

April 6, 2011 

Norma Zamora and her daughter, Samantha, 14, drove from their home in Reedley already dressed up for the theater, confident that they would win tickets Wednesday for opening night of the Broadway show "Wicked."

Getting all dolled up in black cocktail dresses and heels, hair curled and makeup done was like a lucky charm: Norma Zamora's name was the first pulled from a black plastic caldron promptly at 5:30 p.m., allowing her to buy two $25 tickets in the orchestra section. Tickets in that area of the Saroyan Theatre usually sell from $65 to $130.

Winners all got bright parrot-green buttons -- "I won the Wicked lottery" -- which Zamora and her daughter pinned to their dresses.

A lottery for about 20 bargain-priced tickets will be held prior to each show, which runs through April 17. Hopefuls can sign up 2 1/2 hours before show time; winners' names will be drawn one-half hour later. Each winner can buy two tickets and must pay cash.

Thirty-nine people signed up for the lottery on opening night. Zamora also had a back-up plan in case her name wasn't drawn.

"Actually I have tickets, but they're in row V in the balcony," she said.

"I'll buy them for $50, if my name isn't called," said Kristy Page of Fresno, who was hoping she also would win the ticket lottery.

So when Page's name wasn't called, she bought Zamora's balcony seats. "I knew I was going to see this show," she said.

One of the last names called was Sarah Jane Gross. "Perfect," she yelled, bouncing up and down.

Gross, sister Emily Gross, brother Daniel Gross and their father Warren Gross all had put their names in the drawing, and Sarah Jane, Emily and Warren's names all won.

Their collective win netted them six tickets, enough for the whole family -- including mom Jane Gross and brother Micah Gross -- to see the show.

"I saw it in San Francisco several years ago and I love it, love it, love it," said Sarah Jane Gross, a theater major at California State University, Northridge.

Not everyone was as lucky as the Gross family, however. Friends Marilyn McArthur of Sanger and Jill Bedford of Clovis were among the disappointed "Wicked" fans who didn't win tickets.

But with shows every day except Monday, McArthur said she still has a chance to score tickets: "We'll try again."

The reporter can be reached at plloyd@fresnobee.com or at (559) 441-6756.

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