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They’re Pantin’ for the ‘Phantom’

As many as 800 people were reported in a congested, confusing, slow line at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles at 7 a.m. Monday, when tickets to the Ahmanson Theatre’s presentation of “Phantom of the Opera” went on sale.

The theater said it took in more than half a million dollars in the first six hours.

Some of those standing in the line--which, security guards said, wrapped twice around the building--were said to have pushed and shoved their way near the box-office window. Others in line said many of Monday’s buyers were representing ticket brokers and scalpers.

“Believe me, you won’t see most of these people on opening night,” said Noah Alexander, a clothing designer who had been in line since early Sunday and claimed to have watched teen-agers being paid to stand in the line. “By the looks, you’d think this was a Michael Jackson concert.”

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“Phantom” tickets carry a face value of $32.50 to $50 each, but some people at the Music Center on Monday expect to be reselling them for much more.

A man carrying a clipboard, who declined to give his name, said he worked for a ticket agent and could probably get about $250 each for front-row tickets. He also claimed to have paid $300 to security guards to let him and two partners stand in line a second time.

“The system is corrupt,” he said.

Monday ticket sales had reached $568,935 by 1:30 p.m., according to a “Phantom” spokeswoman. That does not include the $12-million advance through mail and telephone sales. (The show opened in New York with an $18 million advance.)

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The musical opens its indefinite run May 31. Previews begin May 18.


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