The Hot Seats

Don’t be content just to go to a show—score the best seats in the house.

By Martha Calhoon May 19, 2009 Published in the August 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is coming to town, and the date you’re trying to impress just loves that musical. Translation: You’ll pay whatever it takes for the best seats in the house. Allow us to help you find them. See, it turns out that the prime seats aren’t always the most expensive. We know because we asked insiders—directors, audience service managers, and regular attendees, among others—at four popular Portland venues. Heed their advice, and you too can score the city’s sweetest seats.


1037 SW Broadway; 503-248-4335
The seats: Row K, near the center
The perks: You can see the entire stage from Row K. Plus—as symphony lovers or rock fans planning to see Melissa Etheridge this month will want to know—the hall’s acoustics are best in the center of this row.
The price: Varies widely depending on the show, but Row K tickets to Melissa Etheridge will set you back $109.75 apiece.
Get them: Sign up for the Portland Center for the Performing Arts’ Backstage Pass program, a Listserv that gets you first dibs on tickets before they go on sale.


128 NW 11th Ave; 503-445-3700
The seats: Audiences voted Row E the best in the house in an online survey, but Bob Gerding himself sits in Row G.
The perks: Comfort, plain and simple. At 27 feet from the edge of the stage, Row G is one-third of the way back—close enough to feel intimate, but far enough away to take in the view without craning your neck. Just ask Arlene Schnitzer and Bluehour owner Bruce Carey, who also are known to sit here.
The price: $32 to $68.50
Get them: Subscribers to ticket packages usually scoop up these seats, but they often will exchange their tickets as the show date nears. When you book your tickets, ask the box office staff if any Row G seats have opened up.


1844 SW Morrison St; 503-553-5555
The seats: Left-field boardwalk seats
The perks: The row of 72 seats atop the left-field wall gives you an unimpeded look at the entire park from 35 feet up, and because it’s a single row, you won’t have to worry about rowdy fans standing up and blocking your view. Just remember to bring your glove—a short left field means you can expect a few to go over the wall. (Added bonus: These seats are closer to the park’s SW 18th Avenue entrance, so you can avoid the bottleneck at the SW 20th Avenue entrance.)
The price: $8 in advance, $9 on game day
Get them: Be at the field an hour before game time, or buy in advance so you can request them—especially for weekend games.


222 SW Clay St; 503-248-4335
The seats: Second-balcony loges
The perks: Many consider the Keller’s sweet spot to be sections B through D, thanks to the prime views and excellent acoustics, but the cozy 10-seat boxes on either side of the second-balcony seats, called loges, are still good enough for governors (past and present). Not only do you have an unobstructed view of the stage, but a private door also makes you feel like a VIP—and it means you won’t have to struggle past other patrons’ knees to be first in line at the bar during intermission. The best part? They’re half the price of box seats behind the orchestra.
The price: $79
Get them: Insiders say the loges aren’t heavily subscribed to—so simply ask for them.

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