Ticket Source, a ticketing agency for dozens of local small theaters, abruptly cut off its phone lines and shuttered its office last week, leaving a trail of irate artists, producers and theater owners who say they were owed money by the agency. This is the third such closure in four years, bringing back still-fresh memories of Theatix (which went under in 1997) and Showtixx (closed in 1998 amid accusations of fraud). The agency’s demise comes after barely six months of operation. Theater producers contacted by the Weekly say that Ticket Source offered superior service until June, when checks started to bounce. Then, in addition to nonpayment for verified box-office receipts, the theaters‘ woes included the appearance of unreserved theatergoers claiming to have made reservations through the service. Even though Ticket Source had provided no record of these “phantom patrons,” the customers’ credit cards were nonetheless charged, say various producers. (The patrons were admitted to the performances.)

The agency‘s closure also affects yet-to-open shows. Joel Zighelboim, producer of I Slept With Jack Kerouac, which opens at the Gascon Center Theater on August 25, admits he’s “very upset” with Ticket Source. All of his promotional materials (about $1,000 worth) have been printed with Ticket Source‘s phone number. He also claims that friends charged seats with Ticket Source in July for the August show, revenue that he doubts will be recovered by the theater.

The cumulative total owed by Ticket Source is conservatively estimated at between $10,000 and $15,000. A handful of producers say they have talked to the police about filing charges.

Much of the anger is focused on the sudden and mysterious way in which the office was shut down, the Web site removed, and the phone line disconnected without a forwarding message. (Ticket Source owner Sherry Voigt failed to return phone calls from the Weekly.) Though T.S.’s office remains dark, the previously disconnected phone line now refers callers to another number with a recording instructing people to contact directory assistance for individual theaters, an unsatisfactory stopgap measure, according to these producers.

Lisa Bishop, of Circle West Theater Company, says that Ticket Source owes her theater more than $3,000. Anthony Barnao, artistic director of Blue Sphere Alliance, says that approximately $700 is missing from moneys collected for the theater‘s production of Six by Tenn.

Voigt was said to have a co-proprietor named Kurt Caceres. Producer Leigh Fortier of the Hudson Avenue Theater insists that the two represented themselves as partners when Ticket Source approached her for business in January 2001. When contacted by phone, Caceres denied the allegation, claiming to be “simply an employee at Ticket Source.”

Zighelboim says he was warned by another producer that he might have trouble getting his money from Ticket Source. “I immediately called Sherry, who said she’d had some problems,” he explains. “She promised that everything would be on the up and up from there on out. I gave her the benefit of the doubt even though the red flags were waving.”

LA Weekly