TICKETS for Broadway shows such as "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" and "Chicago" will soon be sold at ATM-like machines at New York supermarkets, drugstores, shopping malls and commuter stations.

Tickets for Mets baseball games have been on sale at 11 ETMs (electronic ticket machines) in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island in a trial run since early last month.

Now, as a result of an agreement with the Shubert Organization, which owns and operates 16 Broadway theaters, and Jujamcyn Theaters, which operates another five, theatergoers will in the next several weeks be able to buy tickets - knowing their exact seat locations - to plays and musicals at these theaters and at more than a dozen off-Broadway houses.

Broadwayites hope the move will help curb scalping and the practice of "icing" - the paying of cash bribes to box-office employees by ticket brokers.

A Shubert insider said that the ETMs will add a surcharge of $4 to the face value of each ticket. That is $1.50 less than the $5.50 per ticket charged by Shubert's Telecharge telephone ticket service.

By next month, ETMs at the Manhattan Mall in Herald Square, Silver Rod Drugs in Brooklyn, King Kullen supermarkets on Long Island and a number of other locations will be on line to dispense theater tickets.

"We expect that the theater ticket-dispensing ETMs will be fully operational at several dozen New York metropolitan-area locations by the end of the year," said Karen Lach, a marketing executive with the California-based ETM Corp.

"Next year we're planning to pepper the tri-state area with more ETMs," Lach added. "Eventually we even hope to place them in theater lobbies, like MovieFone kiosks."

Dave Corvette, a spokesman for New York State Attoney General Dennis Vacco, who has been battling Broadway ticket fraud, said the ETMs may cut down on scalping and icing.

"The fact that there's no human in the kiosk to take a bribe will help," he said.

"However, this still only gives the consumer access to tickets that the venue or producer makes available to the public," he added.

Newsbit furnished by:

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Thanks Tim and Anna!

Thanks Kinetic!

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