The man behind ticket sales at the CCA goes above and beyond

Lorne Gregory at the Capitol Center for the Arts box office which is now located at the Bank of New Hampshire  Stage down the street.

Lorne Gregory at the Capitol Center for the Arts box office which is now located at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage down the street. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Lorne Gregory at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage where the box office for the Capitol Center for the Arts is now located.

Lorne Gregory at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage where the box office for the Capitol Center for the Arts is now located. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 10-29-2023 12:49 PM

At the Capitol Center for the Arts, customers sometimes use old-school techniques, preferring a trip to the box office over the convenience of online sales.

That gives them a chance to see Lorne Gregory, face to face.

“Just being an overall incredibly friendly and helpful guy is just some of the reasons people love coming (to the box office) to pick up their tickets,” said Ashley Wakefield, who works with Gregory at the CCA. “Some people would rather do that than just ordering them online. We have people that have worked in the box office for upwards of 15 years, and although the CCA is a wonderful place to work, I also know that part of the reason they have stayed working in the box office is because of Lorne and how awesome he is.”

That summarizes why Wakefield nominated her colleague to be a Hometown Hero. Gregory goes above and beyond to make the theater experience at the CCA more enjoyable than it might have been had someone else been the director of ticketing services.

“I do my best, and customer relations is big part of the job,” Gregory said. “We get people who are upset and they only go out one to three times a year and they go out for something special.”

Gregory always knew he wanted to work in theater. He was a stage manager and director in high school and college, and then interned at places such as the Palace Theater in Manchester.

He stage-managed shows like Romeo and Juliet at the Palace.

“As the stage manager, you are person who runs it all,” Gregory said. “You’re calling out light cues, making sure people are where they are supposed to be leading up to it.”

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By then, Gregory said he’d fallen in love with all aspects of the theater. He focused on the organizational aspects that often go unnoticed in the business, pushing acting aside.

He’s been at the CCA for 27 years, starting when he was 22. He began as the assistance box office manager and then was the box office manager, before accepting his current job as director of ticketing services.

“It’s just the evolution and getting more responsibility,” Gregory said. “The first few years, we were smaller and had only 13 people on staff.”

As the director of ticketing services, Gregory is the face of the CCA, out front as the public relations liaison who forever keeps in mind that the customer is always right.

Gregory said the most awkward problem arises when a third-party outlet – a ticket scalping organization –buys tickets from the CCA at cost value, then turns around and, after creating a website disguised as the official CCA website, overcharges customers.

Worse, the CCA then won’t have a record of the actual customer’s purchase, but instead will have the ticket scalper’s card information. That causes confusion for both parties.

“We can look at the email they got and see if they were bought by someone else,” Gregory said. “We’ll figure it out and the house manager will walk them to their seats.”

The best way to protect yourself as an online ticket buyer is to go straight to the Capitol Center’s site at ccanh.com.

Wakefield, Gregory’s nominator and colleague, said that a ticket buyer once requested a photo of Patrick Swayze, for no apparent reason, to be included with the tickets.

“He and his staff made sure that the patron got that requested Swayze photo when they picked up their tickets,” Wakefield wrote in her nominating email. “The person loved it so much, they said it made their night.”

Another time, a theater goer with a disability contacted the CCA to thank the man who had ensured he had a good time at a recent show.

“Lorne helped that person figure out how to use the applications we have in place for patrons that are hard of hearing,” Wakfield said. “They emailed us after the show telling us how happy they were and how great Lorne was.”

Told of the story relayed by Wakefield, Gregory said, simply, “I love it here and I love Concord and I love my job and helping people and being here. If I win the lottery, we’ll see what happens. I’ll still be around. I’ll just donate more.”