Ticketmaster seems to have cleared up the problems last weekend that were leading it to tell hopeful Piccolo-goers that a variety of shows were sold out when in fact there were plenty of seats still available. The snafu was, understandably, sending show producers across the festival program into apoplectic fits. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that Piccolo’s box office folks weren’t able to reach anyone at the online ticket seller until the holiday weekend was over and its administrative offices opened again.

But even apart from that foul-up, Ticketmaster is not winning points with festival producers. Piccolo prides itself on providing a less pricey (in many cases free) alternative to the Big Festival, with ticketed events generally in the $10-$25 range. One producer, though, tells me that when purchased online via Ticketmaster, a single $15 ticket to a typical Piccolo show becomes a $23.50 investment, once you fork over a $4.40 per ticket service charge and an additional $3.60 “processing” fee for each order. Buying seats for you and three friends to see Human Giant or Closer? Prepare to part with $81.60 of your hard-earned lucre.

They call that convenience? I can think of a few other choice words for it. If you’re planning to see a Piccolo show – and you should – for god’s sake don’t give these corporate extortionists any of your money. Get in your car, park behind Gaillard Auditorium, put a dime in the meter, and pay face value for your seats at the Piccolo box office inside. Save the extra money for drinks afterward.