Evening out at the Buell Theater

For my daughter, since she expects me to write about this:

To the House Manager, Buell Theater:

I attended Wicked at the Buell on Wednesday, May 23rd. I am a wheelchair user. I want to express my disappointment with my experience, beginning with purchasing the tickets.

An examination of your seating chart shows that very few orchestra seats are available for wheelchair users. The seats you do have have extremely poor sight lines, in no way comparable to those available for members of the general public. I draw your attention to the following section of the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines:

4.33 Assembly Areas.

4.33.3* Placement of Wheelchair Locations. Wheelchair areas shall be an integral part of any fixed seating plan and shall be provided so as to provide people with physical disabilities a choice of admission prices and lines of sight comparable to those for members of the general public. They shall adjoin an accessible route that also serves as a means of egress in case of emergency. At least one companion fixed seat shall be provided next to each wheelchair seating area. When the seating capacity exceeds 300, wheelchair spaces shall be provided in more than one location. Readily removable seats may be installed in wheelchair spaces when the spaces are not required to accommodate wheelchair users.

I was unable to purchase tickets online for wheelchair accessible seats, and had to call the box office, thereby incurring an additional fee. I was sold seats ZZ 1,2,3 and YY 1,2.

Parking: I parked in the DPAC garage. Apparently handicapped permit parking is not available on every floor, and on the 7th floor, where I parked, there were also no curb cuts, so I had to be lifted onto the sidewalk.

At the theater: my party and I were treated as though we were charity cases, not paying customers. The ushers seemed unable to tell us exactly where our assigned seats were, saying things like “Just sit here.” Three times ushers came to us prior to the show, telling us we would have to move as we were in someone else’s seats. This did not turn out to be the case, although in one instance the usher claimed he would need to take my tickets back to the box office to straighten things out. When I questioned this, another usher laid her hand on my shoulder in a patronizing gesture. I asked her not to touch me, and suggested that the ushers needed better training on which seat is which and how to interact with patrons. I’m quite sure your staff would not have treated a paying, adult patron this way had I been standing up.

I would appreciate a response to these concerns.

Note that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts was sued by the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition over access issues in May, 2006 – anyone know the outcome of this suit?



  1. wheelchairdancer

    sounds like they could benefit from talking to these folks

    yucky experience.


  2. Angela

    I don’t know if it’s this way everywhere, but in NYC, they can’t charge you full price for the only available wheelchair seats. They can’t charge full orchestra seating prices if you don’t have a choice of where to sit.

  3. l.

    While browsing through the Denver Buell Theater online ticket information I came across this comment page. I deeply sympathize with the 2 other comments here and probably many, many more that remain silent. I was looking for Handicapped Parking as well and same seating. I am able to walk short distances only. NOTHING, not ONE single mention of any type of handicapped seating or parking anywhere for the Buell or the other big venue at that same location. I can’t imagine my enjoyment of musicals and entertainment being determined by minds so closed that they only accept perfectly healthy people into their facilities. The runaround that the man in the wheelchair had to experience was absolutely inexcusable, as well as the decision makers that make an already embarassing and painful experiences worse. Isn’t it sad that in America, Denver Colorado (not everywhere] a wonderful pleasure and joy and excitement is ruined over this outrageous decision by the elites of this art center.

    1. Katja (Post author)

      Thanks, l, for your comment. It can be so very painful to feel overlooked.


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