We had an extra ticket to Hamilton, so we invited my 13-year-old son’s best friend to come with us because we knew she really loved the musical (well, its soundtrack anyway). She took pictures of the theater, the cast list, and said to me, “I’m taking pictures of everything because this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’ll never get to see a Broadway play again.” To which I replied, “Oh, I wouldn’t say that. You never know.”
It got me thinking about the first time I had the treat of seeing a touring Broadway production. It was My Fair Lady with Richard Chamberlain as Henry Higgins. I’d always loved the movie and was so excited to see the play. And I guess I had the same feeling as my son’s friend—that this would not necessarily become a regular event in my life. (Though I also got to see Camelot with Robert Goulet as Arthur that same year.)
My son and his friend came out of Hamilton very happy and talking about how they’d like to do drama in high school. I’m so glad we were able to give them this experience, but I’m also a bit sad that for many people it really is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, if that. Sure, some people aren’t at all interested in theater (their loss, in my opinion). But for those who might be, it can be inaccessible. It was to me for the longest time. I was fortunate that my school took us to the symphony, the planetarium, and other amazing places. But with schools trimming arts programs to the bare minimum, these outings are less and less common as well.
I understand why theater is expensive. The work that goes into it: sets, wardrobe, tech, acting, directing, choreography… And a lot more. Even the community theater productions I used to help with were quite involved, so something on the scale of a Broadway show? Yeah. And I know many shows have student discounts, or even special showings for schools or other groups. I just… I think this girl’s remark surprised me. I think people (like me) who go to the theater regularly begin to take it for granted. And that’s a shame.
So what’s the point of this post? 1. To observe that, for some people, going to the theater is a dream and/or rare experience. And that’s too bad, but I don’t actually have any suggestions to change that. 2. To also observe that, for those who do go to the theater often, it’s nice to remember the value of that. And even nicer to take along someone who doesn’t get to go, or has never been. Because their joy is infectious. And will be a fantastic reminder of all the reasons you’re lucky you get to go.