“THEY SAY THE NEON LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT ON BROADWAY
THEY SAY THERE’S ALWAYS MAGIC IN THE AIR” – George Benson
When I was a little girl my parents often took me to the theater. To me, no matter how many times we’d go, it was always a big deal. I loved using it as an opportunity to dress in my fancy clothes and feel grown up. On the drive into NYC, I’d intently stare out the car window so not to miss the exact second we’d cross over the New York state line while driving through the Lincoln Tunnel. The minute my Dad parked the car in the underground garage, I would race to find the nearest bathroom because I had been holding it in since before we hit the New Jersey Turnpike.
Once in my seat, I would read the Playbill cover to cover before the First Act would even begin and then use my pointer finger as a human bookmark in between the Who’s Who In The Cast page and the one that listed the musical numbers so I’d be able to follow along. I’d listen to the tuxedo-wearing musicians in the orchestra pit warming up, tuning their instruments. I would gaze up in awe at the magnificently ornate chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. I’d also never miss a chance to take advantage of the mass amounts of people-watching I could get in prior to the lights flickering which indicated that the show was about to start. I would absorb as much unpolished detail as my young mind would allow me to retain. I didn’t want to forget a thing!
Memories Big Or Small…. Remembering Them All
One time, I met Andy Gibb during the intermission at a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He was very charming as he kissed my hand and told me I was pretty. I thanked him but also told him I was quite sure he says that to all the girls!
Another time while seeing P.T. Barnum, my sister taught me how to tell if an actor was lip-syncing or not.
When our seats were practically on the stage at CATS, it felt as if those freaky felines were crawling all over me!
I didn’t really understand Starlight Express, but I can still hear the melody of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original score in my head.
My Dad and I saw Oklahoma! together. It was just the two of us which was very special except we didn’t account for what would happen if I had to go to the bathroom. Luckily and by coincidence, we spotted a family friend who saved the day and escorted me to the Ladies Room.
My Mom and I had plenty of ‘Girls Only’ theatre experiences through the years too. She had a love for the ballet so she would take me to Lincoln Center to see The Nutcracker and to watch Mikhail Baryshnikov dance Swan Lake. If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ll never forget the time she almost hyperventilated when she noticed Jackie Kennedy Onassis sitting two boxes over from us. Those binoculars certainly came in handy!
My Fair Lady, A Chorus Line, DreamGirls, West Side Story and The Fantasticks were just a few of my favorite Broadway and off-Broadway productions. As I got older Avenue Q, Mamma Mia, The Producers and Jersey Boys were some others that topped my list. Phantom of the Opera made me cry while The Vagina Monologues and The Book of Mormon made me laugh my ass off for two and half hours!
When I think of my Grandfather, I can’t help but to reminisce about La Cage aux Folles. He loved that show so much. Rarely was I in his company when he wasn’t humming the tune to “The Best of Times.”
“So Hold This Moment Fast
And Live And Love
As Hard As You Know How
And Make This Moment Last
Because The Best Of Times Is Now
Is Now, Is Now, Is Now, Is Now!”
Keeping The Tradition Alive
To this day, I still get goosebumps during a big theatrical number. I have yet to get through those final moments without becoming overwhelmingly emotional; the moments when the entire cast comes out to take their bows. I don’t know why, but I always find myself wiping the tears away that roll down my cheek as I stand up clapping with ovation. Typically, by the time the star of the show makes his or her way onto center stage and the roars from the audience hit an all-time high, I’m an unpolished, sobbing mess!
Now that I’m a parent, I think it’s important to expose my own kids to the theater. I want them to experience the music and the mirrors and the lights. I want them to have the chance to feel the excitement that comes from a live performance much like the way I experienced it when my parents and grandparents exposed me to Broadway. I want my kids to get lost in the same joys that the performing arts provided for me and others like me. I want to be able to give them the opportunity to make their own amazing memories in the hopes that they too will keep the tradition alive when they have children of their own!
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW….. Obviously, experiencing the thrill of a live performance in New York City on (or off) Broadway is something that everyone should put on their bucket list. However, if making it to the Big Apple isn’t doable you gotta, gotta, gotta take advantage of the local theaters in your area. Don’t pass it up! It may not be The Gershwin or The Majestic or The Minskoff or the Winter Garden Theater but if you’re interested in the performing arts, no matter how big or small the venue, I’d bet my Playbill you’ll still get the chills by the finale!
“THEY SAY THE NEON LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT ON BROADWAY
THEY SAY THERE’S ALWAYS MAGIC IN THE AIR” -George Benson