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Keeping The Broadway Traditions Alive

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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!

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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!

broadway joseph

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!

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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!

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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!



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10 responses to “Keeping The Broadway Traditions Alive

  1. Love the theater also. Not in not saying one of your tarnished fans would ever do this but once in NY while trying to get seats I asked the box office ” do you have any seats for people with bad vision.” I was just joking since I just noticed that had hard of hearing devices available. They asked me “do you have trouble seeing the stage”. Well yes I replied. Especially from way in the back. To my surprise they moved me to the 2nd row and told me they usually keep 2-4 tickets available for guests with eyesite problems. So yes! I did take the seats and Yes I did feel guilty. Or would have if I really did this. Humbly your fan scott

    1. @Scott, You are my unpolished hero! I mean, you would be if you actually pulled that off. Allegedly, right? Had that been you, which show was it that you would you have been able to see better?

  2. So true!!!! Nothing better than experiencing Broadway! I like it even more with my daughter! Too bad we live in south Florida where it’s not as east but still a fun experience! Oh and btw, starlight express reminds me of skipping school for a Wednesday matinee but couldn’t tell you one thing about the story line and all I remeber are the kids on roller skates !

  3. Hi Silver. I loved this blog. Reading it brought back many fond memories of my Broadway experiences both as a child and an adult. I do not have children. However two years ago I took my niece, Madeline, to see her first Broadway show, Matilda. She loves the theater and performing arts. She is an aspiring little actress and singer herself. Later this month she has the leading role in Annie…it’s the 8th grade graduation play. On April 19th my sister and I are taking her daughter and our two nieces (Madeline and Vivian) to see The Lion King. It is so important to expose children to these wonderful events. And so… the tradition shall continue!!

    1. @Donna: I love to hear that you’re keeping the tradition going in whatever way works for you and your family! We took our kids to see The Lion King the last time we were in NYC and my little one slept through the entire first act. My older one asked so many questions the entire time, he wouldn’t let up! All kids have different experiences and I think they are all equally important! ( even if my little one’s experience resulted in a really expensive seat to nap in!!!!!)

  4. Love this!! I still remember going to see Annie for the first time when I was six years old. I cried the entire way home in the car that I wanted a dog like Sandy. “My performance,” as my parents called it, didn’t get me the dog. All it got me was tickets to A Chorus Line with them… And nothing was better than that!

  5. Plenty of good theater in The Berkshires when you come up this summer. Don’t miss whatever is playing at the Barrington Stage Company.

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