The house lights come down–the tingling in my body starts–the footlights appear and after a few beats the whole house goes dark–I hear the swoosh of the curtain going up and I am tense–the stage is lit and my body relaxes and anticipates–the first actor speaks and I am THERE!

The first few strains of the overture start–how can your heart not rush hearing the opening chords of Gypsy, Mame, A Chorus Line, Carousel, South Pacific, Company, West Side Story or any new musical?

(Okay, so I don’t like walking into a theatre seeing the curtain up or a musical starting without an overture but the excitement isn’t any less.)

As much as I love movies live theatre affects me more. I go to the movies to escape–I go to the theatre to be challenged.

I have been going to the theatre for over 70 years now–I don’t remember the first show I saw–and there are moments that have been etched in my mind forever–Brando on stage in Streetcar, Shirley Booth calling for Sheba, Mae West in Diamond ‘Lil, the opening number of A Chorus Line, Richard Kiley singing The Impossible Dream as he is dying (and every time I hear it I cry!)–and the list goes on: Julie Harris touching my heart as Frankie in Member of the Wedding and touching my heart in another way in I Am A Camera, Kim Stanly, Geraldine Page, etc. I saw most, if not all of the greats, of the 40s, 50s and 60s, including the awesome second performance of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

In recent years there was the shock of the final curtain of W;T, the unexpected curtain line of act 1 in Proof, the joy of Hairspray, the music of Steven Sondheim, the writing of Three Women by Albee, the laughter and tears of Angels in America, the politics in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart–once again a never ending list.

The constant cry of theatre groups is “Where are the younger audiences, the future audiences, coming from?” There are so many parents who don’t go, have never seen, live theatre–they don’t know what they have missed or what their kids are missing.

I remember cutting school so that I could be at a matinee when it had an intermission and could walk in with the returning crowd as if I was a member of the audience. (And I’ve always loved ushers because I knew they knew I hadn’t bought a ticket!)

I have always been in awe of the actor who not only has to memorize all those lines and where to be and what to do on stage but exposes him/her self to strangers. It was only later that I became aware of the ‘art’ of the set, costume and lighting designers, of what makes a production work on all of its aspects.If for no other reason I will stay and applaud all at the bows–they deserve it even when they or the plays aren’t the best. (Would/could you do what they do?)

The hardest part of being poor, for me, is that I don’t have the money to see road companies but,I got lucky 2 years ago and was hired to review Broadway touring companies and have so far seen 26 shows including: LesMiz, Billy Elliot, Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Hair, Beauty and the Beast,South Pacific, Young Frankenstein just to name a few.

In October the new ‘season’ starts with “Sister Act”– keep an eye here for my reviews after they have been on and for a week–that is part of the agreement.

Children, teens, have to be exposed to theatre, professional theatre hopefully–it is as important an art as any other one. Adults have to support the theatre.

The costs may be high but the memories are priceless!


Posted August 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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