I am a total sucker for live theater.
When I was in high school, I was cast as the “tallest one,” whatever role that happened to be. In Oliver Twist, I was Nancy and in The Sound of Music I was cast as that horrible nasty woman, The Baroness, not even deserving of a name. They were never glamorous roles, but man, was it fun.
Back when Broadway was affordable, my mom used to pop me in the back of our station wagon and make the long trek to NYC so we could go see musicals and plays.
I remember seeing Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly. I might have been about eight but it left such an impression on me. Our seats were great and we were so close to the stage that I was looking straight up at her with that big smile and funny accent. We went to see Grease when I was a little older. But my mother was still shocked when a single actor ran out on stage and mooned the audience and yelled a pretty offensive swear word at the top of his lungs. I’m sure I laughed and I’m sure, she did not.
My aunt and uncle live near Washington D.C. and the Kennedy Center — between the Watergate hotel and the Potomac River — has been one of my favorite places to see traveling shows from Les Miserables to Porgy and Bess to Shear Madness.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Cats, A Chorus Line, Annie and Cirque Du Soleil. I’ve been to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes and had the honor of watching Ruldolf Nureyev. I spent a summer studying in England and actually got to take a course called Shakespeare in Theatre. They gave me credits for going to see four plays around England, including an amazing version of Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Globe Theatre in Stratford-On-Avon, and then having a discussion about them. They, gave me, credits for that.
I’ve seen small shows in small venues and and large shows in elaborate venues. I’ve seen Boston’s Nutcracker and have been equally impressed with The Greater Milford Ballet Company’s version of the same.
I am rarely disappointed. There is something so impressive about the whole production. The staging and costumes, the acting and set. And it’s live, right in front of you. They are remembering the words, telling you a story and sucking up their nerves all at the same time. And it’s never the same thing twice. Every show is different.
I’m glad “Glee” has made being a threater rat, an arts junkie, “cool." Kids and adults need all sorts of ways to express who they are.
Milford is lucky to have some amazing spring shows on the docket. This past weekend, , put on a super production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The kids and staff put on an hour and a half of non-stop entertainment. has told you about the high school production this weekend of Suessical. is having auditions next week for their spring musical Little Women. MPAC also has several year round singing and improv troupes. has two more shows in their season, one in March and the other in April.
When you consider the surrounding towns and their productions, you don’t have to worry about forking over $400 to go to Broadway to see Spiderman. The arts are all around us and I think they are one of the things that define a healthy community. Schools that have had budget cuts to their arts and music programs do more than damage kids who use them, they cut into the connection we make with each other. Whether we are audience or artist, the show bonds us in memory.
Get out this spring and have a laugh or shed a tear, it’s live and just for you.
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