Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Going to the Theater

I love tickets, especially tickets to the theater.

And 2016 has been a great year for going to the theater so far.

There's something about a live performance, even a bad one, that resonates with me. Sure, I love the movies, but LIVE, in person is a one-time thing. No one on any other day will ever see exactly the show that I just saw, even if the same cast is in the same venue. It's like the moment when a dolphin leaps out of the sea. You only see it if you are there. No pause, no rewind.

My first show of 2016 was Ragtime by NC Theatre at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Groupon was selling inexpensive tickets on a day when I had a few dollars, so I snatched some up and dragged my husband off with me.

We were seated so close we could watch the actors sweat under the lights. It's really a rather awkward show, using a mechanic where the actors stop and soliloquize in third person about themselves to the audience. Oddly for a musical, there were no "catchy" songs. Though performances were solid and even, at times, stunning, there was no song I walked away remembering.

Our conversation over dinner afterwards though was about striking moments, and our curiosity about which elements were true to history and which were fictional. I admired the difficulty of the writing task to present such a story. My husband admired some of the staging decisions to highlight the contrasts between the different social groups represented. We talked about how the play might have accomplished the narration it needed less awkwardly. So, even a play I don't love brings me joy in the talking about it afterwards.

The second trip to the theater was Matilda at DPAC. We bought the youngest Bryant tickets as a holiday gift. She already loved the book. It's always exciting to see these local versions of the Broadway show, even if it makes me a little sad to imagine all these actors working so hard to recreate a performance first created by someone else instead of getting to make a character their own. But still, we loved the clever staging and several of the songs. I got the double-joy of discussing it with my daughter afterwards, talking about what changes they made from the book and whether those were effective or not. She might be my kid :-)

Not too long afterwards, I got a Shakespeare date! (Those tickets were my holiday gift from the hubby). We saw an experimental production of Twelfth Night by Filter Theatre at Reynolds Industries Theater. In a lot of ways, the show was fun, with audience interactive elements and improvisation. In other ways, it was tedious (like when a game they played with balls went on far too long) or just plain confusing (when they had one woman play both twins, making the identity mix-up more puzzling than amazing or comical). Because my husband and I are Shakespeare geeks, we've seen this play more than once together, so we got to talk about how this production compared to other ones we've seen on stage and screen, recounting favorite moments and how different actors and actresses interpreted the roles.

Then, a few days later we got to go the Carolina, one of my favorite venues. This time it was a family date, though the elder daughter had to back out at the last minute due to homework overload. Tao: Seventeen Samurai is a diverse and exciting show intermixing Taiko drumming with choreography, stagecraft, and creative costuming. At one point or another, each of us gasped with delight from the sheer spectacle and impressive feats of the performers.

The conversation in the car on the way home was all "did you see it when" recounting and our cheeks hurt from smiling.

So, three shows in three months, way above average for what my pocketbook will usually allow. The eldest got some theater as well, seeing The Cabaret talent show her school put on and a high school production of Beauty and the Beast in which a friend played Belle.

Each show is a treasure in its own right, a moment in time, shared with those you brought with you and those who just also showed up. Someday, when I'm fabulously wealthy, I'll go to every show in my area. It's wonderful living in the twenty-first century, a time when performers from all around the world can come to my corner of the planet and let me watch them work. Lucky, lucky girl!


  1. I'm jealous! I haven't been to the theater since last June. I love, love, love going to plays and musicals, but it is a little hard on the wallet. That's why I haven't been able to go as much as I'd like.

    1. That is the tricky part. I've only gotten so much theater time this year due to sales and gifts. Maybe I could go more if I'd go alone, but I like company.

  2. Always loved live theatre. Any performance is great live. I so agree with what you said about it being a special one-off thing.
    Sadly, health problems mean I can't go anywhere like that anymore. But happily, I have some friends who bring live music into my home regularly instead of bringing flowers - well, sometimes they bring flowers too :-)

    1. Flowers and music at my own home? Sounds lovely!

  3. I love live theater, much more than movies, so jealous! Got to get hubby off his butt and make him take me! :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hope you can get him to go, or find another friend to go with.

  4. I was just thinking this afternoon that it's time I saw something on stage again. It is just something so special to experience. :-)