The atmosphere in the theatre bursts with excitement and expectation as we wait for the curtain to go up. When I am sitting in the audience and the lights go down and the performance begins, I am a happy woman.
I’m geared up to see the play or the musical, but also I’m beyond curious about how the company will make us suspend belief and be present with them in the story. That goes for student or teacher-written school plays and local theatre as well as professional offerings.
While in high school, I was bitten by the theatre bug. I ushered at the Detroit Institute of Arts when it was an occasional venue for plays. I remember being captivated by Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, a play about a black Chicago family that the New York Times said, “changed American theatre forever.”
On my first trip to London in the late 1980s, a friend and I stood in a long line at Leicester Square’s Half-Price Ticket Booth our second day in town. We didn’t know what plays might be available when we arrived at the window, but we didn’t care. They had tickets for Blood Brothers, a musical, playing at the Noel Coward Theatre. We’d never heard of it but were thrilled just to be going. The actors and the story of fraternal twins, separated at birth, who fell in love with the same woman, drew me in immediately.
We’d had such incredible good luck with this venture that we headed back to the Half-Price Ticket Booth as soon as we left the theatre, eager to see what tickets we could get for that evening. Other memorable performances filled the rest of the week.
Over the years, I’ve seen dozens of Broadway touring productions and supported local theatre in Bakersfield and in Coos Bay. Attending the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, several different summers has added to my delight. Anticipating the coming of The Book of Mormon in Los Angeles last fall, Judy and I bought our tickets six months in advance.
I've witnessed electrifying, costuming, staging, and acting. But, the most outstanding has to be The Lion King. Four of us friends settled back in great center seats in the Las Vegas theatre. The overture began and the stage lit up. Soon the entire cast began to make their way down the aisles from the back of the theatre. Surrounded by the grandeur and majesty, the joy and the singing, a lump rose in my throat. When the elephant and her baby came into view, I couldn't hold the tears back any longer. I glanced down the row at my friend Marilyn. At the same time, she looked toward me. There we were, the two of us, struck by the beauty, filled to overflowing, wiping our eyes, wanting to see more. It was an unmatchable, goose bump-erupting moment.
What I love about live theatre is that it shows me myself and the world, truths and dreams. It moves me, tickles me, teaches me, and makes me think. Theatre makes me sing. Never mind that I’m a bit off key.
~ xoA ~