Our kids grew up in the city with more theater seats than any place in the U.S. Over time the country music acts and entertainers have morphed and changed to keep up with public demand. Now Andy Williams, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Yakov Smirnoff have joined the Chinese Acrobats and magician Kirby Van Birch to give tourists choices. It’s not unusual to see Chubby Checker, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, or one of the Lennon Sisters or Osmonds at Walmart or Panera Bread.
However, to see a play or musical anywhere but the community theater or the high school auditorium we had to go elsewhere. My job sent me to New York several times a year so when I could, I took one of the kids with me. I felt it would be good to expose them to some art and culture.
When the house lights came up for intermission at the first Broadway show I took Jason to he wanted to know if snacks were sold at half-time. After spending $6.00 for a box of Milk Duds he decided next time he would stock up at Walmart beforehand. I hadn’t realized how badly a little culture needed to be introduced.
The first time Travis went to the Big Apple, we were standing in line to buy tickets to see Annie Get Your Gun when a man in a business suit asked us if we wanted to see the show. Logical Travis said, “Yes sir, that’s why we're in line to buy tickets for tonight.”
“Here are two tickets for the matinée,” he said handing them to me like the $130.00 tickets were coupons for half price meals at a local diner. “You’ll need to hurry, it starts in 10 minutes.” Stunned I thanked him and dashed off to find our seats on row 10, front and center. Travis thought all New Yorkers were great. Most likely, the ticket guy was from Dallas or Seattle.
When Jill was nine, I sprung her from school for a day trip to Springfield to see the touring show, Cats. It had been one of the longest running shows on Broadway and I thought it would be a good introduction to theater for her. A friend was able to get tickets for us on the third row. I watched her sit motionless, mesmerized with the music and costumes. I smiled thinking how wonderful it was she was enjoying her first Broadway show when she leaned over and whispered loudly, “I think the boy cats should wear shorts over their tights.”
After trying to explain it was artistic on stage, but tacky at the mall, I decided I might stick to high school plays for a few more years.