Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh How I Love The Theater

Musical theater holds a very special place in my heart. As the oldest of four children, my mom didn’t really have the opportunity growing up to see live performances very often. She vowed to herself that should she ever have a daughter, things would be different. As a result, I developed a deep appreciative love of theater at a very young age.

Throughout the years I have had the privilege of witnessing many talented actors and actresses bring to life numerous productions and even had the opportunity to indulge in the craft a little myself. I’ve seen productions performed in Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Toronto, and of course the Mecca for all theater-goers, Broadway. As a child I loved nothing more than getting all dressed up and heading out with my mom to see a show. In high school, it made me sad to learn that most of my friends had never been to the theater or even seen a local production of a play. To this day I still tease one of my best friends who slept through her very first play, Cats, while we were on a trip in DC. For me, something magical happens when the orchestra begins the score, when the curtain rises, when the actors start reciting their lines.

On Saturday, my mom and I saw Wicked at the Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh. We had the time of our lives. The show was literally electrifying. Visually, it was one of the most stunning plays I have seen. The effects, the costumes, the lighting, the set design – far surpassed many of the plays I have ever seen. There were many underlying themes in the play, but unfortunately they can’t be discussed here without giving the show away, which is something I won’t do for those of you who haven’t seen it. A few months ago, my blogger buddy Kim saw the show and while she told me how wonderful it was, she wouldn’t discuss it any further. While I was somewhat disappointed at first, after seeing the show for myself (and NO the play was the one thing I didn’t Google for spoilers, for all of you wondering) I was so glad that she didn’t want to give away any of the plot details (Thanks Kim!). I had read the book by Gregory Maguire so I had a general idea but the play and the book differ in many ways. Regardless, I was still moved to tears at various times. Great plays do that, they make you feel the emotions of the characters and the storyline.

For the past decade or so, Phantom of the Opera has been my all time favorite play. However, as of Saturday, it has been knocked down to number two on the list and replaced by Wicked. The show moved along so quickly, that my only complaint is that it was over far too soon (its almost a three hour play). I had no idea I’d sat there that long and would have sat there a lot longer. It was so amazing that Big T and I even seriously considered hanging around the ‘burgh a little while longer to see if there were any seats for the evening performance. Yes, it was THAT good that both of us would have sat thru it again that very same day. If you haven’t seen the play I strongly urge you to go see it. You will not be disappointed!! If you have seen it, I would love to discuss it with you, please email me and we can talk about it.

I was also very excited to see many young teens and children in the audience. These days, I think fewer and fewer kids are given the opportunity to participate or even know what performing arts is all about. With school funding being slashed across the country programs such as art, music, and drama are typically among the first things to go. If you have children – please take them to a play or a concert, enroll them in a dance class, encourage them to draw and use their imaginations. If you are an adult and have never seen a play or been to the symphony, Go! Trust me, I live in a small town and there are still plenty of opportunities to see a show. Check out a local high school or college play or visit a local pub to check out new music. Stop by a museum on your next visit to the city. Visit a local gallery. You just might be surprised.


Andy said...

When I was in SF, I was hoping to catch this one. Instead, I ended up watching A chorus Line, which was pretty decent though. But I still wish I had gone to see this one.

sarah said...

I *almost* got to see this one, and REALLY wanted to, but the money just wasnt there :(

I totally agree with you about the arts thing. I LOVE the theater and things like that (ballet, orchestra, etc). Cirque du Soliel is in town for the next few weeks and we are SO going, even if I have to sell my left kidney for tickets. Have you ever seen it?

Kim said...

I'm SOOO glad you liked it!!! It is amazing. I'll email you back because we do need to talk about it. :) (and I'm really glad you didn't google the plot line!!)

Bayjb said...

I'm so glad you liked Wicked. I loved it when I saw it first too. It was so sweet reading how you love musical theater :)

Maxie said...

I really want to see Wicked-- but I guess I should read the book first, right?

I'm not sure I remember how to read.

MeLaNiE said...

So.. I love broadway! I love Cats and I saw Starlight Express in London. I love to go to plays, and thankfully my mom and aunt are big into that kind of stuff and it's rubbed off on me!

Mandy said...

Andy -- A Chorus Line was ok, but not one of my top ten...

Sarah-- GO NOW! You will not be sorry. The show is spectacular.

Kim --yes we do!! ASAP! LOL.

Babyjb -- Thanks! Its been something that was a huge part of my upbringing.

Melanie -- I would LOVE to go see some shows in London!

Maxie -- Not really. Most people I know who have read the book didnt really care for it.

Unknown said...

So glad you liked Wicked. I wasn't a huge fan, but I'm picky. I was a theater nerd in high school (choir, voice lessons, dance lessons, community theater, HS theater...the whole bit)...and I think I'm a little tainted. I have VERY specific likes and dislikes:Andrew Lloyd Webber = good, Rent = not so much (many a theater nerd fight ensued). Its always good to hear that someone else appreciates it all so much!

Frank said...

Wicked was ruined for me forever by my sister Veronica. She bought the soundtrack and during the course of last summer I heard it at least 250,000 times in its entirety. Now the thought of it just makes me want to destroy my ear drums. Unfortunate.

I, however, am still a fan of the theatre. I dabbled in it a bit in high school, then stopped when it became clear that I am terrible at acting.

Little Fish said...

I hope this doesn't sound snotty, but I love hearing about people outside of the NYC area loving musical theater. Growing up in the metropolitan NY area it's such a part of our culture. Going to Broadway shows is something you do with your family and on class trips so I'm glad that others get to have those experiences when the shows start travelling!

Lauren Elizabeth said...

Ahh, I'm so glad you had a good time! It is my favorite musical, too. Even my BF liked it and he is not into musicals. This makes me want to see it again!!

Jill said...

Oh, I am so jealous... I USED to go to the Benedum all of the time (Les Mis = great, Phantom = ok (great special effects, Carousel = FAVORITE!!! Pirates of Pensance = not so much, etc)... I would love to have seen Wicked... well, anything without kids! hee hee!

Oh, and I tried the Microsoft photo wizard.. worked, but how do you edit.. I mean like crop/lighten/darken, etc... I only found ways to use color... like draw on my pics like Perez. HELP!

Mandy said...

RebeccaC -- I can understand that, theater appeals differently to everyone. I love Andrew Lloyd Webber as well.

Frank -- I always play the soundtrack over and over. Thats so cool that you acted and I do not believe you were terrible!

Little Fish -- You are so lucky to get to see all the shows on Broadway right when they come out!!

Coconut -- I would go see it again in a heart beat! There were a lot of guys in the audience, I was surprised.

Jill Marie -- I love the theater district in PGH! I try to go as much as I can.