When I was in college, the only thing keeping me from seeing everything on Broadway was money for tickets. That obstacle was easily overcome with a little patience and effort….there was always a student discount to be had, a standing room line to stand in, or the then un-renovated TKTS booth where “old school” cheap seats got better the closer to curtain you waited.
Now, as a parent, time and money are still the only things standing in the way of me and my next orchestra seat, although the stakes are a bit different. We might not be holding out for standing room, but in today’s economy it’s hard to justify spending hundreds on a Broadway show when camp deposits are due and the babysitter charges $15 and hour. Seeing a show during the week with a friend and leaving my spouse at home certainly removes the sitter expense from the equation, but then there is the issue of time: Can I really take those hours away from my kids and household responsibilities? Do I really have a whole evening to devote to my passion for theatre when I’ve got work and kids and an apartment to deal with? And what about sharing those bright Broadway lights with my kids? Is it worth the money to risk a possible tantrum or bad attitude? And can I really expect my child to wake up on time for school or practice the morning after an 8 PM curtain?
Later this month, the Broadway League and the New York Times will present it's anual Kids' Night on Broadwayweek, a buy-one-get-one-free ticketing promotion for parents with kids ages 6-18. Not only will parents be able to bring their kid along for free when purchasing a full price ticket to Broadway shows between February 25th and March 3rd, there are tons of restaurant and parking deals as well as special events and out-of-town opportunities.
With all of this on my mind, I asked a few of my favorite, theatre-loving moms to weigh in on the question at hand: As a parent, what brings you back to the theatre and what does it mean now, both for you and for your child?
Julie Jacobs is a mother of three. She’s married to author A.J. Jacobs and is Chief Development Officer of Watson Adventures, a professional scavenger hunt service. Julie takes a lot of pleasure from seeing her children enjoying theatre as much as she does:
“One of my fondest memories of my childhood was my mother taking me to see a Broadway show,” says Julie. “I will never forget the feeling of excitement as the orchestra started up and the curtain raised. I definitely wanted to share that with my children. Happily, I have one child who has been bitten by the theater bug. At age 4, he was entranced by an improv Shakespeare production in Central Park. I knew then I had my theater date for many years. This makes up for one of my other children who asked during the Lion King: ‘Mommy, what are we doing tomorrow?’ He can stay home with my husband next time.
Julie also loves seeing adult shows. Despite being completely involved in her kids’ lives and working full time, Julie is one of those people who can comment on practically everything on Broadway….because she takes the time to see it.
“I love to go see ‘mature’ shows when I can on my own,” she says. “There is nothing that compares to the energy at a show. But because I have limited time, I am pickier about what I will go see. (Revivals of shows that I have seen within the last 10 years don't make the cut).”
Shari Simpson is the voice behind Dusty Earth Mother, one of our favorite blogs here at MamaDrama. Shari is not only a superstar in the blogosphere, she’s also an accomplished actress and playwright.
"There is nothing quite like the experience of live theater, and that magic even works on our somewhat ‘jaded’ youth, raised on a steady diet of virtual spectacle,” says Shari. “One of the first musicals I ever saw was ‘Annie’, and the revival became my 8-year old daughter's first Broadway show--and from the look on her face, she was experiencing the same awe that I felt so many years ago. What else but the theater can do that?"
One of the busiest women on the planet has got to be Broadway and film producer, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Amy Nauiokas. A mother of two, Amy’s recent projects include Broadway’s Once, Seminar and Dead Accounts, the Bubble foundation (which designs free nutrition and fitness programs for underserved schools) and the Washington Equestrian Center.
“Making time for theatre in a world filled with distraction and responsibility just makes sense,” Amy reasons. “There is no other experience like it - live moments of suspended disbelief as you disappear for a few hours into someone else's world. Young or old - it's priceless.”
Like other parents, Amy has enjoyed some of her most precious parenting moments watching shows with her children.
“You are never too young to enjoy the theatre,” she shares. “Some of my most favorite and special memories with my children involve trips to the theatre....the programs, the questions, the treats at intermission. But mostly it's turning and watching them perched on the edge of their booster seat, eyes transfixed on the stage. And the moment when, with big eyes and excitement they turn to you and say, ‘mommy I want to do that’ or ‘that was the best day of my life!’”.
And speaking of busy moms, Candice Braun is a mother of three who serves on the board of several charities while fulfilling the demanding role of PA head at a large, nursery through 8th grade school in New York City:
“I love seeing theater with my family,” Candice says. “I love how much my children appreciate the talent and hard work of the actors and how great we feel after a good show. I also love the authentic ‘New York’ feeling you get from seeing a Broadway or off-Broadway show. I love theater, especially musicals, and I love that look on my kids' faces that shows me that they love it, too. It's amazing bonding-time, as we all get wrapped up in the pure escapism of a good show. I think that because our lives are so incredibly full and busy, it's important to take time out to just ‘be’ -- and for me, being an audience member means that for that couple of hours, I have no responsibilities and can just enjoy being entertained in a much more personal way than in a movie theater.”
So weigh in. Tweet us at @MamaDramaNY or comment below: Let us know why YOU go to the theatre, with your kids or without!