Today, as we reflect on all that we have to be thankful for - and all of us have plenty despite the current economy and world events - I'd like to give my second annual "Things about theatre to be thankful for" list.
Of course, it goes without saying (but I will anyway) that I am thankful for the opportunity and ability to see many shows a year. And I am thankful for this blog, which has given me hours of personal pleasure and the distinct honor of having "met" so many people with the same passion and interests that I have. And extra special thanks to my (as of today) 13 followers! On a more personal note, I'd like to express my thanks for my best friend, frequent theatre companion, and my tireless editor and thought-provoker, Mike. This blog wouldn't be what it is without him.
But in the grander scheme of things, here are the 10 Theatrical Things I Am Thankful For:
10. The Broadway Gift Shops: As frequently as I get to NYC, I never tire of making the rounds to the "Big Three": The Broadway New York Gift Shop at the Marriott Marquis, One Shubert Alley and Theatre Circle. Sure they all carry the same stuff, and it changes so rarely, but I never miss hitting all three. I mean how can anyone who loves Broadway NOT take the chance to see the cashier (he's a tall guy with a goatee and small glasses) who sings along with every CD they play and offers unsolicited comments constantly, sometimes to the air in front of him! Or the poor guy on the weekend crammed behind a little counter in the closet space known as One Shubert Alley. Or the claustrophobic tunnel between the gift shop and the "library" section of Theatre Circle; not to mention they have the best and classiest windows in the theatre district!
9. The Playbill Binder: They have something in every price range, for the passing Broadway fan to the serious collector. I love these books that hold my prized Playbills. When I started out, they only had the vinyl covered kind with the metal rods. Now they have archival quality books, and while they are a bit pricey, they are invaluable. As my collection ages and browns, it is nice to replace the old with the new and save my priceless memories.
8. Telecharge: OK, I am NOT thankful for their still outrageous fees, and I resent all of those companies for charging me to print my own tickets, with my own ink, on my own paper - which is why I always demand an ACTUAL ticket. But I am thankful to this company for its ease of use, convenience, and the ability with EVERY show they sell, to fish around for the seats I want. Their competition is even pricier and difficult to navigate - PLUS if you don't like the seats they offer, you have to wait til someone buys them to get different ones offered to you for the same performance! But the best thing about Telecharge is that if you want to talk to a human being, you can do so with only a few buttons pressed on the phone!
7. Broadway Box/Seasons of Savings/All Theatre Discount Programs: How great that you don't have to live in the city anymore to get a discount! Broadway Box and Seasons of Savings offer a clearing house style to their discount offers, which are very easy to navigate and have very clearly stated exceptions and rules. Playbill Online and Theatermania also offer great discounts all in one place. This has really made paying full price for all but the most popular shows a thing of the past. And it allows people with varying amounts of cash flow to still attend the theatre.
6. The News: For years, Broadway was the forgotten stepchild of the entertainment business as far as being in the news and on TV in general. But as Broadway once again becomes more mainstream, the networks are again covering openings, the entertainment news shows are doing all out stories, and Broadway continues to proliferate talk shows morning, noon and night. Not too long ago, the Tonys were te only time you ever heard about a show. Now, shows like Spider-Man, The Lion King and Women on the Verge make actual headlines,. not just the gossip columns.
5. Television: Since I, like most theatre lovers, can't get to a show every day or even every week, it is nice to see the Broadway stars on TV, and see that musicals in particular are no longer the taboo they once were. It seems like every long-running show eventually gets around to a musical episode (this week, Grey's Anatomy through its hat into the ring!). And shows like The Good Wife and Law and Order (any version) not only feature Broadway actors in their main casts, but their guest lists read like a who's who of the Great White Way. And then there is the crown jewel of musical television, Glee, which has made the production number hip, being a geek chic, and being different the new normal.
4. Peter Filichia: This amazing columnist/critic offers me three rays of sunshine a week, via his blog on Theatermania.com. If you are unfamiliar with his stuff, I'd suggest becoming a regular reader of his. He's been in the biz for decades and literally travels the world to see anything and everything theatre! His Monday column gets me jazzed for the new work week, Wednesday gets me over the hump, and each Friday he starts my day off with a smile and gets me even closer to the weekend. He is smart, funny and not even a little snarky. You leave each column better off than when you got there.
3. Stars of Tomorrow: I am so thankful to see a new and great crop of talent really coming into their own. People like Jennifer Damiano, Lea Michele, John Gallagher, Jr., Jonathan Groff, Cody Green, Elizabeth Stanley, Aaron Tveit, Kyle Dean Massey, Wesley Taylor, Benjamin Walker, Joshua Henry, Montego Glover and Chad Kimball are just a few relative new comers who are really starting to make a name for themselves in this business. They represent a vibrant and exciting future.
2. So many new shows despite the recession: Did you ever think that so many new shows would be opening this year, given how bad money is these days? The number of new musicals alone is newsworthy, don't you think?
1. Broadway making a difference: Every year there seems to be a new cause to get behind, and every single time, the Broadway community ponies up. Be it the annual fundraising events like the Broadway Flea Market, The Easter Bonnet Competition, the Gypsy of the Year or Broadway Bares, or the of the moment causes like Broadway Responds to Katrina or most recently, the "It Gets Better" Campaign, if there is a need people from the ushers to the fly guys to the stars of the show give up their time and often offer their personal lives in the name of whatever cause needs them at any moment. Their generosity is inspiring and offers me so much hope for humanity. And that is worth giving thanks for!
Here's hope the holiday brings you good times with family and friends, and that, in between turkey and football, you take a moment to look around you and be thankful for all of the blessings you have.