You know that category on Wheel of Fortune called Before and After? That’s where I was going with the title of this blog post. On Broadway refers to live performances on and near the actual street called Broadway in Manhattan. (I’ve heard the size of a theater is also one qualification in the term). Broadway Across America happens when these Broadway shows hire a traveling cast, load the set in giant trucks, and bring the magic to cities very near all of us. Both are a worthy and wonderful experience.
We include Broadway in a lot of our New York City student tours, and it’s on my mind because this week my son makes his debut. Not so much on Broadway, but sort of way, way off Broadway. Like in small town America. The excitement building around this little high school play, though (and the elementary children who get to be a part, as in the case of my son), has reminded me that the venue isn’t really what makes the show. It’s an amazing thing about Broadway musicals that they can be performed not just in Manhattan by an original cast, but in Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska, and even in small town high schools all around the globe.
Student or group tours that choose a live performance for part of their itinerary are in for the experience of a lifetime. Every performance I’ve seen has added richly to my life. Every venue had its own magnificence or charm. Every show had its own characteristics that moved me most.
I think this will be true for any audience member, but it’s also true that only one time is the first time. And the first time a person sees a Broadway play can sometimes change their life forever. It certainly provides an irrevocable catalyst to the creative types to keep pursuing their art. We’re told all the time the risks in pursuing a creative profession, the negative probabilities. Students are encouraged to chase the kinds of degrees that lead to several practical job opportunities. It’s nice, in the midst of that, to see an entire group of people getting to do what they love for a living, getting to sing or dance or tailor costumes.
But don’t discount Broadway (and Broadway Across America) as only for those interested in pursuing an artistic profession. We all need more art in our lives. If has the ability to lift us from monotony and remind us of the good and worthy things we all love the most and which most of us have in common. The next time you have the chance to catch a show, don’t miss it. It will probably be one of the best things you do all year.