Why Do We Go?

Why do we go to the theatre?  What is it that draws us in, makes us buy tickets, give up a couple hours, sit it in a darkened auditorium, watch what others have to say?  This past weekend my wife and I (about as different as two people can be) attended a show at a nearby community theatre, and came away with two directly opposed reactions: I loved it;  she hated it.  Same show, same night, sitting side by side, opposite reactions.  Why?  Why were our reactions so different?   Again, I am thinking: What is it that attracts people to a show?

Stephen Sonheim's Signature

Certainly there are the obvious answers–the author or composer. Put on a Neil Simon, Agatha Christie, or a Sondheim, and you are pretty much guaranteed an audience. I wonder though: How many times you can see “Mousetrap” or “The Odd Couple” in one lifetime? And frankly, although these are certainly legendary playwrights, even good old Stephen lets loose with a clunker every once in a while (think “Road Show”).

Agatha Christie's Signature

So why do we go?  To some degree, the point of going to community theatre is to see some of your community on the stage. This certainly holds true for legions of parents, siblings (apologies to mine noted here), grandparents and others who have been dragged to see a show that “Cousin Ralphie” is in. Village Players seats 200. We run each show at least six times. We can’t possibly have 1200 relatives, can we?

Neil Simon's Signature

I suppose people attend comedies to laugh, musicals to hum along, and dramas to experience the cerebral value. Each patron comes for their own reason. For my wife, she was disappointed this past weekend because the show was a musical drama, not the musical comedy she had expected. I, on the other hand,  was transfixed by the ease and depth of each of the characters in the show.  I saw real people in a real life situations going through the same things we do every day. I connected with them as they faced each challenge and did the best they could to get by until tomorrow.  It may have helped that I knew and had worked with about 80% of the cast, and as a fellow actor, greatly appreciated their spot on characterization.  In a word “Bravo!” I also recognized the exquisite and subtle hand of the director of this show, one of our area’s finest, and most humble. It was a genuine Kaplan and deserves all of the accolades it has received.

Me, ovation. My wife, ho-hum! I suppose the lesson is that we’ll have to pick shows more carefully, and answer the question before go… why are we going to this show? –Gary Mach

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