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Watching a live show at one of many gorgeous Broadway theatres is a unique experience, far different than taking in a movie at your local cinema. It is an opportunity for families to develop a passion for the arts together. Audiences come from around the world every day to experience this extravagant theatrical magic. Living in New York City, it is a privilege to have the wide variety of Broadway shows at our fingertips. A night at the theatre can be a wonderful part of the holiday season and does not have to cost a fortune!
My first Broadway show was a pure stroke of luck. I was only 5 years old when my mother won tickets to see “Beauty and the Beast” through a supermarket sweepstakes. I was bubbling with excitement as I bounced on the red velvet seat, persistently asking when the show would begin. Once the magic began and the curtains gave way to a fantasy land, I was hooked. I was enthralled by the Beast’s dramatic transformations, the catchy Disney tunes, Belle’s sparkling dress, and the realistic sets. Nothing was more mesmerizing than watching the story unfold before my eyes.
Not all Broadway shows are appropriate for everyone. Some shows contain adult topics and edgy material that might easily confuse young theatre-goers. Because Broadway shows aren’t rated like movies, choosing the right show for kids and teens is an important job for parents.
When I was younger, my mother was extremely careful with the shows she brought me to see. She knew I was timid and naive. Thus, she steered away from shows with loud noises and ominous tones. However, what is inappropriate for one child might be appropriate for another.
Luckily, many shows are kid-friendly, like “The Lion King,” “Mary Poppins,” “Annie,” and “Newsies.” Others, like “Phantom of the Opera,” “Wicked,” and “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,” are generally more family-oriented. Teens can definitely enjoy “Rock of Ages,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and “Book of Mormon.”
Let’s face it: Broadway show tickets are notoriously expensive. On the somewhat bright side, at least we go home with a much lighter load…in our wallets. Luckily, I have discovered a few ways to obtain tickets at accessible prices.
One popular way to buy tickets at a 20 to 50 percent discount is through TKTS booths. Currently, these booths can be found in Times Square and Downtown Brooklyn. (The South Street Seaport Booth is closed until further notice due to water damage from Hurricane Sandy.) You can purchase same-day tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and tickets for next day matinee shows at the Brooklyn booth. On the downside, there is no guarantee that your preferred show will have tickets available that day.
Many shows offer their own rush tickets. General rush allows customers to purchase (usually up to two) tickets for substantially lower prices. Tickets are usually bought at the box-office, the same day as the performance. Certain productions offer discounted prices exclusively to students with valid high-school or college IDs. Through general and student rush, I’ve seen some amazing shows, like “Evita” and “Jersey Boys.” Directions for obtaining both types of rush tickets vary depending on the theater. It’s a good idea to check out the show’s website beforehand.
Some shows offer lottery tickets for same-day performances. Anyone can enter to win discounted tickets for certain shows. Although there is no guarantee of winning, the exciting atmosphere and the thrill of the unexpected is enough to be an experience itself. You never know, you might score some great tickets! I was lucky enough to win orchestra seat tickets for “Peter and the Starcatcher” for only $27!
Another great opportunity to obtain lower-priced tickets is through various programs. For instance, Kids Night on Broadway, usually in January and February, allows adults to buy one regular-price ticket and bring a kid to see the show for free. This is a great place to start for families with younger kids. Nevertheless, popular shows sell out quickly.
Another great program is High 5, which offers $5 tickets to many types of cultural events in the city and occasionally off-Broadway and Broadway shows. (That’s cheaper than a standard movie ticket!) Recently, I was able to take three friends and myself to see the five-time Tony Award-winning play “War Horse” at Lincoln Center for only $20. With the money we saved, we were even able to grab pizza before the show.
For kids, Broadway shows can lead to an appreciation of music, visual arts, and performing arts. They might be fascinated by the catchy music played by the orchestra or drawn to the scenery or costumes. Watching the actors also helps kids develop a respect for artists and their craft. Best of all, the energy of the audience adds to the excitement, often helping to drive the show forward. It is a memorable experience you’ll want to share with your family.
Aglaia Ho is a 17-year-old student from Queens who enjoys writing. Her work has been published in Creative Kids, Skipping Stones, Daily News/Children’s Pressline, and The State of the Wild.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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