Be warned: If you read this and understand the realization explained, you’ll likely be buying tickets to see live theatre in the next 24 hours. Sufficiently primed, and ready for the realization? Here it is…
There are very few things in life as preciously fleeting as live theatre. If you are able to save for tickets and see a wonderful play, you will have that memory for the rest of your days.
However, once the show’s run is over, that production will never, ever return in the same form. That means that if you miss it, it’s gone. It’s gone FOREVER.
Unlike an art exhibit, which may be revived in its entirety in a museum in another city (as happened with the Chihuly exhibit I saw first in Boston, then in Seattle), the odds are almost ZERO that a play will return with the same cast, staging, choreography, and direction. Even traveling companies change actors midway through, and understudies step in on random nights. The experience of each show is utterly ephemeral: a gorgeous firework that dissolves into mist.
Unlike a music concert that features a single singer or band (and may well put on similar concerts year in and year out), there are infinitely more moving parts in a stage production of a play. Hence, with live theatre, each production is sublimely, dangerously unique. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
That realization hit me with a wallop, as I sat in the third row of the Barrington Stage Company‘s sublime revival of the musical, “Cabaret,” this weekend in Pittsfield, MA. “Holy cow –” I gasped, “I almost missed this amazing play?!” Oh, the regret I would have felt if I had failed to get the tickets… and lost this moment, altogether!
Are Theatre Tickets Worth the Cost and Time?
How did I almost miss that production? It happens to all of us theatre buffs: We get wind of a thrilling new production that suddenly stars an actor we adore, or features innovative direction that’s never been done before. We stare at the show’s advertisement flickering on our screen, clicking open the ticket booking tab and pondering the cost and the time.
Is the money worth it? Man — live theatre tickets can be expensive. And what about the time? I have work to do (and despite my vow for work-life balance, I’m still so busy) — plus, childcare is wildly complicated to arrange. Hmm… Maybe I should just close the tab and forget about seeing that play. Sigh.
No! Listen: JUST GET THE TICKETS. I have never spoken with anyone who said, “Gee, I’m so annoyed that I saw my favorite actress in a great play instead of finishing folding my laundry!” The regret comes from NOT seeing the show. Here are my new tips on when and how to splurge on theatre tickets…
Tips on Catching Great Live Theatre
1. Consider local and smaller stages.
Though Broadway plays come to the top of mind when thinking about live theatre, do not ignore smaller stages! I’ve lived in Boston my whole life, but I had no idea that the Barrington Stage Company, just 2.5 hours away, frequently hosts productions with Broadway stars.
In the case of “Cabaret” in Pittsfield this weekend, I got to see the mind-blowing talents of Krysta Rodriguez (who I first grew to love in the show “SMASH”) and Nik Alexander. I will never forget Alexander’s jaw-dropping rendition of the song, “I Don’t Care Much,” on that stage. Meanwhile, Krysta performed the title number of the play in a way that I’d never seen done before, which brought an entirely new meaning to the words I knew so well. Swoon of happiness!
It also turned out that the Pittsfield production of “Cabaret” featured Dan Amboyer, who played Prince William in William & Katherine, and the show-stopping talents of Broadway, TV, and film luminary, Candy Buckley. What a voice! (Side note: I really that appreciate that “Cabaret” is one of the few theatre stories that features the story of a woman in her 70s, alongside the younger characters.)
In short, the value and quality you can get for your money by seeing theatre at smaller venues is exceptional. Further, hyper-local stages continue to astound me. The production of “Xanadu” at the Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain, Boston was so good, I saw it twice. Think small stages, as well as big.
2. Splurge on shows and actors you love.
I know every single word of “Cabaret” (it’s very high up on my ranking of best Broadway musicals), and love Krysta Rodriguez — ergo, I would have been a fool to miss the 2023 Pittsfield production. YOU know in your heart which shows and actors are the ones YOU will regret missing out on, so prioritize getting tickets for those shows.
3. Take reviews with a grain of salt.
While nearly every review of the production of “Cabaret” I read was a rave review, there was one notable critic who essentially called this director’s version “too modern.” I am so glad that I didn’t listen to this erroneous judgment, because I found every choice the director made to be excellent, and perfectly fitting. The entire ensemble is so good, and each actor adds to the excellence. Use your OWN gut when assessing whether a production is worth seeing!
4. Get better seats.
Whenever I’ve splurged on better seats closer to the stage, I haven’t regretted it. Meanwhile, while nosebleed seats are better than no seats at all, I usually end up wishing I could actually see the actors.
5. Try turning your theatre day into a mini-vacation.
Especially if you’re opting for a destination theatre that’s not in your home town, turn your theatre day into a bite-sized vacation! My travel buddy and I spent just 30 hours in Pittsfield before and after seeing “Cabaret,” but had a wonderful time. Stay tuned for articles about our Berkshires, MA getaway and tips…
Should I Buy The Theatre Tickets? Yes!
While wonderful acting has been recorded to play and replay on our screens, big and small, there is absolutely nothing as electrifying as great LIVE theatre. Do a favor to yourself — as well as the hard-working acting companies and stages out there — and get those tickets you’ve been craving. It’s worth it!
So what about YOU? Which production of live theatre has been most memorable for you? Was there a show that you missed which you still think about? Do share!
Want more? See my big list of what to do in Pittsfield, MA in addition to seeing plays.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!