First impressions/free tickets

January 29, 2008
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What was the first production that woke you up to the potential pleasures of the stage? Were you tuned in as a kid? As a teen? Did interest in theater, dance, opera or live music wait until you were grown?

Or are you still unsold?

Coming from a relatively arts-less Jersey shore town, I had to rely on high school musicals for my cultural life. That is, until middle school, when I caught John Raitt performing "Shenandoah" in a summer theater tent. Knocked out, I begged to see something on Broadway and eventually scored a ticket to see Raul Julia in "Dracula."

He had me at “good evening.” And I’ve been theater-addicted ever since.

Coming into it all relatively late, I’ve been adamant about exposing my kids to as many performing arts options as possible.

Which is one of the reasons I’ve been a booster of Free Ticket February.

Nobody from the League of Indianapolis Theatres bothered sending me information on this year’s program (nice marketing move, guys), but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. Because I think it’s a great instigator.

The idea behind Free Ticket February is to encourage the 13-19 set to check out local stage offerings.

And how better to do that than with free tickets—tickets that, in most cases, don’t have to have a parent along to use?

This year, freebies are being offered to the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s “The Piano Lesson” and “The Power of One,” the Phoenix Theatre’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s “My Way,” and the contemporary ballet company Complexions at Pike Performing Art Center.

Plus, a few events that don’t go up until after February are in the lineup, including the March 29 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Pops concert and Indianapolis Opera’s March 16 “Tosca.”

For most of these, a limited number of FTF seats are set aside for each performance on a first come/first served basis. And, yes, some require a paid adult to accompany the group and others require an adult to claim the tickets. (You can get the specifics here.)

To me, one of the best things about the program is that, with one exception, these aren’t shows that are specially designed for teen audiences. Instead, they are the mainstage shows that just happen to be up in February.

As such, the hint of “this is good for you” should not be found anywhere. This is theater for grown-ups that kids just happen to be privy to.

My prediction for the Free Ticket February hot ticket? The Phoenix’s “Lieutenant of Inishmore,” a bloodbath of a comedy/drama written by Martin McDonagh, whose film “In Bruges” will be opening in movie theaters around the same time. Laughs and violence under the umbrella of art—what even-remotely-hip teen could ask for anything more?

Your thoughts?
  • This brought back cool memories for me. When I was in high school, Starlight Musicals still existed . And every summer, Starlight would host national tours of shows with major stars for a week each. Our high school music teacher would organize a gang of us to go see as many of these shows as we could in the summer. And it was easy - because a high school student could get a seat in the balcony for $2.00! Seriously! People still don't believe me, but I saw Yul Brynner do The King and I at Starlight for two bucks! I saw Angela Lansbury do Mame at Starlight for two bucks! Others that stick in my mind are Sugar (aka Some Like It Hot - the Musical) with Bobby Morse and the guy from Mayberry RFD, Shirley Jones and Gayle Gordon in Showboat, the list goes on and on.

    I was already turned on to theatre by then. This just helped cement it as an essential part of my life.

    I encourage any teens, parents of teens or teachers of teens to get the kids out using Free Ticket Fridays, or whatever means they can.
  • What a cool idea! Parents are great ambassadors (or can be) for the arts. I got my love of the theater and museums from my Mom who would surprise us sometimes in the middle of the day to pull us out of school to visit the Museum of Modern Art or go see a Broadway play (I grew up 45 mins from NYC).

    13-19 is a good age group because kids are more mature and can appreciate the nuances of life performances.

    But - let's not forget the tweens!!! Much has been made about their spending power and influence on culture. I also say the earlier the better, too for some kids.

    In any event - free tickets for kids at any age is a wonderful idea. I hope people take advantage of it. If not - I have an eight year old that I wonder could pass as a 13 year old? :)
  • I was fortunate to have a strong musical influence in my life, my Mother. She was a concert singer and came from a very musical family. She sang to me as early as I can remember. The moment that she realized that I could sing, at the age of 5, she got me involved in as many extra-curricular activities involving music as possible. It was such a terrific thing for me! I am certain that is a big part of why I chose performing as my profession.

    I think that getting children involved in the Arts is a wonderful way to bring out the best in them. For me, it gave me confidence and an environment where I felt I truly belonged. My daughter turned 3 years old today and I don’t think she has had a single day in her life without music. She thinks the entire world is a singing dancing musical and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I think my earliest stage memories came from CTS and Clowes. After seeing each show I would run out and buy the cast recording as fast as I could. My best friend Michael and I would compete to see who had the biggest Broadway collection (albums of course). (We had a full choreographed routine to “Mungojerrie And Rumpelteazer” from “Cats” that we were sure was TONY caliber).

    I think that Free Ticket February is a fantastic idea! I agree that it is terrific that these particular shows are not targeted to young audiences so these teens get treated as adults. I hope it is a sellout and we can do this more than just once a year!

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