First impressions/free tickets

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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?

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