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One Fine Day

Date: Dec 15, 2008


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At Theatre Development Fund, the calendar this time of year isn’t just marked for the holidays. ’Tis also the season in which TDF’s many audience access programs reach a particular high point, opening the theatre door to several thousand eager patrons at deeply discounted or even free admissions.

To take one 24-hour period, for instance, look at Dec. 10-11, 2008:

10:00 a.m.: The new TKTS Discount Booth in Times Square opens to sell tickets for Wednesday matinees to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. By day’s end, including the take from the booth at South Street Seaport and the new booth at Brooklyn’s MetroTech, TKTS will sell tickets to a total of 5,397 satisfied customers for both matinee and evening performances.

2 p.m.: Where to begin? TDF is all over the place by curtain time. Breaking it down:

Danny Hock with TDF Stage Doors students after his performance in  "Taking Over" at The Public Theatre.

Stage Doors
, a program that introduces thousands of area high schoolers to theatre, has 199 students in the audience for Danny Hoch’s politically charged Taking Over, which keeps the young people enthralled all the way to the end of a lively post-show talkback, and 60 students at the affirming, uplifting musical Billy Elliot.

Open Doors, a unique mentoring program for high schoolers founded by Wendy Wasserstein in conjunction with TDF, is out in force. Composer/lyricist William Finn escorts his group from Talent Unlimited High School to David Mamet’s funny and ferocious Speed-the-Plow; actress Kathleen Chalfant accompanies her group from the High School of Telecommunications to the ebullient, rafter-rattling musical In the Heights; and lyricist David Zippel enjoys the old-time holiday warmth of the Irving Berlin’s White Christmas with his group from a group from Young Women’s Leadership School.

Andrea Day, conducts an in-class workshop with students from St. Joseph's School for the Blind prior to the TAP audio described performance of "The Lion King."
Audio Described!, a groundbreaking new initiative of TAP (TDF Accessibility Programs), hosts 70 students with low vision or blindness at at a performance of The Lion King. True to the program’s name, shows are audio-described by teaching artist Andrea Day, who spent some time prepping students from the Schermerhorn Program of the New York Institute for Special Education and St. Joseph’s School for the Blind with costume pieces and props on loan from Disney Theatricals.

TDF Open Doors mentor, William Finn and his students from Manhattan's Talent Unlimited High School at "Speed the Plow."

7-9ish p.m.
The curtain goes up, figuratively or literally, on hundreds of music and dance performances and plays, both on and Off Broadway, whose audiences are partly filled by TDF Members (students, teachers, retirees, civil servants, etc) who purchased 3,321 tickets to 91 performances.

As if that weren’t enough, at noon the next day, 160 NYC public high school students enrolled in TDF’s Residency Arts Project (RAP), an intensive playwriting program,  brave the rainy weather to attend a special command-performance matinee of Home at the Signature Theatre and a post-performance discussion with the cast.

All told, that’s nearly 10,000 seats filled by TDF programs that might otherwise have been left empty. In these tough economic times, that’s good news for folks on both sides of the aisle. As these thousands of theatregoers young and old either discovered or were reminded of, live performance is a gift that keeps on giving.