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The Good With the Bad

Date: Nov 25, 2008


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For some theatregoers, it's not just the good and great shows that are memorable. Sometimes it's the bad shows we love to laughingly recall more than ever.

That's certainly the case with practiced theatregoer, longtime playwright and inveterate TDF member Anne Phelan, who regularly takes advantage of TDF ticket deals to catch the latest great—and the less-than-great—on and Off-Broadway.

"I got to see Into the Light with TDF tickets," Phelan says, referring to the 1986 musical bankrolled by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, starring Dean Jones, which told the story of the shroud of Turin and "a kid whose imaginary friend was a little green laser. That was truly, truly amazingly poor." It wasn't a total loss, Phelan admits: "I'm telling stories about it 20 years later!"

Of course, Phelan would hardly keep going to the theatre if she hadn't also seen her share of world-beating plays and musicals with TDF tickets—both through the membership and at the TKTS Discount Booth. She cites the 2005 revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as a recent highlight.

"I'd seen the play before, but my boyfriend had only seen the movie, so I went to the booth and got tickets to that," Phelan recalls. Wait—she took a date to that infamous marital showdown? Though her relationship, she says, was secure enough to handle the show's battle of the sexes, she adds with a laugh: "It was Valentine's Day, and I could see people bringing dates. I thought, 'Those relationships are not going to last the night!' "

A big fan of smart, form-breaking musicals, she cites as particular favorites Passing Strange and Light in the Piazza. Another one, Spring Awakening, she enjoyed despite feeling a little jealous. "I had always thought that play would make a brilliant musical, and unfortunately those guys got to it before I did."

Phelan, who teaches playwrighting and has had a few plays published by Smith & Kraus, doesn't just use TDF's membership list and the TKTS booth to feed her theatre needs; she's also a big fan of the voucher program, open to members and non-members alike, which allow patrons to buy a pack of discount tickets to Off-Off-Broadway shows and redeem them throughout the following year.

Suffice it to say, Anne Phelan knows her way around ticket deals. Apart from becoming a TDF member so you can take advantage of the online discount list (which Phelan says she checks "relentlessly"), she offers this choice bit of consumer advice: "For good seats, go to the downtown booth." She means, of course, the South Street Seaport TKTS Discount Booth, which tends to be less crowded than the one in the Times Square yet offers the same deals.

Phelan says she was bit by the theatre bug at age six, when her parents took her to see King Lear in Eskimo dress. I don't even know what road show it was; I assume it was the Acting Company. It was a touring company that came to the Jesuit college in Cleveland, where I grew up. I was absolutely mesmerized, and I've been hooked ever since. It's certainly not the money!"

Her playwrighting may not make her rich, but it has led to some experiences she cherishes as much as any theatregoing experience.

"I've been an Albee Fellow twice," Phelan says of the great American playwright. "He has an artist's colony out in Montauk, where he takes writers and painters, and I've been out there twice. It's heaven."

When she's in town, though, you can expect to see Phelan at the theatre with tickets she purchased for less than full price—and all thanks to TDF.

"It is the main way I buy tickets," she says. For a serial theatre fan like Phelan, that's saying a lot.