Did You Go to See Shows with Your School?
By RAVEN SNOOK
Monday, August 06, 2018  •  
Mon Aug 6, 2018  •  
Broadway  •   21 comments Share This

We want to hear your theatre education stories in honor of TDF's 50th anniversary

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My husband and I grew up within a few miles of each other in New York City, but our experiences were worlds apart. I was raised on the Upper West Side in a family that was able to take me to the theatre frequently. In his home in the South Bronx, Broadway was an unafforable luxury. So when we moved in together in our late twenties, I was surprised to spot among his belongings a Playbill for Bob Fosse's revue Dancin', which ran on Broadway from 1978 to 1982.

"Where did you get this?" I asked, curious as well as slightly jealous since that was a musical I had missed. "My school brought us," he recalled. "I saw a few Broadway shows when I was a kid thanks to my public schools, otherwise I never would have gone."

Decades later, with theatre tickets (and everything else) exponentially more expensive than in our youth, many New York City kids still only get to see shows thanks to theatre education programs that partner with their schools. TDF runs a number of them including Open Doors. Started by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein in 1996, Open Doors took 24 groups of eight students to six shows each this past season, with 28 mentors such as playwright-director James Lapine (Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George) and actor Peter Friedman (Tony nominee for Ragtime) facilitating post-performance discussions. (Starting this fall, Open Doors will be renamed in Wasserstein's honor.)

In honor of TDF's 50th anniversary, we're asking our members to share their theatre education memories. Did you ever go to see a show with your school? Or perhaps you have a child or grandchild who's gone to the theatre thanks to a program? Or maybe you're an educator who has taken students to shows? Whether the productions you saw were on Broadway or so Off-Off they were outside of New York City, we want to hear how theatre education has touched your life. Just leave a comment on this post or email stages@tdf.org. For inspiration, check out highlights from the Open Doors 2018 graduation below, as young participants talk about how theatre has enhanced and enriched their lives.

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Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top imagine: Susan S. McKinney High School students with mentor James Lapine and teacher Kelly Gilles at TDF's 2018 Open Doors Graduation. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.




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21 Comments:
Lauren said:
My school in Silver Spring, MD, took the 8th graders on a 5-day trip to NYC each fall and it included a Broadway show. My year (1990), we saw Gypsy with Linda Lavin! She came onstage after the show and talked to us.
Posted on 8/6/2018 at 5:56 PM
Raven TDF Stages Editor said:
Thanks Lauren for sharing such a wonderful memory. And what an amazing experience to talk with Linda Lavin! I interviewed her a few years back and she's quite a character: https://seniorplanet.org/linda-lavin-making-life-choices/
Posted on 8/7/2018 at 7:23 AM
Nicole said:
Going to school on Long Island, I’ve very lucky to have close access to Broadway shows. In high school, the chair of the arts department contributed to Roundabout Theatre Company so we’d get to see a show or two every year for free. The musical theatre, drama, and music students would also be invited to pay for a larger Broadway show trip (around $100) for a ticket, dinner, workshop, and train.
Posted on 8/7/2018 at 5:47 PM
Jan Banks said:
When I was in the 4th grade my teacher took the class to my first Broadway show, The Sound of Music! As a New Yorker growing up in the south Bronx it was an experience that shaped my life. I saw Fiorello, West Side Story and The Music Man. I’m now a retired NYC school teacher and still attending performances as much as I can!
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 9:26 AM
John Pekich said:
When I was a full-time faculty member in a southern NJ college, I would take a van full of students to New York, every few months. Some students visited museums, others saw Broadway shows. Many of them had never been to the City; so that was exciting. Exploring major museums or seeing a Broadway show was enriching for them, and piqued their interests for later trips by some on their own.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 9:27 AM
Toni Kamins said:
I grew up in Queens in the 1960s and theater was a part of the class-trip repertoire. Two stand out for me: our 6th-grade trip to see Spoon River Anthology (1963), which we read in class in preparation for the show, and King Lear (1968) at the Vivian Beaumont starring Lee J. Cobb.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 9:39 AM
Nat said:
Twenty or so years ago, my school took me to see the musicals Tommy, Blood Brothers, and Les Miserable on Broadway.I believe we were asked to pay $5 for transportation. It was a wonderful experience.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 10:06 AM
Fran Wagner said:
In 1971 I was a freshman at Irvington high school in New Jersey. Our English teacher, Mr. Leinhart took us to see The Me Nobody Knows. It was a Sunday so it was on his time and we went by public transportation. It was completely different from anything I had ever experienced. I was so touched by the performance and of course felt like the performers (Lonnie Price) was talking directly to me.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 10:14 AM
Gail Bass said:
My 10th grade English teacher at Plainville High School in CT took our class to the Stratford Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT to see a play by William Shakespeare. I think it was “As You Like It” But whatever it was, it began a life long love of theater And Shakespeare.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 10:15 AM
Will C. said:
I was accepted into a special program in high school for under privileged youth with “potential.” In addition to enhanced academics, we were exposed to “cultural experiences “. Between 1969-72, I saw every major broadway show including; 1776, The Me Nobody Knows, Purlie $& Two Gentleman of Verona. It was amazing. Too bad the program no longer exist.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 10:25 AM
Iris Schwartz said:
When I was s Freshman at w.H.Taft H.S. Bronx, Spring '59, the Drama Teacher of our Drama Class took us to see West Side Story at the Winter Garden Theater, on Broadway. We paid for our seats, which were terrible! We saw the backs of actors! Remember Larry Kert on a ladder singing "Maria". (From the Back) Beautiful! Didn't see my next Bdwy show until years later, with a friend.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 11:29 AM
Susan said:
I grew up in Queens and was fortunate to attend schools in NYC's District 25, which was always known for its excellent arts education focus. Broadway, opera, concerts were all part of my education. My family also frequented Broadway. Years later, my son attended District 25 schools where, as PTA President, I helped fund a partnership with Lincoln Center Arts Institute. So lucky!
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 11:43 AM
Peter Fanelli said:
My high school freshman English teacher took us to see Hair on Broadway in 1967. It was a major "Wow." Years later I went with my adult daughters to see the revival, which was even a little more risque. All they could say was: Your Catholic school took you to see this? The Jesuits were a but less conservative.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 12:06 PM
Julie said:
I also grew up on Long Island, so had easy access to Broadway. In junior high, our English classes all went to see Deathtrap, and Spanish classes got to see Evita. Plus, our cheerleading coach organized a trip for us each year. One year we saw A Chorus Line, and another year we saw They're Playing our Song. All of these were Wednesday matinees, which meant that the administration supported this.
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 1:02 PM
Lori Fyfe said:
6th Grade Thompson School West Haven, CT. (which is no longer open anymore) They took us to see Cats at the Wintergarden Theater, it was my very 1st Broadway show, I remember being mesmerized by the show, music, theater, acting, costumes... etc! I got the music from the show & always listened to it. I was hooked on Broadway 4ever after that 1 day! Grateful to TDF now my own kids have the chance!
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 1:54 PM
Ralph said:
One of the English teachers in my high school in the Bronx started a Theater Club. We went to a number of shows throughout the school year and then discussed them after school. My first Broadway show was Two Gentlemen of Verona, and I've been going regularly since then! Non-stop!
Posted on 8/11/2018 at 4:24 PM
Leanne said:
My high school (in CT about 80 miles from NYC) offered an annual trip for freshman to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as a reward for our first freshman fundraiser. Though I had been to broadway shows before (thanks Mom & Dad!), this one was special because I “earned” it, and was sharing the experience with my closest friends. It’s a memory that still makes me smile 30+ years later.
Posted on 8/12/2018 at 11:04 AM
Lori DePalma said:
I grew up in a Northen NJ suburb. My middle school took a group to Godspell in 1976. After that I was hooked. For my birthday every year that is all I wanted, to go to a show. I saw Grease, Man of La Mancha, Evita...Now I share my love of Broadway with my daughter on Long Island. Her school does annual trips to Broadway but she prefers to go with me, I get better seats!
Posted on 8/13/2018 at 9:45 AM
Lorraine mullen said:
Yes, When I was teaching I took my classes to view productions of shows that were intended for school assembly programs. We were asked to judge these shows —my classes filled out rating scales and also wrote reviews.
Posted on 8/15/2018 at 10:24 AM
Kelsie N. Foster said:
I'm from Tinton Falls NJ Monmouth County) and my Girl Scout Troop saw "Dracula" starring Raul Julia and we dined at Mama Leone's. While in high school, we had a class trip to see Bob Fosse's "Dancing". My first Broadway show was the "The Wiz" starring Stephanie Mills and Hinton Battle, I was 9 years old and I was transfixed. I've been in love with Broadway ever since and continue to attend.
Posted on 8/15/2018 at 10:19 PM
Brenda Godden-Francis said:
My visits to the theatre started when I was 12 years old and living in Jamaica, in the Caribbean. I was fortunate enough to be part of a family that enjoyed and made time for the theatre. I am sure that there was at least one trip with school, but it was the family that had the impact. My kids had a few more trips with school - going from Queens to Manhattan.
Posted on 8/23/2018 at 10:08 PM
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