Friday, November 16, 2007

Local Theater

I grew up in New York where, in my spare time, I was able to attend as much theater and opera as I could find the time for. In retrospect, I realize that I got one hell of an education in darkened auditoriums. As a child, I attended Saturday morning classes at the Hayden Planetarium and sang in the Brooklyn Museum Children's Chorus.

Once, while dining with friends in San Francisco, we were comparing our college experiences when I tried to explain how I spent every weekend on line for opera tickets in Lincoln Center or going to see a show on Broadway. A friend who went to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana sighed and confessed "I can't remember a single weekend of my college years -- all we did was get drunk and pass out."

In 1987, when the Houston Grand Opera moved into its new home in the privately-funded Wortham Center, HGO broadcast a live performance of Verdi's Aida starring Placido Domingo and Mirella Freni. At the time, my friend Ava Jean Mears was the publicist for HGO and I never forgot how she handled a very rude visitor from the East Coast.

"Of course, you understand that if you ever want to get another telecast you'll have to do something of more than just regional interest," the man warned.

Ava Jean's response, coated with her particular band of Southern charm, was short and to the point. "What y'all don't seem to understand is that to most of the people in this country, New York is regional!"

The San Francisco Bay area is blessed with a wide variety of performing arts companies that do excellent work. In many cases, you can get discounted seats from either Goldstar Events or Theater Bay Area.

I'm happy to recommend the following:


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