YOUR CHOICES IN THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT
HAVE EXPLODED IN SOUTH FLORIDA SINCE THE TIME
MY FAMILY AND I MOVED HERE
Opinion By Edwin Crammer, CPA My family and I moved to South Florida in the late 70s from the New York area. I have loved the musical theater since I was a late teenager. By living in close proximity to the Broadway theater scene, during the time I lived in the New York area, I attended many of the theatrical offerings, at the numerous theaters that surrounded the Times Square area of New York.
Back in those days you could pick up coupons that were called two-fers. These two-fers enabled you to purchase tickets for a show that had been running on Broadway for a year or more, at half the face value of the tickets. Based on the fact that back in those days, I was young and not making a large living, I could not afford the full ticket price for most of those shows. Not long after I left New York for Florida, the two-fers were replaced with the half priced ticket booths, that are quite popular, and are set up in the Times Square area.
When my family moved to South Florida I was dismayed to find that at that time the choice of musical theater was severely limited. Living in Broward County, our choices at that time were either the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, in Miami Beach, which was a long drive from central Broward, or the Sunrise Musical Theater, in Sunrise. There also was the Sportatorium in Hollywood but that was used mostly for rock concerts and other similar forms of entertainment.
The Sunrise Musical Theater, was replaced as a theater when the Broward Center for Performing Arts opened for business a little over twenty years ago. The building that housed the Sunrise Musical Theater is now being used as a church. The Jackie Gleason Theater, although still there, has been replaced in Miami as the premier theatrical venue down there with the Adrienne Arsht Center.
I actually was excited when the Broward Center for the Performing Arts opened for business here in Broward County It was a first class performing arts center that was well designed and much nicer than those theaters in New York that housed all of those Broadway shows I used to attend. In the first year of operation of the Broward Center, I actually sprung for season tickets for my wife and myself. I was actually disappointed, however, by those season tickets that I purchased that first year on two counts. The first was that the only available seats offered to me was two rows from the back of the Orchestra. The second was that the in the shows that were offered to me as part of the package of five, only two were top quality shows and the rest were mediocre. With that in mind and after reviewing the offerings for the second season, which offered three mediocre shows along with two good shows again, I opted out of buying season tickets for the next year.
Each year in late Spring when the theater posts it offering for the next season, I review the offerings and each year it is the same, two good shows and three mediocre shows. I therefore, have opted to only purchase tickets each season for my wife and I on a single ticket purchase. I have not had any problems making those purchases if you plan out the time to call the box office early when they first open the sales for a particular show.
In addition, I have found out that the tickets that I am able to purchase for a single show are usually in a better location than those I was able to get on a season ticket basis. By the way, here is a tip for you. After each performance ends there is usually a mad scramble for the exit in order to reach ones automobile and to be able to exit the area quickly. If you are slow in vacating the theater or if your automobile is on the upper level of the garage it can take you up to an hour to leave the area. If you order tickets for a show in the Mezzanine area which we prefer, ask for seats on the right side of the Mezzanine as the exit door from this side leave you right up against the tunnel to the parking lot so you can exit the theater fast.
In recent years, in addition to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, we have the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, which is also a fine theater. I do have several faults with the Kravis Center. They are that because of the way the theater is set up, you are almost forced to Valet park for an additional fee. The other fault I find is that the first row mezzanine walkway is so narrow and close to the railing that I feel that if I am not careful in walking to my seat, I could fall over the balcony This might be just me, but if anyone reading of this article has walked that first row, you probably have the same thought as I do.
As I discussed earlier, we also have the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, so all three Counties now have a first rate theater within a short driving distance from where a person lives.
In addition to these great theaters, we also have thriving Community theaters in our midst.
The Stage Door theater, in Margate offers a varied program of musical theater offerings in the larger of the two theaters on its property and several plays each year in its second smaller theater in the same building. The offerings in these two theaters are usually older shows that had first played on Broadway years ago and feature local casts. All of the performances are none equity performances. The theater caters, for the most part, to an older crowd who enjoy these older presentations. The theater does not have the bells and whistles that you would find in places like the Broward Center, but they do happen to put on a decent performance for the most part at a much lower price than the Broward Center.
There are also several other community theaters in the area such as The Wick Theater in Palm Beach County, a newer venue that I have not been able to visit as of yet so I cannot make a comment about them at this time and the Delray Beach Community Theater, a much smaller place that has been around for a much longer time, and don’t forget the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale that has also been around for a long time but a venue that is not being utilized as much today as in the past.
So things have changed for the better here in South Florida which makes me happy although the experiences are not quite the ones I was able to get in New York through the Broadway experience. Florida is starting to come closer to that experience with nicer, friendlier venues to visit.
You may contact Edwin L. Crammer, at: Ed@www.eyeonsouthflorida.com
YOUR CHOICES IN THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT