Monday, November 9, 2015


“Wow, how did you manage to get these seats?” the usher asked my mother as she showed us to our seats in the very first row of the Benedum.

It was pure luck really. My parents, my sister, and I were new to Pittsburgh and we were looking for something to do for a while to distract ourselves from the fact that we had just been uprooted from our childhood home.

We were all fans of musical theater and my mother would often play her favorite cast recordings for my sister and me. I loved it. I always sang along, I would even dress up dance on the coffee table.

I was thrilled when my parents told me we would be going to see a production of Les Miserables. I had been singing along with Castle on a Cloud for years, but I had never seen the show live before. I had never seen any show live before. I had watched Annie and The Sound of Music countless times on VHS but I had never stepped foot in a theater before.

It was a warm summer night in 2007 when we made our way into the cultural district for the first time. We had our MapQuest directions and we were ready to make some memories. When we finally made it to the theater I was awestruck. The ceilings were made of gold. The walls were draped in elegance. It was magical. We made our way into the heart of the theater and a quietly beautiful usher swept us toward our seats—in the very first row.

Turns out we bought our tickets fairly last minute and the front row had the last seats available. Our feet were practically touching the orchestra. When the curtain rose and the first song began I felt the deepest happiness I had ever experienced. I could see the microphones on the actors’ cheeks. I could hear them breathing. I felt like I was a part of the show.

I remember shedding a tear and springing out of my seat as the actors took their final bows. After the show, I clutched my playbill to my chest as my parents led my sister and I through the streets back to the dismal and gray parking garage.

I had seen live theater for the first time and it became a passion I would never lose. Every year after that I asked for tickets to the Benedum for my birthday and a few years after that I would even start to perform myself.

Theater can really change your life. I will always be excited to hold a crisp ticket in my hand and sit in a gilded theater. I will always be excited to clutch a playbill to my chest. I will always remember that production of Les Miserables and the way it fanned the flame of my lifelong passion for the performing arts.


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