You don’t know how much you appreciate something until it’s gone. Throughout the pandemic, I missed theatre, not just for my own enjoyment, but for the joy it brings my daughter. 

When the lights went off on Broadway in 2020, my daughter, a proud theatre nerd we’ve nicknamed Broadway Baby, was devastated. As a young autistic woman, musical theatre is her obsession. It’s how she relates to the world. It’s how she learns to process things the rest of us take for granted, like emotions and interactions. 

Drama and music were the two courses in school where my daughter shone because she found her voice there, literally and symbolically. I saw the transformation. Arts inspired her. She inspires me.

I thought of the performers who make their living either in the spotlight or behind it, and what that time in the wings did for their careers, their livelihood, but also their creative spirit. The arts matter. 

Think about it; most of us turned to the arts to cope with the uncertainty of the past few years. When we couldn’t leave our homes, what did we do? We binge watched television series and movies. We listened to music and reminisced about better times. We read books to escape into a fictional world or learn how to survive in the real one. 

I know many people who picked up an instrument they’d long set down, to reconnect to that time when they played music for fun. Time on our hands required art to feed our souls, and it did.

Escapism through entertainment was the thing that kept us sane. I know the Carpenter and I fell into several series where we were so addicted to the plot that we made pacts not to finish watching the next episode unless we were together. Great writing, stellar acting, engaging storytelling and soundtracks that set the mood; it’s all art. 

For her birthday, I recently took Broadway Baby to see the production of Chicago at the Stratford Festival. From the first note to the final bow, this cast of incredible performers transfixed our imagination. It felt so good to be absorbed into the amazing atmosphere of live theatre. 

At the end of the first song, where the character Velma Kelly pulls us into the allure of Vaudeville, my daughter turned her teary eyes to mine, hand over her heart, and smiled. Profound gratitude. 

I knew this show rewarded her faith that this day would come. It’s what got her through the dark days of the past two years. The wait was over. Musical theatre for the win.

We whooped and hollered throughout the show, reveling in the sensual naughtiness of the roaring 20s. We laughed at the banter, applauded the impeccable choreography and sighed audibly with sympathy for Mr. Cellophane. We rose to our feet in a standing ovation for the cast whose talent astounded us.

Bravo, indeed. Next up: Drayton Entertainment, a Mirvish production and local theatre too. 

Worth the price of admission … and all that jazz.

WriteOut of Her Mind