Small Town's Little Theater is presenting Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella over a period of three weekend. It's the version written for television in the 60s and originally starring Julie Andrews. The little theater is actually little and probably only holds about 250 people in squeaky seats that will put me in need of knee replacements if I have to sit in them for more than two hours at a time. The concession stand sells Pepsi and M&Ms, and the cast stands out front to shake your hand on your way out the door after every performance.
All of the productions use local talent—acting, singing, directing, costuming, set design and sometimes pit music. It's all put together by volunteers, and the building is maintained using private donations and corporate sponsors.
There are some people who mock this little theater, people who have lived here for decades but have never attended a single show because they assume it would be like attending a middle school performance of Our Town with cardboard trees falling down and squeaky clarinets piercing through the entr'acte. But these shows are actually very good. The soloists are strong and on pitch (mostly), and I've yet to see an element of the set fall to the floor or a member of the cast forget a line. Plus, a ticket is only $10.
Husband and I went to the show last weekend, and it was delightful—colorful costumes, a bold and impressive chorus of townspeople and not one glitch that I could detect. The front rows were filled with little girls who giggled when the prince kissed his bride; and when he slipped the glass shoe onto her foot, and a little kid shouted "ew," everyone had a good chuckle. It was a satisfying evening at the theater.
Next week, we'll be in New York for a few days, and we're going to see The Miracle Worker with tickets running $117. Add the fee, and each ticket will be $152.10. That's one-hundred fifty-two dollars and ten cents. Seriously. $300 for two people to see a show compared to the $20 it cost us to see our neighbors perform Cinderella.
Granted, the Broadway show isn't performed by volunteers, and there are hundreds of union workers and investors involved. We'll be paying for the atmosphere and the knowledge that we're seeing a show on Broadway with all of its history and reputation. The sound system will be far superior to the little theater's, as will the lighting and the costumes and the sets and the props.
But afterward, when we're walking out of the theater and reviewing the experience, while the cast is slipping out the back door, I wonder if we'll think we got that extra $280 worth of theatrical entertainment.