My memory of attending theatre takes me back to the days when my sister and I, two girls from the country, worried that our homemade matching blue velvet dresses and black patent Mary Janes may not be smart enough to wear to an evening performance at the O’Keefe Centre. We were excited and apprehensive.
The performance was South Pacific, and the year would have been in the early ‘60’s. I came away loving the magic of theatre – the acting, singing, costumes, sets and lighting. It was animated, vibrant, engaging, and unpredictable. I was enthralled. And there was music that seemed to stick in my head: I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair, Some Enchanted Evening, There Is Nothing Like a Dame, Bali Hai, Younger Than Springtime. As we left the theatre, way past our bedtime, snow was gently falling and the effect with the streetlights and the city-scape was enchanting. With our mother at the wheel and we girls in the back seat, the drive home through a wintry night extended the sense of having been lifted up and out of my ordinary life.
That evening was the beginning of my theatre-going experiences. If musicals were the entrée, drama became the gateway to exploring the stage. At this point, I attend about 30 productions a year with my husband, an engineer, who has by virtue of accompanying me over the years learned to love theatre. We volunteer locally. Kenn helps with sets; I sew, wield a glue gun, apply makeup, and assist with quick changes. Not surprisingly, it has been this behind the scenes perspective that has led to me consider that I might write reviews of plays that I have recently seen.
I come to this decision with no formal background in theatre, and while I read extensively and also write, I have only one university English course. To say I feel some trepidation is an understatement. I am not an expert. I do not read reviews to determine whether I will attend a performance: My decisions are made at the beginning of the season before the reviews have been written. Playwrights or the lead actors will sway me. What I have done this year, when I have not been delighted with a performance, is to read reviews. Each time they have provided sound confirmation for my disappointment.
My reason for writing reviews is simple: I want more people to enjoy live theatre. If my simple reviews can put a few more bums in seats I will be pleased. I will begin with baby steps. Plays that I have enjoyed will be reviewed on this site. As my confidence builds I may extend the inclusion. But having worked back stage and knowing the effort, creativity, nerves and team work that goes into each production, it may be some time before anyone reads less than a positive review written by me.
See you at the theatre!
Bonnie L. Lendrum