Longtime Broadway Live subscriber Linda Carey called Lexington Opera House general manager Luanne Franklin because she couldn't use her four tickets to Shrek and wanted to donate them back. That gave Franklin an idea.
For years, she had wanted to create a program to get children, particularly underprivileged kids, into Broadway Live performances. Most Broadway Live tickets start at $50 to $75, which is out of reach for most lower-income families.
Franklin asked whether she could use Carey's tickets and name as a seed to entice other Broadway Live patrons to do something similar. The goal would be to get tickets in the hands of kids who might want to see the show and discover theater for the first time.
Normally, Broadway Live subscribers may donate unused tickets to the Opera House for resale and receive a letter designating the cost of their tickets as a charitable donation. But during the past month, patrons have received letters telling them that, this time around, the tickets will have a little extra philanthropic impact.
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The Opera House has received more than 60 tickets to distribute to children ages 8 to 18, and their chaperones, for the 7 p.m. Feb. 19 performance of Shrek. Now Franklin is soliciting applications for the seats.
Ideally, she says, she wants to hear from church, community or school groups. But she would consider requests from individuals and said the age criteria can be fudged a bit.
"We want to use those tickets," Franklin said during an interview in her Lexington Center office. "We want kids in the seats. No one should shy away from asking."
In addition to the show, the kids will be treated to an event a few days before the show. They will get a tour of the Opera House and a primer on theater etiquette.
Franklin said Shrek was an ideal show for the inaugural Broadway Buddies event because it is well known and family friendly, and it's being presented in February, when many of Broadway Live's older subscribers leave town. Her goal is to designate at least one show each season as a Broadway Buddies performance.
"It won't necessarily be a family show," Franklin says, adding that she wouldn't make shows with heavy adult content, such as, say, Avenue Q, a Broadway Buddies program. "The point is to get them to come in and experience theater."
At the very least, the beneficiaries of the program might develop an appreciation of live theater. But Franklin hopes that some kids might be inspired to try the stage themselves. She says that there are employees at the Opera House who developed an interest in performing arts because someone made it possible for them to go to shows and other events.
"There are a lot of youth who can't afford a ticket," Franklin says. "That doesn't mean they may not be the next great singer, dancer or actor. This could be the sort of opportunity that plants that seed."