Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Our Collection of Broadway Playbills Tells The Story Of Our LIves

Yesterday I posted Playbills from the 1966 and 2006 Broadway productions of “The Apple Tree.” My Wordless Wednesday post featured a very young and handsome Alan Alda in the 1966 version.

Broadway Playbills Magic

I originally wanted to post a trilogy of Alan Alda plays (Art, QED and The Apple Tree) but couldn’t find the Playbill from Art.  Yes, I am crazy about that Hawkeye, science-loving, happily married guy.

Broadway Playbills Magic

My husband is a collector of sorts.  He has cartons of 1960’s Topps baseball cards, piles of championship New York Knicks NBA programs and every T-shirt, sweatshirt, pajama bottom and baseball cap from The University of Wisconsin.

Playbills Broadway Magic

He also held onto most of the Playbills from Broadway shows that we’ve seen together since we met in 1985.  As I look through each cover, it reminds me of our life together, and the events that were happening in our lives at the time we enjoyed each show.

Playbills Broadway Magic

It’s no surprise how many Neil Simon plays we saw.  To us, he is a playwright extraordinaire: Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Odd Couple (the female version – ugh), Barefoot in the Park (1996), Promises, Promises (2010) Rumors and Lost in Yonkers.

Playbills Broadway Magic

I love musicals.  When I was 8 years old my mother brought me to my first play, Fiddler on the Roof.  We sat in the third row orchestra, and I felt as if I lived in Anatevka.

Playbills Broadway Magic

I was hooked for life.

My husband always insisted he enjoyed only plays and didn’t care for musicals.  I couldn’t understand how anyone could feel that way, especially because he is so crazy about jazz.

I made the mistake of taking him to see Will Rogers’ Follies starring Keith Carradine when our friends were in town from Wisconsin.

Big mistake.  It was awful, and he kept reminding me of it.

Playbills Broadway Magic

But I remained undaunted, and dragged brought him to more musicals despite that debacle.  Les Miserables. Jersey BoysFiddler on the Roof.  Guys and Dolls. South Pacific. He enjoyed them all.

Need I say more?

Playbills Broadway Magic

The play that was the one of the most meaningful to me was The Producers. Growing up, my brothers threw barbs around that I later found out were quotes from the movie The Producers starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

When The Producers came to Broadway, my brothers and I decided to get tickers for the three of us and our spouses. We were excited to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the Mel Brooks zany comedy.

Playbills Broadway Magic

The show was a smash hit, and getting good seats wasn’t easy.  The best we could get were three seats in one row and three behind them.  My brothers sat in front of me, and I clearly remember that while I was laughing, I watched their heads and shoulders moving in every direction as they roared with uncontrollable laughter.

Broadway Playbills Magic

Broadway holds special magic, the kind that everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. So if you decide to go, do me a favor. Get me an extra ticket, because I’m about due to see another show.

What was the best play you ever saw?

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24 thoughts on “Our Collection of Broadway Playbills Tells The Story Of Our LIves

    1. Post author

      I am so glad you enjoyed it. I tell you what, Nancy. You come cook me a dinner and I’ll take you to a show. 🙂

  1. Lori

    So many memories! Sitting so close to the stage i could see Jerry Orbach’s spit when he enunciated. Yul Brenner’s final run of “The King and I”. Sitting in the front row with my 5 yr old daughter as she sang along with “Cats” and how the cast interacted with her.

    But my favorite memory will be last May when my now 20 year old daughter and I went to see Cinderella. We had a magical day in the city and crossed a couple of things off her wish list. I lost my job a few months later and now I am moving 700 miles away. It seems like it will be a long time before we have that experience again.

    1. Post author

      Oh, Lori, you brought me from awe to joy to being a little sad that you are moving so far away. I hope it will be a successful move for you, and that you will be happy wherever you are going.

      Those were special moments spent with your daughter, and the incident about Jerry O’s spit made me laugh! I never saw the King an I, but to see it with Yul Brynner – WOW!

      Thanks for sharing your fascinating thoughts. Best of luck to you always.

    1. Post author


      I forgot to add that when we went to see Guys and Dolls (which I LOVED, and of course the movie too, for obvious reasons – plus the score) I was VERY pregnant. Every time that bass drum was hit, my son would kick my stomach all the way out so that you could almost see his foot (or something…) So funny.

      Oh, I loved A Chorus Line, too. It was so Broadway.

      No surprise that I agree with you on all points. I could have written a diatribe on the subject of Broadway, as I’m sure you could as well.

      By the way, I also loved Lena Horne’s one-woman show…..hmm.

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman

    We also have saved our Playbills, and my parents have saved theirs. They have about two dozen huge binders and I can’t even begin to imagine how many are in there. It is one of the gifts that I am so grateful for, that my parents introduced me to Broadway when I was seven years old.

    1. Post author

      We are blessed our parents enjoyed theater enough to expose us to theater at such a young age.

    1. Post author

      Yes, Carol, thank goodness for our moms. I am so glad they exposed us at a young age to theatre.

      You and I and so many other boomer women seem to name Fiddler as their first play. So funny.

    1. Post author

      Yes, they are. I wish my parents saved theirs from the 1940’s – 60’s. Plays that were first-run like Oklahoma, Carousel, The Pajama Game and of course Funny Girl. Those were golden oldies, Sheryl!

    1. Post author

      I have a feeling a lot of boomer women saw Fiddler as their first play. I don’t know why, but a lot of readers said the same thing. So glad we have that in common, Linda!

    1. Post author

      You are not the only one who mentioned Rent. I never saw it and now wish I did! So glad you got to see it.

    1. Post author

      I never saw Rent but so glad you did, Sarah. I’m sure it was wonderful.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Claudia Schmidt

    Hi Cathy, Oh I am just kicking myself that I didn’t keep all mine! I’ve seen so many plays over the years, because I like you live near NYC. I’ve seen a lot of yours above, my favorites are all the Sondheim plays (Sunday in the Park w/George, Into the Woods), also loved Evita, Man of La Mancha, 1776, Fiddler, Once….oh so many plays! This is a fun walk down memory lane. I wish they’d revive Man of LaMancha so my kids could see it, I just loved it. Thanks for the memory jog!!
    Claudia Schmidt recently posted…All For the Love Of BaseballMy Profile

    1. Post author

      I probably wouldn’t have saved them all. It was really my husband who did, and I am SO glad he did!

      I never saw Sunday in the Park, and I would have LOVED to see Man of La Mancha with Richard Kiley. My husband did. I love the score from the play. I also wish they’d revive it.

    1. Post author

      Oh, I never saw Pippin or Wicked and I’d LOVE to see Idina. How lucky you were to see all of those, Lois. That must have been fantastic.

      Isn’t it great to have such great memories? Life is an adventure, eh?

  4. Risa

    Cathy, this post brought back a lot of memories of my dad. After he passed away, I found a drawer stuffed with every Playbill from every show he’d seen! Sadly, his “office” (what we called the shack in the back) had taken on a musty odor, and all the theater books and mementos carried it too. My dad was a high school drama teacher (I think we’ve had this conversation online)and later a professor of theater at the college level. He used to bring groups to London every year to see as many shows as they could. I loved seeing your collection! A lovely way to tell the story.
    Risa recently posted…How did we manage to raise kids without these?My Profile

    1. Post author

      What wonderful memories, Risa, and I’m so glad my post helped to take you back to them.

      What an incredible dad you had – so creative, and he helped spark an interest in theater through his trips with those students.

      Fascinating stories.

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