#951: Glitz, Glam and Theater Kids

July 9th, 2018

Along Randolph Street, well-clad pairs line up to get The Shot.

Sometimes they’re romantic couples with lips on each other and eyes peering slideways to make sure they’re perfectly framed in the selfie borders. Sometimes they’re parent-child pairs — usually a teenage girl who, after The Shot, wants a solo picture on herself to gesturing Vanna White-ly at the poster gleaming on the outside wall.

Soon these The Shots will flood the internet. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, some other social medians I’m too old and crabby to know about. Then the world will see the eyes-slideways kiss-shot with the theater marquee in background. Then they’ll see the theater kid teen gesturing bravely at the box office. Then they’ll see, like, comment, heart, smiley, OMGLOL that their friend got The Shot that proves they went to a Broadway show.

I think I look fat in mine.

It’s not Broadway, of course. That’s 700 miles and a few thousand dollars away. It’s the local version. Broadway in Chicago. Touring companies of rising starlets and aging yeomen who pack up across the nation for a month at a time in different towns. Glitz and glam for four weeks a pop, the only travel cost $2.50 for a ride on the ‘L’.

There are the usual crowd for Broadway in Chicago. Glamored-up couples on dates; one party eying the elaborate innards of the 1920s Cadillac Palace Theatre, the other scrolling through phone to pick the best The Shot to post. Older duffers who go to all the shows, heck or high water, and think a polo shirt, Members Only jacket and orthotically supportive tennis shoes are perfectly acceptable theater-wear, thank you kindly. Groups of handsome men who don’t care it’s a stereotype. Wealthy older women drenched in flowing scarves snipping over whether their seats or a glass of red should be the first stop.

And the theater kids. The glorious, glamorous, goofy theater kids. Middle school girls squired by mom, smiling tinny braces to the world when they look up and their eyes fill with stagelight. College-age boy-girl pairs who deck up awkwardly in their finest and squeal when they see classmates who also CAN. NOT. BELIEVE. they are here. Clusters of high school girls trailing the friend’s dad who drove with as much distance as coolness requires, but close enough that they don’t get lost.

Here is their mecca. Here is their dream. Here, years and decades before they don their own flowing scarves or orthotic footwear, they still look at the footlights and see themselves. Their voices are the ones singing the songs. Their faces are the ones powdered, primped and mic’d for audience consumption.

After the show, faces alight, eyes aglow and car rides back to the suburbs ahead, the theater kids wonder not if they’ll make it, but when. When will they be the one people come to see? When will the lights shine on them?

And in the darkness, as the city wanes and mom drones on about something boring, the theater kids lean against car windows. They softly smile as their eyelids droop like stage curtains.

Read how performance saved Brooklyn Britches

Read about a theater company’s social justice haunted house


And a review of “Hamilton” written several hours before I saw it

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