Discount Me In: How I Saw 30 Shows on a Student Budget

Discount Me In: How I Saw 30 Shows on a Student Budget

My boss at The New York Times suggested two shows I had to see this summer: “The Ferryman” and “My Fair Lady.”

I saw 30.

In 10 weeks as an editing intern, I mainlined more plays, musicals, ballets and cabaret performances than many people see in their entire lives.

In between fine-tuning stories for the White House correspondent Maggie Haberman or the New York Yankees beat writer James Wagner, I spent my nights nestled in Broadway theaters.

I watched an 83-year-old Glenda Jackson unleash the guttural growls of a death metal singer as King Lear. I saw the Hogwarts recruits of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” stagger across the stage, wands aloft, as though dragged by a cat skidding across a just-waxed floor.

For 10 weeks, I made a game out of trying to cram in as many shows as possible while putting The Times first. But theatergoing grew more challenging when I started working nights. Fortunately, I had a theater-loving boss, who even rearranged my final week’s schedule so I could see the “Phantom of the Opera” matinee.

And while I couldn’t afford to see the shows featuring every big-name actor in town, I could meet them at the stage door after a performance. I watched Adam Driver, Kylo Ren-like all in black, bring an entire street to a standstill after “Burn This.” I came this close to getting a “Size XL” sticker on the front of Jeff Daniels’s new T-shirt stuck to the front of my Playbill at “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And my middle-school self’s dreams came true when I took a photo with Corbin Bleu after “Kiss Me, Kate.”

But why? I’m not an aspiring actress. I didn’t do high-school theater. I couldn’t have told you who Audra McDonald was four years ago, much less what she was famous for. To be honest, I’d have been hard-pressed to tell you the difference between a play and a musical.

But a two-month study abroad trip to London in 2016 catapulted me into the world of the West End, and I’ve attended more than 150 shows in Indianapolis, and now New York, in the three years since.

What gripped me then, and now, is the storytelling. As a journalist, my goal is to write immersively; to leave you so absorbed in a story that you forget you’re reading words on a page.

“We think you’re going to be pretty bored when you return to Indy,” my mom texted me at the end of July.

I’m not so sure.

But that’s not to say I don’t need to come back to New York. Jesse Green, The Times’s other chief theater critic, has invited me to attend a show with him when I return. And I still need to see the Rockettes.

Plus I have a “Hamilton” lottery to win. (I have to win eventually, right? Right?)

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