I Just Shelled Out $513 To Take The Kids To See 'Annie'...

annie tomorrow tomorrow photo

Photo: Screenshot from Broadway.com clip

I’m not a big theatre guy.Despite being a native New Yorker, the last Broadway show I saw might have been “Beatlemania,” back in the 1970s. (Great show!)

But my kids are into the performance thing. They’re always staging “plays” and shooting “movies,” etc.

So for a few years I have been thinking that someday I should take them to a Broadway show.

Then I sat next to a money manager at a dinner the other night who was raving about the new “Annie.”

I had seen the movie “Annie,” so I figured I could manage to sit through the play. I knew it would be expensive–one good reason to avoid Broadway is the mind-boggling expense–but I figured “Annie” wouldn’t be more expensive than any other show. And I also figured there was relatively low risk that my kids would hate it (an important consideration). My kids had seen the movie of “Annie,” and they liked that. And they had only seen the movie about seven times, so I figured they would be at least modestly interested in the play.

(Seven times is only moderate exposure for kid-repeat-viewing in the iPad age. Mine have probably seen “The Two Towers” fifteen times.)

So I decided to take the family to see “Annie.”

I cracked open my computer.

The first thing I discovered is that buying tickets for Broadway shows is easier than it used to be. Last time I went to one, we had to go wait in line at the theatre. Or Ticketron.

Now you just go to TicketMaster online and search for the show. And you get a calendar with dates.

Once you pick a date, you actually get to pick out your seats!

There's a map of the theatre in there. It shows all the empty seats. (This map is of today's show, so there were only a few seats left).

You highlight the section you want. And the rollover gives you the bad news about how much the seats cost.

I bought our tickets about two weeks ago, for the show on Valentine's Day. There were a lot of seats left.

I zoomed in on four in the Orchestra section. Not up front: $210 per seat would have made it a ~$1,000 evening. I went for the back of the Orchestra section, where the seats were a still-staggering $120 a pop.

TicketMaster has this handy feature where you can just print the tickets out.

They look like this. Shockingly, TicketMaster doesn't charge you a printing fee. (Perhaps because you're saving them money).

On the appointed evening, it was on to the subway and off to the Palace theatre in Times Square.

The theatre entrance is under some scaffolding, and it's not much to look at.

The Palace is pretty dingy, in fact. And the route to the actual theatre, of course, is flanked by the Scylla and Charybdis of the food and souvenir stands.

The ushers even show you to your seats.

Thankfully, and helpfully, there's also a stack of plastic seat-boosters. This reduces the odds that you'll pay $125 for your kid to see nothing but the massive guy in front of you.

Having invested $513 in the evening, and dimly remembering that theatres closed their doors when the show started, we got there early.

They did give Annie a thick Brooklyn accent that was distracting and gratuitous. (But I'm holding the director responsible for that!)

The kids were awesome. I'm sure this confession will out me as the world's biggest sap, but I had tears in my eyes for a lot of the show. It wasn't just because of the story or songs. I know the story and songs. I think it was also because those kids are so young and so good and it is just so hard to do what they do and do it so well. I'm always blown away by that.

The littlest orphan, Molly (being dragged here), was also a star.

So was the dog.

Sunny/Sandy is one well-trained dog. Lilla Crawford gives him treats every time he comes to her on stage. (You can see that from the seats).

OK, a few things about the show... (The grownups are excellent, too, by the way.)

First, you can understand why the tickets cost so much. There are BOATLOADS of people to pay.

As best I can tell, the Palace has about 1,250 seats. They appear to sell for an average of about $100 apiece (retail). Assuming the show has good attendance (and low discounts), it might therefore generate about $100,000 of revenue per performance. Or about $30 million a year.

$30 million a year probably covers all those costs.

That's why that lip-syncing thing that Beyonce did for her inauguration national anthem was so disappointing. It wasn't live. It was supposed to be live, but it was actually fake. That blows.

(Now you'll tell me that everyone in Annie was lip-syncing, too. Please don't.)

The cast got a partial standing o at the end, of course--except for the folks in the $210 seats. They just clapped.

So, was it worth $513?

$513 is about $510 more than Family Movie Night (renting a movie from iTunes), which usually goes over great. So it really is a boatload of money. But, yes, given that it was only once in a very great while, I think it was worth it. It's nice to have seen a Broadway show. And the inability to now see it 10 more times at the push of a button makes it special. And we've been talking about it and singing the songs for days...

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