Monday, September 21, 2009

Playbill Turns 125

Playbill Turns 125

When it comes to Broadway, I rarely if ever buy souvenirs.

Yet there is one prized possession -- aside from memories of the performances themselves -- I proudly take home from each show: my essential Playbill.

Today, the venerable Playbill organization turns 125 years old.

Through the years, I've amassed hundreds, if not thousands, of these priceless keepsakes from my favorite and not so favorite shows. No matter. I keep them all.

Aside from providing me with all the credits from each performance I've seen in a neat little time capsule, the thing I love best is that they're absolutely free, something American audiences have come to take completely for granted.

Sure you can buy a souvenir program for some of the hottest shows that feature slick pictures and profiles. But elsewhere, like in the United Kingdom, audiences actually have to pay for their programmes, no matter how flimsy or spare.

So next time your usher hands you a Playbill, keep it as a treasured memento of your theatre experience and even consider get it autographed by the cast. Most of all, place it as I do in a safe place where you can go refer to it in years to come only to discover you have bragging rights to seeing certain performers long before they became famous.

Here's to the venerable Playbill. And here's to another 125 years!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 21 September, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

I have bought some posters and refrigerator magnets but the Playbills are my favorite Broadway souvenirs. And yes, quite a few of them are autographed. I only wish I had hundreds, if not thousands! I'm working on it. ;-)

And I can't believe you have a pay for a programme in the U.K. They don't even give you a sheet of paper with the cast?! That doesn't seem right.

At 21 September, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Nope. For the flimsiest of programmes in London, I've paid close to $5 simply because I want to have a record of what I saw. Most programmes seem to run $7 or more.

At 21 September, 2009, Anonymous KazK said...

I love the playbills I've picked up when visiting Broadway, and yes, they're all filed away in alphabetical order. Here in Australia we also have to pay for them though. Glossy though they might be they are often around $20 now. Still I buy them as they're a great record of the shows and performers. I've amassed many and it's great to look back on the history of musical theatre here in Australia. Love the advertisements too! Our Melbourne Production Company (bit like your Encores) this season has been giving out free programs or playbills to all patrons. Makes a nice change. One of our theatre historians writes great pieces about the history of each musical both on Broadway and in Australia. Well worth having. Other than that, and some Broadway books, I don't go in for souvenirs of shows either.


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