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  • Michael & Susan Parker

LOVE IN THE THEATRE



HELLO VALENTINE'S DAY?

Valentine's Day got me thinking about love, which got me thinking about dates, which got me thinking about theatre, which got me thinking about being a playwright, which got me thinking about Valentine's Day...(If it sounds familiar maybe you've read the story, If you Give A Mouse A Cookie?)


So I decided to get off the 'hamster wheel' and view Valentine's Day through the lens of a playwright. Is this holiday important in the world of theatre. Are plays included in theatre's seasons based on this one day in February? Why don't people attend plays on February 14th? And most importantly, could any of my fifteen plays be considered a Valentine's Day box office draw to the thousands of theatres out there today?


 A ROMANTIC THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE?

On this particular day, we tend to classify ourselves as either A: Married, B: Single C: In a relationship D: Dating or E: I don't want to be labeled. And, as much as we try not to, we often allow 'societal norms' to take over and insist we DO something when February 14th rolls around, but what? When I asked my friends what they had planned, depending on their status, their answers ranged from a romantic dinner out, attending a concert with friends, dinner and a movie at home, or a walk along the beach.


Obviously, going to the theatre wasn't a happening choice, but why? Then duh, it occurred to me, Valentine's Day falls on days when most theatres are dark, Monday-Thursday. And to make matters worse, February 14th will only fall on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday (When most theatres are open) approximately every 400 years. So unless you live near Broadway or a Professional Dinner Theatre, seeing a play on Valentine's Day isn't really an option.



SO ARE THEATRES MISSING OUT ON LOVE?

It's not like theatre hasn't embraced romance since the time of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On Broadway, there have been more than 200 plays with the word love in the title. The longest running show on broadway was Andrew Loyd Webber's epic musical love story, The Phantom of the Opera with over 13,000 performances. There are plenty of plays written about love to tickle everyones fancy. A quick sampling are West Side Story's timeless musical by Arthur Laurent, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, entertaining audiences forever. How about the classic romantic comedy Private Lives by Noel Coward, or do you need something more modern? Try Sarah Rule's contemporary romantic comedy, Stage Kiss, or my hilarious Parker Plays, boasting love and laughter with titles that include, Sandy Toes & Salty Kiss, Love, Lies & the Doctor's Dilemma and The Lone Star Love Potion.


But, with so many opportunities to give audiences a romantic theatrical experience, why was I only able to discover a couple theatres in a radius of 150 miles of me in South Florida, that were attempting to attract people to their Valentine's Day event? The Tampa (Movie/Arts)  Theatre is opening it's doors to a "Tie The Knot/Renew Your Vows" experience on their historic stage on February 14th. The Seminole Theatre in Homestead, FL is holding a Valentine's Day wine and chocolate pairing, and the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, is always open on a Wednesday. And there ends the list. (If there is a theatre I missed I apologize.)  


I get it, romantic plays are often scheduled in the time slot around February 14th, but are theatre's missing out on what movie theatres have discovered? Valentine's Day has been a popular launch day for romantic movies for the past 15 years and that has evolved into powerhouse box office returns. So why doesn't live theatre entertain ideas of how to be a part of this specific 'date'/holiday and boost patron engagement?


Isn't it possible that lovers of theatre would enjoy attending a performance, perhaps paired with horderves and champagne on February 14th? What if the play offered sweethearts, bromances and Galentines an opportunity to partake in 100% guaranteed, laugh-out loud entertainment? Wouldn't that be sweet!




A LOVE NOTE

To My Beloved Theatres,

I'm not in the business of telling you what to do or how to run your theatre, but might I offer a suggestion? Why not think outside the box for next year and do something wild and crazy? Why not do a Valentine's Day show on Valentine's Day? Love and friendship are in the air, and what better way to celebrate than providing fun and laughter in the theatre. The brilliant African American playwright, August Wilson said, "All you need in the world is love and laughter. That's all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other."


There are an abundance of great plays to choose from, many have been around for quite awhile, but I encourage you to do something fresh. Take a look at a Parker Play. I promise they will deliver an unforgettable quality show that allows your audience to laugh at the absurdities of life. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that craziness goes hand-in-hand with love. For Valentine's Day you might want to start with Sandy Toes & Salty Kisses, which from beginning to end provides side-splitting comedy about a destination wedding gone awry. It features witty banter, faced-paced chaos and mistaken identities. And with the world's most inept wedding planner, you're left wondering if the bride and groom will ever make it to the alter.

Sure hope to see you in the theatre next Valentine's Day,

Susan


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