Finishing a Collection

Feb 5, 2015

A long-standing goal of mine since moving to New York has been to see a show in every Broadway theater (there are 40 in total). One of the very first things I put on this site was a page to track the shows I’ve seen and their theaters. When I first put it up, it probably had 10 or 12 shows, and now it has more than 140. As I write this, every theater but one has been visited, and that one will probably be done in the next couple weeks. It’s been an interesting process.

At first, getting new theaters wasn’t much of an achievement at all, as basically every show I went to caused a new theater to be added to the list. The first duplicate was on my seventh show, when I saw Spamalot at the Shubert Theatre for the second time. The first time I saw a second show in the same Broadway theater was my 24th show (counting off-Broadway and dance shows), when I saw The Drowsy Chaperone at the Marquis Theatre, having previously seen La Cage aux Folles there.

The pace eventually slowed, though. In late 2010 and early 2011, I went through a dedicated period, adding my 32nd through 35th theaters (the Broadway through the newly renamed Steven Sondheim) over 6 months. After another 6 months, I had two more, the Helen Hayes on September 30 and the New Amsterdam on November 4.

At that point, I hit a wall. I had three more theaters to visit, but all of them were problematic. The Minskoff Theatre was (and is) playing The Lion King, a show I saw twice in Los Angeles and didn’t have much interest in seeing again, and there weren’t any signs of it closing (nor are there now). In a similar boat was the Ambassador, which has been playing Chicago for nearly 20 years, a show I saw in San Francisco long ago. The Longacre, the third missing theater, was a different problem: it largely runs straight plays rather than musicals, which generally have comparatively short runs, so it was dark due to a transition between shows frequently, and the quality of the show at any given time was unpredictable. For more than three years I didn’t add a new theater to the list.

Now, though, I’m finishing up. The Longacre was open, and it was playing You Can’t Take It With You starring James Earl Jones, so that one got marked off on January 15. (It was excellent.) A week later, we bit the bullet and saw The Lion King to clear the Minskoff. Only the Ambassador and Chicago remain, a show I’m not heartbroken to have to see, though a bit ironic that my project will be completed by seeing a show named after New York’s closest rival.

One of the benefits of a project like this is looking back through the list and remembering the shows and the things associated with them. A few fun tidbits from the collection:

I’m a bit sad to be finishing up, as having the project in progress was in some ways more interesting than having it completed, but I’ve got some more collections lined up to achieve. Obviously, I’ll have to see a show in every West End theater (there are also about 40 of those), but I have some other ideas as well. Mostly, though, I’m relieved that I was able to finish the project before leaving New York.