BTL memories blog

Memories of the Broadway experience right here in Huntsville

When I was young, I thought live theater was only for people who lived in big cities and had lots of money. My small Georgia hometown had access only to plays performed by local high school students.

It wasn’t until I was a young single mother that I experienced a live show here in Huntsville. I’d learned of the Broadway Theater League from an old friend who was – and is – a big supporter. My friend and I took my daughter and her son, both 6 years old, to see the show, which featured former Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby as the titular character. We dressed the children in nice outfits and went out for a night on the town.

When the show began, I was as enthralled as the kids by the lights, songs and a Peter Pan who soared across the stage. It really made me understand the talent involved in acting and singing, much more so than watching a film. It’s an experience that makes you heart say, “Wow. Just wow.” Sharing that feeling with friends and family is an experience that warms your heart.

From that night on, I have been a fan of live shows – and very grateful to live in a city that gives people access to all the talent of Broadway in New York.

Creating New Memories

As my daughter grew, we attended plays as often as we could. In 2005, we went to see “Grease,” the tour in which Frankie Avalon performed his hit, “Beauty School Dropout.” My daughter was too young to know Frankie Avalon was “a big deal” – I was even too young to know him from anything but “Grease,” but the show was incredible and, afterward, we were able to get Avalon’s autograph on our playbill.

After my daughter left for college, I was reunited with some old school friends and we began to go to plays. I’ve seen “Chicago,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Annie,” “The Sound of Music,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “Cinderella,” “Mama Mia!” and several others. Attending the shows, many of which have connections to movies and music we loved as teens, has been a wonderful bonding activity.

My daughter and I eventually got to go to New York to see a show on Broadway. We saw “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” where the magical car flew out into the audience. It was an incredible night but it made me realize how lucky I am to be able to experience the Broadway feeling whenever I want.

The friend who invited me to that first show gave me “the gift of Broadway,” and memories which will last a lifetime. More than that, she taught me something about the city I’ve called home for 40-some years – we can have big-city experiences without ever leaving town, thanks to Broadway Theater League.

-Kelly Kazek

Kelly Kazek, an award-winning journalist and humor columnist, travels the South’s backroads writing about roadside attractions and Southern culture for It’s a Southern Thing and This is Alabama. She is the author of two humor books and numerous books of regional history. Born in Georgia and raised in Alabama, she is a true daughter of the South.

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