Thursday, April 24, 2008

Volunteering for Arts

When I lived in San Antonio, I was a volunteer at the Majestic Theatre. I did everything from take tickets, play the xylophone that indicated curtain, operated the old-fashioned hand-cranked elevator and was a usher. I signed up to meet people and see shows for free. My first objective wasn't really met. Texans are friendly, but San Antonians tend to be homebodies and aren't really spontaneous. However, that being said, the Majestic has one of the largest volunteer staff in the US; it just that most of their volunteers were retired military couples. But my second goal was definitely met. I saw San Antonio Symphony performances regularly, touring Broadway shows (Showboat, Annie, Cinderella, Cabaret, Cats, etc.) concerts (most memorable was Tori Amos), Jerry Seinfeld's standup (he opened in San Antonio just after Seinfeld finished its run), and more. I only had to commit to "working" one night a month, which was usually a symphony night. When I came to New York, I was thrilled to learn that there are even more opportunities to volunteer - most of the non-profit groups need hands to help, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Broadway Barks, the non-profit theatres, some of the off-Broadway theatres, The Actor's Fund and most of the dance companies. Basically, my objectives are the same, although now I throw in the fact that I just want to be a part of it all. I have volunteered with hitshowclub.com to usher at the Drama Desk Awards and a few events with The Acting Fund. Last night was my first opportunity to volunteer for the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. I've been asked a number of times to help them out, but my schedule never allowed it. This time I was free. Imagine my glee when I learned that the biggest bonus would be that Bernadette Peters would be performing! Last night, after helping roll 40th Anniversary posters, I was relegated to the coat room. I got the hang of it quickly (those little tags are a little tricky) and saw some gorgeous coats (some ladies were pessimistic about the weather I think). A nice guy named David came and relieved me during the show so I could watch it. Wow. I'm not usually a fan of dancing, unless it involves taps or kick lines, but Lar Lubovitch's choreography was so fun and gorgeous. Bernadette, who met Lar when he choreographed Into the Woods, appeared in her usual sparkly Bob Mackie and sang Fever and Some Enchanted Evening. I resumed my coat room post after the show, was treated to dinner and even got a few tips (which I'll apply toward a Lar Lubovitch ticket in November!). I met some incredible people, phone numbers were exchanged and made promises of working again for the Company. It was one of the best volunteer nights I've ever had and I definitely think there's some more volunteering in my future.


3 comments:

Jiva Tsamba said...

You always have so much fun!
You should give classes on "How To Have A Great Time In New York City!" :)

Roxie said...

I had a completely volunteer staff in my last job which was both super rewarding and super frustrating (trying to fill eight shows a week!!!)

Volunteering is great!

Lani Anderson said...

That's awesome! I love Bernadette, and I got to meet her when she gave a similar performance in Tyler, Texas on April 12. It was amazing!