There is so much more to going to a show than simply going to a show.
True, a night at the theater or opera is very much about the production that entertains from center stage. But it’s also what happens offstage that makes the experience memorable, or not. And with show season kicking off, and scores of concerts, plays, musicals and operas coming our way, here are some highlights and suggestions for enjoying these shows with the right pregame warm-up and post-show wind-down.
The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 70th anniversary this season, so there’s plenty on deck, from a family-friendly Disney-themed concert night (Oct. 10), to a classic Silent Film Night where the symphony will soundtrack Charlie Chaplain’s “City Lights” (Jan. 9).
Mark your calendars for Feb. 20 and the Symphony’s “Music of James Bond and Beyond.” We all know Bond is a bit boozy. He himself, in the novel “Casino Royale,” said, “I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink.”
Join the club, James! And get in the mood for this Bond-themed show with – you guessed it – a gin martini, shaken not stirred. Sullivan’s Steakhouse serves a fine version of Bond’s signature cocktail. If piney gin’s not your thing, 007 also enjoys champagne or whiskey. Bottom line: To get in the Bond frame of mind, keep it classy, simple and timeless.
Juneau-based Perseverance Theatre celebrates its 37th season this year, bringing four plays to the Anchorage stage. Look for adaptations of classics like Othello and A Christmas Carol and the hard-hitting Our Voices Will be Heard, about sexual abuse in Alaska.
Perseverance is also staging a much-buzzed-about production called In the Next Room, referred to colloquially as “the vibrator play” (April 15-24, 2016). Billed as a “modern comedy of manners full of exploration and fulfillment,” the play looks at the history of the vibrator. This just screams Ladies Night, does it not? Start with lemon drop and Cosmopolitan martinis at Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge, and after the show, make an inspired shopping trip to the Castle Megastore on Fifth Avenue.
Cyrano’s Theater Company has a busy season ahead, with more than a dozen planned productions. The Good Times are Killing Me (May 5-29, 2016) is advertised as a musical play and comic drama set in a 1960s interracial neighborhood. It sounds like that perfect mix of material that will inspire thoughtful conversations about shared experiences and laughter post-show around a pitcher of beer with pals. Pick a neighborhood, blue-collar venue for this wrap-up, like Crossroads Lounge, Darwin’s Theory or the Blue Fox.
The Anchorage Concert Association has a slew of familiar favorites and enticing new titles coming to its stage this season. Mama Mia! (Jan. 12-17) will please Broadway fans. Launch your night with a proper amount of inspiring Italian food and wine. The wood-fired pizza at Fat Ptarmigan or various pasta entrees at Fletcher’s keep you within walking distance of the Performing Arts Center.
I always look forward to The Nutcracker, a whimsical holiday classic (Nov. 27-29). My sister and I go together, and beforehand, we go to Ginger for either brunch or dinner, depending on show time, and we order fancy drinks and share stories about family holidays. As far as traditions go, we have this one down to an exact science.
And that’s the thing about enjoying the experience of a show. You want to be thoughtful about it so that the experience runs smoothly and enhances the outing, vs. creating stress or complication.
Here are some general tips to remember:
• Leave yourself plenty of time if you want to eat or drink before a performance. No one wants to be rushing to find parking or seats as the house lights dim.
• Consider selecting a preshow restaurant or bar within walking distance of the venue so you only have to park once. Have cash on hand. It will make for a swifter bill-paying experience if your meal runs longer than expected.
• And finally, don’t overeat or overdrink. Those tickets will seem like a waste of money if you’re suffering in your seat with an over-sated tummy, or too booze-blurry to remember the performance.