Circle Mirror Transformation

"13" and feeling it, on the chorus line. Photo: Staged! Musical Theatre

A funny thing happened on the way to the theater over the weekend. I couldn’t figure out what age I was in.

I don’t mean age as in Paleozoic or Golden or Romantic. I mean age as in 13 or 35 or 64.

The theater isn’t as audience-straitjacketed as television, which jumps through marketing hoops in which one 24-year-old viewer is worth two 48-year-olds or twelve 72-year-olds, but it does have its chronological categories – or silos, if you prefer. Theatrically speaking, small-r romance is delivered obsessively or nostalgically, depending on the target audience, and beyond the occasional no-neck monster down Big Daddy way, children pretty much don’t exist.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my weekend of theatergoing reflected a culture in which, against every effort of the demographic packaging machine, various age groups actually meet and mingle. Or at least, think about what it might be like to be somewhere else along the timeline of life.


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