As you may know, the Broadway show, Wicked, played in Peoria from October 12th through October 30th. When tickets went on sale a few months ago, I bought tickets for me, Georgette, and our three youngest daughters, Mary, Christine and Teresa. Tickets ranged in price from $42 to $127. I got by “cheap” by purchasing the $42 (second balcony) tickets for a total cost of $210..
When we arrived for the show at the Civic Center Theatre on Friday evening, October 28th, there were several vendors’ booths that were set up to sell promotional shirts, jackets, CD’s, and other popular Wicked merchandise. The girls decided they wanted to buy shirts so we ended up standing in line for about 10 minutes. As we approached the counter, we learned that the price of a simple T-shirt with the word “Wicked” printed on it was $35. The prices of the other shirts were higher depending on the style, color, fabric, size of lettering, etc.
Of course, each of the girls bought a shirt as a “memory” of the evening. I tried to talk them out of “wasting” their money, but was unsuccessful. I even offered to buy T-shirts at Wal-Mart and handwrite the word “Wicked” on each of the shirts with a Sharpie marker. They looked at me like I was an alien from Mars and politely refused my offer. They wanted the real thing.
The guy behind the counter was courteous, patient, and knowledgeable. As the girls were looking through the shirts and asking questions, I asked the guy if he paid for the Wicked sweatshirt he was wearing. With a surprised look on his face he said, “What’d you say?” I asked him the same question again. He responded that he traveled with the troupe from city to city and his job was to sell merchandise. Prior to him answering my question, I had assumed that he was a local resident, but wondered how the Wicked team was able to find such a good temporary employee.
After purchasing the shirts, we walked through the lobby and passed by several tables that were loaded with expensive gourmet desserts. There were also banners hanging in the lobby showing the Wicked picture and logo. I noticed several of the flood lights in the lobby were green which added a tint of green to everything in the lobby.
After we stepped off of the elevator on the balcony level of the lobby, I noticed that there were small specially made lights that were sitting on the floor alongside the entire length of the rounded wall of steel-framed windows located on the east side of the building. The lights were pointing up toward the wall of windows, illuminating the windows and steel frames with a green hue.
The theatre, which seats 1800 people, was packed. You could sense the excitement in the air from the people who were waiting for the show to begin. Of interest to me was the fact that at least two-thirds of the people in the theatre appeared to be under the age of 35.
The main character in the show was the “wicked witch,” Elphaba. Because Elphaba was born with green skin, she was portrayed as an outcast (both as a young child and as she grew up). Throughout the entire show, the color green was prominent, most notably during the “Emerald City” scene. Of course, as is the case with most Broadway productions, the cast performed magnificently.
During the intermission, as I observed everyone in the theatre, I did some quick calculations in my head. I figured total gross revenue for that one evening alone had to be in excess of $165,000. It appeared to me that the majority of the people who bought the most expensive tickets were ordinary, middle class people.
How is it that the majority of people who saw the show were able to justify the purchase of such high-priced tickets and merchandise, especially when you consider the fact that we’re in a recessionary economy?
There is one desire that all humans possess – the desire to experience something unique and exciting. The one advantage we Americans have that most other people in the world don’t have, is that we have the ability to pay for (or borrow the money to pay for) expensive, stimulating experiences. But even though we’re willing to shell out a lot of money for a particular experience, most of us still cut coupons, shop for deals, and do without for extended periods of time so we can save enough money to buy the experience.
If you’ve ever been to Disney, you know what I’m talking about. The Disney empire was built and continues to prosper (even during downturns in the economy), by offering a unique (expensive) experience.
Last week, a friend of mine paid several hundred dollars for two tickets to see the St. Louis Cardinals play in the 7th game of the World Series. When the opportunity presented itself, he bought the tickets, cleared his calendar, and drove his seven year old son to St. Louis to see the game. He purchased an expensive and unique experience he and his son will always remember.
From the time we walked into the lobby of the Civic Center Theatre last Friday night until the time we walked out, we were treated to a unique experience – the merchandise, the knowledgeable and patient employees, the banners, the lights, the performance (and most likely several other things my brain picked up but I didn’t consciously notice). Was the experience worth the money? Almost everyone who was there that night would answer “Yes.” They were happy to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience – one they could enjoy with their families or friends.
So here’s my question for you: How much are you willing to pay to experience Heaven for all eternity? Are you willing to pay with your life, like some of the saints did? Are you willing to pay with 15 minutes of your time each day to pray a rosary? Are you willing to pay with 15 minutes of your time each day to read the Bible? Are you willing to pay with an hour of your time each week to adore our Lord in the adoration chapel? Are you willing to pay with 30 minutes of your time each day to attend Mass? Are you willing to pay with the time needed to perform an act of charity every day?
Make no mistake about it. There is a price we all have to pay before we can claim our ticket for entrance into Heaven. How are we going to explain to Almighty God that we planned and saved for months (or even years) so we could “experience” something here on earth, while we had no specific plan as to what we were willing to do in order to be admitted into Heaven?
There is going to be a “time” when you will stand outside the gates of Paradise and will be asked if you paid for your “ticket” to enter. Will you be able to honestly answer with a “Yes”?