That "Nostalgic" Feeling

Jennifer Butler

  • OnStage Massachusetts Columnist

In the past I have written about time travel and the places theater can take you but this post is a little bit different. This is about the nostalgia of theater and how certain shows and experiences can make the theater feel more like home than any place does.

For me, the theater is nostalgic because it was the first place since college that I have actually felt like I belong. Getting reacquainted with the theater two years ago was seriously the best thing I ever did.  It gives me a place to go when I feel the urge to run. The shows themselves create new memories or bring back long forgotten ones, but the theater itself gives me a sense of belonging and that is not something that happens very often, and at times is the one thing I wish I had in a lot of other places.  

My first introduction to theater was when I was seven and my grandparents took me to see a local production of Annie. It was unlike anything I have ever seen and led me to being in my first show at my elementary school. Now this is not my favorite show or necessarily the best one I have seen but because of that night and the people that I saw it with, that show will always mean something to me.

 I've seen Jersey Boys twice but not with the person that would love it the most. Growing up that was my grandmother's kind of music and it’s a show she would've loved.  I had one of those moments after the first time I saw the show, both my mom and I looked at each other and said “Nana should be here.” There are many other shows I wish she was here to see with me. I know she would have loved to see An American in Paris and The King and I, but most importantly she would have wanted to see any show that I was involved with. We didn’t get to experience the theater much together before she passed, but that first memory of seeing Annie with her and my grandfather at age seven is one of those memories that I will never forget. 

Wicked brings that same feeling of nostalgia because it’s talks about the difference in people and how we can all connect on some level. This is also one of very few shows that both my mom and I can enjoying watching together. Most of our theater adventures are because she wants to support me and the things I love. 

I have seen many shows, and enjoyed some aspect of them all, but these are shows mentioned here are ones that will stick with me of the nostalgic feeling I get when I see them. Some people say certain shows are the best because of the amount of awards that they have won or because of the actors that are in them. But to me, the best shows are the ones that bring back the forgotten memories or remind me of the people that I saw them with.  

Photo: Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards