My Mother is a Broadway Thief : A New York Story

Melissa Slaughter

In light of the announcement of the 2017 Tony’s coming up, I thought I would share a quick story.

My mother is an experienced playgoer. She started taking me to plays when I was a child; community theatre productions of Sound of Music and Into the Woods. We upgraded to National Tours, traveling hours for Evita, Phantom, Rent and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. For my birthday one year, we travelled 5 hours to see Wicked with Stephanie J Block and Kendra Kassebaum. #NeverForgetYourFirstGalinda/Elphaba. And since I've moved to New York, I'm not sure who's benefitting more from the Broadway shows, me or her.

What I'm getting at is that my mother knows theatre audience protocol. Patti will never rip a cell phone from her hand, nor will my mom ever charge her phone onstage. We've only been late to one show ever (#WeekendTrains).

With all this in mind, let me tell you the tale of my mother and the Great Comet of 1812.

That's right, we saw Great Comet. My mother came in for a weekend extravaganza of Broadway shows and of the five we saw, Great Comet was one of the best. Let me set the scene: much of the Great Comet is takes place on a stage surrounded by tables and chairs. Think Titanic grand ballroom. There are platforms and aisles for the actors to sing and paddle step right next to you.

We got stage seating. Because my mother is amazing.

The second thing you need to know about this show is that it's immersive. Just before curtain up, actors come out to hand audience members dumplings and remind us to turn off our phones. Halfway through, everyone is handed egg shakers so we can partake in the music. Love letters are handed out. Sheets and sheets of the novel War and Peace fall from the mezzanine. And all of it, you can take home.

What you can't do is take home a lone shot glass.

Which is what she did. Oops!

Yep, my 60 year old petite, adorable mother stole from a professional Broadway show. Which is actually something I would do, ironically. My mom has never been prone to stealing. My father and I are the ones known to take glasses from bars. After one pub crawl in Dublin, I woke up the next day with two Guinness glasses and a black beanie in my purse. So when my best friend found out what happened she said, "it's genetic!" But I digress. Back to Mama Slaughter.

Imagine my surprise when my mom pulls out a shot glass at the dinner table in front of my friend, and my boyfriend.

"Look what I got. It still has lipstick on it." Laughter ensues, along with me exclaiming "Mother! You stole a prop!"

"Well, they left it onstage and we could take everything else."

True. No one came to collect the rogue shot glass from our table. And we were in the theatre a bit after the show, chatting with our table mate who'd seen Comet 5 times. We even got asked to leave. That's right, we got bounced for overstaying and then my mom stole a prop!

My mom wishes the story ended there. She wishes she could have this souvenir forever. But alas, this is New York, the smallest Big City in the world. And it just so happened that my friend (name has been redacted to protect the innocent) was friends with a person who worked on Comet. And that person was not amused. Nope, not at all! There was a lot of texting, ranging from chastising to passive aggressive to just conciliatory. As you might imagine, stolen props is not uncommon in this show. But since my mother outed herself a little too early, she was forced to return the wee little glass.

So my mom had to give her precious prop back. And by give it back, I mean I definitely almost had to pry it from her hands. But she handed it over, and gave me and my friend grief over it all night. Did I mention all this was happening while Comet was in their evening performance?

Now, my mom, as I said is awesome. So while she's a little hurt that she got her prize taken back, she still has a good sense of humor. This story came up throughout the rest of the weekend, to my friends, my boyfriend, and his family. Now that she's back home, she's texting me that her friends are on her side. These texts are complete with her trademark emoji exclamation points‼️

But somehow, I think the way this shook out is even better. There's a rise, a climax, a denouement. There's conflict. And it's so New York. Because we could see any show anywhere in the world. And she could have taken a prop from anything. So this bizarre kismet was a true New York moment. The only thing that could have made this more New York is if my friend was actually Josh Groban or David Molloy and they had taken the glass back.

None of these thoughts has made her feel better. To quote her "I want the damn glass back." She's adorable when she swears.

But seriously, only in New York can you take a prop from a Broadway show and have some from the show ask for it back through a third party! I mean, this is a Broadway show, y'all. This glass could wind up touching Josh Groban's face. Or wind up on the Tony's. It could be a Tony-Award winning shot glass! It's going to have more adventures than if my mom just had it sitting her in kitchen cupboard, only to be taken to show off to jealous friends and neighbors.

So pour one out for my mom's lost glass and wish good luck on it's stage life. And maybe next time, Comet, pick props up a little early. You never know when a roving sextagerian will take something away.