Through Good and Bad, My Dad and I Always Had Theatre

Raven Snook

The last show I saw with my father was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It was an early October evening in 2014, and it was the first time I realized he was sick. He coughed all through dinner and the show, insisting it was just a cold, but his pallor and inability to focus indicated otherwise. He died of a rare cancer the day after Thanksgiving that year.

I was lucky to grow up in New York City at a time when middle-class families could easily afford to go to Broadway shows. My father took me, his only child, frequently, initially to musicals and later to dramas, too. Neither one of us could recall which Main Stem production was my first (I wish he had written it down the way my mother recorded the dates I took my first steps and said my first word). However, I had vivid memories of us seeing the Duke Ellington revue Sophisticated Ladies when I was 10, particularly Gregory Hines's seemingly effortless tapping and Alvin Ailey star Judith Jamison descending a staircase draped in a white coat with a high fur collar that I covet to this day. So by default, it became my "first" Broadway show and was an experience my father and I cherished and spoke of frequently -- especially since talking about real life did not come easy to us.

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