This is the golden era to be a teenager who loves Broadway.
So many of the shows that are popular either tell the stories of teenagers, or have to do with crucial issues about finding out who you are and what you want in the midst and how to connect with the world around you. Some examples of this are Mean Girls, Frozen, Newsies, Heathers, Dear Evan Hansen, Spring Awakening and Anastasia - shows that continue to sell well and have dedicated fanbases even after the closure of their Broadway production.
We may just be a bunch of angry kids with no money, but we have passion. The Audience Choice Awards might as well be called the Thirteen-Year Old From Indiana Who's Never Seen A Show On Broadway Choice Awards because the results always seem to pan out that it's the ones the teenagers love, while the Tonys picks the more "sophisticated" shows.
It's a sincere and deeply held belief of mine that the strongest force on this earth isn't love or faith or hope; but something that transcends all religious barriers, all socioeconomic barriers, and all race barriers: fandom. Just ask Sherlock Holmes or Spock. Fan outrage closed The Great Comet. Fan power got together quite a pretty penny to get a closed show on the Tonys (though there was certainly something going on there that they did not tell us.). And where is most of that passion based? In the hearts of young adults.
So why aren't our voices part of the conversation? Sure, our prefrontal cortices aren't fully formed yet, but that doesn't mean we aren't capable of complex thoughts and reasoning, or that our feelings are any less real, or we feel them less severely than adults do. I read Les Misérables at 12 and War and Peace in four days at 20. Believe me, I can handle complex concepts.
When I went to see a matinee of The Band's Visit with my mother and a friend of a friend, I was waiting elsewhere to meet up with this friend while my mother was in line and struck up a conversation with the woman in front of her. By the time I had collected our guest and found my mom, she had already talked to the woman about Dear Evan Hansen, and indicated that her daughter didn't like it very much (I don't, but stick with me, dear reader) and the woman asked me why. I gave her the truncated version, she shrugged and turned back to what she was doing.
Later, when my mom and I were getting crepes before our evening show, she gave me the full rundown of the conversation, which she was wise not to do at the scene because I might have incited violence. My mom struck up the conversation, as she is a very friendly woman. She asked the woman what else she had seen, and she said Dear Evan Hansen. My mom hasn't seen the show so didn't fully know what to contribute, but aware of my feelings, expressed them. The woman asked how old I was. My mom said twenty. The woman said "Oh, maybe she's just not old enough to understand it."
What? Now, maybe if we were having a conversation about Polaroids, tandem bicycles, or the pound key, she'd have a point, but a show about teenagers with anxiety is just going to go over the head of a 20 year-old with anxiety? Instead of simply accepting that I understood the show just fine, but it wasn't what I wanted it to be, she had to go after my age.
So, if you, woman at the Band's Visit, or anyone else who refuses to let us sit at the adult table until we say Carousel is the best musical ever written, are reading this, why? Why do you do this? We are the generation that you raised to think critically about the media we consume, to formulate our own opinion, instead of just taking any adult's word for it. As a wise, fan-favorite young union leader once said "I'm young, I ain't stupid."
We're ready to make you hear us, and if you aren't ready to give us a seat at the table, that's fine. We'll make our own.
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