Mother's Day is now part of the marketing mix for theaters looking to sell tickets on or around the May 9 holiday.
The idea is simple: You oughta take your mom to the theater.
Print ads for Broadway shows such as The Sound of Music and Ragtime -- musicals with prominent mother characters -- include messages that remind us of the holiday but don't offer special events or discounts. Other productions, such as Off-Broadway's Beautiful Thing, looking for extra business on a holiday (and in general), are offering buy-one-get-one-free tix if you take your mom.
Other theaters sweeten performances with other discounts or champagne toasts.
Ragtime's print ad, for example, says, "Celebrate Mother's Day at Ragtime." The print ad for The Sound of Music invites us to "Give mom one of here favorite things..." Neither show offers anything special beyond the show on those days, according to spokespeople for the musicals. One of Ragtime's main characters is simply known as Mother, and, of course, would-be nun Maria becomes a stepmother to the Von Trapp clan in The Sound of Music.
Having Mother and Maria arm-wrestle on Eighth Avenue, around the corner from both the Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the Martin Beck Theater, might be a good idea for a Mother's Day special event, but there are no such plans, according to spokespeople. "But the lights will shine more brightly on Mother on Mother's Day," quipped a Ragtime spokesman.
Theaters around the country -- particularly nonprofits -- may be offering special prices or incentives. Call you favorite theatre and ask.
* The pugnacious but loving working class mum of Beautiful Thing, the coming-out-of-the-closet play by Jonathan Harvey, at the Cherry Lane Theatre Off-Broadway, can been seen for free by your mum. Ask (in person only) at the box office about the two-for-one Mother's Day special May 9, 3 PM and 7:30 PM.
* The Sheraton Manhattan and the Madison Square Garden staging of The Wizard of Oz offer a weekend getaway package featuring a one-night stay and two tickets the stage adaptation of the classic film (this version stars Mickey Rooney and Jo Anne Worley). Hotel availability is for May 7 and 8. There are three Wizard shows May 9: 11 AM, 2 PM and 5 PM. Call (212) 841-6400.
* Santa Monica Playhouse is offering a free ticket for moms with the purchase of one ticket to its staging of the mother-daughter drama, Kindertransport, May 7-9. Reservations are necessary. Call (310) 394-9779 ext. 1.
* Pan Asian Repertory Theater scheduled a Mother's Day matinee for The Joy Luck Club, the only Sunday performance of the April 14-May 15 run, and it's nearly sold out (must be the mother-daughter theme). Scattered tickets may become available at the door, however. Find Pan Asian at St. Clement's Theatre, 324 W. 46th St. in Manhattan. Call (212) 245-2660.
* In the quirky new play, The Goldberg Variations, a daughter begins traveling the world with the spirit of her dead mom, at the Miranda Theater Company, 259 W. 30th St., in New York City. Their $25-per-ticket Mother's Day benefit, with proceeds going to the nonprofit troupe, happens a day early (2 PM May 8). A champagne-hors doeuvres reception (with gifts and chocolate!) is being served up after the show. Call (212) 268-9829 ext. 1.
-- By Kenneth Jones