New York University President L. Jay Oliva said the idea came to him in the middle of the night. He saw everyone trying to do their own thing to help in the wake of Sep. 11, and this idea, he said, "is my personal business."
The "business" that Dr. Oliva refers to is the new NYU "Give Your Regards to Broadway" Initiative. The plan, which was announced at the "NYU Family Gathering" on Oct. 12, had NYU receiving enormous donations of Broadway tickets on behalf of the League of American Theatres and Producers and the Shubert Organization. These tickets would be sold to NYU students for a small "co-payment" of $5.
The money raised through these ticket sales will be used to purchase more tickets that will be given to World Trade Center emergency crews, survivors and students from nearby schools.
In its first week, the program was a complete success, selling tickets for some of Broadway's biggest, including Phantom, Les Miz and Kiss Me Kate. All 871 tickets were sold out in only 3 days.
The top seller among NYU students? Rent , of course. Playbill On-Line spoke to President Oliva on Friday (Oct. 19). In addition to his duties as President of NYU, he enjoys acting, singing and even dancing in his spare time. At the 25th Annual Tisch School of the Arts Gala last spring, Oliva showed off his tap dancing skills to Lincoln Center. Being a performer at heart, this project means a lot to him. "Broadway needs audiences now," he said, "And some students don't even get a chance to see a Broadway show." That, he concluded, made the match quite natural.
Due to the success of its inaugural run, Dr. Oliva has been tirelessly calling and finding more tickets for the second round of sales. Students will be able to purchase tickets to Hedda Gabler, Dance of Death, Proof, Cabaret, The Full Monty, AIDA, The Music Man and even the BAM New Wave Festival. Dr. Oliva hopes to make the list longer as time passes. "We're just reaching out right now," he said, "And we'll get more and more, but it's like that song says — 'One Day at a Time.'"
Through this concerted effort among students and faculty of NYU and the Broadway community, NYU expects to bring in thousands of dollars and purchase hundreds of tickets for those affected by the recent tragedy.
However, Dr. Oliva quickly points out, the focus shouldn't just be on the present: "This isn't just about getting by," he said, "This is about making things better." He theorizes that this program will bring a larger clientele to the Great White Way in the future. If a student who normally would not go to the theatre gets a chance like this and goes, President Oliva says confidently, "They'll come back."
— by Steve Luber