A 71-Year Affair With Theatre Began When Shows Were 99 Cents

Outside the Theatre   A 71-Year Affair With Theatre Began When Shows Were 99 Cents
This New York native remembers seeing the original Oklahoma! and getting hooked on theatre.
Monica Simoes

Who: Pearl Shapiro
Snapped: On 44th Street outside the St. James Theatre

How long have you been going to see shows on Broadway?
71 years. I’ve seen maybe five or six within the past two months. I really love the theatre— there’s nothing like it.

I’m guessing you’re from New York?
Born in Brooklyn; I live in Manhattan. It’s where I’ll stay. It’s the greatest place in the world.

Can you tell me about a New York moment that stands out for you?
Some of the blizzards. My father was producing a show in Newark, which we went to see in previews. There was a 46-inch snowfall and the show lost all its money. I’ll never forget that. I was about 12.

So you come from a theatre family?
My father loved the theatre, and he wanted to produce. My mother also loved the theatre. Starting when I was ten, my sisters would take me to see shows on Broadway. The first show I saw was Oklahoma! where we’re standing right now. I also saw Carousel and The Sound of Music here [at the St. James Theatre.] We always sat at the top for 99 cents.

Has a show ever been life-changing for you?
Probably Long Day’s Journey Into Night—which I saw many, many years ago—with Jason Robards. It was just the most phenomenal acting. The play was marvelous and very touching because you saw a whole family crumble before your eyes.

What makes a show special to you?
The songs. If you come out of a show singing at least one of the songs, that makes the show.

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