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Student Blog: My Show Program Collection

As long as I can remember, I've collected Playbills...

Student Blog: My Show Program Collection

Hey BroadwayWorld!

I've always loved collecting things. My bookshelves are overfilled, I have stacks of old magazines, and I even have a stash of cassette tapes. I love to collect vinyl records, retro video games, and bottlecaps, too! Recently I've taken to collecting comic books as well. However, there's one thing I love to collect above all else: Playbills.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time at my cousin's house. As I started to get into musicals, she showed me something special she had tucked away: a small lock box full of Playbills. I remember spending hours at her kitchen table, combing through them, trying to memorize every detail. There were shows like The Producers that I first learned about from that box. It was a magical experience. Ever since then, I have wanted my own collection. My aunt started nabbing extra Playbills whenever she saw shows. Then, slowly but surely, other people in my life followed. Now, whenever my friends see a show, they tend to nab me at least one Playbill.

Over the years, my collection has grown immensely. Aside from friends and family, I've also gone to things like Broadway Flea Market as a means to build my collection, though I rarely buy Playbills, unless they're in bulk, or it's something really special. I've also been known to prowl around Shubert Alley when shows get out on a Sunday afternoon and literally pick Playbills out of the gutter (I've gotten a few souvenir cups this way, too!).

This past weekend, I spent some time sorting them. Several years back, I invested in laminate sleeves to keep them safe. Now, I'm starting to look at frames to hang them on my walls.

As I sifted through bins and binders, happening across Playbills for Adding Machine and Altar Boyz, I started to get excited. My memory isn't great, so everytime I go through my collection, there's a new discovery. Playbill collecting lets me feel connected to shows I couldn't afford to see, or was too young to see. I was seven years old in 2008, so I obviously didn't get to see things like [title of show] while it was on Broadway (even though I would have been the only seven year old that was obsessed with that show). I have a Playbill for it though. I'm not sure where I got it, but whenever I see it, it makes me smile. Same thing goes for more recent shows like Hadestown and The Band's Visit. I've never gotten to see them, but I get to have a piece of them.

Like any collector, I have my white whales. I've spent a while looking for a How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying Playbill with Darren Criss on the cover. I'll always be on the prowl for every Beetlejuice cover variant that was ever printed. And any and all Pride Playbills are always a welcome addition to my collection. But I also think back to great finds that have stumbled into my life. Finding a Playbill for The Frogs sitting in a bin at Broadway Flea Market in 2019, or paying $5 for a Hamilton Original Cast Playbill in January 2016 (the only Playbill I've specifically paid for).

It's a fun little niche. And it's a great way to have an experience with a show, even years or decades after that show is closed. Do any of you collect Playbills? What are your best finds? Or your dream finds? I'd love to hear about them!

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From This Author - Student Blogger: Michael Scuotto