How are you?
I think after these last weeks of writing for you and telling you what’s coming up and going down in Dayton theatre, I feel like I can trust you.
Can I trust you?
Because I’m gonna tell you a secret.
I don’t like Wicked.
Shh! Wait, don’t freak out! It’s ok. I’m not alone. I have a support group (they declined to be publicly named, fearing for their safety.) We help each other, after our opinion draws stares and exclamations of horror and disbelief from other theatre-goers. Also? I’m happy for you if you like Wicked. Not everyone has to like all the same stuff.
Thing is? I’m really really glad that Wicked is here.
I know that might sound a little crazy considering what I just said. And you’d have a point. I mean, have you tried parking downtown the last few days? Ridiculous! All those cars? All those people! What about trying to eat somewhere? Uno’s, across from the Schuster Center, has almost all their tables reserved for people coming from or going to the show. Citilites is packed. This madness even spills into the sanctity of the Oregon District, where non-regulars throng to the bars and restaurants. People from places with weird, exotic names like “Centerville” and “Troy” and “Urbana”.
So, why, again, am I so happy?
Read that paragraph above, and then think about it in terms for what it does for the Gem City.
Here’s a hint: We’re talking about a little thing called revenue. Economy. Lucre. Money.
According to Kristin Wicker of the Downtown Dayton Partnership (and, of course, a columnist for Dayton Most Metro), who cites the Victoria Theatre Association, Wicked‘s visit will have an impact on Downtown to the tune of 15 to 18 million. Can you think of any city that wouldn’t benefit from something like that? Especially our beloved (but at times beleaguered) Downtown?
The Downtown Dayton Partnership has even partnered with business downtown to offer what they’re calling some “Oz-some Wicked Deals.” Businesses like Blind Bobs and the Dublin Pub are offering special Wicked-themed drinks and appetizers on their menu, as well as offering certain percentages off your bill when you present your ticket stub. A full list of businesses participating, and what they’re offering, can be found on the here.
See, stuff like that is good. Stuff like Wicked is what brings people to the city, to one location. Stuff like these deals are what bring people to other locations. And what bring them back. They’ll remember the great dinner or post-show drinks they had somewhere. That brings in money. Even more importantly, it raises people’s opinions and awareness of Downtown.
Again, from Wicker, “…a big show like this is terrific for downtown because it brings more than 73,000 people from throughout the region – and outside the Dayton area – to downtown to experience the best it has to offer. It’s really an opportunity to showcase downtown Dayton.”
That it is. And Downtown Dayton has been at its best these last few days. We had First Friday, and then Pride Saturday. Saturday was also the Annual Zombie Walk through the Oregon District. People who came to see Wicked last night also saw crowds heading into the Loft Theatre to see Band Geeks, or into the Victoria Theatre to see the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus perform songs by ABBA. If they then decided to go have a drink at one of the District’s bars and saw the fun and vibrant night life there, including several hundred zombies, what great things might they have to say to their friends?
Sure, on Monday morning they’ll be gushing about the show, and the amazing effects. But at some point they’ll begin talking about the experience as a whole. Maybe not right then, but next time someone mentions coming in to Dayton for something, they’ll say, “Y’know, when Brad and I went to see Wicked a while back, the parking was way better than it had been. Then we went to a bar and it was the craziest thing! They had some Zombie party. We took pictures, here, let me show you this one guy…” or “You know, Cyndi and I had the best time down there when we saw, honey what was that show? With the witches? Wicked, yeah. We even walked around for a bit afterwards. They have this park area just a couple blocks from the theatre, by the river? It was really nice.”
And then maybe next year, when the VTA announces its (always really solid) Broadway series, they’ll come see something else. Something that might not have normally had the name recognition of a Wicked or a Phantom.
So, I’m ok with that. I’m ok if this brings 73,000 people to town to see Wicked and, by extension, experience Downtown. I think we should all be willing to put up with some traffic, some crowds and, yes, even stump for a show we don’t like all that much, if that’s what it takes to make Dayton “Popular”.
Editor’s Note: Here are some other local articles done on Wicked – now playing through June 24th 2012 at The Schuster Performing Arts Center.
There are still good seats available at TicketCenterStage.com.