Three Generations of Theatre Love
From the Big Apple to the Mini-Apple, Hennepin Theatre Trust donor Denine Taylor shares her love affair with live theatre. She tells the story of how her relationship with the theatre blossomed and how she is sharing her passion as a theatre enthusiast with her son.
The January 1, 2011 performance of Billy Elliot at the Orpheum Theatre signified more than just an opportunity to see a great performance at the start of a new year. It was a fresh start and a hopeful wave goodbye to the breast cancer I had fought in 2010 and a way to welcome in a new life that would once again include great theatre. And just as I was making my own reconnection with theatre as a new Trust donor, I was passing along a generations old love of the performing arts to my son, Sam, by bringing him along for the ride.
My love of theatre began in 1963. My parents drove my older brother and me to New York City to see Oliver! on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre. Even at eight years old, I had come to love everything about New York City: the people, the energy, the cost of lunch that made my Dad wince and especially the way he and my Mom seemed to stand up straighter as we entered the theatre. Even though I was just a kid, I knew: this was a big deal.
I remember going inside the beautifully ornate theatre and nestling into the velour-covered seat. The combination of my red velvet dress on the velour seat made it impossible to move, but I didn’t want to. I was transfixed. The pure energy of live theatre came at me as if I was the only one in the audience. I wanted to scream this funny word I heard people saying: “Bravo!”
Many, many years later, my career in the newspaper business landed me in Times Square- just steps away from Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. As a young professional working in the city and living on a budget, I made the most of my opportunities to see Broadway shows as often as I could. As many times as I attended Broadway plays during my almost twenty years in New York, there was something wonderful about knowing that whether you went to a show or not, it was still happening. Right down the street and ready to welcome you in the afternoon or evening for the experience of a lifetime.
By 1996, I was married, living in Minneapolis and the mother of an energetic six-year-old who had been diagnosed with autism. During this time, the call of motherly duty was too intense for me to reserve any live theatre. Sam went through a rough patch after our move that lasted several years. I rarely took a curtain call during this period and longed for things to settle down so I could arrange some me time for the thriving Minneapolis theatre district I had heard so much about.
These memories came flooding back to me during that New Year’s Day performance of Billy Elliot, Sam’s first live theatre performance at the Orpheum Theatre. Sitting next to him, hoping that my newly grown-in buzz cut after the last round of chemo looked chic, I was so proud that I had recommitted myself to theatre by becoming a Hennepin Theatre Trust donor. Even at my level of support, I get terrific seats and lots of invitations to backstage events. When I call or email for tickets, Helen, the Donor Relations Coordinator, treats me like I donate thousands of dollars a year. I get such a great feeling knowing that I am supporting the arts and making a difference in the quality of theatre here in Minneapolis.
As I saw Sam’s face light up during that first performance and heard him yell, “Bravo” just like a seasoned theatre-veteran, I felt this great rush of parental satisfaction. I knew I was bequeathing a great love to him. Something that will be with him forever!
If you want to be a part of inspiring lives through the arts right here in the Twin Cities, please visit our site at or contact Helen to access the many benefits of being a donor at Helen.Kouba@HennepinTheatreTrust.org or 612.455.9513.
Denine Severino Taylor is a business development writer at a large health care company in Minneapolis. In her spare time, she shares her many random thoughts in her blog, talkinginelevators.com. She and Sam look forward to many more years of great theatre in Minneapolis as Hennepin Theatre Trust donors.