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VIDEO: Summerside woman takes in more than 100 Broadway shows in past 11 years


The lights go down, and a hush comes over the crowd.

The hum from the instrumentals begin and bam, the stage is set.

"The atmosphere is electric. There's nothing like it. When it's so quiet in the theatre, during a Broadway performance filled with sheer talent," said Jenna Harvey, who recently saw her 104th Broadway production. That's about 90 individual productions (she's seen "Wicked" six times) with about 85 of the shows being musicals.

"The best part is when people cheer and go nuts right after a number. Like when Jenn Colella sings 'Me and The Sky' in 'Come from Away' and it's absolutely powerful," she added, with a big grin.

The term 'Broadway' refers to theatre performances in the 41 professional theatres that have 500 seats or more and are located in the Theatre District along Broadway in New York City.

Harvey saw her first show in 2008.

"'Mamma Mia!' the movie had just come out, so I had to go see the show. But I really got into seeing them as a way to kill time. I used to be a tour guide on bus trips to New York through a company in Halifax. Really my job was to get them there. So once people were exploring the city, I had some time to kill."

Jenna Harvey's Top 10 Broadway picks

  1. "Wicked" (seen six times)
  2. "Anything Goes" (seen three times)
  3. "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2" (seen twice each)
  4. "Come from Away"
  5. "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
  6. "Bonnie and Clyde"
  7. "Waitress"
  8. "Dear Evan Hansen"
  9. "The Play that Goes Wrong"
  10. "Hello Dolly!"

Brian MacNevin, owner and operator of Brian MacNevin Tours – a tour bus company located in O’Leary, said New York City is a popular destination.

“I’ve had clients go down three or four times. Some go and explore the city. Others go right to the theatres.”

Before opening his own company, MacNevin worked as a bus driver for about 15 years. He’s been to the Big Apple about 100 times.

"The big thing is [New York City] is so different and has such an overwhelming atmosphere. The Broadway experience is popular for sure. Of all of my trips, I've never heard a bad word about it. They're amazing by all accounts."

For Harvey, it wasn't long before she became hooked. On her most recent trip, which was in April, she saw eight shows in four days.

"At this point, it's like I'm here, in New York, I have to go see a show. It's a waste for me if I don't go."

The Borden-Carleton native said there wasn't much theatre in the area when she was growing up, but there were handfuls of talented people.

Harvey even saw the lead actress in the Island’s show "Evangeline" play Carole King in the musical based on the artist's life.

"That was so amazing to see. A local Maritimer, with an Island connection, on that stage playing Carole."

On with the show

Continuously seeing Broadway shows can be expensive.

During one trip she saw 20 shows in 14 days.

"That was pretty pricey. I think it was about $500. But there are shows that I'm willing to pay a bit extra for - like 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' or if they have performers that you must see.

"But there are ways to get tickets for cheap. You can get rush tickets - they're cheaper but you might be spending a couple of hours in lines. One time I volunteered to stuff booklets and they gave me tickets to one of the shows."

There a couple of actors she would pay big bucks to see.

"I'm a huge fan of Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman. They're in 'The Music Man' together next year. I'll be ordering the tickets as soon as I can."

Jenna Harvey's Top Performers to See

  1. Sutton Foster ("Anything Goes", "Thoroughly Modern Millie")
  2. Hugh Jackman ("Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway", "The River")
  3. David Hyde Pierce ("Hello Dolly!")
  4. Mark Rylance ("Jerusalem", "Richard III")
  5. Bette Midler ("Hello Dolly!")

While she loves seeing the stars of Broadway in their element, there's a sentimental draw to Broadway.

"My mom passed away a few years ago. But I got to take her to her first show - 'Chicago'. That's pretty special. So now, my aunt and I usually go every April. That started as a way to look forward to something after she passed. Now we go enjoy some shows and remember mom."

Her love for the theatre has grown into something more.

Last year, Harvey penned and performed in her first production - "Awake."

"My local interest has been growing for about the last five years. I liked the performing side. But I think I'm more into the writing and production side of it now."

She recently finished writing her second production - this time working with Adam Lambe.

On her recent trip, she saw shows like "Kiss Me, Kate" starring Kelli O'Hara and "To Kill a Mockingbird" with Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch.

"When Kelli sings the big number in 'Kiss Me, Kate' it was like - this is amazing. The talent that people have on the stage is incredible.

"'Come from Away' the story about how Gander, Nfld. played a crucial role in the aid in the hours and days after 9/11 is a story that should be in every theatre. I love seeing people do what they do best."

All jokes aside, Harvey said, theatre can teach a lot of lessons.

"It tells so many different life stories. You see different points of view in every production. Often times it features stories that aren't always talked about in the mainstream. It's not just silly theatre. I think that's why it sticks with me."

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