KAYLA DRAKE | Multimedia Producer
They have no background in theater, their kids did not participate in theater and yet they have not ceased going to (almost) every show at the Scheidegger Theatre since 2014.
They are Mr. and Mrs. Foster, also known as James and Barbara.
In the last four years the retired couple has kindled a passion for both professional and student performances and always sit in the same seat.
Aisle center on the balcony has the best view for the cheapest price according to James Foster.
“Lindenwood puts on more shows than anyone else in town, so naturally we go there a lot,” he said.
The Fosters’ daughter, Melinda, gave her parents her free student tickets before she graduated in 2014 and they were hooked.
“We like that up close, personal experience that live performances do… you get involved in the characters, you get involved in the story,” Barbara said. “It’s easier to pick up on, you feel apart of it. It’s that intimacy we like.”
And it’s not just Scheidegger shows they attend, the Fosters have season tickets to The Muny and attend shows at community colleges, St. Peters Act 2, Wentzville Christian Church, University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Touhill Theater, O’Fallon, Fox and Florissant local theatres – averaging about six shows a month.
“I was amazed how young people can perform,” Barbara said. “They do an outstanding job; the way they carry themselves. They must have some great coaches.”
When it comes to the Fosters’ most memorable shows, mostly student productions come to mind because professional sets sometimes seem “canned,” Barbara said.
“I was amazed how young people can perform. They do an outstanding job; the way they carry themselves.”
“You know what you expect out of them,” she said. “When it comes to the student productions, you don’t know what to expect, they’re a surprise every time… That to me is more entertaining.”
The Fosters like to sit up front and prefer humor to drama. “Macbeth” was a little too serious for them.
“It’s an enjoyable, affordable pleasant evening,” Barbara said. “We even go to the dance concerts and none of us are into dance.”
Over the course of four years the Fosters have become friends with Dolores Picker, the balcony ticket taker, who has experience in ushering off-Broadway in New York.
Picker calls all her regulars her “theater buddies” and notices when the Fosters miss a show. Usually it’s only for a grandkid’s soccer game or if someone is sick.
Picker said the Fosters are sweet people who always take the time to greet her.
“Everytime I see them, they bring joy to my heart,” she said.
Some of the couples favorite shows they have seen at Scheidegger have been “Avenue Q”, “Into The Woods”, “Penn and Teller”, “A Christmas Carol”, “Blues Brothers” and tap dancing at the dance concerts.
Several times the Fosters have seen the same show with the same storyline, like “Nunsense” the musical, but at different theaters. Why do they continue going?
“Everybody portrays things differently,” Barbara said. “They all create their scenery, they all create their characters a little bit differently…I like seeing what they can do and how they apply their talents to it.”
Barbara takes care of her mother and James continues to do some carpentry work despite being retired. Theater gives the couple a space to connect.
“Our kids ask ‘you’re going again?’ Yeah we’re going again,” she said. “I don’t think they can believe we go out as much as we do, but they love it.”
As a former small town boy that grew up on a farm, James said he likes theatre because of the environment and people it brings. His favorite thing to do is to sit at the picnic tables at the Muny.
“We met a gal who had tickets since she was a little girl and she was in her eighties,” he said. “She got her season tickets because her mother was a professional dancer… who actually started out dancing with the Rockettes.”
Right about now the Fosters are starting their 2018-19 season, continuing their hobby. But Barbara still has one more stage she would like to see.
“They keep talking about [how Scheidegger’s] a fabulous theatre and I know it is, but I want to see what’s going on behind the curtain.”