Sunday, February 19, 2012

ROBIN'S SHOW REVIEW and RECOMMENDATION: playtime! Creative Childcare; Assistance off bway

Are you a theatre lover who longs for a moms night out or a date night, and securing competent childcare is pricey or challenging to find?  Enter playtime!  I just learned of this new, cool NYC service, and while I have yet to take advantage of it, it's on my cultural radar as a must-try for the future.


Playtime! is the first program to provide childcare during theatrical shows in NYC. The inaugural Playtime! event took place in the Spring of 2011, after crucial funding from the Theater Sub-district Council and a partnership with Sitters Studio allowed Playwrights Horizons Managing Director Leslie Marcus to make this long-time dream a reality.

Marcus, who is a mom, and Playwrights Horizons staff members realized that the combined cost of theater tickets and childcare is the factor most often cited by people with young children as the reason they rarely attend the theater. Playtime! was established to bring parents back to the theater by providing excellent childcare at (or steps from) the theater at an extremely affordable rate. The service is available to any type of ticket buyer for participating shows, regardless of the price paid for the ticket, and is just $15 per child. Sitters Studio is fully bonded and insured, and their rigorous background checks and training ensure that they provide not only an artistic and fun experience for children, but also one that complies with top-notch safety standards.

The hope is that this program will become a model for other performing arts organizations. In August of 2011, the Westside Theatre (current shows: Love, Loss, and What I Wore and Rated P for Parenthood) and Signature Theatre Company joined with Playwrights Horizons, allowing their patrons to participate in Playtime! as well. More venues and companies will be joining soon.

Currently, Playtime! is available for children ages 4-12 and mostly takes place during weekend performances.

Available Shows at Present:
Playwrights Horizons: ASSISTANCE, THE BIG MEAL

Visit PLAYTIME online or contact Emily at You can also call (212) 564-1235, ext. 3153 (M-F, 10a-6p).

I recently had the opportunity to see ASSISTANCE at Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theatre, 416 West 42nd Street.

Written by Leslye Headland, the play features a talented young cast including Michael Esper (The Lyons), Sue Jean Kim (The Drunken City), Virginia Kull (Man and Boy), Lucas Near-Verbrugghe (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Amy Rosoff (Boardwalk Empire) and Bobby Steggert (Tony Award nomination - Ragtime).

For these young assistants, life is an endless series of humiliations at the hands of a hellacious boss, a powerful uber-magnate.  In rare moments of calm when the phone stops rolling, Nick and Nora and their traumatized co-workers question whether all their work will lead to success -- or just more work.  Directed by Trip Cullman, this play will ring true for anyone who has ever yearned to climb the corporate ladder, feeling like they are selling their would to the devil along the way.

We never find out the type of business being served, nor do we meet the CEO, but we can relate to the drive of the young people desperate to get ahead. And, if you happen to be a mom who has left corporate America by choice, you are all the more grateful that the boss in your life is your child who at least warms your heart by the end of a multi-tasking day.

DISCOUNT OFFER: Order by February 21, and use and use code PlayAsstBlog, and tickets are $40 (regularly $70). Visit  or

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