BY: DARLA MURRAY
Sometimes, when we’re stuck on something, we ask: What would Neil Patrick Harris do? It seems there’s nothing the Hollywood star/Tony winner/theater producer/husband and father can’t master – including budgeting. Yes, you read that correctly: NPH and is on top of money management. Broadway Spin caught up with Harris and his husband, actor/chef David Burtka, at the Launch of the new Capital one Savor Card — which gives 4% back on all dining and entertainment purchases — to hear their thoughts on full-priced theater tickets, the do’s and don’ts of taking kids to Broadway, and why NPH is perfectly OK with being unemployed.
Broadway Spin: This is all about budgets. Where do you splurge and where do you save?
Neil Patrick Harris: I love to splurge on food, on meals out. My favorite meals are where I don’t order. I just ask [the waiter] to bring food… which is less conducive to not spending very much money, because when you ask for them to just bring you food, they want you to –
David Burtka: Have the chef’s finest.
Neil Patrick Harris: Yeah, it tends to be a bit expensive.
David Burtka: But delicious!
Neil Patrick Harris: For me, where do I try to save? I try to save any chance I can on experiences. Theater tickets are always good to try and see how you can avoid paying the premium price for the same seat. There’s something so satisfying about knowing you paid less than what the person next to you paid and got a great deal.
Broadway Spin: We couldn’t agree more! What about taking kids to theater? Any general guidelines for parents?
David Burtka: [Our kids] have been going to the theater for their whole life, so I think just start them young and have them see as much stuff as they can. But etiquette is important. It’s really annoying if you’re spending however much on a Broadway show and there’s kid who’s obnoxious or crinkling their candy or talking really loudly as if they’re at their own house.
Broadway Spin: Basically, the parents should expose kids to theater early so they learn how to behave, kind of like many parents do with restaurants or libraries – plus then the kids enjoy the show more too.
Neil Patrick Harris: Yes, completely. Or the kids are in shorts and a t-shirt – A lot of people have stopped dressing up for the theater like they used to and it’s a really important thing to do with kids. Dressing up makes kids feel like what they’re doing is important and a little more grown up. To me, it seems like our kids and a lot of the kids we hang out with like feeling a little more grown up, so adding that to their theater experience makes it an exciting event.
David Burtka: Encouraging them to clap is also a big one — because the people are up on the stage pouring their heart out so they can see if you’re just sitting there. It’s awful! I know when I was in Broadway shows, I’d sometimes be thinking, “Wake up! Come on!”
Broadway Spin: That’s funny – but also sad!
Neil Patrick Harris: I also tell people to manage the kids’ sugar content because there’s a school of thought like, “Let’s get ‘em all jacked up on sodas and candy so they’ll stay awake during the show,” but then the crash happens to soon.
Broadway Spin: So you advise more of a slow drip.
David Burtka: [Neil] holds the candy and then he’ll give, you know –
Neil Patrick Harris: They give me a double-tap if they want more candy.
David Burkta: ‘Cause if you give them the whole bag of candy, it’s gone in 15 minutes.
Neil Patrick Harris: Sort of like me and gin. (Laughs)
Broadway Spin: Do you drink during shows?
Neil Patrick Harris: Our old pastime, and I still do it, is going to a wonderful restaurant called Toloache, which is right next to the Circle in the Square Theatre [current home to Tony-winning Once on This Island]. We eat some tacos or Mexican food and then I’ll get a tequila drink because—
David Burtka: It’s an upper! It’s the only alcohol that’s a stimulant.
Neil Patrick Harris: So that keeps me from nodding off.
David Burtka: Also [Neil] knows the staff really well so they come by with this big giant bottle and they’re all taking shots by the end.
Broadway Spin: That sounds like a great way to go into a show. Speaking of shows – In & Of Itself was fantastic! What’s next for you?
Neil Patrick Harris: I’m so blissfully and actively unemployed at the moment. I just spent about three years in Vancouver working on a Netflix show. I love Vancouver and I loved the work, but the travel, the red-eyes, missing the family was challenging, so I’m putting a lot of priority on being a dad and being a husband and sticking together here and settling down a bit. So the idea of doing something, like eight shows a week—
David Burtka: That’s so hard. I mean, when I did It Should Have Been You, the kids were three or four and the five minutes before they go to sleep is the most precious part of the day for me. They’re so vulnerable and sweet and cuddly and nice and it’s just great, and I craved it, and I was so upset having to go to the theater at 5 o’clock to warm up.
Neil Patrick Harris: But you know, soon enough our kids will be entirely disinterested in our opinions and will want nothing to do with us—
Broadway Spin: So then you’ll be back.
Neil Patrick Harris: Yeah, you know, in a couple of years.
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