“ Broadway as something for everyone! „
When I was younger I always wanted to go to America and visit the "Big Apple" I guess the excitement of wanting to go there was probably due to the fact that when I was younger I use to watch American TV programs.
Then as I got older and started going to live theatre and appreciating that they perform every night, I was made aware that New York City had it's own theatre district and that it was bigger.
Well that was it I was visualizing that New York City must be huge and like there's hundreds of theatres because you know how the Americans love doing things big and bold.
When people talked about Broadway I thought that it had to be like a little part of New York City a small section of Manhattan that has these amazing theatres.
Well when I eventually got there I headed for Broadway and boy was It big, they still use the terms Broadway and off Broadway which basically means that back in the day when the street of Broadway was what was referred to as "Broadway" that was the street everyone wanted to put there shows, but the ones that didn't make it would go to theatres just off the street of Broadway and that was referred to as "off Broadway".
But when you hear a show referred to as a "Broadway show" then generally its on Broadway Street.
The theatres on Broadway are generally theatres with 500 seats and depending on what day it is every theatre do 8 shows a week mostly evening and some matinees thrown in there.
Going to New Your City is no cheap day out, especially if you want to go see a show, get something to eat and go out drinking.
Tickets for a show vary for example:
On the day tickets can start at $20 but these are selected shows.
Booking them in advance can start from $80-90 and that's just the show.
Some of the big shows at the minute are:
Phantom Of The Opera
West Side Story
Just to name a few
there are so many more shows on broadway than in our Westend, and they are more different in there material ranging like you saw from above form Shrek To Billy Elliot, I don't you could get any more different if you tried
If you have been to a show in the Westend then it's not that different going to one on Broadway, and again depending on what show you go to see the décor could be corresponding with it for example Shrek....you can imagine what that décor is like.
The one good thing about Manhattan is that there are no real big names or celebrities on Broadway like there are in the Westend which I am happy about because then you actually get to see real performers doing what they are trained to do, we need to take a leaf from that book.
I'm a big fan of New York and couldn't resist going to a Broadway show when I visited New York City.
Before visiting New York I didn't realise how big the Broadway Theatre District was - apparently there are over 40 theatre's with more than 500 seats each!
The Broadway Theatre's are located in the centre of New York City within easy walking distance from Times Square. There is also a discount ticket outlet called 'TKTS' which sells discounted tickets (i.e. those unsold) on the day of the show, this is where we purchased our tickets from, it is located within the Mariott Hotel (the one with the revolving restaurant).
Tickets purchased on the day of the show can be around the $20 mark, but if there is a specific show you want to see then purchasing in advance could set you back around $80.
The show we saw was Legally Blonde and I really enjoyed it, the atmosphere of being inside a Broadway Theatre and the show itself, although there weren't any famous names.
Some of the more popular Broadway shows include -
The Phantom of the Opera
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King
There are several ways to spend a non-traditional New Year's Eve that can leave lasting impression in your life and the lives of your loved ones.
There is nothing more that heralds optimism than the picturesque natural scenery, glorious tropical foliage and the clean azure waters that you can look forward to when you visit Marco Island in Florida.
Marco Island is where you can escape the winter blues and see nature in all its brightest colors during the winter holidays. There is also nothing as amazing as tasting the New Year experience at this place.
Temperature during the winter months is a comfortable 70-75 F which gives you the dandy feel of springtime. The temperature is ideal for having some beach fun doing snorkeling ,windsurfing, and enjoying one of those ecotours.
The main New Year's event however is in Naples where the Naples Philharmonic Center hosts an annual New Year's Eve party. This means fireworks display, the best food in the planet plus a whole night party of fun, concert and live music performed by top-artists.
If you happen to come earlier than the New Year's Eve, for instance during the last week of December, you can spend the whole week in tune with the Christmas spirit by visiting 5th Avenue South where there is a grand display of Yuletide art, sculptures, crafts. The last week of December is when this place is busiest because it transforms into a model Christmas Village where local crafts are displayed and goods are sold. There also are different kind of sweet and gourmet food booths, souvenir and shellfish booths, aromatic candle crafts and an endless array of novelty items which you can purchase at the most reasonable prices. While doing your shopping, you are serenaded by Christmas carolers to make sure that you get that special feel of the holiday spirit.
Or you can join one of the Marco Island Sea Excursions which includes holiday beach parties, dinner cruises and even airboat tours. During this time of the year, you will never feel alone because most tourists like yourself are holiday revelers. They usually have Christmas and New Year cruises to show you their natural paradise which seems the same as when the Calusa Indians used to live in it some 5000 years ago.
Canoeing and Kayaking is also an activity that most tourists enjoy particularly in the area of Rookery Bay. Or if you wish to spend your holiday and New Year just relaxing, what better way to relax than visiting the National Parks and Sanctuariesin this area where you can see 150 species of birds including the American Bald eagle. Take the awesome hike within Rookery Bay and see the 16,000 square foot visitors center and marine reserves.
Join the Dawn Patrol and go chartered fishing. This activity offers not only fishing but also shelling, sightseeing and even kids are welcome to spend their day with Captain Bill Walsh who is known to be one of the most delightful hosts in the island. The Dawn Patrol is fun particularly during the months of December and January because the waters are calm though it can get a bit chilly as the sea air seems to blow you kisses.
You can also take your whole family on a holiday 1 hour private boat trip into a secret Everglades manatee hideout. What better gift is there to give than an extraordinary Christmas and New Year? Or perhaps, you can go Christmas camping with your family while waiting for the Naples New Year party.
As December sets in, the Holiday Pottery Sale begins at the Florida Gulf Coast University Arts Complex. This Holiday Pottery is like the start of a festival like no other because though its main display are pottery items, this festival offers everything from food to music.
Waiting for New Year's Eve at San Marcos Island, Florida will give you and your family that optimism and joy that says a happier New Year is waiting for you. Grab it at San Marco!
The Theatre District (which Broadway runs through) is generally regarded as being from 53rd street to 42nd street, between 6th and 8th Avenue. Within this relatively small area, it contains over 40 theatres! That's a lot of shows! I haven't come across another city quite like New York. It is famed for it's shopping, it's theatres, it's buzz, it's very self. There is so much in the Big Apple, that you should never find yourself running out of things to do, it's jammed packed with museums, shopping, restaurants, central park, amazing architecture the list is virtually endless...However, if you find yourself in New York City, you MUST go and check out a show - if for no other reason than to say 'I saw a show on Broadway'. When I first went to New York, I was so excited that in 7 days, I saw 8 shows, then another time, in 4 days I saw 6 shows. I could list and write a mini review on each, but I fear that would lead to a one way ticket to sleepsville via yawnarama-land! Besides, some of the shows I saw aren't even there anymore!
Getting around New York and the Theatre District:
I want to mention a little bit about the city as a whole. I find NYC an incredibly easy city to get around from A to B. The city, and the theatre district in particular is designed on the grid system (lower Manhatten differs slightly) - so you could say to someone 'I'll meet you 3 blocks that way, then 5 blocks uptown' and even the most disorienated mongoose that had been spun around 5 times couldn't get lost. The street numbers start at the bottom of Manhatten then work their way up. So if you're on 42nd Street and head 10 blocks DOWNTOWN, you'll be on 32nd street - then if you head 20 blocks UPTOWN, you'll be on 52nd street....get it? Easy Peasy. The 'numbered' streets run horizontally as you look at a map - then vertically the streets generally have names, or are called avenues, instead of streets...this sounds confusing...but check out a map of Manhatten and you'll understand what I mean. The 'Subway' is also very comprehensive...although when you get there, it might feel a bit confuddlesome at first! There are also really cool tours you can go on: General Sightseeing tours, Sex and the City tour, The Sopranos tour, Central Park tours, Boat tours (information about these should all be easily found online or in most good travel guides in your friendly local bookshop!) The Theatre District and the 'famous' section of Broadway is right in the heart of it all, and once you are there, everything is more or less in walking distance...unless you plan to see an off-broadway show (which sometimes means 3 blocks west of 'the theatre district', no distance at all!)
What shows should I see?:
There are so many shows and plays on Broadway, so it's not a bad idea to research before you go, to get an idea of what you want to see or at least the sort of genre of show you want to see. I would recommend the best thing to do, is check online before you go to tell you what is on at the moment. Broadway shows come and go and demand for tickets can be higher than you might think. The best sites to have a look on are:
>> www.theatermania.com: In my opinion theater mania (make sure you get the 'e' and 'r' the american way round) is awesome...It is very comprehensive and has easy to see lists of what's on - it also includes off broadway shows, if you fancy something a little less mainstream (off broadway is actually the place where a lot of the big shows start, so you might see a little gem this way?).
>> www.newyorkcitytheatre.com: This is another good site. It allows you to search by show and by theatre, if you have something paricular in mind.
>> www.newyorktheatreguide.com: Is also good.
Getting a ticket for a show:
This might seem very obvious, as I'm sure everyone has got a ticket to see something before. But along my travels (and since I work in the industry) I've come across some tricks and alternative ways to get good seats. Once you've worked out which show you fancy seeing, you can either book in England (online or by phone, and pick up the tickets at the theatre - or they should be able to send them to you) or you can wait until you get over there to the buy tickets. Obviously, the more time you allow yourself to get tickets, the better chance you have of getting good seats...or if it's a popular show, even getting a ticket at all! A point worth mentioning, is that theatres in America give out free programmes (playbills) to all ticket holders, so you don't have to spend more than the price of your ticket, unless of course you want to!
What are the best days and times to see something?:
It might be worth noting at this point, that show times differ quite considerably to British show times. In England, the theatres tend to be closed on Sundays and Mondays, but a lot of shows on Broadway ARE open on Sundays, and are closed on what seem like random days, such as Tuesdays or Wednesdays (well, it feels random to me). On average, most shows perform 8 times a week, including 2 matinees performances. Evening shows tend to start around 8ish, and matinees around 3ish.
As already mentioned, most Broadway theatres are closed on Mondays, then you get those that don't open on Mondays or Tuesdays, and some that don't open on Wednesdays! I've never found there to be any rhyme or reason to individual theatre's schedules. So, if you want to see one show in particular, it's definately worth checking show times before you get there. Also, don't plan on a certain day to be 'your theatre day' and not check what's on - you might end up finding that the only thing Broadway has on that day, is some random off-broadway tribute to Sooty!
So, how can I get a ticket?:
If you want to leave choosing a show to see, until you get there (and also to add a nice element of surprise to your travels in a oh-my-golly-gum-drops-I'm-so-excited-which-show-shall-I-see-today styley), you can get tickets for same day shows at the TKTS booth on Times Square (Temporary location is at the Marriott Marquis Hotel during the renovation of Duffy Square: West 46th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue) which is practically the same (but bigger - as everything tends to be in America) as the TKTS booth in Leicester Square (in London, formerly known as the half price ticket booth.) There's also another TKTS booth at South Street Seaport, incase you pop over there too. You can also go to whichever theatre has the show that you want to see, on the day and see what availability they have. If you arrive a couple of hours before the show starts (which can sometimes be a bit of a gamble) they should have some 'standbys' at a discounted rate. Which basically means, cheaper seats than normal, as they want to fill the house. I got offered good tickets for 'Mamma Mia' an hour before it started (AND if I was a student these tickets would have been even more bargainacious!)
Pricing & Terminology:
I feel I should explain some American theatre terminology, before we go much further. In England (as you are probably aware) the auditorium goes like this: (Going from back stage into the house) We have the STAGE, then the STALLS (seats on the floor), then above is the (royal/grand) CIRCLE, then above there is the BALCONY. There are sometimes other levels in between - but that is the general pattern. In America they call them the following...
STALLS = ORCHESTRA
CIRCLE = MEZZANINE
BALCONY = BALCONY (easy to remember)
As a general pricing guide, Orchestra seats are usually around $100, Mezzanine seats can be anywhere from $100 - $70, Balcony seats can be between $50 - $35. Obviously, the higher the price, the better the seat (supposedly). It's also worth noting that a lot of theatres divide the seat numbers - why the blinky blonky they would do that, I'm not entirely sure...but as you look at the stage - ODD numbered seats are on the LEFT hand side and EVEN numbered seats are on the RIGHT hand side. There is nothing more frustrating than getting 2 tickets and thinking you've been given seats that aren't next to each other - oops! This is can be different for some theatres, but that is generally the way it is done in the US.
Can I get cheap ticket deals?:
Occasionally, some theatres reduce the price of all tickets for matinee performances, but again this depends on the popularity of the show. Most theatres do offer a student discount. i.e. $30 rush on all Mezzanine tickets, 2 tickets per ID. So if you are a student, make sure you take over some student ID...however...***BEWARE CUNNING PLAN***...If you are British, and can pass as a student (mature students too!), try taking with you any sort of ID type card, as long as it has your photo and your name. Once, when I was in NYC and I managed to use my Youth Theatre member's card (which literally just had my photo, name and Theatre company name on), to get discount. I explained that this is accepted as Student ID in Britain (oops, I lied, oh well, sue me) and they didn't even flinch or ask further questions. So I was able to get half price tickets on top price seats!! ROCK ON!! This is not to say that it would work for everyone, but if you're game - it's worth a try...and at the time I was a student, I just didn't have the right ID. It's worth a shot - Some theatres can charge crazy prices sometimes anyway - hmmph! This sounds even more ridiculous, but I managed to chitchat with the box office of a show I wanted to see (this was recently) and they gave me student prices (knowing fully that I wasn't) because they thought I had 'a cute accent'.
How about getting front row seats, on the same day?:
'No way' I hear you cry! But, Oh yes you can - depending on the show...there is another way to get cheap tickets. Depending on how 'hardcore' you are. If there is a show you are desperate to see, find out if they sell the first 2 rows for that day when the box office opens, as a first come, first serve basis. Participating theatres should have this information on the websites I've listed above. This practice is also becoming more and more popular in the UK too, but started stateside, I belive. I remember the first time I went to NYC, 'Aida' (Disney's show, the one that never made it to film, that Elton John did the music for!) had just opened and they were doing this. So, my friends and I queued up at 5'o'clock in the morning (yes, I was insane)...and there was ALREADY a queue (yes, New York is insane too). It just goes to show how 'crazy' some people can be about seeing a show. Some shows also offer a 'lottery' on the first 2 rows too. This usually involves turning up at the theatre 2 hours before a show starts, putting your name in a hat. If your name gets drawn (1/2 hour later) you can buy 2 seats for the first 2 rows for something like $25 each (bargain). This is better for all those people who can't be bothered to queue up at crazy morning times, but this does however involve some hanging around until the names are drawn out (they normally allow 1/2 hour to collect the names and then do the draw etc - it's also fun and very exciting!). The first website I've listed tells you about shows that offer this option too. When I saw 'Wicked', they did the lottery option, which I tried... the lottery was for 25 seats and there was over 500 people there entering into the lottery! Tickets for some shows, are literally like Gold Dust.
I need more options...how else can I get tickets?:
Of course, you can also pop into the Box Office to see if they have any cancellations (return tickets from people who can't go on the day). If so, you may be offered them at a discounted rate. But this depends on the show. A lot of shows have a constant 'cancellation queue' for this purpose. I've never known there NOT to be a cancellation line for shows such as 'Wicked' (one of 'Broadway's hottest shows') BUT they don't discount the prices. Again cancellation queues can start super early!
What about touts?:
***WARNING***TAKE HEED...Never buy from touts, not that I have, so I don't have a bad experience to tell you about...I just think there is too much risk for absolutely NO guarantee, that the ticket is real. Don't waste your money.
What should I see?:
OK...So...You're in New York - but don't know what to see??? There are so many shows, it can be really difficult to decide what to see, here is a brief selection of some the most popular and personal favourites on at the moment:
> 'Chicago' (Classic, Brechtian, All that Jazz)
> 'The Lion King' (Disney's film, genius production! See my other review on this)
> 'Mamma Mia' (Story which has nothing to do with ABBA, but using an ABBA soundtrack, v. feel good show)
> 'Phantom of the Opera' (Classic, Andrew Lloyd Webber)
> 'Rent' (Modern adaptation of La Boheme - it's great)
> 'AvenueQ' (Sesame Street for adults - OUTRAGEOUSLY BRILLIANT!)
> 'Hairspray' (Very feel good and multi award winning)
> 'Wicked' (The story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became Wicked. Superb show!)
If you're still stumped, check out that first website - way up the top there - they have up to date and comprehensive show information.
Any other deals that I should know about?:
Keep an eye out for THEATRE & DINNER tickets - some companies offer tickets followed by dinner at certain restaurants. As well as some tickets offering discounts at selected restaurants (usually printed on the back of the ticket). I've never gone for the 'show followed by dinner' option because the thought of being hungry at the theatre would do my head in...plus the restaurants that tend to do this can be the rather pricey ones! If you're looking to find a nice restaurant before of after a show - the website I mentioned (is it obvious how much I love this site, I swear I'm on no kind of commission either) lists the nearest restaurants to whichever theatre/show you look at...jobs a good'un!
What are the downsides to the Theatre District?:
The only thing I don't like about the Theatre District area is it can get congested and smoggy. I've been there when it was 103degrees - NOT NICE - the smog and the heat weren't a pleasant mix - so I would not recommend going in the height of summer, it's cooler from September to April...the Brucey Bonus with this is that the theatre's are less busy, so you stand more chance of seeing what you want with less tourists soaking up the good seats. Like it or not NYC literally DOES NOT SLEEP - sounds insane, but there is always a 'hum of life' (it was really busy when I started queuing for tickets at 5:00am that time) so if you need a break from city life - then perhaps NYC won't float your boat - however there is Central Park, which is like a little spot of paradise in the metropolis. But NYC is so worth going to because of the theatre district - don't decide not to go because it's too busy - that's just silly now! I know some people who don't like NYC as they find it very 'plastic' and full of tack...I think this is nonsense...I think it's more about personal preferences. Parts of NYC are very glitzy/glam, some parts are filthy/gorgeous and some parts are all about the jazz hands - by this I mean, kinda tacky...I'm sure this is all in the eye of the beholder.
Is New York a safe place to be?:
In my experience, yes...and in other friend's experience, no. I think this is about common sense. If you're walking around NYC, like any other city, do not walk around flashing your cash in your hand, do not have valuables on display, if you have an expensive camera make sure you have a hand strap that is round your hand etc. Don't make yourself vulnerable as a target by overseeing your personal security. If you do decide to queue up early for tickets, it's probably advisable not to go on your own...safety in numbers and all that!
A trip to Broadway and especially the Theatre District, can be very expensive, but with the right know how and some careful choices, you can spend some amazing nights being entertained by the citie's finest actors at a fraction of what it should cost! Whilst we have a theatre district (of sorts) in London, there is nothing on earth that compares to the sheer buzz that NYC has to offer. You can feel the buzz standing on Times Square, it's tangeable. If you're curious about going, but remain undecided, I would whole heartedly recommend going. I love NYC and I can't wait until my trip, in April, to satisfy my theatrical hunger!
Thanks for reading :)
© MarcoG 2008
(similar version also on ciao)