Posts Tagged ‘broadway’

An Insider’s Guide to Broadway and Off-Broadway: What to See, What to Do, Where to Eat

No visit to New York City is complete without sampling two things: theater and restaurants. You may consider yourself a world traveler, and you may have dabbled in international cuisine and some touring shows, but nothing compares to the bright lights and shiny plates of the Big Apple.

A trip down Manhattan’s Great White Way offers up a confusing and varied selection of musicals and plays, some veteran productions that are now crisscrossing the US and others seen only in Manhattan.  My advice is to skip “Kinky Boots” and “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” (you’ve probably already seen them this year), or “Phantom of the Opera” (it’s now in its 31st  year on Broadway) and go for the newer shows that theater divas rave about.

I Want to Hear Some Singing

Come from Away

Among musicals, two should be on your “don’t miss” list. “Come from Away,” a 100-minute jewel box of a show, wins the hearts of theatergoers every performance with its touchingly humanitarian story of travelers stranded outside of the US in the days following 9/11. Cast members play multiple roles, the songs are memorable, and the story strikes a chord. The equally captivating “Dear Evan Hansen” is a narrative about a topic that resonates with many families. Written by director Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen will have you remembering just how important musicals can be in building awareness of difficult topics. TONY winners “Once on This Island” (best musical revival, 2018) and “The Band’s Visit” (best new musical, 2018) should also be on your go-to list. For a night of pure fun, “Mean Girls” does the trick.

But Drama is What I Prefer

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It’s filled with magic and the characters that you love, so don’t delay in sourcing a ticket to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the two-part spectacular that was an enormous hit in the West End and is currently wowing audiences on Broadway. It’s a drama that the entire family will appreciate, especially if they’ve read all the books.  Do you love farce?  Then you absolutely have to see “The Play That Goes Wrong,” another British import that will have you laughing until your sides hurt.  Seriously.  You may want to see it twice, just to catch all the lines that you miss in this rapid-fire silly show.

There’s More to Broadway than Broadway

Jersey Boys

Off-Broadway refers to a number of smaller theaters located minutes away from traditional Broadway houses or in other parts of the city. The shows in these alternative venues may have stripped-down sets or may function as tryout spaces for future Broadway runs. This is where current Broadway mega-hits like “Hamilton” and “The Band’s Visit” started, and, if you see a director, story or cast member that appeals, it’s a great chance to explore. It’s also the place where larger-scale, popular Broadway shows sometimes return for a second incarnation. If you loved “Avenue Q,” “Jersey Boys,” or “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,”  here’s a chance to see them again, refreshed.

Off-Broadway shows usually have limited runs and are announced periodically. Check online for performances at the Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company and Vineyard Theatre among others to see what’s playing when you plan to visit. Then check the reviews – it’s good to experiment!

So, Where Should We Eat?

If the show has an early curtain (7pm instead of 8pm), or a runtime of 90 minutes (instead of 2 ½ hours), you’re probably safe dining after the show. If the thought of eating at 10pm after a longish play makes you queasy, then consider one of the quicker pre-theater options that locals enjoy instead of the overcrowded (and bland) choices that fill Times Square.

Obao

My recommendation is to head to the small, ethnic restaurants on Ninth Avenue.  Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to walk from the theater to these, and you won’t be disappointed.  From 42nd Street to the low 50s, an array of ethnic options offers authentic international dining, the antithesis to Epcot Center. Among the many Thai restaurants, two-story Obao is a standout, offering reasonably priced pan-Asian choices in a casual setting with quick, attentive service. Nearby upscale Marseilles satisfies with lovely French cuisine in a pretty room – the bouillabaisse is an instant ticket to the South of France. Italian Bocca di Bacco will please any oenophile. Other choices are the aptly named Turkish Cuisine and Five Napkin Burger for terrific Istanbul and American dining.

Food halls are the rage in Manhattan, with one of the newest located in the Theater District. Atop the Row NYC hotel, City Kitchen is an upscale version with a carefully curated variety of stalls. Here, local favorites like Luke’s Lobster (lobster rolls), Whitmans New York (cheesesteaks), and Gabriela’s Taqueria (tacos) let you create a smorgasbord of quick-food choices. Grab a seat in the picnic-like area, eat as quickly or as slowly as you’d like, and then mosey off to your show.

The Marshall

After the curtain falls and you’ve gotten an autograph by the stage door, you can continue stargazing by heading to after-show cast favorites like Joe Allen’s, Orso and The Marshall. Or descend the staircase to subterranean Sake Bar Hagi, an izakaya hideout of the photographer set.

Three Ways to Score the Least Expensive Seats

The TKTS booth at 47th Street in Times Square offers deeply discounted tickets for same-day shows, starting at 10am (matinee days), or 2pm (Tuesday) or 3pm (rest of the week).  Other TKTS locations in Brooklyn, at the South Street Seaport and at Lincoln Center have shorter lines. Check the hours of operation online. https://tdf.org/nyc/7/TKTS-Overview

Take your chances on where you’ll go with Broadway Roulette. You indicate whether you want a musical or a play, exclude up to six shows that you don’t want to see, and provide your dates. Broadway Roulette selects the show with the best seats.  https://www.broadwayroulette.com/

Book ahead with Today’s Tix, a theater concierge service that has discounted tickets to many shows and delivers them to you outside the theater.  https://www.todaytix.com

The hitch? With these options, you can’t pick your seats.

Broadway News: A Good Cause and Good Eats

For Broadway nerds like me, The Actor’s Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids are important organizations, providing much-needed health and other services to the Broadway community.

At this year’s recent Easter Bonnet Competition at the Minskoff Theater, the casts of Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen performed a brilliant version of “Together” as an ensemble, as their entry into the competition. The competition raised $5.8MM for this worthy cause. Thank you to the members of the Bucket Brigade who help collect donations at the theaters. And to presenters Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber, and Andrew Garfield.

And, if you’re looking for some nearby places to eat — here are a few to consider:

Opry City – at 47th Street and Broadway, a four-story tribute to Nashville and country music with a two-floor restaurant, two music stages, and a shop.

Junior’s — expanding their Broadway cheesecake and deli empire into a mega-space at 49th Street and Broadway. The original Times Square location is still on 45th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.

Tender Steak and Sushi — in the Sanctuary Hotel, a polished loungey restaurant offering up solid Asian and American fare. There’s also a bar where you can dine on a more casual menu. 47th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.

Haven Rooftop — also in the Sanctuary Hotel, a year-round rooftop bar and restaurant that’s in high demand, particularly during the warmer months

Six Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows Closing This Month

It’s time to make good on that New Year’s resolution to see more theater this year.  Book now to see these six great shows which will be ending their runs in January.

Brought to you by Fiasco Theater, the classic Shakespearean comedy, Twelfth Night, tells the story of shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian on the island of Illyria. Shakespearean disguises, romance, and humor reign throughout. Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, New York City. Tickets at http://www.classicstage.org/shows/2017/04/twelfth-night/

Two Lincoln Center shows are closing January 7. The first, Junk, is a fast-paced story about markets, drive and intrigue, set in the 80s. Starring Steven Pasquale (The Bridges of Madison County). Vivian Beaumont Theatre. 150 West 65th Street, New York City.

Tickets at http://bit.ly/2A7VSnv

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The second, The Wolves, is a story of high school girl angst and issues told by a girls’ indoor soccer team during warm-ups and practices. Great performances and creative staging. Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. 150 West 65th Street, New York City Tickets at https://www.telecharge.com/Off-Broadway/The-Wolves/Overview.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The Irish Repertory Theatre’s staging of James Joyce’s haunting novella, The Dead, 1904, takes place at a Feast of the Epiphany party over the course of one evening, with conversations, music, dancing and dining. What does it mean to be alive, or to be dead? The play ponders these questions. With a premium ticket, you sit a dinner with the actors. Starring John Treacy Egan. The American Irish Historical Society. 132 West 22nd Street. Closing January 7. Tickets at https://irishrep.org/show/2017-2018-season/the-dead-1904-2/.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

If you haven’t made it to Hamilton, but especially if you have, Spamilton is a must-see. Gerard Alessandrini’s hilarious take-off on Hamilton draws from his Forbidden Broadway background, with satires, spins, and superb talent. With Christine Pedi (Sirius XM). 47th Street Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. 304 West 47th Street, New York. Closing January 7. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2qeF0vF

Willy Wonka will be leaving Broadway on January 14. Starring Christian Borle (Something Rotten, Smash), Emily Padgett, Bed Crawford and Jackie Hoffman. The Broadway adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is all about chocolate, The Candy Man, Oompa-Loompas and a chance to win the Golden Ticket. Catch it before you can only see it on the small screen. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. 205 West 46th Street. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2A7Of0s

Photo By Joan Marcus

The stunning remake of Boublil and Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon will also be flying away on January 14. Don’t miss your  chance to hear “The American Dream” sung by the fabulous Jon Jon Briones as the Engineer, or see Eva Noblezada in the title role made famous by current Once on this Island star Lea Salonga. Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, New York. Tickets at https://www.telecharge.com/Broadway/Miss-Saigon/Overview

4 Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows to See Before They Close This Fall

Although I’m excited about the upcoming fall theater season with its variety of Broadway and Off-Broadway openings, it’s always sad to see some favorites like Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 or Bandstand close. Here are my suggestions for four shows that you absolutely don’t want to miss – check the individual websites and sites like Playbill.com; you might either have a tough time scoring tickets or be privy to a host of discounted offerings.

Closing Sunday, September 3, 2017

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812
Featuring Denée Benton, Scott Stangland, Lucas Steele, “The Great Comet” is a loud and lively immersive musical based on “War and Peace.” The story revolves around Natasha who is visiting Moscow while her fiancé Andrey is off in the war. Her attraction to the seductive Anatole and her relationship to Pierre and the rest of the characters forms the crux of the story. Be prepared for an evening of Russian-style cabaret where you can choose to sit on-stage if you like. Imperial Theatre, http://shubert.nyc/theatres/imperial/, 249 West 45th Street, New York, NY

HAMLET
The classic Shakespearian drama about Hamlet, a Danish prince who discovers that his uncle Claudius murdered his father and took the throne, has received rave reviews at the Public. The story is one of betrayal and revenge, written as only the Bard could. The stars shine in the production, arguably the most comic version every made, with comedian (aka Luther) Keegan-Michael Kay as Horatio and Oscar Isaac as Hamlet. The Public Theater, https://www.publictheater.org/Public-Theater-Season/Hamlet/,425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY

Closing Sunday, September 17, 2017

BANDSTAND
A showpiece by Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer of “Hamilton” and “Cats” fame, Bandstand features musical theater stars Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, and Beth Leavel. The show is set in 1945 and depicts an America filled with joy as soldiers return from the war. With no money and just his own talent to save him, Private First Class Donny Novitski puts together a group of veterans, all of whom are musicians, to enter NBC’s national musical competition. Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, 242 West 45th Street, New York, NY.


Closing Saturday, October 21, 2017

A RAISIN IN THE SUN

Produced by the Harlem Repertory Theatre, “A Raisin in the Sun” is a timely story about American-American life during the civil rights era. Walter Younger and his widowed mother, Lena, both strive to move from Chicago’s black ghetto, Lena hoping to move to a house in a white neighborhood.  Tato Laviera Theatre, http://www.harlemrepertorytheatre.com/current_season.html, 240 West 123rd Street, New York, NY

Where to Watch the TONYS in Manhattan on Sunday

Last year I was fortunate to attend the TONY Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  This year I’ll join my fellow Broadway fans at two special TONY viewing parties happening in Manhattan on Sunday.

Both are fabulous ways to kick off this theater-filled evening with drinks, bites, and some entertainment prior to and during the event. The 71st telecast of the TONY events is scheduled for 8pm.

Just around the corner from Radio City Music Hall, where the TONYs are being hosted by Kevin Spacey, Ocean Prime New York is holding a party in the Lounge starting at 7:30pm.

Photography courtesy of ICRAVE

The restaurant’s runway-ready TONY Awards cocktail menu is perfect for the occasion.  Select a drink according to your predictions for each category. How about a 21st-century East European influenced “Natasha, Pierre & the Ruby Comet of 1812,” made with fresh ruby red grapefruit, Finlandia grapefruit vodka, and lemon?

Or the delicate but edgy “Dear Evan Hansen Margarita,” a mix of Don Julio blanco tequila, elderflower, ruby red grapefruit and agave nectar.

Both would make a nice prelude and encore with their base of ruby red grapefruit. And both honor two serious contenders for Best Musical. When it’s time to celebrate the winners, the dramatic “Berries and Bubbles” cocktail in a Champagne glass is as festive as it gets. Get your video camera ready!

When you arrive, fill out an awards ballot with your Broadway predictions, and you just might win a $150 gift card to the restaurant.  No reservations are required.  Ocean Prime New York, 123 West 52nd Street. https://www.ocean-prime.com/locations/new-york-city

Broadway meets cabaret at the Yotel Hotel, at the edge of the Theater Row. The Green Room 42 cabaret will be throwing their own TONY viewing party bash, substituting purple lights for the red carpet. Hosted by Broadway “personality” Lesli Margherita (Dames at Sea, Matilda the Musical, Man of La Mancha) along with Lauren Molina of The Skivvies, the party here starts one hour earlier at 6:30pm. For $99, you get an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres (burger sliders, falafel bites, tomato & mozzarella, and more) and entertainment by Ms. Margherita and Ms. Molina.  Pre-show and commercial break entertainment will also include contests, prizes and theater fun. With these two ladies, you can expect a truly outrageous evening! Tickets: www.thegreenroom42.com. A full dinner menu is also available, a la carte. 570 Tenth Avenue.

Enjoy an Outdoor Broadway Concert FREE – June 2, “Stars in the Alley”

Theater lovers, it’s time for one of my favorite Broadwa experiences , STARS IN THE ALLEY®, a showpiece of what’s currently playing on the Great White Way, held one week before the Tony Awards® for the 2016-2017 season. Scheduled on Friday, June 2, Stars in the Alley is a celebration of the current Broadway season, and you get to see a sampler of songs and performances from nearly two dozen shows, all FREE. A 12-piece live orchestra accompanies. Given the price of theater tickets, this is a show you don’t want to miss.  #StarsInTheAlley

Heather Hedley and the cast of The Color Purple at Stars in the Alley 2016. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Actor Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “30 Rock,” Guys and Dolls, The Little Mermaid and much more) is the host of this year’s outdoor concert, scheduled rain or shine on June 2, at 1 PM in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8th Avenue and 44th and 45th Streets. Come early for the best seats.

The show is produced by the Broadway League and sponsored by United Airlines.

Crowd at Stars in the Alley 2016 (bottom). Photos by Jeremy Daniel

How many of these shows, scheduled to appear, have you seen? Now’s your chance!

Musicals:

Aladdin

Anastasia

Bandstand

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

A Bronx Tale

Cats

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Chicago

Come From Away

Dear Evan Hansen

Groundhog Day the Musical

Kinky Boots

Miss Saigon

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

The Phantom of the Opera

School of Rock the Musical

Sunset Boulevard

Waitress

Wicked

Plus star appearances from:

Jitney

The Little Foxes

The Play That Goes Wrong

Present Laughter

Six Degrees of Separation

Sweat

War Paint

Visit broadway.org for more information.

Hungry after the show? Stop by Juniors, right next door, for a pastrami on rye or a slice of strawberry cheesecake.

Planning a trip to NYC?