Rising up out of the subway and stepping foot on to the pavement of the Manhattan streets is a kind of otherworldly experience that’s specific to New York. If you’re an avid traveler, you know. Each passerby has a purpose and every tourist’s eyes sparkle under the big city billboards which famously dominate the Times Square horizon. There’s a heartbeat beneath the sidewalk, and it compels you forward (if not the crowd of people racing behind you to catch the next walk sign…or rather, completely ignoring it).
But, there’s an even more unique pulse that emanates from the Theater District. If you eavesdrop on those that you pass by in the long, anxious lines outside, or those milling wildly about in the theater lobby, you’ll easily pick out snippets of conversation that allude to the kind of culture surrounding Broadway.
Of course, there are the regular theater-goers, swapping opinions on some of the latest shows that they’ve attended and eagerly sharing their interest over the kind of artistic direction that a particular revival will reveal. Then, there are the visitors, the new-goers, the ones who are dazzled by first-time Broadway delights. One of my favorite parts of people watching in New York is seeing friends and families absolutely beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of seeing the créme de le créme of theater, especially for their first time. I often remind myself of that feeling I had when I saw the lights go up on a New York stage at 15 years old…
Some of the best moments are in the lines and lobbies of shows like The Lion King and Wicked, where children are jumping up and down and staring with wide eyes at the t-shirts and trinkets for sale, lit up by strings of colored light bulbs along the merchandise stand. But two of my personal favorite things to note when I attend any theater event is 1) before the show begins, the architecture and design of the inside of the building–always unique, always spectacular–and 2) after the show ends, the comradery of the crowd during a standing ovation–the celebration of the talented artists, the cutting-edge art, and the dedicated community.
A particular treat for me this Broadway season was going to see Company at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. An absolutely brilliant adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 production, this show definitely held the space for the kind of aforementioned electric energy that can only be associated with Broadway. When the lights went down and the glowing sign of “COMPANY” glowed pink and blue down onto the audience, immediately, our attention was captured. Immediately, we were hypnotized by the expectation of a compelling story, a dazzling visual, and a heartfelt connection with the characters who were to enter the stage at any given moment.
Spoiler: Expectations were met.
Notable is also how easy it can be to get to the Theater District. My good friends and I hopped on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan just an hour before showtime and arrived with enough time to get to our seats and to take photos of the signs outside the theater to commemorate the evening. (Another simple must-do, especially if attending with young kids who may not have such a vivid memory of their inaugural experience in a few years.) Although, if you are traveling with kids, I would factor in extra time to snap those pictures, go to the bathroom, and get settled. In fact, a fond memory of my childhood is my father taking me down to the front of the stage at every venue, where I could get a peek at the musicians warming up and tuning their instruments. If there are times for opportunities like this, it makes the night that much for special for everyone involved.
If you are a lover of theater like me, it’s easy to get sucked into the annual intrigue of newly produced productions and freshly reimagined revivals. And it never ceases to amaze me how giddy I get at each show, like I’m a kid again. Going to see Broadway is always at the top of my list when I plan to visit New York City. And I’m not alone in that sentiment. When I return to my home city, it’s the first thing that people ask me: “Did you see a show?!”
Yes, I did. And it was a delight.
Find more information on The Broadway Collection.
For group tickets and travel operators, visit Broadway Inbound.
By: Megan Kudla
Images courtesy of Megan Kudla
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