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If you want people to move out of your way while you just do this,” our tour guide Amada tells us as we cross the street in Times Square doing jazz hands. It’s a busy Saturday morning, and the people move away from us, like Moses parting the red sea. They likely think we’re crazy, but I’d like to believe that we’re just slightly theatrical.
I always like to look up possible attraction tickets and tours on Groupon before I travel somewhere, and when I saw a deal for a Broadway-themed walking tour with New York Broadway Tours, I was sold. My friends and I had already booked a food walking tour, but this was Broadway, and we had to go on this tour. Aside from my three friends and I, there were only two other ladies with us. We went on a Saturday morning, and it was pretty busy. Then again, we were in Times Square, and it’s always busy there.
I think we were meant to go on this tour because the first stop was at The Nederlander Theatre. If this doesn’t excite you, then you aren’t a Renthead (Rent debuted on Broadway at The Nederlander). When our tour guide Amada suggested singing a song from Rent (“Take Me Out Tonight”) I thought, “this is awesome.” Of course, for some people singing outside, in public, on a tour group might be more of a nightmare than a dream come true, but you’re not required to sing…I sure did though.
A Little US and Theatre History
There are a lot of theatres in Manhattan, and the tour can’t cover all of them, but you do visit quite a few. Unfortunately, you don’t get to go inside the theatres or backstage (well we did get to go into the lobby of one). However, you do get to learn a bit of history of some of these theatres. Times Square, and Broadway. Like The Booth Theatre, which I did ask about. Was it named after John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln? Not quite. Apparently, The Booth Theatre was named after his brother, Edwin Booth, who was a prominent theatre actor.
Good Luck, uh I Mean Break A Leg Rituals
The other stop we made was at the Times Square Information Center. I’d been here before, but I didn’t know there was a small collection of memorabilia like costumes and props from Broadway shows, including a Gypsy Robe from 2008 Broadway season.
The Gypsy Robe is a robe has memorabilia from all the new musicals (including revivals) on Broadway in a given year. It’s tradition for the chorus member with the most chorus credits to get the robe on a show’s opening night. That person puts it on and walks around the stage three times. Then the others performers in the show touch the robe for good luck (although you never say “good luck” in the theatre, you say “break a leg”). When the next new musical opens on Broadway the last person to wear the robe goes to the opening night performance and gives that show the Gypsy Robe, and the whole thing starts all over again. It’s a bit superstitious, and kind of a weird tradition. If you think about it’s not any stranger than sports players refusing to wash their lucky jersey.
The tour was just under two hours and was a lot of fun. The tour guide, Amada, was friendly and enthusiastic about theatre, musicals and New York City. I learned something new and if you like theatre, history, or just want to learn more about New York I highly recommend taking this tour.
Things You Should Know
I was not contacted by New York Broadway Tours to write about my experience with them. My experience and opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.
While I was in New York City my friends and I stayed at the St. Gile’s Hotel on the Upper West Side. It was a nice mid-range hotel and only a couple of blocks from Grand Central Station. Of course there are no shortage of budget to luxury accommodation in New York City that you can book here.
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