New York, New York: Broadway

Before Avenue Q

Trip Taken: 2010

As a person with a penchant for torch songs and musical theater in general, one of the top activities I had to do was to see a Broadway show. My first exposure to musicals came in the form of the soundtrack to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. From then on, it has been a form of entertainment I greatly admire. It would be a while before I saw my very first musical at the Ahmanson Theater. In a stroke of great luck, I saw the musical ‘Caroline, or Change’ with the original cast touring in LA. What a musical to start off with. I could probably write a whole post on this musical. So I will just say that it remains, musically, the most awesome performance I have ever seen or heard.

So I am in New York and on a budget. I am staying with an AirBnB host so am I definitely not throwing money out the window. This post will be a little different in that I am actually going to do give advice on how to score some cheap Broadway tickets. I will also write a little bit about Broadway versus Off-Broadway in addition to my normal narrative.

Avenue Q and TKTS Discount Booths

Lucy the Slut

There were a handful of musicals I really wanted to see when I was in New York. Since Wicked is so widely popular that they don’t offer any discounts for the penny-pinching traveler, I decided to go with Avenue Q. So how did I score some discount tickets to see ‘Avenue Q’? I was doing a day of sightseeing on the south part of Manhattan and I planned it so I would be able to purchase tickets from the TKTS South Street Seaport Booth. There are two other booths; one in Brooklyn and one in Times Square. I would not suggest the Times Square one as it’s always the busiest. Make sure you are flexible when you buy from TKTS. The show you might want to see could be sold out or not offering discounts that day. I was lucky that I got my first choice. Definitely some of the best value for my money.

Just a little note on the performances. Jonathan Root was amazing as Princeton/Rod; a powerful-articulate voice, excellent comedic timing, and a strong stage presence to boot. Cullen Titmas will probably always be Nicky in my mind. I just saw the touring cast in LA and it’s hard to compare to his performance. His Bad Idea Bear with Sarah Stiles is hilarious. I think how his hair is unkempt adds to the slacker image that Nicky has going for him. For some reason, I keep thinking it was Julie Atherton, from the original London cast, that played Kate Monster. The cast list online shows the blond Anika Larsen, but I distinctly remember a brunette. Plus, watching the videos from Julie Atherton confirms it in my memory. Alas, I have no proof online or in my Playbill. Whether it was Anika or Julie, the actress for Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut had a really good voice and really stole the show during her solos. Favorite character would probably be the Bad Idea Bears, but just because they are so diabolically cute!

A Little Night Music and Rush Tickets

Opening Scene of A Little Night Music

Opening Scene of A Little Night Music

I went to see ‘A Little Night Music’ on a different night than ‘Avenue Q’ (obviously). I was spending the week in New York and I thought it would be a good idea to see another musical. I had heard a lot about the cast changes with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch stepping in. My first exposure to Bernadette Peters was in another Sondheim musical called ‘Into the Woods’. Some call her one of the premier interpreters of Sondheim’s style. Well, she sure has done a lot of Sondheim. The role of Joanne in ‘Company’ was basically written for Elaine Stritch. So I knew it was going to be a good show.

How was I going to score discount tickets to such a high-ticket item. TKTS did sell tickets to this musical on certain days, but I found out that they sold rush tickets and student tickets. I abused my Berkeley student ID again to get some last minute tickets from the box office. They were also selling a limited number of rush tickets but I didn’t want to take the chance. But make sure to check the websites for the different shows to see if they have any last minute discounts. My seat was high in the bleachers but it was still a great vantage point to watch and listen Bernadette Peters knock ‘Send in the Clowns’ out of the park. Wow, wow, wow. It was a good night.

Broadway versus Off-Broadway

I saw ‘Avenue Q’ at the New World Stages and I saw ‘A Little Night Music’ at the Walter Kerr Theatre. There are only a handful of theaters that can be considered Broadway. Technically, I saw an Off-Broadway production of ‘Avenue Q’ since the New World Stages is an off-Broadway theater. The one Broadway production that I saw would be ‘A Little Night Music’. Off-Broadway means that it is a smaller theater that seats between 99 and 500 people. Traditionally, it also meant that it was outside the Broadway theater district. But there exceptions like the New World Stages.

If you are in New York, then do yourself a favor and see a show. There is a high concentration of very talented performers in New York and it would be a shame to miss that opportunity to see a performance.

Parting Words

A little note about eating at Times Square. Please choose carefully. I had some nasty Japanese food from this small hole in the wall right in the middle of Times Square. The chicken was microwaved into dry jerky and the rice was so lumpy that no Asian person should be able to raise their head after cooking, let alone serving, that monstrosity. There are so decent chain restaurants here. I actually heard that the McDonald’s in Times Square is pretty cool and very theater-centric in its design. Of course, this is New York and you could probably get a gourmet meal with a little bit of planing.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.