“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 being 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 themes 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. Like the Food Walking tour we lucked out getting on another small tour. Aside my three friends and I, there were only two other ladies on the tour. Our tour was 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 on the tour was at The Nederlander Theatre. If this doesn’t excite you, then clearly 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 Theater History
There are a lot of theaters 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 theaters or backstage (well we did get to go into the lobby of one). However, you do get to learn about some of the history of the theaters, 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 at was at the Times Square Information Center. I’d been here before, but I didn’t know there was a small collection of memorabilia including costumes and props from Broadway shows, including a Gypsy Robe from 2008 Broadway season.
The Gypsy Robe is a robe that has memorabilia all the new musicals (including revivals) on Broadway in a given year. It’s a ritual for the chorus member with the most number of chorus credits to get the robe on a show’s opening night. The person who gets the robe puts it one and walks around the stage three times, and the others performers in the show touch the robe for good luck (although you never say “good luck” in the theater, 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. Superstitious, kind weird, but tradition I supposed. Actually it doesn’t seem any weirder than sports players refusing to wash their lucky jersey or something like that.
The tour was just under two hours and was a lot of fun. The tour guide, Amada, was friendly and enthusiastic about theater, musicals and New York City. I learned something new and if you like theater, history, or just want to learn more about New York I highly recommend taking this tour.
Please note: I was not contacted by New York Broadway Tours and asked to write about my experience with them. My experience and review of this tour is my own. I was not given any compensation for writing this post, although I received a discount on my tour ticket through a deal I booked with Groupon. All links within this post are for informational purposes only.