Pride in the Theater
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE | Let’s say you want to make seeing a show part of your Pride Weekend, but haven’t planned ahead. It’s for that very situation that we publish our fourth annual roundup of what’s on, what’s hot, and how to get a pair of seats. If you want to see something, chances are you’ll be able to — in some cases, though, it may cost you time or money. Or both. (For the nuts and bolts of purchase, see the accompanying “Here’s How” sidebar below.)
So, what can you get tickets to? Here are some of my personal recommendations and what we’ve learned about availability from June 26 through July 2. Bear in mind that the situation can change daily.
When you want a break from dancing in the streets, take a seat at a show
New Amsterdam Theater
214 W. 42nd St.
For the die-hard Disney fan, this is everything you’d expect. It’s bright, colorful, and exuberant with plenty of visual magic and a cast that’s knocking itself out to dazzle you.
Availability: Spotty singles as premium seats only.
BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
124 W. 43rd St.
Yes, it’s a jukebox musical, but Jessie Mueller’s well-deserved Tony and Drama Desk-winning performance is not to be missed. You don’t even have to be a Carole King fan to enjoy the infectious, heartfelt story or the outstanding performances by a great company.
Availability: Very limited. Listed regular ticket prices are $75-$162, but for Pride Weekend, we found very few rear and side orchestra seats at $177.50, some orchestra seats at $283.50, and some center mezzanine seats at $207.50.
Roundabout at Studio 54
254 W. 54th St.
Alan Cumming recreates his role as the emcee, and Michelle Williams is a stunning Sally Bowles in this remounting of the famous production from 1998. It seems sharper, more mature, and more emotional than before, thanks to Cumming and Williams as well as strong performances by Bill Heck, Danny Burstein and Linda Emond — and of course the Kit Kat girls and boys.
Availability: Limited regular ticket prices are $47-162. There are seats along the bar rail at the back of the orchestra with a partially obstructed view and some mezzanine seats available. No discounts are available during this period.
Samuel J. Friedman Theater
261 W. 47th St.
You’ll have to hurry to see this; it closes June 29. But it’s worth it. Harvey Fierstein’s tale of cross-dressing men in the Catskills in 1962 is funny, poignant, and politically charged in a very subtle way. It has a brilliant ensemble cast, with Reed Birney and Nick Wastrate as standouts giving unforgettable performances. Put this at the top of your list.
Availability: Good. Regular ticket prices are $67-$125, there are online discounts of as much as $50 per seat, available through Broadwayoffers.com, and it’s been up regularly at the TKTS booth.
THE CITY OF CONVERSATION
Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center
150 West 65th St.
Jan Maxwell gives a characteristically brilliant performance in this well-made drama about a family torn apart by political differences. Maxwell plays Hester Ferris, the ultimate DC doyenne, chronicling her role through six presidential administrations. When her son and daughter-in-law become Reagan Republicans, Hester must choose between her integrity and her family. This is one of the most intelligent and well-crafted new plays of the season, and Maxwell leads an exceptional cast.
Availability: Very limited. Side and rear orchestra seats only available at select performances.
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 W. 48th St.
Clearly I’m in the minority on this one. It won the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards and, while it is entertaining in a Gilbert and Sullivan way, what starts out as charming soon wears thin. Still, the leads — Bryce Pinkham and Jefferson Mays — are quite appealing.
Availability: Very limited, thanks to the Tony buzz. We found premium seats at $307.50 in the orchestra and some rear and side orchestra at $150.50. Very limited mezzanine seats at $107.50.
HERE LIES LOVE
425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl.
David Byrne and Fatboy Slim have written an incredible musical about the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos. Yes, it’s a little bit “Evita-Goes-to-the-Philippines,” but the vibrant score, mosh pit staging — you stand for the full 90 minutes — and electric performances by a consistently superlative cast make this a completely thrilling experience.
Availability: Good. It’s general admission, with the exception of a handful of seats above the action, which have partial views. Tickets range from $99 to $139 depending on the performance. You’ll have to check bags, even purses, and wear comfortable shoes.
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL
Circle In The Square
1633 Broadway at 50th St.
Audra McDonald gives an achingly beautiful performance as Billie Holiday, and while this is billed as a play (and McDonald won the Best Actress in a Play Tony), there’s lots of music in this. McDonald’s acting and singing are sensational, and this is a galvanizing 90-minute tour-de-force.
Availability: Spotty. Full-price tickets are $97-$250. (For $250, you sit at a table on the floor.) But for Pride Weekend, we found only premium tickets and rear orchestra. The show is often up at TKTS, however.
American Airlines Theatre
227 W. 42nd St.
Sutton Foster is at the top of her game in this sung-through tale of a girl disfigured in an accident who seeks the help of a faith healer. It’s a lot more fun than that sounds, and Jeanine Tesori’s score is outstanding. This show also has some of the best singing on Broadway now from Foster, Joshua Henry, Colin Donnell, Alexander Gemignani, and a powerhouse ensemble.
Availability: Good. Regular ticket prices are $67-$152. Greatest availability in rear and side orchestra at $99 with a theatermania.com offer, versus $152 for the same seats.
And for something a little different:
SLEEP NO MORE
The McKittrick Hotel
530 W. 27th St.
This is not so much a play as an art installation with performances. The audience travels through dozens of amazingly decorated rooms as a version of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” unfolds around them. Familiarity with the play helps somewhat, since it’s likely you’ll experience the play out of order, but that doesn’t matter so much. The ingenuity and creativity of this production are unlike anything else you’ll see. This is great for a group to do, and you can stay for quite a while and get lost in the vision and imagination of Punchdrunk, the company responsible for this.
Availability: Good. No discounts are available, and tickets are $75 and available through broadway.com
FORBIDDEN BROADWAY COMES OUT SWINGING
354 W. 45th St.
The ultimate inside Broadway satire is back with a mostly new edition that’s as loving yet poison-penned as ever. The astonishing four-person cast does incredible impersonations of Broadway’s biggest stars, and Gerard Alessandrini’s lyrics are, as always, trenchant observations about shows that won’t die… like “Les Misérables.” It’s all in good fun, but it’s oh-so deliciously nasty. You’ll like it even if you haven’t seen all the shows but love a good satire.
Availability: Good for all performances. Tickets are $79 and available at telecharge.com.
A list like this can never be comprehensive. I haven’t mentioned long runs like “Once,” “Newsies,” “Mamma Mia,” or “Phantom” that have big tourist appeal and are occasionally on TKTS. “Wicked” tickets are still hard to get, as are those for “Kinky Boots,” though premium seats are available for both during Pride Weekend.
Whatever you choose, I hope it adds to your celebration and creates wonderful New York memories.
HERE’S HOW TO SCORE THOSE TICKETS
There are many ways to shop for tickets, and it can pay to check out a couple of different options. First and foremost, remember: the last thing any producer wants is to have empty seats that could have been sold before the curtain goes up. That’s revenue that can never be recaptured.
That’s why the TKTS booth in Times Square (under the red steps at 47th Street and Broadway) can be a benefit, though you’ll invest a little time in waiting. It’s a day-of-performance operation and it can be hit-or-miss regarding the quality of available seats, but the people working there always seem genuinely willing to help you find the best options. TKTS also has a very handy app you can download to see what’s up before you head out to get in line. The most important thing to remember is to show up by 2 or 3 p.m. for evening shows and 11 a.m. for matinees.
As you’re probably aware, the rise of “premium seating” in the last few years has created a situation where a pair to “The Book of Mormon” will set you back north of $700. But, we have found regularly priced seats located just a row behind ones sold as premiums, so buying online (telecharge.com or ticketmaster.com) with access to a seat map can be your friend. Be aware that prices can change by performance, as can the areas designated as premium seating.
Theatermania.com can be a good resource to shop for discounts, as well, but know that you will have to register.
They may seem antiquated at this point, but you can still find ticket brokers. Though they charge a hefty fee and we’ve found their seats are sometimes no better than premium or side orchestra seats we found on our own, if you’re in a pinch for Pride Weekend, brokers are more likely to cough up seats on short notice.
Some shows have lotteries that will get you in the door for under $50, but you have to fit into their schedule — and be there when the lottery is called. Standing room is sometimes available for shows that are sold out. For lotteries or standing room, head to the theater and find out their policies. Or you can also search online by the name of the show and “lottery.”
Even without a lottery or resorting to standing room, you can score by showing up at the box office right before show time. I’ve even managed a few unused house seats. You’ll pay full price, but if you’re willing to take a single or scattered singles if you’re in a group, you might get into that show you’re dying to see.
Off-Broadway, too, has some gems, and if you have never had the experience of Shakespeare in the Park, that’s worth a day of lounging in Central Park to get free tickets and a quintessential New York experience. Currently on is “Much Ado About Nothing” with Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater (a full review appears in this issue). Go to publictheater.org for full information on getting the free seats.