NYC with kids
If you’ve had any sort of a look at our blog or insta you will know that we are big theatre fans in our house. Musicals are life for the kids (maybe a bit for me too!) So getting to see Broadway was high on the list. In fact, Miss 10 birthday cake was all about the shows.
I came across the Disney on Broadway walking tour on Viator, so signed us up. We met our wonderful guide Jocelyn and off we headed (we were a small group of about 8 which was perfect) around the different theatres in Broadway. Broadway is the name of the street in Manhattan which has become the world leader of theatre entertainment. As we walked the streets, we learnt about the first NYC stage in the 1700s in Massau Street. Standing in the midst of Times Square look down at your feet and you will see a handy map of all the theatres in the area. The 2.5 hour walking tour is pitched just right, enough history about the growth of Broadway in 1800s, the impact of the Great Depression, and the more recent growth again. It was active, and seeing the range of the theatres kept the interest, even on a cold NYC morning. A good balance of history and modern day knowledge pitched for all ages- perfect.
Then, what Miss 10 had been waiting for, a visit to New Amsterdam Theatre, where Aladdin is currently showing. We got a VIP tour of the beautiful and majestic theatre, then got taken to the stage to stand, look out at the lights and dream of being on Broadway. Well for Miss 10 anyway. She was totally taken with seeing how it all worked and getting that backstage view after her summer performances with the touring company of Evita in the Grand Opera House in Belfast. We were then taken to a room and shown a fantastic array of the props from a range of Disney shows including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. We got to try on the costumes, learn all about the props and take lots of photos. It was a fantastic, inspirational morning! I strongly recommend it for any one with a love of Musical Theatre and of Disney, and if you love both like us it is a dream come true.
Since we were staying a few days in NYC, we used the opportunity to ourselves experience the wonderment, excitement and spectacle that is Broadway.
Frozen the Musical – just ‘Let it go’ and enjoy the show
Miss 10 was obsessed with Frozen a few years ago, now a big 10, is a little past it, but still was keen to see the show. Frozen is a story inspired by Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen of two sister princesses, one with ice making powers. They are close until Elsa accidentally hurts her younger sister Anna while playing. Anna’s memory is erased by some trolls, and the two are separated by their parents. Tragically like many a Disney story, their parents die, and Queen Elsa is crowned. Overwhelmed by her magic Elsa turns the town to ice, and takes off. Through an icy kingdom, Anna seeks out her sister accompanied by iceman Kristoff and Sven the Reindeer. Elsa learns to ‘let it go’ and sisterly love saves the day. It’s different than the traditional male prince saves the day storyline.
It was a good show full of music, dance, likeable characters and lots of ice and snow. It was transformed to the stage well, close enough to the movie and with some extra songs thrown in. Miss 10 enjoyed it, was engaged with the music and impressed by the set design. A perfect introduction to Broadway theatre for any little Disney fans, and a good adaptation of the movie that will engage older kids (and adults too).
School of Rock – super talented kids
Miss 10 was super keen to see this one, anything with kids on the stage makes her want to get up there too! We had great seats in front row of the dress circle, and we were so impressed by the talent of the children in the show. A great energetic production, telling the story of Dewey, a musician recently banished from his band. Living with his long term mate Ned and his wife Patty, Dewey is told to get a job and pay rent or he’s being kicked out. Desperate, Dewey poses at Ned to get a job as a substitute teacher at a posh private school. No idea what he is doing, he uses music to get his way through preparing the pupils for a battle of the bands competition. The kids are phenomenal and steal the show – amazingly talented.
Phantom of the Opera – a classic
This one was my choice – I saw it in London years ago and loved it so was keen to introduce Miss 10 to it and see it on Broadway. It’s based on the classic novel by Gaston Leroux, the story of a man born with a horribly deformed face. He hides in the bowels of a Paris opera house where he torments the occupants. However, when he hears Christine Daae sing he dedicates himself to nurturing her talent. Soon the Phantom is overtaken by his desire and love for her, and he becomes reckless. He reveals his love for her, and she responds well to him until she sees his face. She then falls for Raoul, resulting in the Phantom declaring war on the Opera house. The music, the staging, the fantasy, hopes and dreams draws you in. It is a stunning production, totally and utterly engaging, even for a 10 year old. She was transfixed throughout.
Anastasia – fantastic Russian spectacle
Set in the beautiful and grand Broadhurst Theatre, Anastasia and her royal family are captured by the firing squad of Romanov, who kills her entire family. The girl is said to be dead, but the truth is that Anastasia survives. However, she has lost her memory, and is wandering the streets of St. Petersburg. Her grandmother, who left to Paris before the family murder, offers a reward to anyone who finds Anastasia- so she becomes a living legend without any awareness. Many a girl pretends of be her, and two tricksters, Dmitry and Vlad are plotting a scheme to secure that money. Through this these meet Anya (Anastasia’s name now) and finally realise that there are memories there that she did not know she had. It is enchanting and the set design feels truly Russian and French. The costumes are fantastic, and the music enthralling. A wonderful musical, that is well worth seeing. Miss 10 loved it.
Top tips to getting Broadway tickets
Tickets for shows are never cheap. You need to weigh up are you happy to go with what is available and on offer, or if you have certain things in mind you may need to prebook. Super popular shows like Hamilton and The Cursed Child are sold out for months ahead. Many of the Disney ones such as Frozen, the Lion King and Aladdin will need pre-booked. I’ve outlined other tips to get discounted tickets.
1. The classic visit to TKTS (Under the red stairs in Times Square)
The classic way to get discounted tickets is to wait in line, on the day of the show at the TKTS booth under the red stairs in Duffy Square (47th Street and Broadway). Most are 50% discounted. However, there’s also two other booths in the city – one at Lincoln Centre’s David Rubenstein Atrium which is only 15 blocks away from the original one , and South Street Seaport. Generally the earlier you get there the better, and often less queues in the non Times Square ones, so head that way. You can buy up to 6 tickets, and fees are around $5-$6 per ticket.
Rather than standing in a queue, you can get discounted tickets from your phone from TodayTix.app up to a month in advance. There’s discounted ones alongside regular priced one. There’s a few other websites too New York Show Tickets (it’s a membership one costing $4 per month). Good discounts can be also be found at BroadwayBox, TheaterMania and GoldStar, and there are even some discount deals Time Out New York Do shop around these options – but there are online ticketing fees of around $10 to $15 which you need to take into account.
3. Rush and lottery tickets
Many productions offer same day rush tickets – which can be the only way to get reasonably priced tickets for shows that are otherswise sold out. Sometimes they are as little as $20 a piece. You need to get to the theatre for 10 am (Sundays 11am) on the day of the performance for them. School of Rock is a good one for Rush tickets. Wicked holds a in person lottery but most others have digital lotteries – you can sign up online for them. Hamilton offers 36 $10 seats per day, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has the Friday forty. Playbill and Broadway for Broke People has the full line up.
4. Buy at the box office
If you are trying to see a popular show right now, you probably won’t get a discounted ticket. However you can save a few dollars by buying at the box office and not having to pay as much in fees and you might get good seats.
For us, we were quite particular about what we wanted to see so pre booked Frozen and School of Rock. We kept an eye on numbers of tickets available, and bought Phantom of the Opera a few days in advance from Broadway Box, and Anastasia on the day.