“They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway…” For starry-eyed young musical theatre superfans, Broadway is the Mecca, the Super Bowl; it’s Legit. Here’s how to navigate the musical streets of Broadway in New York City with teenagers.
What Show to Choose?
Broadway shows are always changing. Long-running favourites like Cats and the Phantom of the Opera still pull in crowds of all ages. Family-friendly G-rated shows like The Lion King, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and School of Rock do solid business too. Teenagers may love those amazing productions or want to venture into more serious theatre territory. Show choices will depend on their interests – what do they like and wish to see?
Broadway Direct or Broadway.com are good places to do some pre-trip research on what shows are of interest. And more importantly, what tickets may be available for your visit. If your visit to NYC is all about Broadway, and seeing certain shows for which tickets are super hard to come by – think Hamilton and the Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen – plan your holiday around ticket availability. Your teen will (and should) thank you.
For older teens (and parents), Dear Evan Hansen is an incredible, spot-on musical that should not be missed. It’s incredibly moving and hits all the notes of teen alienation, social media craziness, and parental shortcomings. We took our 17-year old son, and he was completely blown away, as were we. Pack tissues.
Even if tickets are sold out for your visit dates, you can still find them. But they will cost you. You’ll be purchasing fan-to-fan resale tickets. Ticketmaster’s Verified Tickets program is legit. We used the resale program and it works. Ticket holders can sell their tickets to new buyers, and Ticketmaster handles the ticket transfer. In some cases, this may be your only option to see shows like Hamilton, unless you purchase years in advance, or win its daily ticket lottery.
You could spend a few hours waiting at the TKTS booth in Times Square (been there, done that). It’s an excellent same-day ticket service that supports the non-profit performing arts community.
Or you can use technology to your advantage and download the TodayTix App on your smartphone. You can purchase tickets up to 30 days in advance, or even enter a same-day ticket lottery. There are a lot of musicals and plays to choose from, even on same day purchases, including popular shows like School of Rock and Wicked.
The best part of the service is that a red-coated TodayTix rep will meet you outside your chosen show 30 minutes before curtain rise, with your tickets in hand. We used this seamless service twice, and highly recommend not wasting time standing in line when tickets could be delivered right to you as you swan into the theatre.
Go During Broadway Week
Broadway celebrates itself every winter with Broadway Week. You can sign up for advanced notice to partake in the 2 for 1 ticket bonanza on select shows. It’s a great way to see many productions in a short period, all for a 50% discount.
Take a Tour
Walks of New York has a great Disney on Broadway Tour. The 2.5-hour tour includes a guided walk of the theatre district. Then it goes ‘behind the Magic’ at the New Amsterdam Theatre, giving Disney and theatre fans a taste of how The Lion King production comes together every night. Book ahead to ensure tour availability.
Check out Mastercard Priceless Experiences
If you’re a Mastercard credit card holder, you can register for some pretty amazing Broadway experiences as part of Mastercard’s Priceless Experiences program. See the show and meet the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Or as my tap-dancing son did, learn some smooth moves dancing with a member of the Get On Your Feet cast. If your teen loves musical theatre, these experiences can potentially be life-changing encounters.
If you like your dinner with a side of Broadway tunes, don’t miss a meal at Ellen’s Stardust Theatre at 51st and Broadway in Times Square. The 1950s themed diner has singing waitstaff that has entertained patrons since the restaurant opened in 1987. You may have to wait a while to enter as lines are frequently quite long, but the experience may well be worth it for your teenaged theatre fan.
Shop for Merch
Every show will have merchandise and souvenirs for sale. Some of it may only be available at that theatre (Hello, Hamilton limited-edition water bottle). This will be a draw to teens who want to show their friends where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. For general show merch, visit Theatre Circle. This speciality store (with two locations) stocks a variety of the latest show swag, as well as general Broadway-themed souvenirs.
Sharing a love of Broadway and theatre with your teenager is a great family travel memory maker. Happy show planning.