BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE | Welcome to our fifth annual round-up of what’s on, what you should see, and how you can get in if you plan to make a trip to the theater part of your Pride celebration — and you haven’t planned ahead.
The good news is that if there’s something you want to see, you’re probably going to be able to see it, but it’s going to cost you time or money. If you enter one of the ticket lotteries that have become increasingly prevalent, it will take time and luck to get in. To find a lottery, search online the name of the show and “lottery,” and you’ll be able to find it. In some cases, you’ll be sitting right down front, but for a show like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” still going strong with Darren Criss in the title role, that could be a lot of fun.
The TKTS booth at 47th and Broadway is still a reliable source for day-of tickets. It opens at 11 a.m. for matinees and 3 p.m. for evening shows. There’s a separate line exclusively for plays, which is usually a lot shorter. It’s worth it to download the TKTS app, which will let you see what’s up when the booth is open and what’s been up in the past week to give you a sense of what may be up in the days ahead. There are also TKTS booths at the South Street Seaport and in downtown Brooklyn at Metrotech. Over the past couple of weeks, the three booths have not all listed the same shows, so, for example, you could find seats for “Beautiful” downtown and in Brooklyn but not at Times Square.
TodayTix is an app-based service that also offers discounts. While they won’t always be as deep as those at the TKTS booth, you’ll still save over the listed price. You won’t get definite seats, but you will pick the section of the theater you’ll be in. Best of all, you can do it on your mobile device, and for many of the hotter shows, you’ll be met out front right before the show by the really friendly staff who will give you your tickets, “concierge-style.”
Signing up for TheaterMania also gives you access to offers that you purchase with codes through Telecharge or Ticketmaster. We recently purchased two orchestra seats for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” at $89 each that were directly adjacent to two premium seats on the aisle, offered at $250 each.
Speaking of paying full price or more, most shows now offer premium seating. This varies by show and can range from an incremental $20-$30 over the cost of a standard orchestra seat to multiples of two to three times. Even so, premium tickets for “Fun Home,” which just took the Best Musical Tony, are very hard to come by during Pride Week.
There are also your classic ticket brokers, the concierge at better hotels, and resale sites where you’ll pay the higher prices. Stub Hub has theater seats, and a relative newcomer, Vivid Seats, is another online marketplace where people can snag tickets. We did see good — not great — seats for “Fun Home” during Pride Week, ranging from $175 to more than $350 apiece, and while you’re dealing with a company that acts as the middleman in protecting your payment information and offering customer service, you’re still reliant on an individual to FedEx you the tickets in time.
If you really want to go “old school,” try walking up to the box office. I’ve often had good luck on the day of a show. If you’re willing to take singles and pay full price, you may get great seats — even house seats still open at the last minute. The advantage of going to the box office, even if you aren’t trying for last-minute tickets, is that you do save a lot on additional fees.
The foregoing is really about Broadway shows, and there’s plenty of great stuff happening Off-Broadway as well. If you have never had the experience of Shakespeare in the Park — my absolute favorite New York summer activity — that’s worth a day of lounging in Central Park to get tickets, which are free. Currently on is “The Tempest” with Sam Waterston as Prospero. Go to PublicTheater.org for full information on getting seats.
Here are some of my personal recommendations, and we looked at shows that opened in the season that just ended and performances from June 23 through July 1, but bear in mind that availability can change daily.
Circle In The Square
1663 Broadway at 50th St.
The multi-Tony-winning best musical features a remarkable score by Jeanine Tesori and book by Lisa Kron based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir. Part lesbian coming-of-age story, part dysfunctional family saga, it is both heartwarming and entertaining, largely because of its honesty and humanity. Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn, and Beth Malone are all sensational, but you need to see this before Sydney Lucas grows out of the part of Young Alison. Tickets available by lottery through TodayTix for $32 seats every day. Otherwise, only premium seats through brokers and resellers.
(Full Gay City News review at gaycitynews.nyc/home-hurt)
The King and I
Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center
150 W. 65th St.
Kelli O’Hara got her much-deserved Tony for her multi-layered performance as Anna Leonowens, an English tutor in the 19th century royal court of Siam. Ruthie Ann Miles took the Tony as well as Lady Thiang, with a beautiful, sensitive portrayal of the king’s head wife. Bartlett Sher directs with a contemporary sensibility while Michael Yeargen (sets) and Catherine Zuber (costumes) give the show a classic look. Tickets available for premium seats through brokers and resellers.
On the Twentieth Century
Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theater
227 W. 42nd St.
Kristin Chenoweth is back in top form as the irresistible triple threat — singer, dancer, comedienne extraordinaire — in this buoyant revival of the classic Cy Coleman musical. Tons of singing and dancing and packed with classic charm, this was arguably the last of the old fashioned musicals when it arrived in 1978, and that’s all captured in this great production. Andy Karl’s turn as a self-involved movie actor is not to be missed. Full price tickets available rear and side orchestra, some mezzanine. Discounts often available on TodayTix and at TKTS, especially for matinees.
Lunt Fontanne Theatre
205 W. 46th St.
Though spurned by the Tonys and trashed by the critics, this is still a visually sumptuous and crowd-pleasing show. That is, if the crowd is not too demanding. The reason to see this is for the terrific performances from Matthew Morrison and Carolee Carmello, as well as the plucky kids. It’s still not an easy ticket to get. There are some rear and side orchestra, some front mezzanine, and more rear mezzanine seats available. Discounts occasionally available on TodayTix and at TKTS.
Hand to God
222 W. 45th St.
This provocative play about a hand puppet seemingly possessed by the devil is shockingly hilarious. Even as over-the-top as it is, though, it still raises some engaging and important issues about faith and morality in our culture. Steven Boyer’s tour-de-force performances as the boy in thrall to his puppet Tyrone is not to be missed. Good availability in rear and side orchestra and the mezzanine for all performances. Premium tickets available at the box office for center orchestra. Discounts frequently available on TodayTix and at TKTS.
An American in Paris
1564 Broadway at 47th St.
If there is a “perfect musical,” this is it. Visually astonishing and brilliantly performed, the classic tale has a new, deeper, darker book by Craig Lucas and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. The score is Gershwin gold. Robert Fairchild took the Drama Desk for actor in a musical, and his dancing is spectacular. Leeanne Cope is sublime as his love interest, and the supporting performances by Max Von Essen and Brandon Uranowitz are excellent. There are limited singles in the side and rear orchestra, and sides of the rear mezzanine available. Some premium seats are available through brokers and resellers.
Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 W. 46th St.
This is one of the rarest of all birds — the completely original musical. The story of a couple of would-be producers in the Renaissance trying to mount a hit and compete with rock star Shakespeare, is beyond hilarious. Witty, fun, and with memorable performances by Brian d’Arcy James, Christian Borle, Brad Oscar, and John Cariani, and directed and choreographed brilliantly by Casey Nicholaw, this is inspired silliness from beginning to end. There are some singles in the orchestra and front mezzanine, with good availability in the rear mezzanine and balcony. Premium seats are available at the box office, and through resellers and brokers.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
243 W. 47th St.
This is really two stories in one — the adventures of a young, autistic boy trying to solve a mystery about a murdered dog, and his subsequent adventures trying to find his mother in London. Exciting staging and a killer performance by Tony-winner Alex Sharp make this engrossing, heartfelt, and visually dazzling theater. Stick around for the end after the curtain call for the coda — it’s worth it. There are some seats in the side orchestra and side mezzanine. Premium seats in the orchestra and front mezzanine are available at the box office and through resellers and brokers. Discounts are often available at TodayTix and at TKTS.
It Shoulda Been You
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 W. 47th St.
This charming one-acter makes no bones about being froth entertainment, and as such it’s engaging. Predictable for sure and somewhere between a classic farce and a sitcom, but with performances by Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, and Lisa Howard, this is undemanding fun. Some orchestra and front mezzanine tickets are available. Premium seats at the box office and discounts for virtually all performances at TodayTix and TKTS.
The Twentieth-Century Way
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
224 Waverly Pl., btwn. W. 11th & Perry Sts.
The most interesting gay-themed play Off-Broadway right now. Setting aside some labored dramaturgy, the story of two men who in worked for police departments entrapping and arresting gay men is based on a true story. Fine performances by Will Bradley and Robert Mammana as the two men — and a host of other characters — bring the story alive in a sometimes harrowing, sometimes touching way. Good availability for all performances through ovationtix.com.
Queen of the Night
Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel
235 W. 46th St.
If dinner theater and a circus got together, this would be it. The show is charming and sexually charged and unfolds right on top of you — sometimes literally. The dinner is outstanding, and the entire experience is unlike anything else you’ll find on stage right now. Running about three hours, it’s a great celebratory event. Different packages range from $150 to $450 and are available through queenofthe
A list like this can never be comprehensive. I haven’t mentioned long runs like “Kinky Boots,” “Wicked,” “Les Misérables,” “Matilda,” or “Phantom” that have big tourist appeal and are occasionally on TKTS and even more often at TodayTix. “The Book of Mormon” tickets are still hard to get, though premium seats are available during Pride Weekend. I also didn’t mention “Wolf Hall,” which is sensational, but requires a big commitment of time — two separate performances. Discounts are available.
Whatever you choose, I hope it adds to your celebration. Covering these shows over the past year has certainly been memorable for me.