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Going Broadway for Pride

The annual rundown of the best early summer theater opportunties

Andre De Shields won the Tony for his role in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Hadestown.”
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The season that just closed was notable for the diversity of its shows — from the complex and moving “The Ferryman” to the ridiculous and hilarious “Tootsie.” The variety of offerings means that whatever type of show appeals to you, there’s probably something that will delight and entertain you. And you’ll be able to get your money’s worth.

Ticketing innovations in recent years have improved accessibility to shows for those with either time or money to invest. If you’ve decided that you want to add a show to your Pride celebration but haven’t planned ahead, in most cases it’s still not too late to score good — or even great — seats. For those for whom cost is no object resellers like Stub Hub, Vivid Seats, and even verified resale seats through Telecharge and Ticketmaster can get you in. If you’re willing to gamble, you can track seats on a reseller on the day of performance, and the closer you get to curtain the better a deal you can get. Some out-of-town friends of mine bought tickets to “Hamilton” 15 minutes before curtain at the Stub Hub office on 39th Street, between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, and they saved $200 per ticket. They did, however, have to sprint to the theater. It’s a gamble, but the seller has to eat an unsold seat so if you like a little risk with your theater you might try that.

Far more common, though, are rush seats, including via online lotteries. Virtually every show has them. Whether lining up when the box office opens or registering online, you can you seats at a deep discount, usually around $40. Friends have seen “Tootsie” from the front row for that price and “Kiss Me, Kate” from the 10th row off to the side. Considering that that’s a savings of nearly $120 per ticket, it’s well worth it. The challenge with these types of seats is that they are always at the discretion of the production or the box office, and you have to take what you’re offered. The best way to find out about each show’s offerings is to visit their web sites.

Every show also has premium seats, and these range in price. They’re often the last to sell, and for good reason. You’ll pay a multiple of the standard orchestra price, for example, for one of these seats. I’ve yet to splurge for one of those. Instead, I go online, look at the seat maps, and very often find a seat directly in front of, beside, or behind the premium section for the regular orchestra price. It takes a little time and patience, but the savings are worth it.

There are also apps like TodayTix that offers rush tickets, discounts, and lotteries for hot shows. If you check Theatermania.com, you’ll often find discounts. I’ve found the best way to take advantage of these kinds of offers is to go to the box office with the discount code: you’ll avoid nearly $20 in fees and you’ll also find a lot of flexibility in picking from what’s available.

The classic savings scheme is the TKTS booth, celebrating 45 years this year. They’ve finally started posting the prices, rather than just the discount percentage. Line up early for the best selection and take advantage of the “Play Only” lines to cut your wait time significantly if you’re not looking for the more popular musicals. Find all the details at tdf.org. They also have an app that gives you a sense of what’s been up recently when the booth is closed, though the selection can change every day. If you go this route, hold onto your stubs. Your TKTS stub from one show lets you jump the line within the following seven days. That, too, is a new feature.

One critical recommendation: go through a legitimate vendor, whether direct or a reseller. Be wary of people selling tickets on the street, particularly to hot shows; there have been counterfeits.

So, that’s the how, now here’s the what. Here are my recommendations and tips on what’s available as of June 19. Things can — and will change — but this should give you an idea of what you may be able to score. This list only includes shows from the current Broadway season, or shows that opened after the season ended.

The Tony Awards always change things up radically in June. A show that has had good sales suddenly sells out in the weeks after getting the honor. Shows that missed out on the awards — deservedly or not — have better availability.

Musicals

Hadestown: The Best Musical Tony was well-deserved. This retelling of the legends of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice is a celebration of theatrical creativity. Anais Mitchell’s book and score and Rachel Chavkin’s direction make this one of the most thrilling evenings in the theater in recent memory. With a steampunk sensibility and glorious singing, this is a show not to be missed.

Availability: Resale or premium seats only. They range from $250-$900-plus. Best bets: Box office for rush tickets the day of the show or the online lottery.

Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St.

Oklahoma: This thrilling production snagged the Tony for Best Revival. Be warned, though, this is not for all tastes. It is a dark and daring retelling of the beloved musical that suggests that life in the Oklahoma Territory in 1905 wasn’t all that rosy. Without changing the book or the score, director Daniel Fish and orchestrator Daniel Kluger virtually reinvent this American classic. Ali Stroker took the Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ado Annie as a vibrant, sexy, and very human woman — all in a wheelchair. Mary Testa turns Aunt Eller, often played as silly, into a powerful matriarch. Some have criticized this production for its darkness, but it reminds us that Rodgers & Hammerstein, for all their buoyant scores, transformed the musical by taking on serious topics.

Availability: Good for all performances at the $149-$159 list price. There are some table seats on the floor where you’ll interact with the performers for $225. Best bets: Box office. There is an online lottery.

Circle in The Square, 1633 Broadway at 50th St.

The Prom: This is one of those rare things on Broadway: a truly original musical. It’s the story of a gang of narcissistic actors who invade a small Indiana town, ostensibly to help a young lesbian go to the prom but more to get publicity for themselves. Hilarity ensues. Yet, this is a fresh, engaging, and uplifting musical created within a perfectly crafted old-fashioned structure. It’s probably one of the more carefree good times you’ll have, and it offers performances by Broadway stars Brooks Ashmanskas, Christopher Sieber, and the divine Beth Leavel. The show is closing August 11, so if you don’t see it during Pride, this is one you shouldn’t wait much longer on.

Availability: Good for rear and side orchestra at all performances, some mezzanine, spotty balcony. Prices are $49-$179. $40 rush tickets on each performance day. Best bets: Online and box office.

Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th St.

Beetlejuice: Inspired by the 1988 movie, this is a slight retelling of the story, but it’s a whole lot of fun (even if, like me, you don’t know the movie). Alex Brightman tackles the title role, with the same kind of manic energy he brought to “School of Rock.” Joined by Broadway stalwarts Rob McClure, Kerry Butler, and Leslie Kritzer, the show has gotten a dazzling production directed by Alex Timbers. It’s the kind of musical that asks very little of its audience but gives a lot in terms of entertainment.

Availability: Excellent at all price points $59-$159 for all performances. Best bets: Online and box office. Save even more with Theatermania discount codes.

Winter Garden, 1634 Broadway at W. 50th St.

Tootsie: Santino Fontana took home the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. And it was earned. This largely faithful recreation of the movie is full of jokes and a lot of quick changes as Michael Dorsey becomes Dorothy Michaels. This is very much in the vein of an old-fashioned musical, and David Yazbek’s score, if not his best, is brassy and fun. Like “Beetlejuice,” it’s a virtually guaranteed good time for musical fans.

Availability: Very good for side orchestra, some central orchestra, and both front and rear mezzanine for all performances at $99-$199 for list price. The rush seats are $42.50, or save with a Theatermania discount. Best bets: Online or box office.

Marquis Theatre, 210 W. 46th St.

The Cher Show: This is another one that is going to be a matter of taste. It’s a big, splashy bio-musical of the incomparable Cher. Stephanie J. Block took the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, and deservedly so. This is a dazzling, silly show with a Bob Mackie fashion show in the middle of it. At the same time, it’s got a lot of heart and a great story. Yes, it’s a jukebox musical, but it’s one that you’ll love listening to.

Availability: Very good for side orchestra, some central orchestra, and both front and rear mezzanine for all performances at $59-$199 for list price. Good for premium seats at $299. The rush seats are $30, or save with a Theatermania discount in the mezzanine. Best bets: Online or box office.

Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.

Ain’t Too Proud: The story of the Temptations is a knock-out. Based on a book by Otis Williams, the show tracks the rise of the group, its evolution and changes, politics and longevity. Dominique Morisseau’s book for the show uses Williams as a narrator, but she gives enough depth to each of the characters — and there are a lot of them — to connect clearly and emotionally to the audience. For those of us who knew the music but not the stories behind it, the show touches not only on the personal but also on larger themes about the evolution and staying power of the Motown sound.

Availability: Premium seats only at all performances at the box office. Student rush only. Best bets: Resellers.

Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St.

Plays

The Ferryman: Jez Butterworth’s expansive story of life in Norther Ireland during The Troubles took the Tony for Best Play. The scale, heart, and humanity of people pushed to desperation even as they try to live a quiet life provide a story both heartwarming and heartbreaking. The cast led by Brian d’Arcy James is spectacular. This is the kind of play that doesn’t come along all that often, and it is unforgettable. The show is closing July 7.

Availability: Good for side orchestra and mezzanine at all performances from $89-$179. Some premium tickets at $225. $40 rush tickets, Theatermania discounts. Best bets: Online, box office.

Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Aaron Sorkin’s interpretation of Harper Lee’s classic novel is the story of a small, predominantly white town, the fictional Maycomb County, Alabama, torn apart in 1934 by the rape trial of a black man has a profound resonance in today’s world as racism’s defiant persistence is tragically more prevalent around the world. With stellar performances by Jeff Daniels, Gideon Glick, and a Tony-winning performance by Celia Keenan-Bolger as Scout, this is a deeply engaging and profoundly moving production.

Availability: Premium seats only at $299-$400. Reseller prices are significantly higher. $29 rush tickets for the balcony only. Best bets: Online, box office, resellers.

Lincoln Center Theater, 150 W. 65th St.

Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune: Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon star in Terrence McNally’s play. This, wonderful, lyrical production seems very contemporary, though the play is 30 years old. It’s about the struggle to connect and love when life has thrown a series of curveballs and giving oneself to another person seems to be about the scariest thing in the world.

Availability: Good at all prices for all performances. Regular tickets are $79-$199. $40 rush. Theatermania discounts. It’s been up on TKTS. Best bets: Online, box office, TKTS

Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th St.

What the Constitution Means to Me: Heidi Schreck’s play about her life as a speech contestant to raise college money is surprisingly rich and entertaining. It’s a meditation on the Constitution, but also on life in the current environment, our rights, and how we need to fight for them. It’s an inspiring, witty, and heartfelt piece that was, not surprisingly, a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Availability: Fair at all prices for all performances. Regular tickets are $49-$169. $42 rush. Theatermania discounts. Note, the mezzanine of this theater is fairly tight and there’s little legroom for tall people. Best bets: Online, box office.

Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 W. 44th St.

There are also many long-running shows from past seasons that are still going strong — from “The Book of Mormon” to “Waitress” to “Dear Evan Hansen” and all the Disney shows. For juggernaut shows like “Hamilton” or “Wicked,” your best bet is going to be the lotteries. People do win them every day!

So, since a list like this can’t be comprehensive, I’ve included the shows I get asked about the most. It’s a wonderful mixed bag of styles, productions, seriousness, and outright silliness. I hope you find a show that will enhance your Pride celebration.

Posted 12:00 am, June 23, 2019
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