The Christmas holiday had a considerable impact on Broadway schedules last week, prompting many shows to cancel performances on Christmas and to add matinee performances later in the week. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, too, are known to inspire a few schedule changes for Broadway shows, and they are just a couple days away.
Naturally no Broadway show wants to hold a performance on New Year’s Eve, a night when Times Square is overflowing with revelers and many potential audience members are attending New Year’s parties, so all evening performances on December 31 have been canceled. However, a handful of shows — Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Newsies, and Peter and the Starcatcher — are offering special Monday matinee performances that day.
On January 1, New Year’s Day, most Broadway shows are having Tuesday evening performances as usual. Family-friendly Annie, however, is taking the unusual step of having matinee that day. To view the entire New Year’s week schedule, click here.
Kathie Lee Gifford
The annual “Broadway on Broadway” concert will be back in Times Square on Sunday, September 9 at 11:30AM. This free event, beloved by Broadway fans, literally fills Times Square with people as Broadway performers ascend a specially constructed platform to sing out to the masses.
Kathie Lee Gifford has been tapped to serve as host this year. In addition to her hosting experience on the morning talk show Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, as well as her current stint on the fourth hour of The Today Show, Gifford actually has a direct involvement in Broadway this season. The upcoming musical Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson features a book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford.
The complete list of “Broadway on Broadway” participants this year hasn’t been announced yet, but traditionally nearly every musical contributes a song, and stars of the upcoming season’s plays often come up to introduce songs.
“Broadway on Broadway” gives fans an excellent opportunity to get a ‘sneak peek’ of upcoming shows by seeing a musical number performed here for free. Many shows also pass out branded merchandise to the crowd. But to get a spot near the stage, it is advisable to arrive a few hours early.
For decades, the legendary Times Square — one of the most vibrant, well-known locations on the planet — was surprisingly inhospitable to people who just wanted to sit back and take in the ambiance of this tourist haven. With two major thoroughfares, 7th Avenue and Broadway, crossing right through the heart of Times Square, pedestrians had to crowd onto the narrow sidewalks, constantly stopping foot traffic to take photos of the neon mecca.
But today, Broadway is now closed to vehicular traffic between 41st and 47th streets, creating a large pedestrian walkway where people can wander around and be dazzled by the lights and pose for pictures with loved ones. It has also opened up marketing opportunities for Broadway shows, which sometimes send out performers in costume to hawk their shows to potential ticket buyers. For Broadway fans, the walkway was a particularly welcome change, since previously there was nowhere to go in the Broadway theater district to kill time if you arrived early for a show. Now there are tables, chairs, and benches situated all along Broadway, giving you a good place to sit for awhile.
The seating options also make it possible to get a quick bite before the show starts. Of course there are plenty of restaurants to choose from in the Broadway theater district, but they get crowded in the hours before showtime, and unless you arrive with time to spare, you might have to bolt before you even get a chance to finish your main course. For those who have only have 20 or 30 minutes to satisfy their stomachs, you can pick up a slice of pizza or some fast food, or even get a meal from one of the food trucks now conveniently parked right there on Broadway, and sit and eat your pre-show dinner. Dining in the middle of the street may not seem too glamorous, but the view is spectacular.
Silence! the Musical, the parody of The Silence of the Lambs that has become an Off-Off-Broadway hit downtown, has announced that it will be moving up to the theater district and into a newly renovated 199-seat theater space. Located at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue (across from scenic Port Authority), the Elektra Theatre boasts “plush stadium seats and the best sight lines of any theatre in New York City,” according to a press release.
Being on the highly-trafficked West 42nd Street and just a stone’s throw from the heart of Times Square could make the Elektra Theatre a prime spot for Off-Broadway shows since it is no more of a hike for tourists than the average Broadway theater. Admittedly that particular corner has a somewhat seedy vibe, but that might give it just the right edgy feel for a cult hit like Silence! That block houses other performance spaces (used for comedy shows, specialty shows, etc.), but has seldom been used for more traditional theatrical performances, so it will be interesting to see whether or not the Elektra can successfully establish itself as a legitimate theater.
Silence! the Musical will begin performances at the Elektra Theatre (673 Eighth Avenue) on Wednesday, July 18. Visit www.silencethemusical.com to find out more about the show.