Long known as an arts and entertainment Mecca, New York City’s arts and entertainment venues attract throngs of theater goers annually.
Many have witnessed the Great White Way’s productions, but how many people have had the chance to go behind the scenes?
Thanks to my prolonged work in the travel industry as a group tour planner, I have been fortunate enough to not only see the inner workings of New York City’s arts and entertainment venues for myself, but arranged group tours for others to see it as well.
What follows are my insider suggestions on a few unique, behind the scenes tours that New York City group visitors may want to consider.
Behind the Scenes Look at Broadway
Group travelers who fancy themselves the next Broadway star in the making will want to take a look at the custom, interactive workshops offered by Broadway.com and Theater Direct International.
Held in an actual Broadway rehearsal studio in historic Times Square, their series of 90 to 120 minute workshops are unlike any other backstage experience available in New York City.
Designed to accompany a Broadway production, the workshops enhance one’s theater experience by providing such things as backstage tours and one hour, intimate conversations with the cast members of the show one is scheduled to attend.
With over 20 workshops in the series, backstage meetings and tours are not the only programs offered.
There are also stage makeup classes, introduction to theater, simulated acting auditions and open calls, dance and musical rehearsals, costume design, improvisational sessions and workshops on technical aspects like stage lighting and management.
Best of all, starting at $20 per person for groups of 25, workshop prices are surprisingly affordable. Additional information about the programs may be accessed online.
Broadway Classroom Programs
Broadway.com and Theater Direct International
729 7th Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Behind the Scenes Look at Radio City Music Hall
Imagine what it would be like to go backstage at Radio City Music Hall and have a one-on-one chat with a celebrated Radio City Rockette.
Couple that chat with rare photo opportunities, a walk around Rockefeller Center and a chance to learn the secrets of two of New York City’s venerable institutions and the Radio City Music Hall’s Stage Door Tour becomes one of the best behind-the-scenes tours around.
As of 2011 the price for a one hour Stage Door Tour of Radio City Music Hall is $19.25 per adult and $12.50 per child up to age 12. There are also discounts available for senior citizens and groups.
Stage Door Tours of Radio City Music Hall are available year round, daily from 11:100 am until 3:00 pm. Advance reservations for Stage Door Tours of Radio City Music Hall may be made online or by phone.
Radio City Music Hall
1260 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10020
Behind the Scenes Look at Madison Square Garden
For 130 years Madison Square Garden has been the site of countless sporting and entertainment events.
Knowing this, one can just imagine how thrilling it would be to go deep into the garden’s inner recesses to experience such things as the NY Knicks and NY Rangers locker rooms, chatting with a Knicks dancer and learning the logistics of hosting NHL Hockey one night and a rock concert the next night.
All that and more is exactly what those who book an All Access Tour of Madison Square Garden will get.
Unfortunately, Madison Square Garden All Access Tours are currently on hiatus due to ongoing renovations but are expected to resume in 2012.
Travelers that would like more information on when the tours are expected to resume as well as what the new All Access Tour prices will be should contact the Madison Square Garden staff by phone.
Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Behind the Scenes Look at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Performing arts aficionados as well as movie buffs will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
Tour participants may see where scenes from Moonstruck, Sex in the City and Ghost Busters were filmed as well as potentially ease drop on a rehearsal and rub elbows with some well-known performers.
As of 2011 Behind the Scenes Tours of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts are $15 per adult and $8 per child between the ages of 6 through 12. Senior citizen and group discounts are also available upon request. Tours are given daily, year round and advance reservations may be made by phone.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
70 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023
Behind the Scenes Group Tour Add-Ins
Meals in New York City’s Broadway District may also be added to further round out a group’s itinerary.
Back in the day I personally use to book groups at fine dining establishments like Windows on the World and Tavern on the Green, both of which are no longer in business.
Nowadays, many groups opt for a more casual theater district dining experience at places such as Planet Hollywood.
As of 2011 Planet Hollywood in New York City is offering three different group meals that range in price from $14 to $27 per person. The prices are generally inclusive of the meal, non-alcoholic drinks, tax and gratuity.
Planet Hollywood’s group menus are traditionally prix fixe and vary from buffet and single entrée to three course meals.
Planet Hollywood in New York City is open daily, year round. Groups of 15 or more are required to make advance reservations through the group sales office at 212-265-2402.
New York, NY 10036
Broadway.com, “Home” broadway.com
Planet Hollywood, “Planet Hollywood New York” planethollywoodintl.com
Radio City Music Hall, “Tours” radiocity.com
Madison Square Garden, “Home” thegarden.com
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, “Visitor Information” lincolncenter.org