“Give ‘Your’ Regards to Broadway!”
By Agent Suzanne Ferrara
Seeing Broadway shows in New York City is magical in and of itself, but having a complete quintessential Broadway experience is even more captivating! Broadway aficionados know the complete show experience includes legendary pre-and-post theatre dining and cocktails, plus those iconic accommodations all in mid-town Manhattan in the heart of the theatre district. When you attend a Broadway show, it is a timeless experience and one that dates back to the opening of the first New York City theater in 1750.
There are 41 Broadway theatres showing everything from the most recent arrivals to the box office hits, and to some of the longest-running productions. There are literally dozens of musicals and plays from which to choose, and there is sure to be something that will suit your taste. Rest assured: You will be swept away by the profound talent of Broadway’s high-profile stage actors and world-class sets, the combination of which will give you a respite from the daily grind. (Fun Fact: According to The Broadway League, total Broadway attendance was 13.27 million in 2016–2017).
To ensure a smooth experience, it is best to purchase your Broadway tickets in advance, either online through the actual theatre or through a reputable ticket seller. While you can walk up to the theatre box office right before a show to purchase tickets, there’s no guarantee that particular show will have seats for sale. Upon availability and for select shows, you can also purchase discounted same-day tickets at the TKTS booths throughout the city and in Duffy Square, in Times Square.
Another great option is to purchase tickets in advance through Broadway Inbound, which sells tickets for Broadway, Off-Broadway and for Lincoln Center performances. Broadway Inbound offers deals on tickets for groups of six and more; it can be friends, families or organizations. This group ticket supplier is tied to the long-standing The Shubert Organization, which has been around for more than a century and adds to Broadway Inbound’s trusted reputation. (Fact: The Shubert Organization is the oldest professional theatre company in the United States). Broadway Inbound can also help you and your group plan the perfect Broadway experience.
No Broadway experience is complete without visiting the iconic and legendary Sardi’s Restaurant. An American institution, Sardi’s is a must for pre-or-post theatre dining and cocktails, and has been for nearly a century! The likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Carol Burnett, Bruce Willis and Bette Midler have dined at Sardi’s, and it’s not unusual to see celebrities—as they have since 1927– sitting at their favorite tables.
Be sure to request a table with Johnny Felidi, a long-time waiter and a former Off-Broadway actor who is a charismatic fixture! Johnny is a walking encyclopedia chowk-full of Sardi’s history and will show you Al Pacino and Shirley MacLaine’s favorite tables (corner tables in opposite sides of the room) which you, too, can reserve. (Tip: Veteran patrons request table #4, and celebrities tend to dine here on Wednesdays and after shows on Thursdays).
Millions have come through Sardi’s doors just see the walls draped with Alex Gard’s (a Russian refugee) caricatures of numerous show business legends hundreds of the famous in show business from 1927 to today’s work which has been illustrated by Richard Baratz for the past 29 years. (Fun Fact: In the 1920s, Gard struck a deal with owner Vincent Sardi, Sr., that for every caricature he drew, he would get one free meal a day. That deal stuck until Gard’s death).
You can tempt your taste buds with the same historic dishes enjoyed by its most famous patrons, dishes that include its famous Cannelloni au Gratin (a family recipe of “Jenny” Pallera, ‘the wife of Vincent Sardi, Sr.). In addition, Sardi’s version of an antipasto is a must, as is the Orange Teriyaki Glazed Broiled Salmon (Warning: You will have a hard time leaving this place because of its welcoming and fun atmosphere, plus its mouthwatering continental cuisine)! Be sure to finish off your pre-and-post Broadway meal with Sardi’s famous creamy New York Cheesecake and its Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee!
There are eight performances a week on Broadway, giving you several opportunities to see shows and to dine. In terms of the latter, another quintessential New York theatre dining option is the Rock Center Café which overlooks the Rockefeller Center’s magical ice-skating rink and the stunning bronze gilded Titan Prometheus statue. (Tip: The best time to dine here is at night when the ice skating rink and the Prometheus are lit up).
The employees at the Rock Center Café’ are second-to-none, and many have been working here for several decades because they love it! Mike Berman, the general manager, joins his staff by serving dishes to patrons, and will even tend bar and concoct a refreshing, classic New York Sour. (Fun Fact: The assortment of fresh-baked bread offered here, including the Cranberry Loaf, comes from the beloved Amy’s Bread down the street). Some of the most popular dishes here include the Crispy Calamari, the Burrata, the Rigatoni Amatriciana, the Skirt Steak, the RCC Chef’s Burger, and the Shrimp Chop-Chop Salad, which has been on the menu for 15 years! (Big tip: Be sure to request tables #305, #306(which seats two) or table #308 (which seats up to six) for the best view of the rink and for ‘people watching’ in the house). Be sure to finish off your meal with the New York Cheesecake and the Honeycrisp Apple Crostata!
When you walk through the antique revolving doors of the legendary Russian Tea Room, you will feel as though you’ve stepped into another world. This iconic restaurant was founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1927. You can easily be swept away by the main dining room’s scheme; it’s draped in lavish modernist Russian-style décor with bold colors of rich red, gleaming gold and deep green. The Russian Tea Room has hosted New York’s elite with its continental fine dining, including High Tea, and the finest vodka and caviar selections. High Tea, by the way, includes two courses and is served with cherry preserves, clove honey and cinnamon which you can put inside your tea or to accompany baked delicacies. Other popular menu options are the traditional Tea Room Red Borscht, Chicken Kiev, and Boeuf à la Stroganoff.
You can reserve the plush booth on the left, from which Dustin Hoffman sat and ordered a double vodka in the movie Tootsie, or sit at booth #2, where Woody Allen found inspiration for the movie Manhattan; most recently, Gossip Girl was filmed here. (Fun Fact: Madonna was a coat check girl before she became famous).
Be sure to ask Igor, a longtime floor manager, to show you the Hearth Room on the fourth floor, which has a glass enclosed active diorama of the Kremlin. On the second floor is the Bear Lounge, which has the stunning Fabergé-inspired Venetian glass eggs hanging from a tree and a 15-foot tall revolving glass bear aquarium. On the 3rd floor is the Bear Ballroom where you will find massive imperial bronze chandeliers decked with frisky brass bears.
After all the excitement of Broadway and dining, you will be ready for a good night’s sleep. Head to the Lotte New York Palace, formerly the Helmsley Palace, on Madison Avenue. This luxury hotel has unparalleled and breathtaking views of the massive St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. The skyline view of the iconic historical cathedral structure is reason enough to reserve a room during your stay. Simply put: There are no words to give this heavenly view justice. (Tip: Reserve a Premier Skyline high floor view room that overlooks the Cathedral). (Fact: The Palace received the 2017 World’s Best Awards and was listed among the Top 10 Hotels in New York City by Travel & Leisure).
Additionally, there are also no words to describe the genuine and helpful bellmen, all of whom offer warm New York hospitality, and who will make sure you feel as though this historic hotel is your home away from home. (Tip: Paul and Michael at the front desk will also make sure your every need is met). Be sure to enjoy a mouthwatering breakfast at the VILLARD, formerly the landmarked historic residence known as the Villard House. (Tip: Sit in VILLARD’s enchanting and stunning Gold Room). The Lotte New York Palace also boasts a full-service spa and fitness center that overlooks the same breathtaking views. (Tip: Need some R and R? Robin and Camille are among the most-requested massage therapists).
If you can carve out some time, purchase a CityPASS for a more quintessential New York experience . This pass allows you to visit several landmarks including The Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island.
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the full Broadway experience, you will have discovered this timeless magical gift of American theatre can only be encountered in the world’s greatest city!