Musical Magic on Broadway

Last night was a premiere for me in many ways. Finally, after almost two years of being in the city of New York, I got to see my FIRST (!) Musical ON Broadway!
You have every right to act surprised. I myself am still stunned. I just can’t believe how I kept away from all the “good stuff” of New York for way too long.

With a little bit of luck and common sense we were able to see the whirling colors and hear the beautiful voices of the oldest musical playing on Broadway. The Wonderful Elena, in town from cold St. Petersburg, had the neat idea to watch a musical during her two weeks of being here. While we had already unsuccessfully trotted around an overpopulated Times Square last week, right before the chaos of New Year’s broke out, and had not been able to snag some cheap tickets for a fascinating show, I didn’t really get my hopes up to find something this time, either.

There are many ways to go about when buying “cheap” tickets in NY: So-called Rush Tickets are given out either early in the morning (around 9 AM) or two hours before the show. Not every show offers this option, though, so be aware of this when you pick out your musical. Obviously, something as elaborate as the Lion King will not be amongst the highly discounted fares. Rush tickets are typically aimed towards student groups or people around the age of 25 and below. I’ve never had the chance to try out standing in line in the morning, as I had always been at work or at least on my way to work during this time. Needless to say that it is highly recommended to show up way earlier than 9 AM. These types of tickets can be sold out in 10 minutes or less, so take a bat with to beat the crowds. Then there are rush tickets given out later-on in the evening. But so far I still don’t know how this happens, not to mention how people buy them. I’ve tried it twice before, both times without any sorts of success. Therefore, I wasn’t getting my hopes up yesterday, when I came to Broadway right after work.

True, the odds were not necessarily against us. We were trying for some rush tickets on a weekday. Thursday is better than any day on the weekend. And the crowds had moved out of here right after January 1, so not much competition was standing, or rather rubbing, against us. However, even at 6 PM at night, Elena greeted me with a sad expression to her face: She had raided three musicals, unsuccessfully so far, of which one of those was not even playing that night. After standing in a short line to the Phantom of the Opera, the guy at the box office lifted his eyebrow in surprise at our request to obtain this type of ticket. The cheapest he could offer us that night ran around 66 bucks for a ground level seat. We moved on to Memphis. Here the ticket seller explained to us that there were no rush tickets sold at all in the afternoon. He offered us seats running around $66 as well, but we headed on to a new addition in shows: The Book of Mormon. And while the previous musicals had not been as crowded as assumed, we were swamped with a very long line leading to the Book of Mormon. The show was about to start and the most affordable ticket was well over $100…

We both decided that it just wasn’t our night and hopped back to the Phantom of the Opera. Elena had glimpsed a price of 40 Dollars for seats on Friday (Friday is not Thursday, but close enough!). And as we were standing again in the very short line leading up to the box office, luck came just at the right moment. The seller eyed us. “Weren’t you here just a minute ago,” he teased. We nodded. He then announced that he could not offer us the 40-dollar-ticket for tonight but he did have something for $26,50. We both stared at each other. This was even cheaper than a rush ticket! The only catch: They were standing room tickets. We didn’t care. We cheered and jumped and hugged each other. Then we bought the tickets and only had to wait an hour for the show to start.
So there we were, standing in the back, on the ground level. Elena’s husband hat joined the fun. An unfriendly and old seat assigner issued us to our “spots”. I actually couldn’t believe it, but yes, there were numbers visible at the places we were supposed to stand. The entire theater was sold out. I suppose this is why they decided to start selling standing room tickets. Our luck!

True Standing Room Spot!

The Phantom of the Opera is a classic amongst musicals. I’ve seen it in Germany before and we had discussed the story and songs in our music lessons in high school. Seeing the professionals magically transforming my youth images into a colorful blend of dancing, acting, and opera really made my day! I loved the music, I enjoyed the interpretation of the songs, and the costumes were simply brilliant. The Phantom of the Opera is titled the “oldest” running show on Broadway. It has been continuously playing since 1988. Even back then it has been notorious for its special effects which I still found quite brilliant in the 2012 version.
Those 2 and a half hours of standing near a grumpy seat assigner (who tried to shoe me away from her “books” she kept close to my “spot”) were well worth it. I didn’t even mind that my back ached and my feet were complaining for the rest of the evening.

Does this look familiar to anyone?

The Majestic Theater offers two bars guests can go to during intermission or before and after the show. The drinks are overpriced, of course. We approached the bar, hungry for a snack, but fled the scene after hearing the bartender charging ten bucks for a normal diet coke. Served in a pretty normal glass (no excuse for the price made here!).

While this had been my first show, I am anxious to try out more. The excursion has shown me that once more not every cultural experience in New York has to be grossly expensive but that you can see highlights at a fairly reasonable price. Try for yourself if you don’t believe me! Oh, and that ticket booth next to the notorious Red Steps? Use it as a last resort! Tickets are “only” 50 percent off, you can get a better deal elsewhere.