New York's theater district boasts musicals and plays within easy walking distance of each other.

NYC shows take center stage!

New York's theater district boasts musicals and plays within easy walking distance of each other.
New York’s theater district boasts musicals and plays within easy walking distance of each other.

I grew up on a steady diet of Broadway musicals. Every birthday and Christmas meant a new cast album was added to my growing collection of vinyl LPs, which lives now in the back of a coat closet, having been replaced by tapes, then CDs and now streaming services. Classics such as My Fair Lady, Oklahoma! and Camelot became the soundtrack for my kids’ youth as well, and unlike tykes who may roll their eyes at Mom’s music, my kids embraced it.

And we’ve kept up with the times, loving Wicked, The Book of Mormon, Hamilton and even Shrek. Our latest fascination is with Six, the story of Henry VIII’s wives. So, when my birthday rolled around, it was the perfect excuse for a Broadway getaway. A three-day New York excursion came together quickly. We researched hotels near the theater district and discovered the Civilian. Built in 2021 from the ground up, the 27-story, 203-room property on West 48th looks like it’s been there for decades, with exposed brick walls, an intimate restaurant, a rooftop bar and archival photographs of Broadway’s glitterati throughout. The amenities are thoroughly modern; the heated tiled bathroom floor and electronic window shades were our favorites.

The Civilian’s central location puts it a few blocks from multiple theaters, including the Broadway, Gershwin, Lena Horne and Music Box. It’s a 10-minute walk to Radio City Music Hall, 15 to Carnegie Hall and 20 to Lincoln Center.

Our first night, we picked up last-minute, front-row seats to Perfect Crime at The Theater Center. We were wooed by the promotion of it being “New York’s longest-running play” and a “sexy, funny, fastpaced thriller.” We couldn’t verify what yard stick was used to measure the “longest-running” claim, but it was definitely fast-paced and not funny. But it was live theater, and being within arms’ length of the actors made it fun.

Our second day kicked off with a classically gigantic breakfast at the Carnegie Diner, where plates of pancakes topped with apples and caramel sauce could double as a pie, and the bagels were crunchy, creamcheese schmeared perfection. The oversized portions held us through the next five hours when we sat in the special collections room at the Public Library for the Performing Arts. The Lincoln Center branch houses recorded performances of most major Broadway shows. Signing up for a free library card and making a reservation got us a private viewing, albeit on an oversized monitor, of The Phantom of the Opera with Tony-award winner Michael Crawford. The recording joined the archives last fall when the show closed after 35 years. We could have spent the day watching other productions, but we opted to explore the Lincoln Center area and enjoy croissants and tea at Le Pain Quotidien, a French cafe, before changing for our evening outing.

Six, the musical about Henry VIII's wives, turns history into a rock concert.
Six, the musical about Henry VIII’s wives, turns history into a rock concert.

The theater district is awash with restaurants offering prix-fixe, pre-curtain menus. That’s the entire selection at Le Rivage, a French eatery with extensive options in each course offering. We savored seafood bisque and a baked seafood crepe to start, moved on to boeuf Bourguignon and coq au vin for mains and finished with molten chocolate cakes.

Our second-row seats to Six were the trip’s highlight. We capped off our last day with brunch at The Russian Tea Room, where the cherry-cheese blintzes have been the menu stars since 1927. Alas, our schedule didn’t allow for one more show before leaving town.

While Atlanta is fortunate to have touring productions of the most popular shows, it’s not quite the same as leaving a theater and having Broadway, Times Square and the glittering New York skyline as the backdrop. And no one looks at you twice if you’re singing and high-kicking it down the street.


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