Watching a Broadway production is an unforgettable experience, but an entire world hides behind the curtain. Behind-the-scenes tour experiences can let groups in on some of that creative magic and provide a new appreciation of the artistry that animates the stages of Broadway.
The Museum of Broadway is located just steps away from the bright lights of Times Square. Visitors are immersed in the sounds and sights of iconic musicals like “Oklahoma” and “West Side Story” as they walk through an immersive timeline of shows that changed the landscape of Broadway. More than 500 productions are highlighted through a treasure trove of artifacts—from Annie’s red dress to the puppets that populate “Avenue Q.” Dazzling costumes, props, and renderings inspire visitors to marvel at the details that immerse audiences in the world of a show.
After knocking on a stage door, visitors enter the “Making of a Broadway Show” exhibit to learn about the different professionals involved in both developing a show and bringing it to life for audiences each night. From the dressing room mirror to the rehearsal room dance barres to interactive elements in light and sound production, backstage Broadway comes to life and spotlights the work that happens behind the scenes.
At the end, visitors are invited to take a bow by stepping onto a stage with a projection of one of New York City’s iconic theaters. The Museum of Broadway also facilitates workshops as an addition to a self-guided visit. Broadway Teaching Artists share a timeline of major moments in the history of American musicals and cap the workshop with a relay race featuring notable creative team members.
Workshops are a fun way for groups to learn and connect with each other. “Workshops and tours allow groups to get up close and personal with a very specific human and then go see them in the show,” says Tim Dolan, owner of Broadway Up Close. “This is an unparalleled experience and a way to really see the mega musical from a very special, human perspective.
For example, Broadway Up Close’s “Quick Change Workshop” shares the tips, tricks, and secrets of Broadway’s rapid costume changes with the help of a professional Broadway dresser. Beginning with a discussion about the life of a wardrobe crew member, participants will be led through a fun and interactive experience.
Broadway Up Close also offers walking tours that take groups through the heart of the New York City Theater District. Led by Green Team Guides who are also actors and production assistants, these tours provide visitors with an insider’s perspective on the wonderful world of Broadway. Themed tours share anecdotes about the legendary theaters, performances, and stars.
“We focus on the architecture of the theaters,” says Dolan. “Forty-one theaters have been a part of the landscape for the past century-plus.” Using archival photos to compare the theater world today, these tours invite groups to reflect on New York City’s ever-evolving theater scene.
Groups can also participate in tours that are tailored to their favorite Broadway shows. Obsessed with hits like “Hamilton”? The HamilTour visits several historical sites on the very New York streets where the events that inspired the musical occurred. Guests hear stories and secrets from the creation of the record-breaking musical and visit the gravesite of Alexander Hamilton himself. Tourgoers are sure walk away with a new appreciation of this musical phenomenon.
Need a guide to group ticket sales?
Websites like broadway.com and broadwayinbound.com help tour operators explore all the variables of group ticket sales, which are unique from one production to the next. These online information hubs have all the intel needed to help operators craft the perfect itinerary, no matter your group size, travel dates, or musical interests.
By Michael McLaughlin
Main Image: Hamilton Walking Tour, Broadway Up Close, Credit: Broadway Up Close/Sascha Reinking