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Go Behind the Scenes with Broadway Up Close Walking Tours

August 10, 2016 - by Griffin Miller, Theatre Editor
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Actor Tim Dolan is blowing the lid off Broadway’s deepest, quirkiest, most surreal secrets...and he’s willing to share them with anyone with a comfy pair of walking shoes and a willingness to explore the underbelly of the world’s most famous theatre district. In under two hours, Dolan chronicles theatrical pioneers—good, bad, ugly, and just plain weird, along with backstage legends involving ghosts and phantoms; architectural oddities (some still in existence); and loads of gossipy tidbits starring celebs from decades past and present.

broadway up close walking tours

Image: Sascha Reinking Photography 

Six years ago, after plunging headlong into 100 years of Broadway history and lore, Dolan established Broadway Up Close Walking Tours. Since then, these 1 hour and 45 minute mini-adventures have exploded in demand (they’ve picked up TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for the past four years) and Dolan’s stable of theatre professionals/licensed tour guides now numbers 14. It doesn’t hurt that the narration is amazingly-cool-to-mind-blowing. 

“I established stories that we’ve dug up that help illuminate the Broadway Theatre District fully. The same highlights and stops are presented on every tour, regardless of the tour guide,” explains Dolan, adding that what makes each tour guide unique is his or her personal acting stories and mishaps.

“Our BUC team is comprised of talented actors, singers, and dancers and one stage manager extraordinaire,” continues Dolan. “Working with different audiences in each and every show we do is the perfect preparation for our ‘one person shows’ on the sidewalks of NYC!”

In fact, as a theatre writer and editor I thought I was pretty savvy about all things Broadway before I signed on for Broadway Up Close Act I (“Our Act II and III tours provide a further glimpse into the full, comprehensive history of our 40 current Broadway theatres,” notes Dolan). I confess, as we navigated 42nd Street and neighboring venues, I was severely humbled—albeit highly entertained. And today, thanks to that one outing with Dolan and his iPad teeming with vintage photos of Broadway gone-by, I am a far more authoritative theatrical smarty-pants than I ever thought possible.

Even better, this past spring Dolan came out with the official Broadway Up Close Walking Tour Act I Souvenir Book, a beyond nifty recap of the tour (and other stuff) featuring a comprehensive collection of vintage photos and a four-page spread dedicated to each of the 12 theatres featured in the Act I tour. More than a memory jogger (or gift for non-tour-takers), this well-conceived “souvenir” can also be seen as a reference book for researchers and Broadway buffs ($20 when piggybacked onto the $35 tour; $25 when ordered online at BroadwayUpClose.com).

tour guides broadway up close nyc

Image: Sascha Reinking Photography

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