Beyond Broadway: Theatre-Inspired Experiences in NYC

Maybe you've seen Hamilton and Hadestown, but are still seeking something dramatic and off-the-beaten path. Well, the city’s theater culture extends far beyond the well-trod streets of Broadway. Here are our recommendations for anyone looking for something theatrical in the way of walking tours, exhibits, karaoke, and dining. Broaden your horizons with these fun-filled activities in the theater capital of the world!

Bond 45

Bond 45 Queen's Cup cocktail

Live out your diva dreams in the Queen's Corner at Bond 45 restaurant. This Theater District legend partnered with the musical SIX  to create a royal booth celebrating the Queens of Broadway. Order the Queen's Cup cocktail or bring friends and order the Queen's Goblet: a blend of Butterfly Pea Blossom Gin, Plum Liquor, Lavender & Blueberry Tea, and a touch of Blue Flower Extract, perfectly balanced with a zesty twist of lemon. Reserve your spot on OpenTable. 221 W. 46th St., 212-869-4545,

ellen's stardust diner nyc

The show goes on at Ellen’s Stardust Diner! This 1950s-themed restaurant has been thriving since 1987 with its upbeat scene, tasty comfort food, and retro vibes (founder Ellen Hart Sturm is a native New Yorker who was crowned Miss Subways in 1959). The biggest claim to fame here is Ellen’s singing waitstaff. Catch intimate renditions by performers on their way to joining a long line of Broadway actors who have made Ellen’s their launching pad. 1650 Broadway, 212-956-5151,


Madame Tussauds New York Presents Broadway

Madame Tussauds Broadway Sings Cats

Why not say it with wax? Broadway at Madame Tussauds invites you to the a smorgasbord of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most renowned musicals. Here you can come face to face with the Phantom of the Opera face-to-face, croon your own version of “Memory” from Cats, and slip into Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat. It's an interactive experience that takes you backstage at a Broadway show and brings you into the spotlight for a show stopping finale. And, if you can banish your stage fright with a drink at the Broadway Bar. 234 W. 42nd St., 212-512-9600,

Broadway Up Close Walking Tours

Take a deep dive into the history of the Great White Way with a walking tour called "Broadway Up Close." This estimable bunch hosts tours conducted by the same industry insiders who have worked in some of the theaters they’re showing you. The group also provides tours for newcomers—called “Broadway’s Beginnings”—and more show-specific tours such “Hamilton," as well as the spooky and “The Ghostlight Tour: Haunted Broadway.” Various locations,

Sing Along at Marie’s Crisis Cafe

You're part of the magic at this Mecca of the Musical:  Marie’s Crisis. It's basement-level bar featuring live pianists whose repertoire overflows with shows ranging from Oklahoma to Little Shop of Horrors and the latest Broadway has to offer. And you'll be among friends; some who sing the songs as well as any cast member ever could. It's perfect for a night relaxing in the West Village with friends or as a corporate night out. And, truth be told, real-life Broadway stars have been known to attend for fun. It's a boisterous night, and always crowded once the piano starts at 8pm. 59 Grove St., 212-243-9323,

Broadway Bars

You can hang out at the stage door after the show, but you might also glimpse a star or two unwinding after a night on the boards at one of the venerable watering holes that surround the Theatre District—if you know where to look. Our list of bars for Broadway fans features legendary post-show hangouts like Sardi’s and Joe Allen.

Posters at Triton Gallery

Looking for that perfect vintage Broadway poster to brighten up a room? You'll want to drop in on Triton Gallery, which stocks Broadway posters and other items from theater history into the present. Open since the mid-'60s, this shop carries the world’s largest selection of Broadway posters. And, if you run out of time to visit in person, they also have an online store at the link below. 690 Eighth Ave., 6th Floor, 212-765-2472,

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

If you’re looking to delve deeper into New York's rich theater history, spend some time among the racks at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The collection here includes a wide assortment of vintage recordings and rare archives, and more related to the performing arts. They're often hosting exhibitions exploring different facets of theater, film, dance, and music. Broadway obsessives should check out the Billy Rose Theatre Division, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, and Theatre on Film and Tape Archive as well. 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, 917-275-6975,

Museum of Broadway

gift shop museum of broadway

Photosby Monique Carboni, courtesy of Museum of Broadway.

NYC’s newest attraction is The Museum of Broadway, which takes visitors on an interactive, experiential journey through the history of New York theatre. Groundbreaking moments are highlighted by spectacular costumes, props, renderings, rare photos, and videos. Along the way, visitors get the stories of some of the pivotal shows that transformed the landscape of Broadway. Exhibits and immersive experiences feature The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, HAIR, The Ziegfeld Follies, Show Boat, Oklahoma!, The Wiz, and Rent, among many more. Overall, the museum highlights more than 500 individual productions from the 1700s through the present. 145 W. 45th St. (btw. Sixth Ave. & Broadway), 212-433-3686,

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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