By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,

There are precise high hat and dance footwear from A Chorus Line. You step into Doc’s drugstore from West Side Story. See costumes from Phantom of the Opera. There are scores of artifacts, music sheets, props, director notes, rehearsal photographs. You see the unique Playbills of iconic exhibits and theater posters going again to the very starting of American (that’s New York and finally Broadway) theater. And then you definitely go “backstage” to see how all of the artistic and technical processes come collectively.

This is the Museum of Broadway which opened in November, 2022.
Rather than burst any star-studied illusions or theater magic, this chance to go behind the scenes is tremendously thrilling – you get to see (and respect) what goes into such present-stoppers, cultural icons as Show Boat, Oklahoma, West Side Story, Fiddler, Hello Dolly, Company, Rent, A Chorus Line, Lion King, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Hamilton, a number of providing immersive experiences.

In all (imagine it or not), the Museum limelights greater than 500 particular person productions from the 1700s to what’s on stage now.

And you get insights into such theater luminaries as Ziegfeld, Sondheim, Webber, Fosse. You come away much more awestruck and below theater’s spell than once you entered.

The Museum of Broadway is an immersive and interactive theatrical expertise dedicated to musicals, performs, and the individuals who make them. Featuring the work of dozens of designers, artists, and theatre historians, you might be taken on a journey alongside the timeline of Broadway, from its beginning to current day.

You journey by a visible historical past of Broadway, highlighting groundbreaking moments in a sequence of reveals that showcase – and exhibit – dazzling costumes, props, renderings, uncommon photographs, movies, artifacts, awards. Stops alongside the best way spotlight the pivotal exhibits or “game changers” that reworked the panorama of Broadway – the moments that pushed artistic boundaries, challenged social norms, and paved the best way for individuals who would observe.

Your go to to the Museum of Broadway begins again stage (truly on the again stairs of the constructing, subsequent door to historic Lyceum theater), with sound results, photographs, that present how typical it could be for the Broadway performers to make use of the again stairs for heat ups.

Walk up three flights, the place you hear “warm-ups” as you climb the steps and go previous rooms to point out the place hair, make-up would have been (performers are taught easy methods to apply their very own); the dressing rooms (one labeled “dressing room” is definitely the lavatory) and get launched to the traditions (even superstitions) of Broadway performers. (There is an elevator for individuals who can not climb the steps.)

You are introduced right into a ready room earlier than the introductory video – showcasing the Playbills and synopsis of exhibits at the moment on Broadway (can level to a QR code and buy tickets proper there), because the music for “Company” performs.

Then you might be taken right into a small screening room to see a video packing 250 years of historical past of New York theater into simply 4 minutes. (It is stunning to study the very first public efficiency was in 1732 on the Playhouse, method downtown.)

New York Theater at first was centered in decrease Manhattan – the place Financial District and Chinatown are right now, then, as rents moved up, theaters moved uptown alongside Broadway to Union Square, Herald Square and eventually to Times Square (renamed for the New York Times newspaper, which took up residence in 1904).

Oscar Hammerstein I (grandfather of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II) was instrumental in opening a quantity of theater homes, starting 1895 with the Olympia; the Schubert Brothers (Sam, Lee and JJ) quickly adopted, turning into a significant powerhouse amongst theater homeowners.

Times Square turned often known as the Great White Way as a result of of the lamps and electrical white lights on marquees. Over the a long time that adopted there have been the highs and the lows, however none worse than when COVID compelled the theaters to close down for 18 months, starting March 2020.

After the video (I sit by it twice), you might be introduced right into a sequence of rooms in a Timeline, showcasing the folks and key productions – performs and musicals – that formed the previous, current and level to the long run of Broadway theater.

The first panels are actually fascinating, that includes posters of performs starring Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, and (paradoxically) a manufacturing of “An American Cousin,” starring Laura Keene on the New American Theater in March 3, 1859 – the play Abraham Lincoln was watching at Ford Theater in Washington DC when John Wilkes Booth assassinated him. There can be, an fascinating dialogue of censorship – when Olga Nethersole, who performed Sapho, was arrested for corrupting public morals (indecency) – the scandal, first unleashed by the producer to generate viewers curiosity after which performed up by newspapers to promote papers (Yellow Journalism), backfired on the present, which although truly fairly tame, was censored, however Nethersole was finally acquitted.

The panels additionally spotlight the contribution and breakthroughs of Black Americans in American theater and breakthroughs by girls. But it’s odd that the contribution by Jewish creators is hardly a footnote, whereas incorporating photographs and onerous-to-learn photograph captions of the Marx Brothers, Irving Berlin, showcasing Show Boat with out mentioning Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, and Porgy and Bess with out bothering to say the Gershwins who wrote them.

The affect of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Kurt Weill, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Jule Styne is simple (however unremarked) all through the museum as a result of of the productions which might be highlighted. The solely point out of Yiddish Theater , arguably the progenitor and incubator for Broadway theater, is available in a tiny reference in a panel for a 1990 present, “Those Were the Days”) (For this half of historical past, see “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” from Great Performances on (

There is a showcase of Ziegfeld Follies, as if you’re within the (very pink and feathery) dressing room, with gorgeous costumes. There’s a photograph however a lot details about Fanny Brice and a photograph of Irving Berlin on the piano, however the notes emphasize how Ziegfeld reacted “when a few Follies cast members complained about sharing the stage with Black comedian Bert Williams, Ziegfeld’s reply was ‘The stage door is that way. I can do this show without any of you, but I cannot do it without Bert.’ And that was that.”

There is a complete arrange for Show Boat and the way the musical modified the course of theater, redirecting the emphasis from the heavy operettas and the superficial music comedies which had dominated Broadway, offering advanced, real looking characters, and integrating music and plot (however solely passing point out of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II and composer Jerome Kern who wrote the breakthrough musical based mostly on Edna Ferber’s 1926 novel).

Hammerstein lambasted racial prejudice once more in South Pacific:

You’ve bought to be taught to hate and worry/You’ve bought to be taught from 12 months to 12 months/It’s bought to be drummed in your expensive little ear/You’ve bought to be rigorously taught.

You’ve bought to be taught to be afraid/Of folks whose eyes are oddly made/And folks whose pores and skin is a diff’lease shade/You’ve bought to be rigorously taught.

It isn’t till the Nineteen Nineties panel that there’s any point out of Yiddish Theater after we study that “Those Were the Days” in 1990 introduced “the Shteltl” and “The Music Hall” to Broadway in an intimate two-half evaluate carried out in each English and Yiddish. “The show evokes a period,” director Eleanor Reissa defined. “Created by Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld, the musical honored the legacy of a vibrant and influential Yiddish stage that flourished on New York’s Lower East Side in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the district’s most formidable figures was Boris Thomashefsky, who opened a Yiddish theater on Broadway in 1923.”

A room is dedicated to the coveted Tony Awards and its namesake, Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime chief of the American Theatre Wing who had not too long ago handed away when The Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner within the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria resort on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.

You stroll by rooms dedicated to Oklahoma; you stroll by a set for Doc’s drugstore within the homage to “West Side Story” (there’s a Jets jacket on show as nicely). A small room crams collectively Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, Neil Simon’s comedies earlier than attending to the rock musicals – Jesus Christ Superstar – that led a brand new period on the Broadway stage.

A serious exhibit is dedicated to Sondheim and also you stroll by what seems to be the set for Company.

The Wiz, we study, bought dangerous critiques, however the viewers gave it a standing ovation and 4 curtain calls (the musical used a brand new advertising technique of tv commercials) – and also you ease down yellow stairs.

A Chorus Line – one of the longest-operating exhibits and the primary to make use of computerized gentle board – options unique costumes, marvelous 8×10 photographs of the solid, plus I like seeing unique artistic notes.

(There is a lot info crammed right into a small house and the captions and notes are so small and onerous to learn, however you might be inspired to download an app the place you possibly can hear or learn the notes.)

Then you come to Phantom of the Opera – with some sensational costumes (from 1986) and artifacts from the present. Phantom is now the longest-operating present in Broadway historical past (it was scheduled to shut in 2023, when a brand new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Bad Cinderella” is because of open). Among Phantom’s plaudits: it’s the largest generator of cash and jobs in Broadway historical past and has been seen by 19.5 million folks over 35 years. There is an incredible chandelier made of 13,917 glass beads – for the quantity of Broadway performances – and if you happen to have a look at it to an angle, the Phantom’s masks emerges.

The setting for “Rent” was designed for the museum by the unique set designer. I like seeing some of the revolutionary props/costumes that flip human actors into animals for Lion King. You stroll by the “office” for Producers” (a Tony is within the bookcase), costumes from Hamilton, and there’s a entire line of costumes representing the exhibits at the moment taking part in.

Along the best way, employees folks provide their very own anecdotes or level you to artifacts or components of the exhibit you won’t have seen. And there are numerous interactive and movies, as Broadway tunes play in every exhibit.
Then you go down the steps to the primary ground the place you might be actually handled to the again-stage, “let’s put on a show” tutorial.

This half of the Museum celebrates the behind-the-scenes of this dazzling American artwork type with a particular exhibit, “The Making of a Broadway Show,” justifiably honoring the whole thing of the group of brilliantly gifted professionals – each onstage and off – who convey Broadway performs and musicals to life each night time.

This part options a number of movies of administrators of lighting, sound, music, in addition to costumers and set designers discussing their craft. (Here, they need to have given far more house and separated the sections of the exhibit higher as a result of the movies and sound overlap – even three and 4 without delay – and the room is darkish.)

If you place in some effort – and time – you might be handled to completely fascinating details about producing, designing the music, the lights, the sound, costumes (and methods of “distressing” costumes). This entire part is a goldmine for anybody who harbors any curiosity in pursuing a profession in theater manufacturing. There are even time sheets for what a costumer’s day is like, and a timeline from conception to opening night time of a manufacturing.

At the top, I observe an arrow and located myself in a incredible exhibit of Al Hirschfeld – the extraordinary cartoonist/caricaturist who was synonymous with each Broadway opening. We see many of his illustrations – from newspapers, posters, the originals, and I like the show of his sketchbooks that give a glimpse into his artistic course of– and study concerning the origin of his iconic “Nina” embedded into his illustration (that turned an obsession, very similar to Wordle is right now, for New York Times readers). There is even a photograph of him together with his daughter, Nina, and a caricature of Nina, herself.

Founded by entrepreneur and two-time Tony Award-winning producer Julie Boardman and founder of the award-successful experiential company, Rubik Marketing, Diane Nicoletti , the Museum options work from Emmy Award successful illustrator I. Javier Ameijeiras (Rent Live!), neon artist Dani B, Tony Award nominated dancer Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris, former NYCB principal), Drama Desk Award successful scenic designer David Korins (Hamilton, Beetlejuice), choreographer Julio Monge (West Side Story), and dancer Tanairi Vazquez (West Side Story, Hamilton). (Find a full record of the artists featured within the Museum at

The workforce of knowledgeable curators for The Museum of Broadway is headed by Ben West (Resident Historian and Curator, Timeline & Special Exhibits) and consists of Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Curator, Historical Buildings), John Kenrick (Curator, Game Changer History), Faye Armon-Troncoso (Set Decorator & Props Supervisor, Making of a Broadway Show), Lisa Zinni (Costume & Props Curator), and Michael McDonald (Historical Assets Manager).
The Museum of Broadway is based in collaboration with Playbill, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Billy Rose Theatre Division on the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, Goodspeed Musicals, Creative Goods, and Concord Theatricals.

There is a lot to thrill anybody who enjoys, appreciates theater – you don’t should be an avid theatergoer or aficionado or maven. The artifacts, costumes, inside (backstage) information, and insights all through the Museum of Broadway are fabulous.

You want not less than two to a few hours to undergo. And convey studying eyeglasses or magnifying glass to learn the tiny captions and notes.
Indeed, the Museum of Broadway appears to be very a lot successful – the museum had a gradual stream of guests after I visited.

Open 7 days every week, 10 am – 10 pm.

The Museum of Broadway, 145 West forty fifth Street, New York, NY 10036, 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400,, observe @museumofbroadway on social channels.

Photo: A ticket for admission to at least one of George M. Cohan’s exhibits. Cohan, who had a house in Great Neck (“45 Minutes from Broadway”), was one of many Broadway individuals who had properties on the Great Neck Peninsula, together with Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor, Oscar Hammerstein II © Karen Rubin/

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