Friday, September 13, 2013

ASK JEFF: What is your favorite Broadway theatre? (Part II)

Yesterday, I started to answer the most frequent question I get from you readers: What is your favorite Broadway theatre?  A loaded question, to be sure.  So I thought I'd hedge my bets and give many answers!  The last blog talked all about the outside of several theatres (HERE - be sure to check out the great comment one of you sent in!).  Today, I'll talk about my favorites on the inside.

First, though, I left off one from yesterday:

Best Broadway marquee: BIG: The New Amsterdam; SMALL: The Music Box
I guess I'm a big fan of the digital, easy to change, ever-morphing show logo!

Worst Broadway marquee: The Lyceum
If you didn't know where to look to see it, you'd never even know it was there...

OK, now my favorite Broadway theatres on the inside!

Best Box Office: The Marquis
I love that it is detached from the theatre, surrounded by great show photos, lots of standing room and state of the art windows that you don't have to scream to the guy behind the glass, and you can understand him, too!

The Palace lobby, just past the box office

Worst Box Office: The Palace
Don't ever go there anywhere near it just before a performance... between the crowd trying to fit into the cramped lobby, the other people trying to pick up tickets and the constant crowd on the sidewalk, you will certainly find out how a canned sardine feels!

The view from inside...

... the view from outside

Best Lobby: The Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center
It feels bigger than the theatre itself, never feels cramped, and that view! Right?

Worst Lobby: The Helen Hayes
No place else makes you want to rush to your seats

Best Lounge/Bar Area: Street Level: The Broadway; Mezzanine Level: The Al Hirschfeld
The Broadway is so pretty once you get in there!  The chandeliers, the beautifully appointed bar and concession stands... The Hirschfeld is so spacious upstairs and matches the decor so wonderfully, it's like being transported.  And the collection of Hirschfeld originals... a theatre-lover's dream!

Worst Lounge/Bar Area: The Helen Hayes
Not just small, it is dangerous.  They sell merch at the bottom of the stairs to the mezzanine, and if you are 3rd in line at the bar, don't step backwards.  You'll fall down the steps and burst through the doors to the sidewalk!

Best Restrooms: The Al Hirschfeld
Worst Rest Rooms: The Lyceum (particularly the one at the very top of the balcony) and the Booth
I concede to Mike's opinion on these.  I rarely use them at the theatre.

Best Overall Seating: The Marquis
Even if you sit in the back row of the mezzanine or on the extreme sides of the orchestra, you get an excellent view, and no seats feels all that far away.

Worst Overall Seating: The Imperial
Unless you are in the center seats in the orchestra or front mezzanine, the view feels partial and very distant.

Best Orchestra Seating: The Samuel Friedman
Huge seats, real leg room that includes having your whole leg in front of you AND you don't need to stand to let people pass!

Worst Orchestra Seating: The Richard Rodgers
If you sit too far back, you are looking at half the stage and most of the ceiling/underside of the mezzanine.  They sold those seats as partial view for Tarzan...

Best Mezzanine: TIE: The Booth and The Walter Kerr
There are no bad seats up there.  Even the last two rows...  Either theatre!

Worst Mezzanine: The Eugene O'Neill
The rows are so close together I couldn't get my feet on the floor.  I literally watched The Book of Mormon with my knees just under the shoulders of a complete stranger.  It wasn't nearly as sexy as it sounds.

Best Balcony: The Belasco
A better than decent view and you don't feel like you're going to die on the way up.

Worst Balcony: The Lyceum
They need to offer oxygen as you climb 5 flights of steep stairs.  Then there's that tunnel you crawl through decorated with Christmas tree lights... and the stairs so steep that you feel like you are going to fall forward... and that odd ripple of the floor under the seats...

Best decor: The Belasco and The New Amsterdam
They certainly got their money's worth with those renovations!  The both places are just stunning.

Worst decor: The Minskoff
Stiff and sterile... modern, but ugly... and those weird aisles and railings... yuck.

So there you have it!  My favorite and least favorite Broadway theaters... Share your thoughts!



  1. Gracias on the overview. Most folk, even regular theatre goers, rarely have the chance to know the theatres as intimately & perceptively as you do. After all, in the era of long-runs & 44 theatres, you generally only have one or two chances to take it in in your lifetime & sometimes the crowd or your guest may inhibit the opportunity.

  2. I can't tell what theatre that is that you have pictured btwn. worst orch. and best mezz. Are those balcony seats still there? Hey, what about a best/worst box seats category or lounge/bars in lower basements?


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