Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.
I sit here at my computer going through a few early morning requests but I can still remember exactly how it all started four and a half years ago. Like anything, it started with a simple idea: telling a story. I knew a lot of theatre stories. I paid careful attention in my Musical Theatre history class in college. I had seen a lot of shows. But how does one organize oral and written stories in a cohesive way that show an over-arcing history and culmination of over 100 years of Broadway? Frankly, I had NO IDEA.
So, I set to work. For almost a full year I checked out every book at the New York Performing Arts Library on Broadway history, it’s theaters, and the stars. Anything I couldn’t find there I purchased online. Google searches turned up a slew of other interesting websites which led me down other paths of Broadway history, both current and dated. I slowly started to peel back pages of stories that I didn’t even know existed. Roof Top Gardens? David Belasco? The Hippodrome? The ol’ Victoria? Each turn was more exciting than the next.
Once I had enough information and dates crammed into my head I ventured out the front door of my apartment in Washington Heights and made my way to the subway station that every New Yorker dreads: Times Square 42nd Street. I have to say to any New Yorker who despises this area: You obviously haven’t taken a BUC tour! As I walked up those subway steps and emerged just steps from all the legends and old theaters I had just read about I couldn’t help but feel a very strong connection to that past. When you think that Oscar Hammerstein I, the man who started it all, had his photo taken right there on 7th avenue and 42nd street 115 years ago it’s pretty heady stuff. His vision was to build a theatrical legacy in the Times Square area. My vision is to tell people about it while standing in his footsteps.
Once I had created a route that I thought was easy to navigate I began to chart the different points of interest at each theater. My initial instinct (boy, was I wrong!) was to include all 40 theaters if possible. You can’t say I didn’t try! The first two public tours included 38 of the 40 Broadway theaters (excluding the Cort and the Vivian Beaumont). Our current tour is an hour and forty-five minutes. The first tour was a little over three hours. My sincere apologies to those pioneering tour-goers! Over the past four and a half years I have streamlined that initial route into three different tours: ACT I, ACT II and ACT III. ACT III is slated to open in the spring of 2015 and I’m very excited for that final installment to be in place!
I set off four and a half years ago on that initial one-person tour (my colleague Corey Gosselin) wearing my green, crisply pressed BUC uniform, my hands iPad-free (that didn’t come until two years later) and a hope that one day we would