It was the summer of 2002 and I can still remember the first moment that I turned the corner of Dyer Avenue and 42nd Street and was inundated with lights, signs and people. Lots of people. Above me loomed the huge Madame Tussaud's hand, to the right was Port Authority and directly ahead of me, most memorable of all: Broadway Theaters. I felt like I had waited a lifetime to get to this street and this moment. Growing up in Michigan I had only read about these famed streets and addresses in books. I had read about the characters, the shows and the legends who had created lives and careers in these buildings. And there, in front of me, the buildings rose from the illustrations and photos I had only seen in books as living, breathing buildings. In that moment my fate was decided - like many before me I vowed to somehow make my way here to start a new theatrical life.
As my mom, my Aunt and I began to make our way around the Times Square area I was in awe of the billboards, lights and Broadway marquees. You'd never know it from the above picture but I was all smiles for the entire weekend. It's cliche but true: I felt home!
As we discovered each theater on the side streets just off of Times Square I couldn't help but imagine what shows had played where, what legends had gotten their starts at which theaters and what other incredible history had unfolded behind those bricks. All that I had previously read about the history of Broadway and its shows flooded to the forefront of my brain in a flurry of facts and figures.
Flash forward to 2010. I am in between shows and looking for a new "survival job". Thinking back to that moment when I first stepped foot on the island of Manhattan I began to form an idea of what I wanted that day: For someone who knew all the facts, figures, anecdotes and ghost stories to greet me on that first landing and tell me, theater by theater, exactly what had happened where. After some research I realized that didn't exist. Well, that had to change!
Broadway Up Close was always created based on that initial idea of what "little Tim Dolan circa 2002" would have wanted to hear. Since the inception of BUC I have worked hard to get as many student groups from around the world on our tour. Thankfully we have made some decent headway over the past five years! Below is a small sampling of a handful of student groups we've had this past year:
I recently sat down with one of the best videographers in the NYC scene, Tim Grady of Tim Grady Films, to put together a short video detailing the experience of a BUC tour. With Tim's sharp eye I think we really captured the essence of our student tours. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!
Do you remember your first NYC Broadway memory? Share it below! I always love hearing about people's first introduction to the magical world of Broadway theatre!
Do you know a student group who journeys to NYC each year to take in a Broadway show? Send them our way! They can visit our STUDENT TOURS page for more information.
See you on the sidewalks!
Owner of Broadway Up Close Walking Tours Inc.