Saturday, November 3, 2007

Taking Four Young Women to Broadway

Posted by Bruce Miller

The theatre gods (and The League of American Theaters and Pro-ducers) smiled on my daughter Hannah and me in mid-October. For a couple months, Hannah and her friends had been planning a theatre weekend in New York. (Hannah and her friends are in the foreground of the photo shown above, standing with four of the stars of A Chorus Line: Heather Parcells, Katherine Tokarz, Deidre Goodwin and Will Taylor.)

When their high school drama teacher was unable to accompany them on their dream tour of Broadway, they recruited me and another dad, Tony Oates, to serve as drowsy chaperones. Tony is a former Theatre IV Board member and the father of the young Tony Oates who was in our production of The Wizard of Oz last spring.

My daughter and her pals (Lizzie Holland, Rebekah Hupp and Nathalie Oates) are all very responsible young women—juniors at Trinity Episcopal High School. I was looking forward to spending time with them and getting to know my daughter’s friends.

The airfares were paid, the hotel rooms were booked, and the tickets were secured (at a discount via Broadway Box). Then on the Tuesday before our departure, labor negotiations broke down between the stagehands and the producers. For a few days it looked like the producers would call for a lockout, causing most Broadway theatres to shut down just about the time we were scheduled to be taxiing to the gate at JFK.

But fate was on our side. The labor dispute was put on hold, and everything went according to Hoyle.

Upcoming holiday travelers may not be as fortunate. On Oct 21, one week after our return to Richmond, the stagehand members of Local One voted unanimously to empower their leadership to call a strike during the month of December, when Broadway ticket sales are at their peak. Local One has never staged a strike before, and they have promised to give advance notice if they decide to call for one now. In the interim, negotiations are continuing between the stagehands and the producers. Hopefully everything will be resolved.

The last strike to close down Broadway lasted four days in 2003, and was called by the musicians union. Should a strike occur this December, the producers have promised full refunds and/or exchanges for all ticket holders.

Anyway, back to our October theatre weekend. We flew JetBlue, leaving Richmond at 6 a.m. Saturday morning and pulling our chairs up to the table for blueberry pancakes at the Evergreen on 47th Street by 9 a.m. For more info on how to get from JFK into Manhattan, click the label at the foot of this post that says “NYC on a Budget,” then scroll down through this post and you’ll come to “A Broadway Weekend – Part II: NYC on a Budget” (March 29, 2007).

We flew home on Sunday night at around 10 p.m. It was a whirlwind weekend, but we were able to see three shows in two days, spending only one night away from home.

I learned two new things this trip that were not included in my March 29 blog post.

Number One – There is now a $25 MetroCard that gives you twelve rides on the AirTrain (normally $5 each) instead of five. You buy the new $25 card at the appropriate machines just before you exit the AirTrain terminal on your way into Manhattan. Using this card, each of our AirTrain rides cost $2.17 instead of $5, saving the six of us $35 on the arriving and departing AirTrain trips. This $25 MetroCard doesn’t work on the subways, only on the AirTrain. You can still buy the $20 MetroCard for the subways, which actually gives you twelve subway rides instead of ten.

Number Two – When traveling with parties larger than four, and using either of the above mentioned MetroCards for the AirTrain or the subway, you can let four people through the turnstile on one card, but then you have to wait 18 minutes before using the card at this same stop for persons number five and six or more. It’s a crazy rule, because if you go to the clerk to explain the problem, they immediately issue you a new MetroCard that allows the remaining people to go through. Clearly they don’t mind you using one card for groups larger than four, but the turnstile computer won’t let you until you trade your MetroCard in with the clerk.

We arrived at the Millennium Broadway Hotel at around 10 a.m. The Millennium can be accessed from both 45th Street and 44th Street, and is located mid-block between Broadway (7th) and Avenue of the Americas (6th). They let us check our bags and suggested that we return at noon for an early check-in. The regular check-in time is 4 p.m., but we were able to check-in to three of our four rooms by 12:15.

The Millennium is a terrific bargain right now. It is a relatively new and very comfortable hotel (downright Ritzy by my standards), and currently offers some great deals that you can discover at I recommend it highly.

In future posts, I’ll talk about the shows we saw, the street festival we visited, and some of the Barksdale/Theatre IV alum who are now starring on the Great White Way.

And if and when I hear any news about the possible strike, I’ll be sure to pass it along via this blog.

--Bruce Miller

(Added Sat. 11/10 - The Stagehand's union went on strike today, shutting down over 2 dozen Broadway productions. See this MSNBC article for details.)


Anonymous said...

I agree about the Millennium. With NYC hotel prices going through the roof, the Millennium is one of the few affordable hotels left. Hopefully they'll stay that way.

Deidre Sams said...

Who is Hoyle?

Bruce Miller said...

"According to Hoyle" is an expression that I've used all my life. It means "playing by the rules," and I wrote it without thinking. I'm 57 years old, and maybe younger generations no longer use that expression. Hmmm.

Here's what I learned from some quick internet research. Edmond Hoyle (1672 – 1769) was one of the first authors to write seriously about card games. His first book, “Short Treatise on the Game of Whist,” was published in 1742. The book explained in detail the practical and psychological rules and strategies that defined the game of whist.

Whist was an extremely popular British card game in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 20th and 21st centuries, bridge has replaced whist as the most popular card game internationally among serious card players.

Hoyle followed his whist rulebook with other books that outlined the rules and strategies of backgammon, chess and a number of other games.

In the context of this article, the "rules" of a Broadway theatre weekend are “you buy a ticket to a Broadway show, you expect the show to take place.” Because the lockout didn't happen, the Broadway shows for which we had purchased tickets were presented according to schedule and we were able to see them. Therefore, "everything went according to Hoyle."

Thanks for asking.

pnlkotula said...

Bruce, FYI, I believe you'll find a reference to Hoyle in your upcoming script for Guys and Dolls.


Anonymous said...

You and Tony Oates are great dads. Some of my best memories involve going to the theatre with my father. He's long since passed on, but I'll always remember the times we went to see shows and talked about them afterwards. I know your daughters will remember these bonding experiences as well.