One of the most popular activities for visitors to New York City is seeing a Broadway play.
The Broadway League reports that 63 percent of people who attend a Broadway show are tourists.
In addition to having to choose from the sheer volume of plays, group leaders, especially those with religious or student groups, must be concerned about the content of shows.
Although many of the musicals now on Broadway are suitable for any age or sensitivity, group leaders should investigate a show before buying tickets. They don’t want to unknowingly choose a show with language or themes that would offend their group members, thus spoiling what should be a memorable travel experience.
Dennis Martin, director of group sales programs for Broadway.com/Groups, one of the leading resources for group tickets, recommends two considerations for group leaders.
“Make sure whoever you are talking to — and you should talk to someone — is knowledgeable,” he said. “Asks questions: ‘Have you seen this show?’ It’s easy for someone in Omaha to recommend a show they have not seen, but try to find someone who has actually seen the show and can give firsthand information.
“Do a little homework, and don’t be afraid to ask if they have seen the show.”
Martin said group leaders also need to be upfront with a ticket agent about their group’s point of view and sensitivities. Will a few vulgarities eliminate the show for the entire group, or is it more about how the theme is treated?
“Don’t keep a secret from whomever you are working with,” said Martin. “They want to know if that one word gets them into trouble. They want to see if the show is best for the group’s taste level or tolerance level.
“If you do those two things, you will not go too far wrong.”
What does Martin recommend among the current crop of Broadway shows? Here are a few shows he thinks should be “absolutely fine for everybody.”
“Anything Goes,” which opened this spring, is a revival of the 1930s Cole Porter musical and stars Tony Award-winning Sutton Foster and Tony- and Academy Award-winner Joel Grey.
“I can’t imagine anything in there that would bother anybody. It’s a good, old-fashioned musical,” said Martin.
The show features several Porter standards, such as “I Get a Kick out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-lovely” and the title song, “Anything Goes,” along with several elaborate full-cast dance numbers.
“Speaking of old-fashioned musicals, how about one that is 50 years old?” said Martin. “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” was revived this spring with Daniel Radcliffe, who portrayed Harry Potter in the popular movie franchise, and television actor John Laroquette.
Foster and Laroquette won 2011 Drama Desk Awards for their roles in “Anything Goes” and “How to Succeed in Business…,” and both were nominated for Tony Awards. (The Tony Awards were presented June 12, after this issue went to press.)
Among the long-running Broadway shows are two Disney musicals — “Mary Poppins” and “The Lion King” — that are always reliable, along with “The Phantom of the Opera,” which has been around for more than 23 years, making it Broadway’s longest-running show in history.
“Million Dollar Quartet,” which opened on Broadway last year after beginning in Chicago, is based on a night in December 1956 when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins were all together at the small Sun Studios in Memphis. The show blends in biographical information as the talented actors perform such rock standards as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Walk the Line” and “Hound Dog.”
“They are great tunes that everybody knows,” said Martin. “It’s a really good night.”