We are a family who loves the theater. My husband and daughter are natural performers who love to be on stage, and my son has been testing out his acting chops in recent years as well. I’m a visual artist, so to find my part in this dramatic family I’ve been tapping into my creativity by helping to design sets and props for the school plays. We love everything having to do with the stage. So for my daughter’s birthday, I planned a quick, jam-packed trip including a “behind the scenes” Radio City Stage Door Tour, lunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner (with the famous singing wait staff) and the Broadway show, Matilda playing at the Shubert Theater on 44th St. Here are a few things to enjoy in NYC if you love theater; Radio City, Stardust Diner and Matilda on Broadway.
Radio City Stage Door Tour
Our Radio City tour was very good but limited because it was a Sunday and the Rockette’s were performing SIX shows that day! We got to meet a Rockette, ask questions, see them exercising between shows, view the light room and the theater from above, and learn a bunch of amazing things; like the fact that the stage is 10,000 square feet in size.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner (1650 Broadway & 51st St.)
My friend Meggan recommended this place since her kids love it, and my family had no idea what this diner was all about. So it was fun to see their faces as they realized that the broadway show tunes that they were hearing were actually being sung by the wait staff. Lunch at the Stardust was good but the entertainment was the most fun part. I’ve heard breakfast is better, but be prepared to wait in line.
The Broadway show Matilda at the Shubert Theater
Both of my kids enjoyed the Broadway production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, even though they said it was admittedly a bit “darker”/more sinister than the movie. The stage effects and actors performances were outstanding. Especially Mattea Conforti who played Matilda that evening (there are four Matilda actresses). My daughter said the sets were fantastic; they moved up and down and came out of the stage. The Scrabble tiles were a fun feature because it changed the words that they spelled out. There was a lot of live movement and action on stage as well. One thing I love about the theaters in NYC is that they are all pretty small so almost all seats are good. If you have some flexibility, don’t forget to check out last minute ticket deals at the TKTS booth in Times Square.
Eventually, you must eat.
Everywhere you turn in the city there are food options of every ethnicity and price range you could imagine. We sampled it all. The very first thing we did when we set foot on the street was buy hot dogs and a pretzel from a street vendor (not as good as I remember).
A word of caution here – there are tons of people dressed up in random character suits who want to pose for a picture with you in exchange for tips. This is a new phenomenon I wasn’t prepared for. Panhandlers used to at least play some music or do some sort of entertainment for money like the Naked Cowboy that we encountered. But I digress…back to the food…tons of street vendors, especially middle eastern “Halal” but the best we had was the pizza at John’s Pizzeria Times Square which conveniently located across from the Shubert Theater. I wouldn’t recommend anything other than the drinks and pizza (dessert was stale, chicken scampi was overcooked and dry, salad was ordinary) but the pizza was awesome.
The next night we had dinner at The View revolving rooftop restaurant at the top of the Marriott Marquis hotel where we stayed. This very upscale restaurant offers a prix fixe dinner for $90 so we opted for the buffet in the lounge for $38. Next time I would just go there for a drink to see the view, which was fantastic and skip the unimpressive overpriced food, or visit the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building Observation deck which I have never done. Have you? Please comment below if you have anything to add, I’d love to hear your tips for next time!