Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What To See and Do This Holiday Season in New York

Rockefeller Center
Top Picks for This Holiday Season
By Lauren Yarger
It's that time of year when so many of you write to ask what you should see when you visit New York City for the holidays. Well, in the city that never sleeps, there are endless choices of things to do and see, but I will list a few TOP PICKS here to help you decide where to spend your entertainment dollar (click on the title to read the full review).

On Broadway:

A Christmas Story the Musical.
If you love the movie about Ralphie and his overwhelming need for a BB gun one Christmas back in 1940, you will love this terrific musical based on the Jean Shepherd classic. The music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are catchy. Dan Lauria stars as Shepherd. At the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th St. where it runs through Dec. 30. Tickets: 800-745-3000, 877-250-2929;

The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Murder most foul -- and most funny takes place with a different ending every performance as determined by audience vote. Chita Rivera is among the suspects in Roundabout Theatre Club's revival of this Tony-Award winning musical by Rupert Holmes with choreography by Warren Carlyle. Extended through March 20 at Studio 54, 254 West 54th St. Tickets: 212-719-1300;

Nice Work if You Can Get it
Starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara with songs by George and Ira Gershwin and a fun book by Joe DiPietro (Memphis). You can't help but smile. At the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th St. Tickets: 212-239-6200; 800-432-7250.

Peter and the Starcatcher
The prequel to Peter Pan, this imaginative and witty play by Rick Elice is staged with fabulous sets and costumes to take us on a voyage we wish will never end. At the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 West 47th St. Tickets: 800-745-3000.

Last year's winner of the Tony for Best Musical, it's wonderful theater experience based on the movie of the same name. Composing team Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the Academy Award for the song "Falling Slowly."  Guy meets girl who helps him with his music career in Ireland (the set is designed to feel like a pub). At the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre, 242 West 45th St. Tickets: 212-239-6200 or 800- 432-7250.

War Horse
One of the most gripping, emotional theatrical experiences you can have. Based on the children's book by Michael Morpurgo about a boy and the horse he loves at the time of World War I in England, this Tony Award winning production features artistry by the Handspring Puppet Company that will have you convinced there are real horses grazing and galloping on stage. Gallop over to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center , 150 West 65th St, where it runs through Jan. 6.

Off Broadway

Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang at Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre is one of the best things I have seen in a long time. Funny, funny funny. It's a a light-hearted tribute to Chekhov starring David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen and Sigourney Weaver as siblings. Through Jan. 13 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse, 150 West 65th St.

Tribes extended through Jan. 20 at the Barrow Street Theatre. Strong performances in a story about a deaf man and his relationships with his hearing family and a woman who introduces him to the world of sign language. While the play is very good, I could recommend it solely because it is directed by David Cromer. If you are in the city and something he has directed is playing, go see it. At the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., off 7th Avenue South in the Village.

Water By The Spoonful last year's surprise Pulitzer prize winner by Quiara Alegría Hudes is now in previews at Second Stage for a run Jan. 8-27. I was one of the lucky one who got to see it in Connecticut where it had its world premiere at Hartford Stage (the review link is for that production). I won't see it at Second Stage (they don't invite Drama Desk critics to review), but the play is good enough that I feel confident recommending it. Second Stage Theatre is at 305 West 43rd St.

The Great God Pan The world premiere of Amy Herzog's play about the unleashing of unpleasant childhood memories. Jeremy Strong's compelling portrayal is reason enough to see this show, but I can recommend just about everything at Playwrights, my favorite Off-Broadway theater. Any time you are in the city, check out what is on their stage. Best value for your buck and ask them about their babysitting service. Extended through Jan. 13 at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St.

For the Kids:
OK, I realize that most of the selections above are probably not exciting (or appropriate)entertainment for kids -- they are just the TOP PICKS in my opinion.  Here are links to reviews for some shows your kids, depending on their ages,  might want to see. As always, Reflections in the Light  is the only place you can find a review with information about language and content from a Christian perspective (added at the end).
Bring it On
Elf (this review is from the previous incarnation on Broadway)
Rock of Ages
Spider-man Turn Off the Dark
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (at Madison Square Garden) and Wicked -- these  opened on Broadway before we started reviewing. If you want information, send an email to

Other stuff to do:
There are the obvious tourist attractions like Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes kicking up their popular Christmas Spectacular, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, the World Trade Center site, etc. Here are two unique offerings that will help you understand the city and entertain you at the same time:

Margaret Copeland and Kevin James Doyle. Photo Courtesy of Jim Randolph.

How to Be a A New Yorker
This dinner theater presentation features comedians Margaret Copeland and Kevin James Doyle, both also certified tour guides, in their lively and tongue-in-cheek look at how tourists can learn to be real New Yorkers.

Directed by Robert Ross Parker, Copeland and Doyle guide us through the history of New York in three parts, surrounded by skits involving video (set and projection design by Nick Francone), quick character and costume changes (Janel Clingenpeel, costume design) games like "Is it Safe?" and audience participation -- all in just about an hour. A buffet lunch or dinner of salad, pasta and chicken cacciatore is provided starting about half an hour before show time.

The presentation, downstairs at Sophia's, 221 West 46th St. is so popular, that it has been extended through March 30. Performances are Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 with matinees Saturday at 2 pm. Matinee tickets are $45 (which includes lunch) and evening performances are $55 (including dinner), and are available by calling 212-352-3101 or through

Christtins might also like to know:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

The Ride -- an electronically interactive tour of New York City on motor coaches has announced holiday schedules and pricing.

The Ride, on five motor coaches, has played months of sold-out, multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art tours of the Midtown Area and more than 70,000 customers have enjoyed the 4.2-mile journey that has been termed “a Passport to New York City.”
The buses are specifically designed theatrical vehicles; the tallest allowed by federal law, fitted with stadium-style seating that orients the 49 participants sideways looking through the massive windows that deliver New York as the most successful Broadway show on earth.

The coaches are equipped with surround sound, 3,000 LED lights and 40 video screens. They are, in essence, rolling state-of-the-art theatres. External speakers and lighting allow riders and on-board performers to interact with street performers as well as anyone else they pass on the street.

I took a friend, in New York for the first time, on one of the tours. We laughed a lot as we cruised around Times Square seeing attractions like Carnegie Hall, Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. Two tour guides bantered back and forth and gave points to participants for their city knowledge while giving odd bits of information about the sights and interacting with "New Yorkers" along the route. There was a guy already staking out his position in Times Square for New Years, a break-dancing package delivery guy,  singing commuters and an actress lost on her way to an audition (the performers, surprisingly, are very talented.)

While I wouldn't recommend this bus ride for someone looking for a serious, informational tour of the city, it is a lot of fun for groups of friends or families in between shows or shopping and provides a unique vantage point of the city (and a place to sit for about an hour and 15 minutes). Special holiday versions of The Ride also are available through Dec. 30.

Tickets are $50 -$74 and are available by calling 866-299-9682 or at the Box Office located at Madame Tussauds (immediately to your left in the lobby), 234 West 42nd Street in Times Square. Groups: 212-244-2551 (x155). Buses leave from the corner of West 42nd Street and 8th Avenue (or somewhere fairly close to that). Seating is not assigned.

1 comment:

Allia Zobel Nolan said...

Nice list...Thanks for sharing.
Create A Buzz About Your Book
Custom Search
Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

All Posts on this Blog