Sixteenth in a series of Broadway reports
NEW YORK – As I’ve repeatedly said, New York is my kind of town.
The 2023 visit, however, was quite different and very special: ‘twas my wife Vi’s and my first return to The Great Apple in nearly four years, the first after the COVID 19 pandemic, the first with a rented electric wheelchair because of my chronic back pain.
So for this final installment in a series of Broadway posts, thought I’d recapitulate some memories that hopefully will be beneficial for your New York experience.
Lucky we live Hawaii. But if you’re Broadway bound, you can’t drive, catch an Amtrak train, hop on the subway or take a ship cruise.
You have to catch a plane. And I believe in direct flights – costlier than a one- or two-stop itinerary, because time is money, too.
Happily, my two most-used carriers – Hawaiian and United – both have direct flights from Honolulu to New York. Hawaiian flies to JFK, anchored in the JetBlue terminal. United aims for its hub in Newark, N.J.
But the pandemic – among other reasons – has changed both carriers ‘direct flight home to Honolulu…at least on a Sunday, my return-home day.
Hawaiian’s sked was a one-stop, from JFK to LA, then HNL.
Wayne and Vi, on United Airlines — the homeward-bound trip.
United had a direct-to-HNL from EWR (Newark) but the agenda was changed while I was getting ready to fly out. United now was a one-stop, too, the pause at the mammoth George Bush International Airport in HOU (Houston), then HNL. Trouble is, the connection time was a mere half-hour, too risky since the airport is mammoth, so while still in New York, I called United to see what options I had to dodge the 30-minute gallop. The solution was to take an earlier flight from Newark to Houston, allowing a two-hour layover.
As it turned out, United’s flights anyway,, but as the hours ticked, the “new” flight left pretty much left the same time as the original flight, but the HNL-bound jet was held for those making the connection. Frustration and tension resulted in a happy journey, in the end. …
Everything is costly
Prices are up everywhere, for everything, so reality bites And folks who know us know that the Haradas prefer first-class flights (who doesn’t?) that cost an arm and two legs, but offers room for those arms and legs.
Since I had accrued mileage for both Hawaiian Air and United Airlines, I traded in 300,000 for two via Hawaiian to fly there, and another 330,000 for two for the return via United. There were $50 fees per person, too. If plan early, you can buy coach and upgrade to Business First, if possible.
We’ve been going to New York for more than 50 years, and my primary interest is to see Broadway shows. Over 10 days, we took in 11 productions; bought orchestra or mezzanine/balcony seats, costing $3,300. Where your seats are will determine your costs.
A disclosure: at the height of the “Hamilton” frenzy, I simply couldn’t find tickets no matter how hard I tried, and wound up – gulp! – buying $750 seats (times, two, since my wife was there, too) in the second-to-the-last-row in the nose-bleed section, but saw the original cast with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. Worth it, everything considered!
Choosing a hotel
In the past, we got rooms at “brand” hotels (Hilton, Sheraton) to get frequent-stayer points. It’s difficult to earn loyalty points, unless you’re a business traveler.
So this year, we decided to select a hotel with easy access to near theaters, and chose the Hotel Edison on W. 47th St., smack dab in the middle of Times Square. It’s a mid-sized hotel, so elevator access is a lot better than a mega-hotel where conventioneers stay. The Edison had a rate of $238 a night, compared to other places that have $400-plus rooms.
One other hotel tip: Whenever we travel now, we book the room to include our departure day, so when we arrive overnight, we can check into the hotel at 8 or 9 a.m., compared to the universal 3 p.m. check-in.
Since most HNL flights to the East Coast have mid-afternoon flights out, you always arrive early morning the next day and having the luxury to check into your room early in the morning is a joy. If you haven’t slept on your flight, you can sleep, or unpack, or go out for breakfast. If you have young kids, you don’t want to wait till late afternoon to get your room. City attractions don’t open till 10 a.m. anyway, and a 3 p.m. check is now unfathomable for us.
Tip: If you do the extra-day booking, be sure to call your hotel on your departure day that you will be a “late” arrival, and to hold the room. …
Where to secure show tickets
Websites to order tickets:
The two key websites I use: Telecharge.com and Ticketmaster.com
Tickets are also on sale at Playbill.com; you receive discounts with a membership fee
Where to get half-price tickets
If you’re a first-timer tor Broadway, or a once-in-a-decade visitor, the place to go is the TKTS booth at Duffy Square, in the heart of Times Square, at W. 46th St. and Seventh Ave. You can’t miss the place, since there are ticket windows on the north side, and a bunch of red staircase seats on the south side.
This is the home of twofers, meaning you get two tickets for the price of one, and the booth sells only same-day tickets for a select list of shows. Hot-ticket shows (“Hamilton,” “The Lion King”) generally are not on the sales board.
The TKTS booth is where tickets are “twofers.” Buy one, get one free.
The booth just marked its 50th anniversary in June 2023.
Hours: 3 to 8 p.m. most days, 3 to 7 p.m. Sundays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Wednesday and Saturday matinee shows.
Where to find show reviews
Best resource for theater reviews: https://didtheylikeit.com/
Reviews (capsule and full-length) are posted here; you can peruse before you buy tickets, which also can be purchased here.
Regrets, I have a few
No matter how long you stay, you can’t to it all. So:
- Couldn’t catch the subway this year; I can struggle and go down and up stairs, but the missus said absolutely not. Subways are the fastest way to get anywhere in New York, but I was in no hurry to go anyplace fast. Caught the bus with the wheelchair and used both Uber and the Yellow Cab in instances of rain.
- Imagine, I didn’t have a single bagel while visiting. Reason: my favorite theater district deli, Carnegie Delicatessan, closed perhaps a decade ago, and food trucks sell ‘em, I was never near one to buy one. My hotel didn’t have ‘em, either. And Katz Deli and Zabar’s stock bagels but are too far away to get ‘em.
- Visited Macy’s at Herald Square with the wheelchair. While the world’s largest store has elevators and wheelchair ramps, it is not really handicapped-friendly. Wanted a Starbucks coffee that day; though the café was on a highly visible mezzanine, with an elevator nearby (but no longer so), the only way via access ramps that are hidden, in corridors not easily found; went up one elevator floor to get the coffee, but didn’t bother trying to find the many Macy’s bargains.
Wayne on his wheelchair, at Rockefeller Center.
While leaving our hotel one day, a woman saw me in a wheelchair and inquired about how and where to rent one, too.
I recommend NYC Mobility Rentals; it provides chairs and scooters and delivers and picks up the rentals
Information: www.nycmobilityrentals.com or (718) 962-0727 …
My New York Zippy’s
I consider myself a local boy, so enjoy local kine places to eat.
OK, the menu is Mainland to the core, but if there is a place that serves family fare, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, it has to be Junior’s Bakery and.
Junior’s, on Broadway and W. 49th St. Kinda like Zippy‘s
OK, there’s no Spam nor Portuguese sausage on the menu, but the informality and hospitality have a local vibe here. Oh, and don’t ask for shoyu, either.
This is the place I meet local friends visiting New York at the same time.
This trip and once earlier, visiting friend Kevin Iwamoto joined us for breakfast.
Junior’s, with roots in Brooklyn, boasts two restaurants in the theater district: the newer one, where I hang out, is on Broadway and W. 49th St.; the other is on W. 45th St. and Shubert Alley.
The meals are fulfilling, but if you crave dessert, there’s a variety of cakes and pies and cheesecake to cap the meal. Sorry, no Napoleons either…
And that’s Show Biz. …