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The Museum of Broadway Made our Inner Theater Geeks Sing!

Our dad, Leo, was an ad man in Boston in the 1960s and 1970s. So he did a lot of traveling back and forth from Boston to New York City with his clients on photo shoots. We didn’t understand all that as young girls, but what we did know was that when he was there he always saw a Broadway show and when he got back he always bought the cast recording.


We couldn’t wait to see what new discovery he made and to put that LP on the turntable. With each new vinyl record would ride down a rambling river with Pippin, re-enact the parables of Godspell, kick in our imaginary Chorus Line or wait for the sun to come out tomorrow with Andrea McArdle from Annie. Visions of these Broadway shows were burned into our brains and theatre has been in our blood ever since.


We occasionally got to see a few shows with Dad —  someday we’ll tell you about La Cage Au Faux starring a very drunk Van Johnson! And as adults we’ve had the chance to get tickets to some momentous Broadway moments — we still weep when we think back to seeing Bernadette Peters in Gypsy.


So on our recent trip to New York City — after taking in a mind-blowing production of Suffs — we had the chance to visit the Museum of Broadway which opened its doors in 2022. We thought we’d stop in for a quick look before heading off for our day in the city. We were there for three hours and could easily have spent the whole day.


From the two original impeccably preserved Ziegfeld Follies outfits to the final glimpse of Ben Vereen’s shoes and hat from Pippin, every inch of the museum is filled with artifacts that made our inner theatre geeks’ hearts explode.


Walking up three flights of “backstage” stairs just as the cast and crew of countless productions during the almost 300 year history of the Great White Way — the first recorded production took place in 1732 — set the stage for this immersive experience that we had not anticipated.


We got to sit at Max Bialystock’s desk, walk through the cornfields of Oklahoma, kick up our heels on a New York rooftop with the Sharks, pose on the stage of the KitKat club and lounge on Satine’s sette.


To us, the coolest pieces were the handwritten elements from Broadways brightest stars. A letter from Stephen Sondheim to Leonard Bernstein asking for his critique of his work on West Side Story. Oscar Hammerstein’s original lyrics for “Do Re Mi” — Doe is a very young female deer, sow is what you do with wheat… or his notes about “Surry with the Fringe on Top” including a list of words the rhyme with surry that didn’t make the final cut — curry, hurry, worry.


If you grew up on Broadway shows like we did, book your flight, hop a train, fill the tank and get to New York to see this museum. It does not disappoint.


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