Tag Archives: New York

Glee’s Broadway Roots

by Amy

Last year, Fox network found a runaway hit with Glee. The show, whose genre is musical, takes place in a high school where both student body and faculty are prone to breaking out in both song and dance. But while it may take place in Ohio, its roots can definitely be traced back to New York City. No doubt inspired by the big-number shows found among the bright lights, pieces of Glee are easily found all over the Manhattan theatre district, home to the world-famous Broadway.

Throughout the show, the cast performs countless popular hits, dating back decades and including every genre from standards to hip-hop. Glee also frequently pays homage to the shows that paved the way for a musical-style primetime program, by utilizing both show tunes as well actors who have appeared in some very notable productions. In similar fashion, while a visitor to New York can take in a pop spectacle at Madison Square Garden and rock out at Irving Plaza, they can also get a fix of some of their favorite Glee-performed show tunes and see some of the same theatres they became famous in.

For the most part, Glee mainly sticks with classics when it comes to choosing ballads and showstoppers. The pilot episode is emblematic of this, having featured music from Chicago and Les Miserable. Chicago first premiered in New York in 1975 at the Richard Rodgers theater on 46th street, and since its revival in 1996 has played at the Shubert Theatre on 44th and the Ambassador on 49th. Overachiever Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele, performed the Les Miserable favorite “On My Own” the first time she sings on the show. Les Mis played at the Broadhurst Theatre on 44th Street, a theatre that is now almost a hundred years old after opening in 1917.

While Broadway features many revivals of classic shows, it’s also home to newer productions that may someday become classics in their own right. This group is likely to include Wicked, a musical with multiple ties to Glee. After it opened at the Gershwin Theatre on 51st Street in 2003, Wicked has been playing to regularly sold-out audiences. Its original Broadway stars, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith, have both brought their acting and singing chops to the small screen with roles on the FOX program. The music of Wicked has also been represented. In one episode, Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, faced off against Rachel in a battle for dominance over “Defying Gravity.”

Aside from Menzel and Chenowith, several Glee regulars have Broadway experience under their belt. Before playing a small-screen couple on the show, Ms. Lea appeared with Jonathan Groff as onstage lovers in Spring Awakening at the Eugene O’Neill theatre on 49th. Matthew Morrison originated the role of Link Larkin in Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd street prior to playing Glee club director and Spanish teacher Will Schuester. Keeping it in the fictional family, Will’s father was played Victor Garber, a 4-time Tony-nominated Broadway vet.

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The cast of Glee

Glee has turned to Broadway for supplying songs for some of their most memorable scenes. As the romance between guidance counselor Emma and Will blossomed, the show utilized “I Could Have Danced All Night,” featured in My Fair Lady. Before Audrey Hepburn bore the cockney accent, the 1959 production of My Fair Lady featured Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, and ran at what was once the Mark Hellinger Theater on 51st Street. ( The theater has since been transformed into the Times Square church; for more historical Broadway facts, check out Uncle Sam’s Theatre District Tour!)

Later on in the initial season, Rachel delivers a veritable showstopper in the form of “Don’t Rain on my Parade” from Funny Girl. Funny Girl’s first Broadway run took place at three different theatres, starting with the Wintergarden (on the actual street Broadway is named for), and moving on to the Majestic on 44th before ending back on Broadway at, well, the Broadway Theatre.

The first season of Glee ended in June, 2010. A few months later, the 2010 Emmy nominations were announced, with Glee receiving 19 nods. In seasons to come, the series is sure to feature even more Broadway numbers, bringing the songs to a new generation, former theatre stars to a new audience, and millions of viewers out of their home and straight into the heart of Manhattan.

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Filed under Amy Eiferman, NYC Culture

The Magic of Broadway

By Jack Stanley
Tour Guide at Uncle Sam’s New York Tours

Did you ever wonder how it all got there?  How Broadway became Broadway? So often we hear all kinds of tales of this and that about Broadway, but what about the Broadway of the past? There are many stories and we will just touch of a few of them here.

You have to remember that where Broadway was years ago was in pretty close range to what was called the Tenderloin District. If you have never heard of it, it is long gone. But this was where you went in 1890 to do what polite society cared not to know. It was an area of drugs, prostitution, gambling, liquor and white slavery. It was the area were vice was the major component.

All of this changed as time when on, and by the end of the 19th century it was starting to move to another location.  In the late 1890’s Oscar Hammerstein the first invested in the area called Long acre Square. He built a few theaters, and later an opera house.

By 1914 the place was home to nearly 30 theaters, opera houses, and of course the New York Times. In fact by 1905 the area would be called Times Square in honor of that company.

This was the place people like George M Cohan, Enrico Caruso, David Balasco, Al Jolson, Maude Adams, The Barrymores, and the first lady of theater Helen Hayes called home.

Today Broadway is alive with not only new and exciting shows, but rings true to it’s historic past. Everywhere you can find it, but it is often not too easy to see. That is why guided tours are so useful.

Guided tours are like a road map for history. It tells you where to look and what to know. So you don’t get lost in it all.

How do you find out information about these wonderful days of the past? There is a place you can count on. One that is taking the city by storm. Uncle Sam’s New York is such a company. The walking tours this company provides are often given by people who not only know the history, but have done theater as well.

That is called having the best of both worlds.

Perhaps one of the greatest entertainers on Broadway was Al Jolson. His comment was when ever he would come on stage  “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”  Look at Uncles Sam’s New York and take a walk on the great white way, and you will see all you have been missing.

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Filed under History, Jack Stanley

The Top Clubs in the Meatpacking District

Pictured: The gorgeous bar at Tenjune in the Meatpacking District

By Samantha Nicholson

Clubs and lounges in the Meatpacking District often have the reputation of being pretentious. However, these clubs are also known to offer the best time, and the most celebrity-spotting. If you can get in, you are practically guaranteed to have the time of your life mingling amongst the city’s elite and fashionable. Some of the top night clubs in the Meatpacking District include Tenjune, Avenue, 1Oak, and Kiss &Fly. These clubs have a similar atmosphere, but they differ in several ways. This guide will help you choose which one suits your tastes for a fun night out in the infamous Meatpacking District.
Tenjune is one of the easier Meatpacking District clubs to get into. Two years ago, this was a different story. However, the doormen can still be difficult if you aren’t dressed fashionably or have too many gentlemen in your group. Make sure your group has a favorable girl-to-guy ratio and everyone’s dressed to the nines. Also, be polite to the doorman, and definitely don’t beg for entry. Begging has never worked for anyone. Clubs actually like having the beggars outside because it gives the club the an “exclusive” image. Doormen know from the moment they see your group whether you are partying there tonight or going to be left out in the cold. If the doorman tells you no, say “Ok, thanks” and go find somewhere else to party. This applies to all clubs. If you get into Tenjune, you will enjoy the gread soundsystem and beautiful atmosphere. This club might not be the best anymore, but it still gets lots of models and celebrities on a weekly basis. Tuesdays are the best nights at Tenjune.
Avenue and 1Oak are very similar. They are actually right next door to each other, and once inside you can find the secret pathway upstairs that leads to the other club. The crowd is also very similar; the people are definitely fashionable. A gown or a full suit is not appropriate here, but a sundress or a blazer with jeans would be fine. The doormen can be arrogant, and if you plead for entry you won’t be treated nicely. Once inside, you will find great DJs and delicious drinks. Yes, the drinks are about $18 each, but you have to expect this from NYC’s Meatpacking District. These clubs are arguably the top clubs in New York City.
Kiss and Fly offers the same glamorous Meatpacking District experience as 1Oak and Avenue, but it is slightly easier to get into. Tons of club promoters work for Kiss and Fly, so if you can befriend a few, you will be guaranteed easy entry here. Kiss and Fly is also slightly larger than the other two clubs, so you have more room and more space to sit down. Kiss and Fly is best on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Meatpacking District is arguably the best club district in the world. When and if you get inside a club in the District, you will never want to party elsewhere.


Filed under Night Club Spotlight, NYC Culture, Samantha Nicholson

Where is the Best NYC Shopping?

By Samantha Nicholson

Many NYC tourists put shopping on the top of their to-do list. After all, there are thousands of stores in New York City , ranging from boutiques to huge department stores to little-known designer outposts. But with all this selection, shopping can sometimes be a lot less enjoyable than a trip to your local mall. You might even just end up going to the same stores you can find anywhere. However, your NYC shopping experience should be unique and memorable, not just another trip to Abercrombie and Fitch. The best plan is to pick an NYC shopping area that appeals to your taste and your wallet. Here are the details of each of the major shopping districts in New York City .
SoHo in New York City is the most unique shopping area in the world. You can find colorful knock-off RayBan Wayfarers on the street for as little as $3. Or you can head to Dolce & Gabbana and get a blazer for $1500. The high-end stores you’ll want to check out in SoHo are Chanel, Phillip Lim, Atelier New York , and RPM Studio Inc , among others. Even if your budget doesn’t allow for jeans that cost about a month’s rent in NYC , you can still have fun window-shopping and trying on outfits. If you’re looking for cheaper but still high-quality clothes, you’ll want to check out Top Shop, H & M, and Uniqlo. Yes, you can find these stores in any mall in the USA, but the selection here is unbeatable. Also, these stores tend to get the newest clothes first. No one else in your hometown will have some of the items at these outposts of popular stores.

Just the word “Fifth Ave” tends to make people imagine wealthy people and posh stores. And yes, Fifth Avenue has plenty of that. On this one avenue, you can find Bergdorf Goodman , Henri Bendel, Cartier, Gucci, and Tiffany & Co . Even if the salespeople seem a little frightening, don’t be afraid to go inside and check out the items. You can even try them on if you’re especially brave. Fifth Avenue is the best place for huge department stores. Saks Fifth Avenue is an NYC favorite, and you can easily spend the entire day browsing the store.
If you want to escape the throngs of tourists that crowd Fifth Avenue and SoHo, try shopping in the Upper East Side . You’ll find a lot of the same stores that also have downtown NYC locations; except uptown there are far less crowds and a shopper can get personal attention for the salespeople. Some stores you will want to check out include the Sonia Rykiel boutique, the uptown version of RPM Studio Inc, and the uptown Bloomingdale’s . You won’t find many cheap stores here, but that is part of the Upper East Side’s allure.
It is true that you have to plan your New York City shopping trip in order to have the best and most productive time possible. It will only take a few minutes to plan out a fun day of shopping. Or you can make things even easier by booking Uncle Sam’s New York’s Fashion on Fifth Avenue Tour This tour will take you to the best stores in New York City with the help of your own personal stylist. The tour runs every Saturday.

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Filed under Samantha Nicholson

Is the NY Pass Your Key to the City?

by Sam Nicholson

The concept of a city pass is a little hard to believe. The NY Pass let you go to more than 40 places in NYC at a discount of about 70 percent. It doesn’t seem possible at first.  A business-savvy customer might question, “How does any attraction even make any money off of NY Pass customers?” A new visitor to the city might be wary and feel that a company is trying to take advantage of their naiveté.

These people will surely be surprised to learn that this pass is not a scam. In fact, it is a great deal that all tourists who plan on doing a lot of sightseeing should consider. The pass can last up to seven days. You only pay once, and this is when your card is activated. After the pass is activated, you have a large choice of tourist attractions to visit with the pass. Your sightseeing will be tension-free as the varying cost of attractions won’t be on your mind. The pass works like a credit card, and the charges vary depending on which package you select. But you can be assured that you will be saving money using your NY pass rather than visiting each location and paying separately. If you plan on visiting more than 3 attractions a day during your visit to New York City, the pass is a great money-saver.

Also, the NY Pass lets you know about attractions you may never have known about without it. Every tourist wants to go to the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building—but what about Bike and Roll Bike Rentals? Or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises? How about the Museum of Sex? The NY Pass will open your eyes to a wide array of attractions that you might never have known existed. You will be even more encouraged to not laze around at the hotel all day considering that you have already paid for your NY Pass.

If you do just want to laze around at your hotel all day or wander the streets of New York City aimlessly, then the New York Pass is probably not for you. But if you want to see all that New York City has to offer and discover the fun of the Big Apple, then you should definitely buy the New York Pass.


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Filed under Samantha Nicholson

From Limelight and Tunnel to Marquee and M2: The Ever-Changing Landscape of NYC Clubs

Pictured: The “Club Kids” crowd outside of the original Limelight.

by Sam Nicholson

Today’s New York City mega-clubs such as M2, Marquee, and Pacha usually leave a good impressions on their guests. Out-of-towners, the “bridge-and-tunnel” crowd, and tourists might not be used to the huge crowd and vibrant atmosphere. However, after some time of partying in the city, a person is bound to run into someone nostalgic for the old nightclub scene of the city. These people usually look at the new nightclubs with disappointment and long for the old days of clubs such as Limelight and Tunnel.

From an outsider’s perspective, the clubs of today and the clubs of twenty years ago aren’t so different. Bottle service originated at Tunnel Nightclub ,a large club with several floors once located in Chelsea between 27th and 28th street. The dance floor was noted for having several dancing cages throughout the floor. Tunnel also had a notoriously loud soundsystem, much like M2 nightclub today. Tunnel also had many stars of the hiphop community host parties—much like M2 does on a nearly weekly basis. Tunnel fell to its inevitable demise in 2001; it had been cited for underage drinking, had often dangerous overcrowding, and was a frequent target of police raids. As of May 2010, M2 has been closed due to smoking violations. It is said that history repeats itself, and this is certainly true in the case of NYC nightclubs.

Former clubbers have been especially distraught lately, as the space of the once-popular nightclub Limelight has been turned into a retail space. The mall pays tribute to the club with its name, “The Limelight Marketplace”. It is needless to say that former Limelight lovers were not exactly thrilled with this news. Many questioned if there would ever be any clubs like it in Manhattan ever again. These people aren’t willing to admit that the mega clubs of today and two decades aren’t that different. There are the same loud soundsystems, police raids, and wild fashion.

While the clubbers of yesteryear mourn the diversity of the old clubs, they don’t realize that NYC still has one of the most eccentric nightlife scenes in the world. There are few other American cities where drag queens, star athletes, models, and Wall Street types mix freely. All New Yorkers should for grateful for our diversity and strive to keep the scene alive.


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Filed under History, Samantha Nicholson

The Battery: Where Manhattan Begins!

By Jared “the tour guide” Goldstein, exclusively for Uncle Sam’s New York

New York City started on Manhattan Island in today’s Downtown, Lower Manhattan Financial District below Wall Street. It began at the Battery on the bottom of the island.

The “Battery” refers to the fort, Castle Clinton, which protected New York City from the mighty British Navy with its battery of cannons. In the 19th Century, Castle Clinton served as P.T. Barnum’s Castle Clinton Gardens, where Jenny Lind, ‘the Swedish Nightingale,’ entertained thousands for her American debut. It also served as an immigration point of entry for eight million immigrants before Ellis Island opened for immigration in 1892. It later became the New York Aquarium, the largest in the world. After World War II the Aquarium moved to Coney Island and the Fort was restored and reopened as a National Monument.

Alexander Hamilton came to Boston as a 16 year-old immigrant from the Caribbean, but came to this area shortly after.

Experience the Battery on the Alexander Hamilton Financial District Tour.

Click here to reserve your tour now!

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