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Broadway Fans Find Alternative Amusements


Ever since Broadway stagehands went on strike last week, 27 Broadway theaters have been dark. The strike also left thousands of Broadway fans with what public relations professionals might spin as an entertainment opportunity.

NPR's Margot Adler took a walk down Broadway for a look at the Theater District's other amusements.

Unidentified Man: Theater show is still running, "Altar Boyz," the musical, tonight at 8:00 o'clock. Half-price theater tickets...

MARGOT ADLER: Strike or no strike, it's still Times Square and people are trying to make a living. Michael Perez stands on the corner of 44th Street in the heart of the Theater District trying to convince two tourists that with Broadway out of the question, they should spend the evening at a comedy club further downtown in Chelsea.

MICHAEL PEREZ: It's a great promotion; you'll have a fun time.

KIM SMITH: So where is this though?

PEREZ: Fifteen minute walk from here.

SMITH: Do you want to do it?

PEREZ: All right.

ADLER: Soon $20 has changed hands. Kim Smith and Anita Fairchild came here from Virginia.

SMITH: We just got here.


ADLER: What were your plans?

SMITH: Well, we were going to go see a show.

ADLER: And how do you think this is going to change your vacation?

SMITH: I'm kind of a little disappointed.


SMITH: But there's so much other things to see.


ADLER: Not everybody is quite as open to quickly changing their plans. Ivy Weir(ph) came from Alberta, Canada. I found her standing on the half-price tickets line. What has she and her friends been doing since the strike started?

IVY WEIR: Eating and shopping.


Unidentified Woman #1: And crying

ADLER: What did you want to see?

WEIR: We wanted to see "The Lion King."

ADLER: The line usually stretches around the block, but at this moment there are maybe 25 people on it. One of those people is Harry Vasantos(ph) from Seattle, who plans a theater trip to New York every year.

HARRY VASANTOS: We bought tickets for seven shows, and three of those seven are still playing. So that's the good news.

ADLER: What are you going to do instead?

DE SANTOS: We're not big drinkers, so we won't be going out to clubs. During the day, we'll probably just go to museums.

ADLER: Michael Dooling(ph) is handing out leaflets for an off-Broadway play.

MICHAEL DOOLING: Off Broadway is still playing, but people don't realize that. I'm getting a lot of non-English speaking people who aren't exactly sure of - strike doesn't seem to translate into different languages too easily.

ADLER: Two blocks away, I come across Whoopi Goldberg looking so real you could be fooled. Here's a place where all the stars are still showing up.

ROSEMARY PRETA: In the corner we have Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey in the back, Donald Trump.

ADLER: You guessed it, Rosemary Petra, director of marketing, is taking me through Madame Tussauds. She says they're getting a little more traffic because of the strike. We stopped by Jennifer Lopez.

PRETA: If you blow into her left ear, her face actually blushes. Go ahead. Her face is blushing.

ADLER: Oh, my God, she really does blush.

PRETA: She gets lots of kisses, so you could see that her make-up's starting to wear off.

ADLER: Outside Madame Tussauds, Katie Brennan(ph) and Crystal Pelaeus(ph) have just arrived from New Jersey. They knew that Broadway was out.

KATIE BRENNAN: But we figured we'd come and see anyway because it's a city, so there's more things to see, but that's the main reason we wanted to come, but it's okay. We'll figure it out.

ADLER: Into the Wax Museum they go.

Unidentified Woman #2: All tickets for the next show, line up on 51st Street.

ADLER: There's a healthy crowd at Radio City Music Hall celebrating its 75th Anniversary and that ever-popular Christmas show. Joyce Gunn(ph) stands on the line, but she really wanted to go to "Wicked."

JOYCE GUNN: We're from Georgia, and we're very disappointed. We're seeing this for the Rockettes, but we were going to see "Wicked" too.

ADLER: Of course, you might think if Broadway's dark, what about a TV show like David Letterman or Jon Stewart? But no such luck, there's the writers strike. So those shows are dark too.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

INSKEEP: And if you're wondering what sort of work rules apply to stagehands or why the stagehands are so upset about them, you'll find the answer at npr.org. And there's also a list of Broadway shows that are still running. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Margot Adler died on July 28, 2014 at her home in New York City. She was 68 and had been battling cancer. Listen to NPR Correspondent David Folkenflik's retrospective on her life and career