Mobility Access on Broadway: New Amsterdam Theater and Circle in the Square
On a recent trip to New York City with my husband and daughter, we had the opportunity to attend two Broadway productions: Aladdin and Once on This Island. While every theater is different in terms of accessibility, I hope my experiences as a person with a mobility-related disability help you know what to expect when visiting these theaters. Purchasing Tickets
For both shows, we purchased our tickets over the phone. I highly recommend this method because you can ask a representative what discounts are available for individuals with disabilities. Online, these options are often more difficult to find. Some theaters even offer a buy one get one free promotion for the companion/assistant of a person with a disability. Speaking to a representative also allows you to ask any questions you may have about seating assignments, ticket pickup, etc.
We thankfully received our Once on This Island tickets via email, but New Amsterdam Theater only offered will call tickets for Aladdin. Will call is not ideal due to the long lines and large crowds. However, New Amsterdam Theater has an accessible will call counter behind the main booth that made things easier. Seating
At each theater, the seating situation varied greatly. My daughter loved our spot for Aladdin because the ramp access made it feel like a private booth. The accessible seating in New Amsterdam theater is located at the rear of the orchestra section, with a small ramp to the seats. An accessible restroom is also located nearby. For individuals with other disabilities or who need assistance getting to their seats, the theater’s website provides information on requesting these services.
Our seats at Once on This Island were wonderful, but getting to them proved more difficult. After showing our tickets at Circle in the Square Theater, we were asked to wait for an employee. Because the theater can only be accessed via stairs or escalator from the primary entrance, an employee had to escort us to a different entrance. On the way, she explained that in order to exit the theater or use the accessible bathroom we must ask an employee to accompany us to the elevator. My husband went to school with Lea Solanga, one of the actresses, so an employee (hi, Allison!) had to wait with us after the show to catch up with her. This arrangement is certainly not ideal, but to be expected with older venues. Because Circle in the Square is a theater in the round, the accessible seating was great and did not feel separate from the rest of the patrons. For additional accessibility information, email the theater at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of Broadway’s charm is the unique experience each theater offers. While this can be daunting for people with disabilities, websites such as http://theatreaccess.nyc can help you plan your trip and know what to expect. Thanks to the helpful staff at each theater, my family and I had a wonderful time at both shows.