Colin Israel knew he wanted to be on Broadway from the age of 14, when he became “smitten” with New York during a family vacation: “It felt like home.” After studying performing arts, he headed to New York, landing his first big gig in the national tour of High School Musical.
Now focusing on film and TV (he’s appeared on Blindspot and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, among others), Colin also works as a tour guide for Take Walks, leading visitors behind the scenes of Broadway productions and sharing his love for his East Coast home of 14 years.
Because of this expertise, we asked him to share his tips for visiting the NYC theatre district with us!
Your best bet is to buy tickets ahead of time, especially if your heart is set on a particular show. But if you’re in a last-minute bind, Colin suggests going directly to the theater box office in the morning, where “some tickets are released at 10am.” The TKTS discount booth in Times Square is also worth a stop—here, you can score day-of tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows for up to 50 percent off. Because inventory changes throughout the day, Colin recommends arriving early and having three show choices in mind.
You’re going to want to grab a bite to eat in the Broadway area before catching an evening show, and Colin knows just where to go.
Once you’re seated at a show, make sure your mobile phone is turned off. “We can see you. We can hear you. No matter how quietly you think you’re talking on your phone during a show, everyone can hear you,” Colin says. Also, the glow of the screen can be distracting to the actors on stage.
“So much of the world is in New York, which means you can literally find anything you want,” Colin says. “The availability of everything you can do here is what makes me fall in love with the city.” Away from the buzz of Broadway, Colin suggests heading down to the South Street Seaport area, just east of Wall Street and set on the East River. This neighborhood offers views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, and has recently undergone major renovations, with the addition of boutique shops like SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker’s shoe store), whimsical sweet treats from Big Gay Ice Cream, and local produce at the Fulton Stall Market.
Plus, you still get a feel of old New York. “On Schermerhorn Row, right where the docks are, you really get a sense of what 19th-century New York would have looked like,” Colin says. He adds that even though the neighborhood has experienced a revitalization, it remains less touristy and less trafficked than other areas of the city.