The Evolution of Broadway Audio Guide

See scenes from NYC's theater district and its long history of costume changes
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1 at US$20
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Audio Guide Details
1 hour
Product Type
Audio Guide
Times Square
Preview The Evolution of Broadway Audio Guide
Start: Nederlander Theatre
Corner W 41st St and 7th Ave
New Amsterdam Theatre
Photos & Highlights
Audio Guide Description
  • Take your time to walk through time as you learn the history of Broadway, all on your own schedule
  • Hit play together and stroll the city or wander solo, but always with an expert in your ear as your personal guide

Behind the glitz and glam of Broadway's theaters is a story of resilience and the enduring magic of live performances. On this walking tour with Sean Hartley, a musical theater writer, historian, and Context Travel expert, you'll explore the dynamic changes in this vibrant New York City district from the early 1900s to the present day.

Starting in front of the historical Nederlander Theater, you'll see some of the area's 40 playhouses. As you wind your way through Manhattan's midtown, you'll hear about the history of several theaters, how they've transformed over time, and why they've changed names relatively often. 

On this tour, you'll learn about Broadway and Times Square's theatrical evolution, starting from the early 1900s when live performances were people's primary source of entertainment and theaters began popping up everywhere. Soon, theater-going had become an exclusive event requiring tuxedos and ball gowns. Sean will give you a sense of the impact television had in the 1950s, and how theater eventually became a far more casual jeans-wearing affair.

As you make your way to Studio 54 where our tour ends, you'll see the Belasco Theater, one of the few playhouses where you can still see the separate upstairs and downstairs entrances from the country's days of racial segregation. You'll also pass the Majestic Theater, which has had a record-breaking run of Phantom of the Opera for over 35 years.

On this Broadway tour, you'll have a chance to:

• See the Stephen Sondheim Theater, known for its smaller size and focus on non-musical plays and comedies, with notable productions like Born Yesterday and Witness for the Prosecution
• Take in Father Duffy Square's ticket booth, initially resisted by producers but now a vital hub for Broadway shows
• Find out about some of the longest-running theater shows in history including Cats, which ran at the Winter Garden Theater for 18 years
• Hear about how Studio 54 was a symbol of the era's lively nightlife during the 1980s
• Discover secret venues that mainly locals know about, including the 49th Street Theater, which hosted legendary performances before it was knocked down in 1940
• Gain an understanding of New Amsterdam Theater, built in 1903 with the most elaborate lobby, murals, and elevator doors ever seen in a Broadway theater  
• Spot David Belasco, the man who built the Belasco Theater and, to this day, is said to haunt the building dressed like a priest
• Explore the elegant Palace Theater, once the world's premier vaudeville venue
• Pop into Sardi's, a famous hangout for Broadway actors, writers and producers
• Pass by the Hudson Theater, once a playhouse, then a porn theater, and a dinner club

By the end of this hour-long tour, you‘ll have a deeper appreciation for the ups and downs that Broadway has lived through, from segregation in the 1920s to a theater revival decades later. 
Meet Your Expert

Sean Hartley is a musical theater composer-lyricist, playwright, director and teacher. Born in the Philadelphia area, he has degrees from Brandeis University and Manhattan School of Music. He has been associated for many years with Kaufman Music Center in New York City, where he originated and curated the innovative concert series Broadway Close Up and Broadway Playhouse and the Lucy Moses School’s renowned Summer Musical Theater workshop. His musical theater works include Cupid And Psyche (Drama Desk nomination), Little Women (Syracuse Stage), Snow (ASCAP Harold Arlen Award) and the upcoming Prelude To A Kiss, scheduled to open at South Coast Rep in spring 2024. He has lectured on musical theater extensively throughout the United States, and a concert of his songs was performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

How do I access the audio guide and download it for offline use?
Once you complete your purchase, you will receive a voucher code for your Audio Guide. You must download the Voicemap app and enter the code. 
  1. Install VoiceMap from the Apple App Store or Google Play
  2. Create an account
  3. Select Tour Codes from the menu, then select Enter Codes
  4. Enter your Voucher Code
  5. Select Download Now
Is closed captioning (i.e. subtitles) available?
Yes! All of our audio guides have the option to turn on closed captioning should you have difficulty hearing the expert.

How long does each event last?
Our recorded audio guides typically run for 75 minutes.

How can I share this audio guide with friends or family?
You are welcome to listen together with friends or family, but each person listening to the guide on their own device will need to purchase the audio guide individually.

How long does my access to the audio guide last?
Once you purchase an audio guide, you are welcome to listen to it as many times as you would like. Your access to a purchased audio guide does not expire.

What is your cancellation and refund policy?
Sales for recorded audio guides are final upon purchase. Please contact us at if you have any questions or concerns about your purchase.

Can I purchase a gift card for a friend who is traveling?
Absolutely! Gift cards can be purchased here. Gift cards are good for 365 days from the date of purchase.

(5.0) 2 Reviews

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This audio guide is truly an eye-opening experience through NYC and Times Square! As a former New Yorker and a fan of Broadway, I had an amazing time rediscovering the city I thought I knew.
I loved the great information about the history of NYC theaters and the ease and independence of the audio tour. The GPS mapping was amazing & I loved the correction message & mapping when I veered a bit off course (twice haha).