- There’s No Business Like Show Business. You’ve gotta love a place where the Catholic Church is called “The Actors’ Chapel.” That’s St. Malachy’s on West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue—right across the street from “The Book of Mormon.” But wait—that’s not even the best part. Every Wednesday at 1:45 p.m., just before matinee curtains rise throughout the neighborhood, St. Malachy’s church bells chime Irving Berlin’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” (With a reprise at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays). It brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.
P.S.: Douglas Fairbanks married Joan Crawford at St. Malachy’s. And thousands of fans jammed West 49th Street to pay final tribute to Rudolph Valentino.
P.P.S.: Jews can visit The Actors’ Temple on West 47th Street, “A place where spirituality meets creativity,” according to their Website. Sophie Tucker and the two of the Three Stooges (Moe and Curly; Larry, where were you?) were once members.
2. The Theatuh, Dahling. This one’s obvious. According to The Broadway League, there are currently 40 operating Broadway theatres. That’s a lot to choose from. There are also plenty of terrific off-Broadway options in the area (Signature, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, the New Victory) to name a few. You can save money by visiting the TKTS Booth at 47th/Broadway, where you can purchase tickets to many productions at 20-50% off. You can also take advantage of theatres’ rush, standing room, and lottery policies to save even more money. Join hundreds of theatre lovers at the Book of Mormon or Matilda lotteries where you can put your name in a hat for a chance to buy mega cheap (around $27) front row or partial view seats. Your chances are slim (I once struck out 3 times in one day), but somebody’s got to win. (Learn more about these at Playbill.com).
3. It’s the Crossroads of the World. OK, not everyone would agree, but I challenge anyone to sit at one of the sticky red tables in Duffy Square, surrounded by the flashing neon lights advertising Kinky Boots, Pippin, Phantom, Annie, Wicked, etc., and not feel a thrill. Look Downtown and see the actual tower where the ball drops every New Year’s Eve. Look Uptown and see tourists chilling on the cool new TKTS staircase. Listen and you’ll hear every language of the world. Once, I even saw Santa Claus enjoying some well-deserved R&R near McDonald’s. Who wouldn’t want to be here? And lucky me, I am.
P.S. Duffy Square is named for Father Francis P. Duffy, who served as pastor of Holy Cross Church on West 42nd Street until his death in 1932. A statue of him was erected that year and benevolently guards the North end of the Square, close by the TKTS booth.
4. You Can Expect the Unexpected. A couple of weeks ago I headed up Broadway after work, enroute to City Center to see The Explorers’ Club. I got only a couple of blocks when I saw a scene that actually made me stop and pay attention—and that’s saying a lot. It was a group of naked people—men, women, old, young, fat, and thin—with intricately painted designs covering their bodies, including their most private parts. I had no idea what was going on. The people weren’t doing anything, just milling around. I later found out that they were the work of an artist, Andy Golub. But it was certainly unexpected, even in this neighborhood, where a man walks around with a cat on his head, a peevish Elmo may shove a small child, a Naked Cowboy poses for pictures, and Lena Dunham is shooting the upcoming season of “Girls.”
5. You Can Get It if You Want It. Whatever the season, you can buy what you need on the street—fake Pashminas in winter and fall, fake designer sunglasses in spring and summer. And a $5 alien head pattern scarf makes a fashion statement all year round. Hats, gloves, I Love NY sweatshirts, socks. You can put together an entire outfit, with a fake Coach handbag and $3 jewelry to accessorize. No excuse not to look sharp in this neighborhood!
JUST ONE MORE. I know I titled this post “5 Reasons I Love Working in Times Square,” but it’s hard to choose just 5. I would never forgive myself if I didn’t give a shout out to Engine Company 54 on 8th Avenue/48th Street. I love those guys for honoring their theatrical neighborhood every day. Their fire truck proudly boasts their motto: “Never Missed a Performance.” Truly, for everyone in Times Square, the show must go on.