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The Times Square Alliance, Dedicated Times Square Businesses, Employees & Residents
The Times Square Alliance, Dedicated Times Square Businesses, Employees & Residents

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SPOTLIGHT ON THE TOWN HALL’S HISTORY: A Living Legacy for Provocative Discourse

Times Square has long been a space for dialogue and protest. As one of the most visible and iconic places in the world, rallies and marches are not uncommon at the Crossroads of the World. There is perhaps no greater example of encouraged discourse in our neighborhood than The Town Hall-- the historic concert hall born out of a desire for a venue willing to host thought-provoking conversations about the most pressing issues of its day.

The Town Hall, located on 43rd Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway, was founded by The League for Political Education, a vibrant group of suffragists, in 1921. In the fight for the 19th Amendment, the founders sought to create a space to educate people on contemporary issues. The venue was designed by architects McKim, Mead & White, and in an effort to incorporate the League’s democratic principles, box seats were not included in the design and no seats had an unobstructed view.

In the more than 90 years since The Town Hall opened, it has remained true to its founding values. The same year the Hall opened its doors, Margaret Sanger was famously arrested on stage during a public meeting on birth control. A Town Meeting was held in 1944 by Langston Hughes to discuss how “the Race Question” should be handled. The participants engaged in thoughtful debate on a topic many believed to be dangerous at the time and encouraged a dialogue that could be taken out of the concert hall and into the larger society. In 1947, in light of the growing distrust of Communists and just at the start of the period that gave rise to McCarthyism, a Town Hall meeting on whether the Communist Party should be outlawed in the United States took place with speakers Joseph R. McCarthy, Elis Arnall, Edward Arthur Hayes, Leo Cherne and moderator Geirge V. Denny, Jr.

In addition to the speakers who have taken The Town Hall’s stage, many musicians have performed famous sets, like opera icon Marian Anderson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan at his first major concert, Pete Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Joan Armatrading and many, many more. The Town Hall continues to host artists and other public figures who push the envelope for public discourse.

To learn more about Town Hall’s history, view the calendar of events or sign up for a tour of this landmarked venue, visit http://thetownhall.org/.

Photo Credits: The Town Hall // NYC AGO
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5/19/17
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Must-Do Activities in Times Square this Season: Part II

Last month we brought you Part I of this roundup of Times Square winter activities. Here are MORE must-do activities to enjoy in Times Square this winter. Explore an eclectic mix of food and beverage, history, live entertainment and unique retail spots this season!

1. Explore a giant heart installation- The Ninth Annual Times Square Valentine Heart will be on display on Duffy Square (Broadway between 46th & 47th Streets) throughout the month of February starting on the 7th. We Were Strangers Once Too is a public data sculpture highlighting the role that immigrants have played in the founding, development, and continued vibrancy of New York City.

2. Catch a movie- The AMC Empire 25 theater shows mainstream, independent and IMAX films on 25 screens. With a convenient location that can’t be beat, end your day by seeing a movie with your work buddy.

3. Enjoy live entertainment- At Town Hall, the landmark performance hall where Bob Dylan played his breakout concert in New York City and where Margaret Sanger was famously arrested on stage, you can catch dance, musical acts, author readings and more. Some of the upcoming acts are Laurie Anderson and Christian McBride, Rickie Lee Jones and Madeleine Peyroux, HYUNA and more. Additionally, you can sign up to tour this historic venue at http://thetownhall.org/tours/.

4. Go Off-Broadway- Along with Broadway, we also have Off-Broadway shows available in our neighborhood as well. These are smaller, more intimate shows so you’ll feel immersed in the action on stage. Check out the St. Luke’s Theater website to find out what’s showing, and don’t forget Off-Broadway Week is from Feb. 27 to March 12 and 2-for-1 tickets are on sale now! https://stlukestheatre.com/

5. Attend a Jazz night- Charlie Palmer at the Knick and the Le Grande Lounge in the Time Hotel both host weekly live jazz nights. Enjoy jazz nights at Charlie Palmer every Monday through Friday 6pm-9pm and at LeGrande Wednesday evenings.

6. Sip cocktails with fresh honey harvested from a hotel rooftop - Chef Todd English’s newly opened The Stinger Cocktail Bar & Kitchen in the InterContinental Hotel boasts “worldly comfort food alongside bespoke cocktails and an extensive offering of wine and beer.” For the past five years, the hotel has aided bee conservation efforts by harvesting honey from its two rooftop beehives, which serve as a habitat for more than 60,000 bees. Chef English has thoroughly utilized the hotel’s rooftop beehives in The Stinger, incorporating their honey into nearly every menu item. http://www.thestingernyc.com/

7. Enjoy the new plazas- Have you strolled through the new, completed plazas? Right before New Year’s, the Times Square pedestrian plaza construction wrapped up. They officially open in the spring, but right now you can enjoy all the new space for pedestrians!

8. Taste neighborhood history- Founded in 1906, Barbetta is the theater districts oldest restaurant. Taste family recipes as they were made over a 100 years ago, and dine in an elegant setting that will feel like you’ve been transported to the past. Plus, you’ll earn bragging rights that you’ve dined in an establishment where Woody Allen movies, The Departed, and scenes from Mad Men and Sex and the City were filmed!

9. Browse Broadway books and merchandise- Theater Circle Book Shop and One Shubert Alley are cherished destinations for fans of Broadway. Find mementos of your favorite shows, as well as sheet music and vocal selections, tote bags, DVDs and more.

10. Visit a cozy restaurant with a fireplace- When you want to hide away from the cold, visit one of the bars and restaurants with a fireplace for the perfect cozy ambiance. E&E Grill House and The Lamb’s Club have fireplaces to warm you up.

11. Indulge in a boozy brunch- Bourbon Street Bar & Grille, Toloache, and Bar Americain all have hearty brunch menus perfect for the morning after a night of debauchery.

12. Get the kids involved- Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Madame Tussauds wax museum, Hershey’s Chocolate World, M&M’s World, Bowlmor Lanes and AMC Empire 25 are all great experiences you can share with your little ones. Keep these in mind when planning activities when NYC public schools are closed during the Midwinter Recess!

13. Drink in the least-touristy bar in Times Square- Jimmy’s Corner on 44th Street between Broadway and 6th is a shrine to boxing. With walls lined with fight posters and drinks that cost next to nothing, this is one dive bar you’ll enjoy with your fellow New Yorkers.

And explore all the suggestions in Part I here: http://bit.ly/2i9DPVc
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Experience the Best of Times Square During the Most Romantic Time of Year

This month, you can take advantage of offers happening all around the neighborhood in the name of Love. Whether you are treating yourself, a friend or a romantic partner, you can choose from the very best of Times Square for a daytime treat or special evening out.

Amorino - 717 8th Ave.

Through February 15th, Amorino is taking gelato to the next level with a limited edition cornetto or coppa, Valentine's Day macarons al gelato, and heart-shaped Amorino branded chocolates. Make an outing out of it and stop by the cozy cafe with your work squad one afternoon.

+Barbetta - 321 W. 46th St. on Restaurant Row

On Valentine's Day, one of New York City's most iconic restaurants will host a gala of epic proportions. With a multi-course menu and the Felix Swing band providing the tunes, this extravaganza will the one to remember. Pre-theater reservations are $70 and reservations after 8:30pm are $85, which includes music and dancing.

+Bourbon Street Bar & Grille - 346 W. 46th St. on Restaurant Row

This festive restaurant, which serves up fare from Southern Louisiana is offering a complimentary glass of champagne and half priced desserts for all couples dining on Valentine's Day.

DRINK - 1551 Broadway inside American Eagle Outfitters

This new cafe offers beverage creations by small entrepreneurs from across the country. For the rest of the month, hot chocolates are Buy One Get One free, making it the perfect option to show your office mate you care.

+Haven Rooftop - 132 W. 47th St.

Until the 14th, the HAVEN Rooftop in the Sanctuary hotel is offering 20% off a special $75 prix fixe menu.

+LeGrande Lounge - 224 W. 49th St.

From February 10th to the 17th, this chic lounge is offering a special package of $45 for a bottle of prosecco and a shared chocolatey dessert. Additionally, LeGrande is featuring 2 special Valentine's cocktails, "Chocolate covered strawberries" and "For the love of chocolate", and they are just as deliciously decadent as you're imagining.

M•A•C - 1601 Broadway

Pucker up for date night-- visit M•A•C at 1601 Broadway to receive a complimentary "Love your Red Lip" 10 minute makeover!

+Martinique Jewelers - 750 7th Ave.

Do you know an Alex and Ani collector? This family owned jewelry store is offering discounted love-inspired Alex and Ani bracelets for a limited time.

Red Moon - 132 W. 45th St.

From now until February 18th, mention you're a Crossroads member and take 20% off your bill at Red Moon, the Japanese and Vietnamese fusion restaurant in the Theater District's Night Hotel. These offers cannot be combined with other discounts or happy hour.

Tender - 132 W. 47th St.

Until the 14th, the Sanctuary Hotel's Tender restaurant is offering 20% off their $85 prix fixe menu.

+Sushi Seki Times Square - 365 W. 46th St. on Restaurant Row

Sushi Seki's elegant Valentine's tasting menu is offered at $298 for two guests with a beverage pairing option offered at $75 per guest. For added intimacy, reserve the private tatami room with the exclusive omakase menu offered at $498 for two guests and a beverage pairing option at $94 per guest.

Looking for date night ideas? Check out our Date Night Map: http://bit.ly/2l2GogS
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Jitney Opens on Broadway

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's Jitney opens on Broadway today at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Jitney is the last play from August Wilson’s The American Century Cycle to have never been seen on Broadway until now.

Jitney follows a group of men who make a living by driving unlicensed cabs, also known as jitneys, in the early 1970's. With pressures from the city to close up their business and the return of the boss' son from prison, the men find their friendships tested and deep secrets brought to light.

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jitney stars John Douglas Thompson, Andrew Chisholm, Brandon J. Dirden, and Carra Patterson in the cast. Learn more about Jitney at http://jitneybroadway.com.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
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The Present Opens on Broadway

The Sydney Theatre Company made its Broadway debut in Andrew Upton's The Present yesterday at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Set in the mid-1990s in post-Perestroika, The Present tells the story of widow Anna Petrovna (played by Cate Blanchett) as she celebrates her birthday with a party. Over the course of the party, the guests unearth difficult relationships and feelings of regret from the past.

This new adaptation of Chekhov's Platonov stars Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh, Andrew Buchanan, and a talented cast of Australian stage performers. The Present is on #Broadway for only 10 weeks, set to close on March 19. Learn more at www.thepresentbroadway.com.
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Must-Do Activities in Times Square this Season: Part I

Winter blues got you down? Explore an eclectic mix of food and beverage, history, live entertainment and unique retail spots this season! Here are must-do activities to enjoy in Times Square this winter:

1. Warm up in a bubble with a view - For the second year in a row, the Hyatt Centric’s chic Bar 54 ensures you can enjoy the sights from the outdoor balcony, even in the middle of winter. The insulated “bubbles” feel like a cozy private party atop one of the most stunning rooftop spaces in the city, but be sure to call in advance to make a reservation!

2. See a midnight art activation - Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, and it is not to be missed! A different artist’s work is presented each month on electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight. http://bit.ly/1vmJV4T

3. Explore the pop-up shops - Right now, the district houses a couple of limited-time only retail pop-up shops. The Hamilton shop (46th between Broadway and 8th Ave) and UNIQLO (Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets) are great pop-ups you won’t want to miss!

4. See a Broadway show - When you’re a local in the theater district, it’s easy to forget to take advantage of the masterful performances right around the corner. Thankfully, January 17 to February 5 is Broadway Week! The 2-for-1 tickets went on sale January 5, so get your tickets soon for this special offer. http://www.nycgo.com/broadway-week

5. Strengthen your sake palate - The Sake Sommeliers of Sushi Seki, located on Historic Restaurant Row, host a nightly pop-up and social event after 9pm in which they discuss the importance of sake rice varietals, the water for the fermentation and texture, and density of the sake. The Sake Club features rare sake by the glass, sake flights and other special offerings. http://www.sushiseki.com/#/sakeclub/

6. Hear a secret sound installation - Coming from a subway grate on the pedestrian plaza between 45th and 46th Streets is a permanent sound installation created by Max Neuhaus in 1977. When you stand atop the grate, you hear a sound that resembles a decaying gong, which is really the amplified resonance of the Times Square tunnel junction. Wander the plaza until you come upon this humming sound and see if it makes you a bit more present among the cacophony of Times Square.

7. Take a dance class - Swing 46, a dining and dancing venue on Historic Restaurant Row, offers dance classes right in our neighborhood! Sign up for a dance class online, or if you’re already a dancing pro, check out Swing 46’s calendar of live music events. http://bit.ly/2iNNOo0

8. Tickle your funny bone - Carolines On Broadway is one of NYC’s premier stand-up comedy nightclubs. Carolines boasts the very best live comedy entertainment seven nights a week. Some of the comedians coming to the stage this winter are Leslie Jones, Joel McHale, Matt Bellassai, Louie Anderson, Heather McDonald and more. http://www.carolines.com/full-schedule/

9. Dine at the very best restaurants for less - NYC Restaurant Week is from January 23 to February 10. Enjoy discounted pre-fixe lunch and dinner menus for fine dining establishments all over NYC, including some of your neighborhood favorites. http://www.nycgo.com/restaurant-week

10. Take advantage of your Crossroads App - Want to know more about how you can engage with Times Square's most unique assets, culture and history? Use the Crossroads-Times Square for Locals mobile app to find out about news and events and take advantage of deep discounts all over the neighborhood curated exclusively for Times Square locals! http://bit.ly/1BEaUO0

Tell us what you think of these experiences by tweeting at us at @TSqNews, and be on the lookout for Part II next month!
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1/6/17
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Crossroads Program for Times Square Locals Relaunches with New Mobile App

The Times Square Alliance’s Crossroads Program relaunched yesterday with a brand new mobile application. As the official benefits program for Times Square employees and residents, the Crossroads Program aims to make the best of the neighborhood more accessible to locals through exclusive deals, invites to special programs and events and the latest insider information. Over the past year, the Alliance heard from Times Square constituents that they wanted a Crossroads Member experience that is exclusive, convenient and fun. The new Crossroads-Times Square for Locals app represents the culmination of this process. We hope you enjoy all the benefits of the new Crossroads Program!

Crossroads App Highlights

The app features content about exclusive Deals, Events, and Insider information for Crossroads Members.

DEALS: The app will feature exclusive, curated discounts at Times Square restaurants, shops, theaters and more!

EVENTS: Crossroads app users will have access to neighborhood networking opportunities and special Times Square Alliance programming.

INSIDER: Users will find up-to-date information about the most important happenings in our dynamic neighborhood as well as content related to the untapped history, design and culture of Times Square.

The app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play, with a version coming soon for Windows. Find how to download here: http://bit.ly/1BEaUO0
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12/13/16
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Carols & Crepes: A Longstanding Holiday Tradition at Café Un Deux Trois Spreads Cheer to Diners

If you haven't been to the French restaurant Café Un Deux Trois, on 44th St. between Broadway and 6th Ave., December is the time to try it. Once the holidays are in full swing, diners get a special surprise from the staff.

Right around 6:30 in the evening when theatergoers fill Café Un Deux Trois to capacity, diners find themselves corralled into a restaurant-wide singalong of the 12 Days of Christmas. Eleven sections of the restaurant plus the bar are each given placards and assigned a "day" of the song. The song begins in section one and makes its way through the restaurant, building in volume, enthusiasm and creativity with each added day of Christmas.

Guests become revelers in the action, standing on chairs and acting out their day of the song. It is not uncommon to see diners tie napkins around their heads to pretend to be the eight maids a-milking!

The tradition began 25 years ago, when a previous manager who was a talented singer had the idea to engage guests in song to celebrate the holidays. Today, the restaurant is led by Song Director and long-time server Michael Pollard, who dons a Santa suit and quirky holiday hat, of which he has a vast collection, for each performance.

Diners who have experienced this tradition first-hand often return to participate year after year. In fact, the restaurant gets calls as early as June for reservations.

Café Un Deux Trois continues the singalong tradition for the fun and festivity and the desire to send their guests to the theater with a smile... and a little holiday cheer!
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Behind the Scenes of New Year’s Eve with Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment

Interested in finding out what goes into producing the biggest annual event in the world? We sat down with Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment, Co-Producer of New Year’s Eve with the Times Square Alliance for 22 years. He told us about the planning, the partnerships and the awe-inspiring experience of producing the iconic Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Times Square Alliance: Tell us a bit about how you are involved in NYE. In this magnificent event, what part do you play?

Jeff Straus: I’m very lucky. I represent the Times Square NYE Ball. You could sort of say I’m the “agent” for the ball. And together with the Times Square Alliance, we co-produce the event.

TSA: Can you give us a brief history of NYE in Times Square? Why here in Times Square? And what’s with the tradition of lowering the ball?

JS: The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration goes back over 100 years to the birth of Times Square. Back to when the New York Times moved their headquarters up to what was then called Longacre Square. They renamed Longacre Square Times Square, and they brought the New Year’s Eve celebration up from what previously happened at Trinity Church. The first two years they actually had fireworks to celebrate the new year, but the hot ashes rained down on the revelers below, so they had to come up with a better idea. The publisher of the New York Times, Alfred Ochs, asked his chief electrician, Walter Palmer, to come up with a new concept. Palmer was inspired by a maritime tradition that still happens to this day when they drop a time ball at noon, so that navigators out at sea could adjust their timepieces to the local time.

Palmer took this maritime tradition and combined it with new technology, the electric lightbulb, to create a lighted time ball to drop at midnight to mark the beginning of a new year, and it was actually the brightest star in the sky back then. 1 Times Square was the second tallest building in Manhattan, so it attracted hundreds of thousands of people to Times Square to celebrate the new year.

TSA: How far in advance do you plan for NYE?

JS: The Times Square Alliance and Countdown get together right after [New Year’s] to talk about the previous year as we start making plans for the future year, so although it’s very seasonal, we’re actually working on New Year's Eve all year round. People don’t realize that my second busiest month is January, and if you think about it, whenever you have a big party, you have to clean up.

TSA: How many groups come together for NYE? Are there any long-standing partnerships that have been developed?

JS: Times Square New Year’s Eve is an amazing public-private partnership, and the partnership begins with the Times Square Alliance and the owners of 1 Times Square who have been able to work together on the celebration and really grow it dramatically for the entire community and create this huge economic engine, not only for Times Square, but for New York City.

This event would not be possible without our most important partner, the City of New York. NYPD, FDNY, Department of Transportation, Sanitation, you name it. We’re involved with the city agencies that make sure that this is a fun, friendly, safe event every year. We also work [with the Times Square] community. We work with the building owners and all the people here that work together on this great event.

TSA: Can you tell us a little about how Waterford Crystal is involved in the Ball Drop?

JS: Back in the ‘90s, we were getting ready for the millennium. We wanted to do something really magical with the Ball. The Ball has always been this [symbol of] lighting technology, and Waterford came to us with [the idea of] creating a crystal ball for the millennium. The idea of looking into the future with a crystal ball creates all of that romance and wonder and magic around this lighting technology, which is Phillip’s lighting technology. Waterford crystal is this very traditional material, very celebratory, and we’re combining that with the very latest and greatest in lighting technology. It really does symbolize how we reflect on the past, we celebrate today, and we hope for the best in the future.

TSA: What is the week leading up to NYE like?

JS: It’s one of my favorite weeks! After Christmas, the nation’s attention turns to Times Square. We have a press event every day after Christmas where we’re doing something special. On the 26th, we release our run of show. Then on the 27th, we install the Waterford Crystal on the Ball with the new pattern. This year is Gift of Kindness, creating different patterns of hopes and dreams on the Ball. The 28th is Good Riddance Day where we shed and shred our bad memories of the past year so we can start the new year fresh, and then the 29th is our confetti wishes day. Throughout the year, we’ve been collecting all these wishes from all over the world. We test the confetti, and it’s the final day of our confetti Wishing Wall. We’ll collect all those wishes and release them at midnight [on New Year’s] along with our 3,000 pounds of confetti. Then on the 30th, we have our Phillip’s Ball test, where we actually test the Ball, make sure it goes up, make sure it comes down. And then we’re ready for the big show on the 31st. At 6pm, we’ll start with the lighting and raising of the Ball and then we go to 12:15am. That night, thanks to the NYPD, who create these safety lanes, you’ll meet people from all over the world. Everyone’s happy, everyone’s in this wonderful mood to celebrate the future.

TSA: Do you hear stories about people getting to know each other and making friends because they’re in those pens together?

JS: Absolutely! Volunteering to stand there in anticipation of this wonderful moment, and being entertained throughout the night, gives you the opportunity to share a common bond and to build on that and to share stories. Every year, I’ll see people get down on one knee and propose. That brings everybody together! There are different reasons people come, but it truly is one of those bucket list experiences. People see all that amazing craziness out there and want to be a part of it.

TSA: There is all this time and effort leading up to NYE. How do you feel at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s?

JS: * Laughs * There’s… happy. I could say relief, but you know what? It’s happy. If you’re talking right at midnight, when that confetti’s flying, and the Ball just went down and we’re all celebrating and we’re hearing Auld Lang Syne, it’s extremely emotional. You feel that energy from the crowd that we’re all celebrating together. My wife and I have this tradition where we’ll reach up into the sky and pull down confetti until we get a confetti wish and read it to each other.

TSA: What are a few of your favorite stories about NYE?

JS: One of my favorite years was [when I was] up on the stage with Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and my wife. I remember so clearly, hearing the song “New York, New York” and my wife turned to the supreme court justice and said “Let’s do a kick line!” And there I was kick-lining with a supreme court justice!

Also, the millennium. We were up 48 hours straight preparing for this 24 hours of celebrating New Year’s Eve throughout the world. I remember at 3am being down on the Square and meeting a couple from St. Louis, Missouri, that had been watching the celebration back in St. Louis throughout the day. They got so excited, they got on a plane, flew to New York City, and drove in to Times Square to be there for the end of the celebration. That made me realize how impactful this event is.

And after 9/11. We were struggling with how do you celebrate New Year’s Eve after you’ve been through so much loss, to actually create an opportunity for the city to come together to sort of honor those we lost and celebrate the future. At 6pm, as we raised the Ball, the crystal triangles had the names of all the countries that lost citizens and all the rescue organizations that lost members. And, we organized bells to ring throughout the city in [a moment of] silence. You could hear bells all over the five boroughs from churches, mosques, synagogues ringing out.


TSA: Is there anything else you would like our local audience to know about New Year’s or your role in NYE?

JS: I’ve met so many business owners in Times Square during my 22 years here, and I can’t thank them enough for their support of this event because, yes it’s a huge economic engine for Times Square, but it’s also a huge effort. It’s a huge effort by all of us Times Square community members that we participate in together, and we’ve had so much cooperation throughout all these years that has been mutually beneficial. I can’t thank everyone enough for what they’ve contributed to this event that makes it the greatest New Year’s Eve event in the world.

Photo Credit: Countdown Entertainment
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Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 Opens on Broadway

Inspired by a 70-page slice out of War and Peace, the musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 opens this evening at the Imperial Theatre.

The beautiful ingénue Natasha visits Moscow while awaiting her fiancé’s return from the war. In a moment of passion, she is seduced by the dashing Anatole, ruining her position in society. Her last hope lies with Pierre, an outsider whose love for Natasha may be the key to her redemption. The cast is led by multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban as Pierre and Denée Benton as Natasha, both in their Broadway debut. The Imperial Theatre has been transformed into an opulent Russian salon, using unconventional seating and stage arrangements that immerse the audience in the action.

To learn more about The Great Comet, visit http://bit.ly/29S4AL4.

Image Credit: Chad Batka
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