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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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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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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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Restaurant Row’s Newest Haunts Add to an Already Dynamic Culinary Scene

Have you been to Restaurant Row recently? Located on W. 46th St. between 8th and 9th Avenues, the block has seen some exciting changes in the past year. Along with your traditional favorites, like Becco, Le Rivage, Joe Allen, Barbetta, Hourglass Tavern and many others, you can now dine at several other unique, new restaurants, which continue to live up to the Restaurant Row motto: Where the World Comes to Dine.

Bottoms Up/Vodka Soda: This LGBT-friendly bar is two floors of fun, music, dancing, and drink specials. The outdoor patio space is an added bonus.

Dim Sum Palace: This Asian fusion restaurant is known for their top-selling shumai and BBQ pork buns. Plus, it stays open until 2am, so stop by after a Broadway show or late night movie.

Fashion Restaurant and Bar: Located in the RIU hotel, the Fashion Restaurant, which serves during breakfast, lunch and dinner, making it an ideal location for any food-friendly business meetings.

Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse: This Broadway fixture, which first opened in 1926, moved to 46th St, bringing its quality dining experience and unique history to historic Restaurant Row.

Pure Ktchn: The newest addition to Restaurant Row describes itself as “healthy fast food.” Stop in or order online and enjoy a meal with no added sugars or fried food, just 100% pure and organic ingredients.

Sake Bar Hagi 46: You will find this cozy Japanese eatery and sake bar buzzing when you stop in after work. Fans of Japanese beer, make sure you get a pitcher of Sapporo or Kirin for $12.

Sushi Seki Bar & Oysters: Known for acclaimed Chef Seki’s innovative approach to sushi, the newest Sushi Seki location is already becoming a staple in the theater community. Hint: Inquire about the Sake Club, Sushi Seki’s program which aims to teach members about different kinds of sake.

Yuri Sushi: Although this restaurant has just a few seats in its storefront, it makes up for a small footprint with efficient delivery and delicious sushi.

For a full list of Restaurant Row restaurants, please visit http://bit.ly/1UACbZY.

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Times Square's History of Elections

Will you be in #TimesSquare today watching the election results? If so, you’ll be part of a New York tradition stretching back more than a century – almost as long as Times Square has been named Times Square instead of Longacre Square.

In 1904, long before there were news tickers or digital signs in Times Square to announce the news as it happened, The New York Times installed a searchlight on top of the brand new Times Tower at One Times Square that would point west if Theodore Roosevelt won and east if his opponent Alton Parker won. In 1928, when the Motograph News Bulletin, also known as the “zipper,” was installed on One Times Square, the very first headline displayed was “HERBERT HOOVER DEFEATS AL SMITH.” Even in the middle of wartime in 1944, The Times reported that 250,000 – 500,000 voters packed every inch of Times Square to cheer for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election to his fourth term.

Digital video signage has made it even easier for visitors to watch along with every heart-pounding moment as results come in and major news outlets hold viewing parties and film live in the center of the Square. No matter the years that have passed or the new technology that exists, one thing seems to stay the same: the urge to gather together when something historic happens, whether in celebration, disappointment or sheer nail-biting tension.
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Falsettos Opens on Broadway

The #Broadway  revival of William Finn and James Lapine's Falsettos opens at the Walter Kerr Theatre today.

Falsettos follows the story of Marvin – a father trying to navigate his many personal relationships while trying to maintain a tight-knit family. Following a series of life-changing moments, Marvin is forced to redefine his views on love, family and responsibility.

Starring two-time Tony Award® winner Christian Borle, Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells, Falsettos is scheduled to play for a 14-week run with a cast album on the way.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
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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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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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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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Walk in a Human Kaleidoscope with the Installation The Beginning of the End

See Times Square from a new perspective with The Beginning of the End, a new installation created by artist Rachel Valdés Camejo and brought to the pedestrian plazas by Times Square Arts and the Cuban Artists Fund.

Walk through a corridor of three mirrored surfaces – a floor and two angled walls – and watch how the mirrors capture and multiply the environment of Times Square on all sides, turning familiar buildings in unexpected directions and letting visitors walk on a reflection of the sky under their feet. How does your relationship with Times Square change as new visual possibilities appear all around you?

You can experience The Beginning of the End on the Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets through November 21, 2016. To learn more about this installation, visit http://www.timessquarenyc.org/times-square-arts/projects/at-the-crossroads/the-beginning-of-the-end/index.aspx.

Photo credit: Justin Bettman
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Les Liaisons Dangereuses Opens on Broadway

Les Liaisons Dangereuses is back on Broadway! Following a hit revival at the Donmar Warehouse in London, the play opened last night for a limited run at the Booth Theatre.

Based on the 1782 French novel of the same name by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses follows the malicious misadventures of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont. The widowed Merteuil and bachelor Valmont are French aristocrats who enjoy using sex as a weapon, seducing innocents and destroying relationships for the sake of power and revenge – but the stakes in their game grow dangerous when Merteuil challenges Valmont to seduce the sheltered and convent-educated Cécile de Volanges before her wedding night, and Valmont sets his sights on the virtuous and married Madame de Tourvel.

This revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, staged by Josie Rourke, stars Tony Award winners Janet McTeer and Liev Schrieber as the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont. The production is scheduled to conclude on January 22, 2017. To learn more about Les Liaisons Dangereuses, visit http://liaisonsbroadway.com.
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The Cherry Orchard Opens on Broadway

A fresh new adaptation by Tony Award® winner Stephen Karam of Anton Chekhov's masterpiece The Cherry Orchard opened on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre.

Set in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, The Cherry Orchard follows the story of a noblewoman's return to her family estate after five years of fighting traumatic memories of her son's death. Lyubov Ranevskaya arrives home to find the cherry orchard in full bloom, but the finances of the estate on the verge of ruin. Lyubov and her brother, Gaev, struggle to retain a vision of gentility amidst a climate of huge social and economic transition.

For more information, go to http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/The-Cherry-Orchard.aspx.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

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

The Times Square Alliance, founded in 1992, is a Business Improvement District that works to improve Times Square - cultivating the creativity, energy and edge that have made the area an icon of entertainment, culture and urban life for over a century.

The Times Square Alliance Google+ page is devoted to providing those who live, work, and operate businesses in Times Square with information that aims to promote comfort and success in Times Square. This type of information includes economic data and trends, construction/general updates, and restaurant/retail/event space reviews for employees and residents looking for great places to explore in the Times Square community.

Also look to this Google+ page for more information about the Alliance's CROSSROADS Program. The CROSSROADS Program is Times Square's benefits program that is dedicated not only to helping businesses put their best foot forward, but also to assist those who live and work in Times Square find the best deals and places to shop and eat. 

Learn more about our CROSSROADS Program on our websiteSign up for our newsletters for the latest updates and announcements.

The Alliance's district covers most of the territory from 40th Street to 53rd Street between 6th and 8th Avenues, as well as Restaurant Row (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue).