There aren’t many people that seem as happy to walk through Times Square as Amada Anderson, Founder of New York Broadway Tours. Her wattage is bright enough to keep the Palace Theatre lit for a good month (incidentally, she can tell you about the history of the phrase, “Until you’ve played the Palace…”). In fact, wherever she takes her guests on tour, you’re sure to watch her burst into song, give a hug to someone she knows and even find something interesting to look at in what is often considered the center of the universe.
Amada is clearly passionate about what she does as a guide and artist. But we’ll let her tell you more herself.
You’re a theatre gal through and through! When did you first catch the theatre bug and how did you nurture your passion?
I’ve been singing and dancing in my living room since I was 6 years old! I was always running around and putting on shows with the neighborhood kids. When I moved to Florida, I joined chorus and, during 7th grade, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat national tour was coming through West Palm Beach and my school Bear Lakes auditioned. My school was top choice over the school of the arts that year and I learned very quickly that you can accomplish whatever you dream of doing with hard work. I continued performing in community theatre straight out of high school and studied acting and singing throughout my college years. I was in a small jazz ensemble and performed regularly in community college, finally transferring to The University of Miami, where I earned my BA in Music and in Theatre.
Tell us about the genesis of New York Broadway Tours.
Sure! I was transitioning from unemployment to part-time work. A friend came to visit New York and we were looking for something to do. Since I used to work near Grand Central, I had always wanted to go on a tour of the building. So I got online and looked up walking tours. I came across a Ghost Walking Tour of Grand Central and immediately was intrigued to go on one. My friend wasn’t as interested but I began to wonder if the company was hiring. Since I have such a strong background in acting I figured it would be easy to be a tour guide. I immediately called up and the owner said he was hiring but I would need to get my sightseeing license from the department of consumer affairs. So – being no stranger to studying and passing exams from my college days – I studied, passed, and started working within a few months. While giving the ghost tour in Greenwich Village, I was inspired to stop and sing in front of the Jefferson Market Courthouse the song “Crime of the Century” from the musical Ragtime. People loved it! And I had so many friends on Broadway or working in theatre that the Broadway Walking Tours came so easily after that. Now we sing not just on Broadway but in the East Village, Downtown, and in Grand Central. It’s been a fun, wild ride!
New Yorkers and tourists go see wildly modern shows in theaters with amazingly rich histories. What is it that interests you about theatre history and how it relates to today’s experience?
People love stories no matter where they are! I think we all want to connect with each other and the way we do that is by sharing experiences and stories. The art form of theatre itself is such a blessing to be able to share and I feel it’s vital to our culture. But when you visit the older theaters and touch the stage or curtain and know that so many people have walked or stood on that spot, it becomes almost religious. There’s a vibrant energy that is built up and getting to experience that either as the audience member or as the performer is unlike anything else in the world. It’s amazing. I love sharing those stories on the tours. It enriches the experience of theatre going.
What’s been your favorite tour experience thus far?
Oh Wow! Well last night’s tour was pretty fun. I had a few ladies who were very involved in theatre in Texas join me for a Greenwich Village Piano Bar Pub Crawl and we had a drink and discussed the differences between shows in Texas vs New York. We learned a lot from each other. The best part was hearing them sing-a-long at Marie’s Crisis and The Monster, where they let themselves cut loose and have some fun. They enjoyed the history of the area and they got to be enriched with the New York musical theatre scene. We even ended on a high note singing “Seasons Of Love” from Rent right at the very end. It was fun!
Share with us a couple of your favorite little-known facts.
I think my favorite things to share on the tours are all of our theatre superstitions. The Ghost Light, Scottish Play aka Macbeth curse, and Break A Leg. I love explaining that you never say Good Luck to an actor and then going into detail the story about how break a leg means prosperity AND have a great performance. It’s funny how people say things all the time and they don’t know the origins. The light goes on over their head and they walk away having something fun to share with their friends.
What are your future goals with New York Broadway Tours?
I would love to be able to hire more guides and have the tours running on a daily basis. I’m working on a new program that will train actors to become tour guides/tour operators so that they can enjoy the benefits of working as a tour guide and being an actor. It’s my dream to be able to have a sustainable business that’s helping connect audiences with actors and New York City.
How can people find out more about your tours?
Our website is www.NewYorkBroadwayTours.com and we offer special musical theatre tours all throughout the year. Our Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 are all in Times Square. We also have a special Glee Fan Walking Tour, A Haunted Broadway Walking Tour, Off-Broadway Walking Tour, and most recently Gilbert and Sullivan to Hamilton downtown walking tour and Inspiration of RENT East Village walking tour. Come join us on Facebook for more details and the latest Broadway gossip.
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