LIVE...BROADWAY
The Credit Card

You've seen the brochures or you may have visited the Live...Broadway booth in the Times Square Visitor Center, a few doors from the Palace Theatre. The brochure for their Visa credit card touts that reaching certain point levels you'll earn prizes from t-shirts to a weekend for 2 on Broadway (40,000 points) which includes airfare, hotel, transportation and tickets to two Broadway shows. A point is given for every dollar charged on their credit card.

Back in June I reached the 40,000 point level and figured I'd cash in the points in August for a fall trip. In July, the point level was raised to 55,000 points. Noticably absent from the new level was the limousine service to and from the airport. A few phone calls and emails got me nowhere.

I had about 42,000 points and the deadline to reach 55,000 was Oct. 31. If you read the fine print you'll find that points cannot be accumulated over the years (we did the previous year) but must be attained in one year, no small feat for sure. Since I live in a household of 3 adults, word went out to charge everything from bubblegum to groceries. Fortunately there is a cruise coming up in January which we paid in advance and then we sprang for a Howard Miller Grandfather clock which put us over the top. We had our points.

A few weeks later I called and was told by an agent that we would receive a certificate in the mail for our Broadway Weekend within eight weeks. Whoa! Eight weeks? Well, I'm a patient guy so I put it out of my mind. A week later I get a call from a travel agent in Boston who was working with the bank to arrange our trip. We picked the dates, two shows and requested a different hotel than what they were offering. The Waldorf Astoria is nowhere near Broadway. We picked The Music Man for a Wednesday matinee and Kiss Me, Kate for Thursday evening. The agency calls back. Can we switch shows in the order that we want to see them. Fine, we'll see Kiss Me, Kate the Wednesday matinee. And the Sheraton at 7th and 52nd was just fine. Weekend is a misnomer. You could go on any dates. We even paid for an extra night at the hotel which the agency was very accomodating about.

I called friends in New York and made all kinds of plans. Lunch at Joe Allen before the matinee would be a perfect place to eat before seeing Kate. I promised my friends that I would take them backstage to meet Brian Stokes Mitchell. After The Music Man on Thursday, I thought I'd dine at Gallaghers with good friend Marcia "Matron Mama Morton" Lewis. I also booked Seth's Chatterbox because Betty Buckly was his guest.

It took four hours to fly from Las Vegas to New York and 3 hours to get from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan. Instead of the old Limousine service you are now transported in a 9 passenger Gray Line Van. Big mistake. We circled the airport twice, picking up passengers at various terminals. After an hour or so of doing this, the van headed for the highways in 8 O'clock in the morning rush hour. And of course, once you get into Manhattan, you circle all the blocks where the various hotels are. My gut instinct said to spring for a cab, but since it was free we endured the mule train!

Fortunately, the Sheraton let us check in at 10 AM. They gave us a nice room in the "club" section which entitled us to breakfast daily and newspapers. (The agent in Boston said cocktails in the evening were included too, but that was not the case.) On Tuesday evening we dropped by the Martin Beck to pick up our matinee tickets. "They come in the day of the show," we're told. Lunch at Joe Allen's was fine. Back to the Martin Beck an hour before the show. No tickets. I run back to the hotel for some documents and then get on a cell phone to their hot-line which no one answered. For some reason I decided to call the Travel Agency in Boston. Of course, our agent is on vacation. When checking the files this other agent says, "you're seeing The Music Man this afternoon!" I explained that that was our original plan "but your agent informed us that she switched them to get us better seats."

I said goodbye to my friends who were slightly disappointed in not getting to meet Stokes. Off we went to 52nd Street, not knowing if we'd have our tickets there or not. Sure enough, they are there. On Thursday evening, we went to the Chatterbox and had a ball. Afterwards, we went to see Kiss Me, Kate. At 5:30 pm, before the Chatterbox we had checked the box office and the tickets hadn't arrived yet. By now, the box office personel knew us by our first names! Anyhow, I thought "not this again!"

Well, the tickets did finally arrive and we got to see Kiss Me, Kate. I noticed on the back of the ticket that the tickets were procured through Tele-Charge. Why they could not have been sent with my travel documents is beyond me, rather than put us through all this stress and inconvenience?

Marcia! Yikes. I ran over to the Shubert and left a note. "Kill Gallaghers...Joe Allen's after the show. Don't ask. V.J."

And we did meet Marcia after the show and had a lovely dinner.

Back in the van on Friday morning for a hair-raising ride to the airport. Driver was a maniac behind the wheel, but that's New York for you. I think we made it to Kennedy in 12 minutes flat.

So, all's well that ends well. However, "Live...Broadway" should get other means of transportation from the airport and instead of farming out to inexperienced travel agents they should get in the business themselves. After all, who knows Broadway better than them?

And the Howard Miller clock looks gorgeous in the entryway!


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