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The Tour NYC

The standard old bus tour has been cleverly reinvented with this multimedia excursion that will delight tourists and New Yorkers alike.

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The Tour’s guide Rory Lipede as she describes Columbus Circle

The Tour’s guide Rory Lipede as she describes Columbus Circle

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

“The Empire Hotel was built in 1923.  Aaron Copland stayed there.  On the television series Gossip Girl it was owned by Chuck Bass,” are among the many eclectic factoids woven into the lively commentary delivered by the ebullient young woman who the was the guide during The Tour.  It’s a 90-minute New York City bus tour that is an exhilarating contrast to the standard double decker experience.

The lavish coach with its unique window design and high viewing angle transforms what’s outside into true street theater.  Tourists, vendors, The Naked Cowboy, and weary commuters all became interactive real life characters during the event.  It’s like a reality show on wheels.  The experience is mutual as those outside can see those inside.

“The Tour Navigator” often hilariously engaged with pedestrians on the passing streets or on corners while waiting for the light change.  She called out to them and there’s a lot of waving, good will, cranky expressions, and sometimes conversation as her microphone could be heard outside when desired.

The Tour’s guide Rory Lipede as she explains the history of the Empire State Building

The Tour’s guide Rory Lipede as she explains the history of the Empire State Building

She seamlessly and enthusiastically held all of the elements together with her tremendous charm and presence.  An occasionally screeching child provided comical fodder and there was mild audience involvement that was never overbearing.

The Tour follows in the success of the same company’s The Ride that is an audience participation theatrical version of a New York City bus tour. CEO/COO Richard Humphrey has conceived, produced, directed and co-written it.  His grand achievement is that of an immersive overview of New York City through a fast-paced city tour with novel elements.

Touted as the tallest allowed vehicle by federal law, the motor coach used for this is awesome.  With a capacity of 49 people arranged in rows of stadium seating facing out the length of the bus along on its side. The panoramic views are from huge clear windows as well as from the windowed ceiling.  It is extremely comfortable on all levels and it was cool seeing a rainstorm from inside.

The Tour as it rides by the Dakota Apartments

The Tour as it rides by the Dakota Apartments

Strategically placed throughout are television monitors where illustrative images are shown while in motion.  These include period photographs contrasting with the sights presently being seen and images of subjects discussed in the commentary.  There are also lighting and sound effects replicating a NYC subway ride.

The 5.5-mile route focuses chiefly on The West Side of Manhattan and begins near Broadway and 45th Street in the heart of the theater district and concludes a block away.  In between are the numerous points of interest including Hell’s Kitchen, Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, The Garment District and Herald Square, among the 55 sites seen from the bus.

The Tour as it passes by the crowds at Duffy Square and 46th Street

The Tour as it passes by the crowds at Duffy Square and 46th Street

“Powered by The Ride” meant that in addition to the tour guide, there were also recorded interjections narrated by a deep voiced male in an engaging announcer style.  The combination of the very well-researched and delivered commentary from both sources was simple, clear and entertaining.

First time visitors, those seeking alternative vacation activities, and actual New Yorkers will find The Tour to be a delightful way to see the city.

The Tour (seven days a week at various times)

For tickets and information call 212-221-0853 or visit http://www.thetournyc.com

Running time: approximately ninety minutes without intermission

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Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (524 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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