It’s not normal to gaze out a bus window and see a street maintenance man break into song and dance with his broom. Not in New York at least, unless you’re on The Ride. Sitting stadium style looking out an entire glass walled side and half the ceiling of the specially outfitted bus, The Ride talks, in a deep resonating voice, not just to its customers but to people on the street as well. The song and dance street worker was entertaining combining some classic Broadway choreography as he followed the bus down the block and then some.
The Ride is a twist on the traditional city tour bus. Despite the fact that the 90-minute excursion does include well-scripted comments on iconic buildings and districts, the emphasis is on experiencing a lighter side of Manhattan. The MCs, Stuart and Julie, a young pair of trained professional actors and singers, glide nonstop through script, song, improv and banter with each other, the audience/passengers, passersby on the street and, especially, the street performers.
In this case it would be accurate to say the performers on the street because this group of talented actors, improv artists, singers and comedians are part of The Ride’s staff. There’s the Time Square New Year’s Eve merrymaker that’s been celebrating since 1999, the pas de deux at Columbus Circle and the sax player’s improv with a pedestrian, among the small acts. All the while there’s the banter with The Ride itself and its computer generated personality in this fully enclosed high tech multimedia New York City show tour.
Started in 2010, there are four custom buses in The Ride’s fleet with an in-house repertory company of performers. Since the audience sits in enclosed comfort, The Ride offers twelve months of changing themes in its Manhattan tour show, but it does provide solid points about important Manhattan landmarks. The use of recycled materials from auto plants in the construction of the Chrysler Building, the largest Tiffany cut glass faced clock on Earth, 13’ diameter, on the façade of Grand Central Station, and that Central Park was designed without straight paths so city dwellers could get lost in the country.
The Ride operates seven days a week with both afternoon and evening tours and reservations are essential. The bus departs on 8th Ave just off 42nd St. catty-corner from the Port Authority Bus Terminal – voted the city’s ugliest building, according to the tour. The Ride is aptly subtitled the New York Experience since it deftly weaves Manhattan’s traditions, entertainment, street life, improv, song, dance, kitsch and multi-media high tech to give the audience a sense of the city’s energy and comedy.
The Ride, 234 West 42nd Street New York, NY 10036, ticket office: Monday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Sunday 10:00 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Phone: 1.866.811.4111
Disclaimer: the author was a guest of The Ride and Gail Gerson-Witte of www.winedineandleasuretime.com