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Broadway Road Trip Series: Ulster County, New York with Cristyne Nicholas

We interviewed Chairman of the Broadway Association Cristyne Nicholas to get a feel for what’s happening with Broadway and which of her favorite musicals she would listen to on a road trip from Manhattan.

Cristyne Nicholas has made it her mission to save and better Broadway in her current positions as Chairman of the Broadway Association and  CEO of Nicholas & Lence Communications, and previously as CEO of NYC & Company in times when the community needs every bit of support to survive.

Heading North to Ulster County, NY with Cristyne Nicholas

Cristyne Nicholas is the Chairman of the Broadway Association l Where Traveler
(Courtesy Cristyne Nicholas)

WhereTraveler:  What city are you in currently?

Nicholas:  New York City

WT:  What is your connection to Broadway?

Nicholas:  I serve as Chairman of the 110-year-old Broadway Association, a not-for-profit business association devoted to the cultural and economic betterment of Midtown West. That includes the Broadway Theater District.

Broadway was empty during the pandemic  l Where Traveler
Broadway during the pandemic (©Meryl Pearlstein)

WT: How long have you been doing what you do?  

Nicholas: I was appointed Chairman of the Broadway Association in 2009, and I also began my agency, NLC, three years before. I’ve always been involved with NYC and Broadway. I was the CEO of NYC & Company prior where I helped rebuild NYC’s tourism industry after 9/11 with a major focus on Broadway.

WT: Tell me more about the Broadway Association

Broadway bustles in normal times l Where Traveler
"Harry Potter" pre-pandemic (©Meryl Pearlstein)

Nicholas: Helping the Broadway community is top-of-mind as we continue navigating the pandemic at this one-year anniversary of the Broadway shutdown. Recovery and bringing back live theater in a safe way is what we need. The Broadway Association works closely with Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, and Joseph Benincasa who heads up the Actor’s Fund which helps performers remain insured and healthy.

WT: What recent production has been closest to your heart?

Nicholas: We Will Be Back” was very special. The pop-up theatrical project reunited the Broadway community. It commemorated Broadway’s lost year and celebrated Broadway’s rebirth. We had many stars perform including Chita Rivera, André de Shields, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peppermint, Nikki M. James, Joel Grey and Lillias White. And we worked with the Times Square Alliance, NYC Next and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.

Broadway Pop-up We Will Be Back l Where Traveler
The pop-up theatrical project "We Will Be Back" (©Danny Perez)

WT: What cast album would you listen to on a road trip and would you sing along?

Nicholas: The last show I saw before COVID was Company, and the soundtrack stays in my head and kept me happy during the pandemic. Hamilton is also dear to me. The original cast recording is always the Nicholas family’s go-to whenever we hit the road. The kids sing along and know all the lyrics… which comes in handy when reminding them about American history and social studies. Although I ultimately leave the singing to the professionals or my kids, we have all found ourselves putting on our best King George accents and channeling Jonathan Groff singing ‘You’ll Be Back.’ If we’re still driving, another favorite is Mamma Mia.

The family loves the Rail Explorers adventure l Where Traveler
The family on the Rail Explorers (Courtesy Cristyne Nicholas)

WT: Why did you choose those albums?

Nicholas The whole family has seen Hamilton and Mamma Mia multiple times, so we’re all big fans. Mamma Mia is very special to me personally because it was the first show to open after 9/11 and was critical to the recovery of Broadway and NYC. It showed the world that even after the worst terrorist attack to our City, we continued to move forward.

At the theater where Hamilton plays l Where Traveler
The Richard Rodgers Theatre, home of Hamilton (©Meryl Pearlstein)

WT: What are your favorite songs?

Nicholas: Every song is so good it’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. But since we have five in our family, here are our five: “It’s Quiet Uptown,” “The Schuyler Sisters,” “My Shot,” “What’d I Miss,” “The Room Where It Happens.” As far as Mamma Mia, we love “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Honey, Honey” “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” and I can’t seem to keep a dry eye when “Slipping Through My Fingers” plays and I see the kids in the rearview mirror growing up in a flash.

Kayaking is popular in Ulster County l Where Traveler
Kingston Kayaking Festival (Courtesy Ulster County Tourism)

The Road Trip

Nicholas:  For our road trips, we love Ulster County just 90 minutes north of NYC in the heart of the Hudson River Valley. The river is on the eastern edge and the Catskill Mountains are to the West. There are great places to visit like Kingston, Woodstock, New Paltz, and smaller towns like Phoenicia, Saugerties and Mt. Tremper that look like they’re right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

The Phoenicia Diner is a great stop for something to eat l Where Traveler
The Phoenicia Diner (© John Suhar)

WT:  Where would you stop along the way?

Nicholas: For breakfast, I recommend the Phoenicia Diner which serves classic comfort food and has been in the Catskills since the early ‘80s. The portions are huge and l love the fluffy scrambled eggs. Bread Alone is also great and they’re building one of the first carbon-neutral bakeries in the country. Their pain au chocolate and almond croissants are pure French patisserie. Mohonk Mountain House has a day pass so you can access the beautiful property and its hiking trails, while Rail Explorers is another great outdoor excursion with the family.

Bread Alone is one of several bakeries in the Catskills l Where Traveler
Bread Alone (Courtesy Ulster County Tourism)

 

Emerson Resort & Spa sits in the Catskills l Where Traveler
Emerson Resort & Spa (Courtesy Ulster County Tourism)

WT: Who would you take on this trip?

Nicholas: I recommend driving with a friend or your family or do it as a girlfriends' getaway. I love staying at the Emerson Resort & Spa -- it’s full-service and great for families, couples and singles too. Their Woodnotes Grille is delicious and the spa pampers you with massages, facials or even a quick mani-pedi. I also like the Hotel Kinsley in Kingston, Hotel Dylan in Woodstock, and the Inn at Kettleboro in New Paltz so you can have a different road trip experience multiple times.

Kettleboro Inn is an example of the area's gorgeous inns l Where Traveler
Inn at Kettleboro  (Courtesy Ulster County Tourism)

Find out what Cristyne and the Broadway Association are doing next at Broadway Association. Follow on Twitter and Facebook or on Instagram @broadwayassociation.