August 2017 - Starr Tours & Charters
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Broadway by Bus or Bust

It’s only August, but now is the time when we start planning our assortment of Broadway Show Bus trips for 2018. I bet you want to know how we decide which shows to book on which dates! A crystal ball of course! Doesn’t everyone have one of these?

Okay, so we don’t really have a crystal ball, but since we’ve been doing this for so long, we do have an idea of the type of shows our tour guests like. There’s the steady eddies like: The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and Wicked. Then there’s the shows that are still bringing people in after a couple years like Beautiful, and School of Rock. There’s the newer shows like Come From Away and Anastasia. And, of course, there are the untouchables like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen – we get laughed at when we request those shows! Perhaps the most exciting, but most unknown, are the newcomers. Late 2017 and 2018 have their share of newcomers and it looks like there will be lots of new shows to deliver to our tour guests.

Check out the newest musicals coming to Broadway:

The Band’s Visit
The critically acclaimed new musical that celebrates the deeply human ways music and laughter connect us all.  After a mix-up at the border, an Egyptian Police Band is sent to a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals. Under the spell of the desert sky, their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways. The Band’s Visit celebrates the deeply human ways music, longing and laughter can connect us all.

 

Escape to Margaritaville
A new musical featuring both original songs and your most-loved Jimmy Buffett classics. Follow Tully, a part-time singer, part-time bartender, and full-time charmer who thinks he has life all figured out until a beautiful career-minded tourist steals his heart and makes him question everything.

 

Once On This Island
Bursting with Caribbean colors, rhythms and dance, the story of Ti Moune comes to vibrant life in a striking production. Ti Moune is a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the island. When their divided cultures keep them apart, Ti Moune is guided by the powerful island gods, Erzulie , Asaka , Papa Ge , and Agwe, on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart. Come and gather around for Once On This Island, a triumph of the timeless power of theatre to bring us together, move our hearts, and help us conquer life’s storms.

 

Frozen
Elsa and Anna take the stage in the Broadway adaptation of Disney’s hit film! This is the timeless tale of two sisters, pulled apart by a mysterious secret. Both are searching for love. They just don’t know where to find it.

 

 

Half Time
An original musical about a group of ordinary seniors with extraordinary dreams. Take the uplifting  journey with these dreamers—and the young coaches who inspire them along the way—as they battle self-doubt, stereotypes and even each other for a chance to bust a move at center court in front of 20,000 screaming fans. Together they remind us that in life, when the odds are stacked against you and the challenges seem too great to overcome, it’s not the end of the game—it’s HALF TIME.

 

My Fair Lady
Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical returns to Broadway. Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and Gabriel Pascal’s motion picture Pygmalion, My Fair Lady premiered on Broadway on March 15, 1956. Boasting a score that contains such now-classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” My Fair Lady was hailed by The New York Times as “one of the best musicals of the century,” and by the NY Herald Tribune as “a miraculous musical.”

 

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child (Part 1 & 2)
The eighth story in the Harry Potter series arrives on Broadway! It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and a father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable trust: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

We already have great seats reserved for many of these shows, and as always, if a show isn’t listed on our Broadway shows lineup you can still count on us for great seats to any show when you book with our NYC Express Option – you choose the show and we take care of the rest! We’ll drop you off at 11am and pick you up at 6pm – we make it super easy for you to enjoy New York City and Broadway!

When Starr takes you to Broadway, we drop you off right in the heart of the Theatre District where you’ll have access to great restaurants, shopping and people watching! Starr makes it easy to see a Broadway show so check out our assortment, sit back and let us take you there!

BFFs and Bus Travel

To tell how I came to work at Starr, I have to go back to July 1981 and the beginning of my 36 year friendship with fellow Starr Tour Director, Jane Peters Estes. Jane and I met at Hightstown High School (as employees, not students!). We both were new employees in the principal’s office so we spent that first summer getting to know each other as well as the school.

I had never worked in a school before and came in from private industry with a business background. Jane, on the other hand, had spent years in the elementary school system so she had a more colorful background. While my time had been spent dressing up for business, Jane’s time had been spent in costumes ranging from Santa’s helper to the Valentine Princess. All that changed my first year, and every year after that, as I traded in my business clothes and we collaborated for every holiday to add fun to our office. One Halloween we created bars on the windows between the office and the hallway and dressed in prison stripes. Another year, we painted flames on the windows and dressed up as little devils. During the winter, our decor included a working fireplace with a mantle with ice skates and skis next to it and winter scenes on posters on the walls. Snowflakes hung from the ceiling. Our first Valentine’s Day was an explosion of hearts all over the office walls and hanging from the ceiling.

We worked together for 6 years until Jane took another position in the school district, but we remained close friends. She is the Abbott to my Costello, the George Burns to my Gracie Allen, the… well, you get the idea. She’s taught me and opened my eyes to a lot over the years.

Jane began as a Starr Tour Director in 1992 and she took to escorting bus trips quite naturally. While I thought it sounded like a cool job, I had other things going on in my life and didn’t give it a second thought. A few years later, Jane asked if I’d like to go on a Starr day trip with her to Gettysburg. We always had a good time together so I decided, why not? It was a fun trip with a small problem to solve and happy passengers to interact with. I watched how she handled everything and started to think that I’d like to do it, too. My kids were grown and I had more time on my hands…

I finally got an opportunity to join Starr’s team of Tour Directors in September of 2004. Jane contacted me to say that Starr was hiring and asked if I was interested. I said yes without a second thought. At the time it worked well with my schedule and when I retired a few years later it worked even better. I trained under Eileen Markey, a delightful lady, and of course Jane helped me a lot too. She still does!

Since then, I have had the opportunity to train a few new Tour Directors myself, including Gene Gray, and have built many more friendships along the way. All of the Starr Tour Directors and Drivers have been wonderful to know and work with and the passengers have been pretty great, too! Starting your day before the sun has come up isn’t always easy, but the rest of the day is always uphill from there. It’s been fun learning about new places and expanding my stand up comedy routine. The only time I’ve taken my comedy on the road has been in a Starr coach, and although I have a captive audience, I realize that the driver really has the last word. I just keep an eye out to make sure he hasn’t opened the door and gotten the hook out… that’s a joke!! I’ve enjoyed meeting new people all the time and by the end of the trips I’ve gotten hugs and even applause on occasion, which I humbly accept!

In my first years at Starr I got to do a few Maine bus trips as well as a bus trip to Savannah and Charleston. They were both especially enjoyable because of the scenery as well as the people I met. As a Tour Director for Starr, I get to travel at a discount (it’s a perk!). So I traveled to Canyon Country as a tour guest last year. It was a wonderful trip and I got to know our passengers – as one of them! But out of all of the trips I’ve taken with Starr, Long Island remains my favorite – as I mentioned in my previous blog post! It’s not a long drive, and it’s a walk down memory lane for me, having grown up on the island. I guess there really is no place like home!

I have loved working as a Tour Director at Starr for the past 13 years (even when I have to get up at 4AM for a trip!) and hope to continue working and traveling for many more years to come. And I think I’m very lucky to be able to continue to share experiences with my BFF.

Hope to see you on a tour soon,
Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director

 

Long Island?  Yes,  Long Island!

Long Island… or, as we NooYawkas say… Lawn Guyland.

Join me for a delightful getaway that’s a shorter ride than Washington, DC or Boston (which are also great trips!) there is so much to see, so close to home.

I grew up on Long Island, and always knew that there were interesting and beautiful places to see there, but would anyone else be interested?

Montauk Point Lighthouse

In the summer, my dad and mom would take us to Jones Beach or Oak Beach on the South Shore or maybe a longer ride out to the tip of the island: Montauk Point. My brother and I would climb up to the top of the lighthouse, look out over the Atlantic ocean and made believe we could see Europe. On a clear day, it really does seem like the view goes on forever!

Other times we’d visit my dad’s cousins in Glen Cove, part of the early 20th century Gold Coast of the North Shore, where I learned about the many mansions that the wealthy industrialists had built in that area between the 1890s and 1930s.

Around the turn-of-the-last-century, wealthy industrialists like Vanderbilt, Woolworth, Phipps, and duPont, seeking a retreat from urban life, built grand country estates surrounded by acres of landscaped grounds. Often modeled after English country houses, many of these properties were the work of America’s foremost architects and landscape designers.  The North Shore of Long Island, known as the Gold Coast, was a popular and convenient location that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in the United States.  Only a few mansions remain today as post-war inflation, the advent of property and income taxes, the expense of maintenance, and the need for more middle class housing, brought about the destruction of the large estates.

Westbury Gardens, Photo by Vince Kish

We’ll begin our Long Island experience with a stop at one of these grand country estates, Old Westbury Gardens. Built in 1906 and the former home of the Phipps family, this “magnificent Charles II-style mansion is nestled amid 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.  Westbury House is furnished with fine English antiques and decorative arts from the more than fifty years of the family’s residence.”

Our hotel in Riverhead is the nicest around, right at the head of the Peconic River, hence, its name.  We’ll spend the next day exploring the south fork towns of Long Island: The Hamptons, where the rich and famous now spend their leisure time,

Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest

and Sag Harbor, an old whaling village with a fascinating history as one of the main ports of entry into the United States complete with antique shops and boutiques along its centuries old streets. And, of course, a trip to Long Island wouldn’t be complete without an exciting ride on the only road to Montauk Point and New York state’s oldest lighthouse that has stood there for over 200 years and still serves as an active aid to navigation.

Our trip rounds out the next day with a visit to the Eagle’s Nest, summer home to the Vanderbilts, with 24 rooms! We’ll learn about what life was like on the Gold Coast during this opulent time and all about the Vanderbilts’ eclectic collections.

 

There are plenty of reasons to take a trip to the island and Starr does a fantastic job of including the great highlights on their tour. I hope you will join me on October 1-3!

 

Fondly,
Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director