The World's A Stage

A Tony-Award Winning Theater Producer Shares His Passion For New York
David Binder, producer behind such works as Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Of Mice And Men, and A Raisin in the Sun.
David Binder
Tony-Award Winning Producer

According to theater producer David Binder, a good New Yorker should know a little bit about a lot—theater, the arts, fashion, business, the lives of other New Yorkers—to keep up with the city’s brisk pace, and ever-changing cultural fabric.

New York is a city that breeds curiosity, and that is perhaps what has kept the Los Angeles native rooted in the Big Apple for so long. After all, it is a city that instills in the individual an overwhelming sense of hope; a feeling that anything is possible. And that’s precisely the type of attitude that a producer looking for his next act needs.

Binder and his team worked on Hedwig And The Angry Inch for 20 years before the show made it Broadway. Photo by Jo Amelia Finlay Bever.
The Power Of Storytelling
It Started With August Wilson's, Fences

Binder’s passion for the stage was ignited early. It all started when he was as a teenager, when the young Jewish adolescent from the Valley went to see a production of August Wilson’s, Fences, performed at The Doolittle Theater. Binder was moved by this story of an African American family in Pittsburgh, and it showed him the power of theater and good storytelling to reach out and captivate an audience.

James Franco (left) and Chris O’Dowd starring in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in 2014. Photo by Richard Phibbs.
From The Page To The Stage
How An Idea Becomes A Play

Today, Binder tries to create connections with his audiences, producing a diverse range of stories adapted for the stage. In addition to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a rock musical that tells the story of a character who escapes Communist East Berlin by getting a sex change operation, which gets botched, Binder has produced dramas like A Raisin in the Sun, starring Audra McDonald, Sean Combs, and Phylicia Rashad, and John Steinbeck’s, Of Mice And Men, starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd.

Neil Patrick Harris (front center), Tim Mislock of the Tits of Clay, and Lena Hall perform in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Photo by Joan Marcus.
It Has To Be Memorable
What Makes A Great Production

A memorable production starts with an idea, an artist with a singular vision, a beautiful voice, and a strong point of view. Sometimes these beautiful ideas may seem inconceivable at first, and can take years to make it to the stage.

Take Binder’s 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun, which took six years to come to life, or Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was 20 years in the making before it landed on Broadway.

Local Recommendations

Explore New York With Producer David Binder

With a lot of perseverance and even more patience, a story can find itself in the spotlight after years of planning, and a fair share of blood, sweat, and tears. And while any given show may only last for a few months on Broadway, many of the best theatrical performances have a way of living on in the hearts and minds of their audience forever.

Binder travels constantly for work, touring with his shows, or looking for dramatic inspiration. But when he’s back home, Binder indulges his penchant for timeless New York staples. From the city's best independent book stores, to not-to-be-missed cultural landmarks, theatrical dining, and one-of-a-kind shopping experiences, here is Binder's guide to classic New York City.

Curtain Up

Where To Catch A Show

Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Academy of Music(651 Fulton St.; 718-636-4100) is a world-renowned performing arts center celebrated for its avant-garde theater, dance, music, and opera performances, and its variety of mainstream and arthouse film screenings. A particular favorite among New York's drama crowd is BAM’s beautifully unfinished Harvey Theater, built in 1904.

Back in Manhattan, The Public Theater (425 Lafayette St.; 212-539-8500) is one of the city’s most fantastic venues with diverse and exciting programming each season. It happens to be the place where Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton first rose to critical acclaim. The multi-award winning Atlantic Theater Company (336 W. 20th St.; 212-691-5919), housed inside a former church, is New York’s top off-Broadway playhouse, having produced more than 150 plays in three decades, including the Tony Award–winning Spring Awakening.

Dinner Theater

Instant Off Broadway Classics

Pre- and post-theater dining is something of a tradition in New York, and 46th Street is home to some of the most storied establishments. All owned by restaurateur, Joe Allen, in a series of three connecting townhouses, each one offers diners a different flair and cuisine, with the opportunity to see some of Broadway’s finest convening over lunch during the restaurant’s quieter moments.

Orso (322 W. 46th St.; 212-489-7212), is popular for rustic Italian fare, while Bar Centrale (324 W. 46th St.; 212-581-3130) draws a chic crowd as much for its atmosphere as its eclectic cuisine. The namesake Joe Allen (326 W. 46th St.; 212-581-6464), known for its juicy hamburger, is infamous for its wall of shame, where Broadway flops are memorialized for all to see in framed posters of each theatrical catastrophe.

You might venture outside of the theater district to Williamsburg for brunch, another of NYC's greatest traditions, where you'll find Sunday in Brooklyn(348 Wythe Ave.; 347-222-6722). Your order? The Sunday, Bloody Sunday, a take on the classic hair-of-the-dog cocktail that replaces vodka with smoky mezcal and spicy sambal. The pastrami black cod is to die for.

Concept Shopping

A Chelsea Boutique Full Of Surprises

Time is fleeting—and so is each new installation at Rachel Shechtman’s Chelsea concept shop, Story (144 10th Ave.; 212-242-4853).

With the point of view of a magazine, rotating presentations like a gallery, and selling things like a store, it is a sort of concept shop retail experience that changes every three to eight weeks with a new theme, or, ahem, story behind it. In preparation for each new iteration, Story's creative buyers curate an unconventional product assortment with pieces by of-the-moment retailers and designers corresponding to each new theme.

During the December, 2016 “Home For The Holidays” story, Shechtman and her team created a shop full of surprises, from cheeky travel accessories and gadgets, to decorative objects like handwoven sisal and sweetgrass baskets from All Across Africa, quirky tree ornaments from The Stranded Stich, and Iris Apfel's personal jewelry collection. There’s no telling what you might find during your visit.

The Great Outdoors

An Unconventional Way To Explore The City

When in need of a good workout, there’s no better place than Chelsea Piers (23rd St. & Hudson River Park; 212-336-6666), a massive recreational complex overlooking the Hudson River with endless opportunities for wellness. Within the 1.2-million-square-foot facility visitors will find a health club and spa, salon, a gymnastics center, two basketball courts, indoor soccer fields, batting cages, as well as a driving range, rock climbing wall, bowling center, two ice rinks, and dance studios. Take your pick.
For outdoor running with water views, head to the West Side Highway running path. One of Binder’s favorite routes is a bracing eight- or nine-mile loop along lower Manhattan that starts at 14th Street, and heads south to Battery Park, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and all the way up the other side of the city along the East River back to 14th Street.

Reading Material

The Best Of NYC’s Independent Booksellers

The legendary Three Lives & Co. (154 W. 10th St.; 212-741-2069) in Greenwich Village is one of the few remaining independent booksellers in New York City. Founded in 1978, and named after a book written by Gertrude Stein, it is a gathering place for authors, readers, and inquisitive minds to read, commune over literary masterpieces, and discuss the issues of the day. The somewhat opaque organization of titles is part of owner, Toby Cox’s strategy to encourage conversation and solicit recommendations from the bookshop’s knowledgeable staff.
If you’re looking for a larger variety of reading material, head east, to The Strand (828 Broadway, at 12th St.; 212-473-1452) for its 18 winding miles of books. Filled with 2.5 million volumes, there’s something for every type of reader on the Strand's shelves, whether that's hard-to-come-by editions of James Joyce’s Ulysses illustrated by Henri Matisse, autographed first editions, or the latest titles at the top of The New York Times Bestseller’s List.