Review: Being taken for 'The Ride'
You’ll witness the stupidest burglary ever attempted in the middle of Times Square. (A shady character at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway steals a fake fire hydrant and makes off into the crowd.) A rapper on the street breaks out into rhymes, much to the chagrin of busy execs passing by who don’t have time to indulge him in his booty shaking.
You’re not in “The Twilight Zone,” though you might as well be. You’re on “The Ride,” a new theatrical city bus tour that uses street actors to jazz up — as though New York needs any jazzing up — a sightseeing venture from Times Square to Columbus Circle and back. It might sound like a bag of treats, but it’s really a trick to get people to spend $59 or $65, depending on the time of the tour, for added value that’s not very valuable.
What it is
A bus tour of midtown’s biggest attractions, including Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building and Radio City Music Hall.
What it isn’t
It’s not a proper introduction to the city because the attractions and city history aren’t the focus. Street gags performed by actors outside are. Dancers, singers and comedians performing sketches at each site interrupt the tour. The performances have little or nothing to do with the sites you’re seeing.
Not the best show
The performances aren’t very well put together.
The worst performance: A couple of actors on the sidewalk playing Broadway wannabes break into a half-hearted song-and-dance jig about coming to the city to make it big. It’s clear why they haven’t made it yet: The performance is riddled with occasional off-key slip-ups and dance missteps as they dodge passersby (not intentional).
The best performance: Near Bryant Park, a man walking down the street removes his toupee, then rips off his pants and wraps them around his neck like a scarf. It’s one of those startling gags that you can’t help but laugh at.
Other city bus tours actually give you all the information you need to know about the city’s landmarks. They may be a little drier, but at least you can walk away feeling like you learned something.
What’s the point?
The problem with “The Ride,” is that it has no focus. Is it meant to be a city bus tour or a mobile comedy club (albeit a bad one)? If it’s a bus tour, the street actors and gags take too much away from experiencing the city for what it is. And what it is not is a city where people try to steal fire hydrants. If “The Ride” is a comedy club, then it could stand to hire better performers and come up with better jokes.
A look at the bus
Riders board a state-of-the-art bus featuring:
- Panoramic views of the streets outside through floor-to-ceiling windows that cover one side of the bus
- Three rows of stadium seating
- Video screens that show photos and facts about each attraction
- Floor-shaking technology that mimics a passing subway train or the beats of a nightclub
- Pick-up and drop-off at Marriott Marquis at 46th Street and Broadway
- Tour lasts 75 minutes
- Runs 364 days a year (not Christmas)
- Go to experiencetheride.com for tour times.