Summertime is showtime in NYC By Edith Hall Friedheim / August 06, 2003 Share 1 -- NEW YORK -- With Broadway ticket costs rising steadily, travel agents are reporting an increasing demand for packages that include show tickets. And with many New Yorkers vacationing out of town through September, tickets to the top-selling musicals -- "Hairspray," "Gypsy," "Chicago," "The Producers," "Movin' Out," "Mamma Mia!" and "Nine" -- are somewhat easier to come by.Here are some of the best packages available through tour operators and ticket brokers (all hotel rates quoted are based on double occupancy):Applause is offering its two-night Best of Broadway and three-night Theatre Lover's Delight packages, with accommodations at hotels that include members of the Affinia group, formerly Manhattan East Suites; all related taxes; and best-available seating at virtually any Broadway show. Through Sept. 14, Novotel guests also can enjoy a free dinner at the hotel's Cafe Nicole.Through Sept. 2, the rates for Best of Broadway range from $342 for the New York Helmsley to $425 for the Sofitel, increasing thereafter to $423 and $558, respectively. Children stay free at the Sofitel; however, kids' rates are $147 elsewhere. Theatre Lover's Delight runs from about $661 to $861, with a children's rate of $294, where applicable.Applause also offers a Broadway Dinner Deal, where clients are entitled to a free dinner at one of four restaurants for each show ticket purchased.Call (800) 451-9930; Web: www.applause-tickets.com.City Escape Holidays' three-night Lion King package comes with accommodations, two buffet breakfasts at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, tickets to the show and lunch or late supper at the Stage Deli.The best ticket availability is for weekends. Rates reflect seasonal price periods: $719 through Sept. 3, increasing to $850 thereafter.Call (800) 222-0022; Web: www.cityescapeholidays.com.New York City Vacation Packages still is the only tour company that sells New York exclusively, with access to nearly every theater on and off Broadway.An attractively priced Hairspray package starts at $279 for two nights' accommodations at a choice of midtown hotels, orchestra or front mezzanine theater tickets, major sightseeing attractions and museums, dining and shopping discounts and 24-hour emergency travel assistance.Other packages, including a one-night Dinner and a Show package priced from $218 per person, offer all of the above, plus dinner for two and discounted parking, but show choices are limited to "42nd Street" and "Cabaret."Call (888) 692-8701; Web: www.nycvp.com.Sutherland Travel's New York City Hit Show Tours is celebrating its 48th year as a receptive inbound operator for New York with some interesting offerings.A two-night Pre- or Post- Cruise package comes with accommodations, roundtrip baggage handling, pier and one-way airport transfers, show tickets, a four-hour guided city tour and dinner at Tavern on the Green, Sardi's or Rene Pujol.September rates, based on groups of 20 passengers, range from $595 to $648, depending on the choice of hotel.The Marriott Marquis and the Park Central are two of the hotels featured in Sutherland's three-night Showtime New York, which includes two show tickets, a choice of sightseeing and museum attractions and dinner aboard the World Yacht. The package is priced from $882.Call (800) 221-2442; e-mail: email@example.com.Yankee Holidays has a two-night Stepping Out in New York package that ranges in price from $480 for the Milford Plaza to $730 at Le Parker Meridien. The plan costs $280 for children age 12 and under.Two entertainment options are available from a list that includes theater tickets, dining, cruising and sightseeing.Yankee Holidays pays agents 12% on its packages. Call (800) 225-2550; Web: www.yankee-holidays.com.