What is Broadway?
When you hear theatre you think Broadway: this term is synonymous with musical theatre, but what is, exactly, Broadway?
It is actually a New York street, running all the way through Manhattan – but the area which most people are referring to when they talk about Broadway in relation to musical theatre is actually 42nd to 53rd Street. This stretch is home to Times Square and is better known as the “theatre district”. This area is home to forty stages, hosting world famous musicals and bringing the cream of musical talent to the boards – from renowned theatre actors to Hollywood names.
This particular section of Broadway is also coined as The Great White Way. The names derives from the street lights which were situated on this particular street when musical shows were first introduced to the United States.
For tourists coming to the US, Broadway is often top of their must see list for New York. Annual ticket sales of $1billion have been reported as the average yearly proceeds in this particular district.
Broadway will often host the same show for many years. The Phantom of the Opera opened in the late 1980s, for example, and is still a great success and a classic today, going as strong as ever.
You may also hear the expression “Off Broadway”. This doesn’t actually refer to their physical location – some off-Broadway theatres are actually situated in the famous Broadway stretch! It is, in fact, classified by seating. Broadway theatres seat upwards of 500 theatre goers, and are home to the long-running, famous shows. Off Broadway seat up to 499, and these theatres are usually home to more experimental shows and themes. Off Broadway shows are not eligible for the coveted Tony Awards, either.
But if you are looking for a Broadway experience, don’t discount the Off Broadway shows, as the shows and actors are phenomenal and often feature the great successes of tomorrow (see, for instance, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, that started out Off Broadway!).