In an era of spectacular IMAX movies and 3D films, Broadway Theater still remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the New York City. Featuring top-class actors, 40 theaters and stunning costumes and sets, Broadway shows are widely recognized all over the world. A prestigious performing arts platform, Broadway has its very own set of awards – The Tony Awards. Broadway is among the most popular tourist attractions in New York, and according to the 2015-16 season stats, released in May 2016, Broadway tickets sales exceeded $1.373B.
Broadway History – Early Theater in New York
Broadway, the legendary theater district, is the famed street in Manhattan that has become the hotbed in stage entertainment. Broadway history dates back to the 1700s, which was when the first theater was built on the Nassau Street. It mostly staged Shakespearian plays and since the theater had the capacity to seat less than 300 audience members, Broadway theater tickets sold fast. Following the American Revolution in 1978, the grand Park Theater was built, with the ability to seat 2000 patrons.
The success of The Park Theater ushered in a new era of theater in New York and several theaters opened between 1800 and 1850. After the Civil War ended, theater moved from downtown to Manhattan. It also created a rift between the types of audiences as the upper class attended ballads and operas at the Astor Place Theater, willing to spend money on Broadway play tickets. The middle and lower class made the best use of Broadway discount tickets offered by the Bowery Theater and enjoyed minstrel shows, variety programs and melodramas.
“The Elves” was the original Broadway musical that ran for more than 50 performances, thus becoming the first ever long-running show. “The Black Crook” by Charles M. Barras entered Broadway’s history books as the first musical theater featuring original score and dance.
The Great White Way
Theater development took a turn for better at the start of the 20th century and brought with it pivotal changes. Playwright Victor Herbert’s operetta, “The Red Mill”, began the trend of advertising their show through electric signs that used bright, white lights. Illuminating the night, these lights created a brilliant display and the theater district area came to be known as “The Great White Way”. Broadway Theater stretched far and wide, finally reaching New York’s Times Square.
From 1920 – 1932, Broadway entered its most prodigious era. Musicals like “George White’s Scandals”, and “Poor Little Ritz Girl” by Sigmund Romberg, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart dominated the stage in the early 20s. “No, No, Nanette” by Vincent Youmans and Otto Harbach sold record Broadway show tickets, becoming a huge hit with the audience.
The Great Depression
The rise of motion pictures followed by the Great Depression had a great impact on Broadway and the audience turnout. People could no longer afford Broadway shows tickets and the attendance dropped drastically. While some theaters closed their doors, other converted them into cinemas.
After years of struggle, Broadway managed to persevere with the help of productions like “Porgy & Bess” (George and Ira Gershwin), “Oklahoma!” (Oscar Hammerstein II), “Pal Joey” (Jule Styne) and “The Sound of Music” (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II).
The 21st century Broadway has turned into a global phenomenon, implementing stunning innovations and adapting to economic challenges. Broadway productions raised the bar with their originality, creativity and themes. Interesting characters, beautiful music scores and edge-of-the-seat plot is just the one half of the entire production. The creators of Broadway shows now bring to the audience a complete experience in which the surroundings are also given the same importance as the main stage.
The Phantom of the Opera premiered in 1988 on Broadway and tops the list of the longest running musicals. A theater classic, this musical juggernaut is hailed as the greatest love story told on stage. Even after all this time, the Phantom’s fans are still on the lookout for the best place to buy Broadway tickets.
The Lion King is currently the 3rd longest running Broadway musical and what makes it the most successful stage show of all time is its visual power. The 1994 animated film was re-imagined for stage by the director Julie Taymor and she introduced the idea of creative and clever staging. Eye-popping costumes and puppetry, beautiful sets and innovative sounds all attribute to the show’s success.
Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda premiered in 2015 and won the “Best Musical” Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for “Drama”. In 2016, the musical set the Broadway box office record for the highest money grossed in a single week in New York.
Other all-time favorite Broadway shows include The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, a religious satire that has maintained its weekly Broadway gross since premiere in 2011. Discount tickets for Broadway shows like Wicked, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and Waitress are also among the top searches, and some of the most watched musicals.