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From right to left: John Golden Theatre, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, and Booth Theatre on West 45th Street in Manhattan's Theater District

Broadway theatre,[nb 1] or Broadway, is a theatre genre that consists of the theatrical performances presented in 41 professional theaters, each with 500 or more seats, in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.[1][2] Broadway and London's West End together represent the highest commercial level of live theater in the English-speaking world.[3]

While the Broadway thoroughfare is eponymous with the district, it is closely identified with Times Square. Only three theaters are located on Broadway itself: Broadway Theatre, Palace Theatre, and Winter Garden Theatre. The rest are located on the numbered cross streets, extending from the Nederlander Theatre one block south of Times Square on West 41st Street, north along either side of Broadway to 53rd Street, and Vivian Beaumont Theater, at Lincoln Center on West 65th Street. While exceptions exist, the term "Broadway theatre" is used predominantly to describe venues with seating capacities of at least 500 people. Smaller theaters in New York City are referred to as off-Broadway, regardless of location, while very small venues with fewer than 100 seats are called off-off-Broadway, a term that can also apply to non-commercial, avant-garde, or productions held outside of traditional theater venues.[4]

The Theater District is an internationally prominent tourist attraction in New York City. According to The Broadway League, for the 2018–19 season total attendance was 14,768,254. Broadway shows had $1,829,312,140 in grosses, with attendance up 9.5%, grosses up 10.3%, and playing weeks up 9.3%.[5] The Museum of Broadway on West 45th Street, opened to the public in November 2022, became the first museum to document the history and experience of Broadway theatre and its profound influence upon shaping Midtown Manhattan and Times Square.

Most Broadway shows are musicals. Historian Martin Shefter argues that "Broadway musicals, culminating in the productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein, became enormously influential forms of American popular culture" and contributed to making New York City the cultural capital of the world.[6]


Early theatre in New York[edit]

The interior of Park Theatre, built in 1798

New York City's first significant theatre was established in the mid-18th century, around 1750, when actor-managers Walter Murray and Thomas Kean established a resident theatre company at the Theatre on Nassau Street in Lower Manhattan, which held about 280 people. They presented Shakespeare plays and ballad operas such as The Beggar's Opera.[7] In 1752, William Hallam sent a company of twelve actors from Britain to the colonies with his brother Lewis as their manager. They established a theatre in Williamsburg, Virginia, and opened with The Merchant of Venice and The Anatomist. The company moved to New York in 1753, performing ballad operas and ballad-farces like Damon and Phillida.

During the Revolutionary War, theatre was suspended in New York City. But after the war's end, theatre resumed in 1798, when the 2,000-seat Park Theatre was built on Chatham Street on present-day Park Row.[7] A second major theatre, Bowery Theatre, opened in 1826,[8] followed by others.

By the 1840s, P.T. Barnum was operating an entertainment complex in Lower Manhattan. In 1829, at Broadway and Prince Street, Niblo's Garden opened and soon became one of New York's premier nightspots. The 3,000-seat theatre presented all sorts of musical and non-musical entertainments. In 1844, Palmo's Opera House opened and presented opera for only four seasons before bankruptcy led to its rebranding as a venue for plays under the name Burton's Theatre. The Astor Opera House opened in 1847. A riot broke out in 1849 when the lower-class patrons of the Bowery Theatre objected to what they perceived as snobbery by the upper-class audiences at Astor Place: "After the Astor Place Riot of 1849, entertainment in New York City was divided along class lines: opera was chiefly for the upper-middle and upper classes, minstrel shows and melodramas for the middle-class, variety shows in concert saloons for men of the working class and the slumming middle-class."[9]

The plays of William Shakespeare were frequently performed on the Broadway stage during the period, most notably by American actor Edwin Booth who was internationally known for his performance as Hamlet. Booth played the role for a famous 100 consecutive performances at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1865 (with the run ending just a few months before Booth's brother John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln), and would later revive the role at his own Booth's Theatre (which was managed for a time by his brother Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.). Other renowned Shakespeareans who appeared in New York in this era were Henry Irving, Tommaso Salvini, Fanny Davenport, and Charles Fechter.

Birth of the musical and post-Civil War[edit]

Theatre in New York moved from Downtown gradually to Midtown Manhattan, beginning around 1850, seeking less expensive real estate. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the area that now comprises the Theater District was owned by a handful of families and comprised a few farms. In 1836, Mayor Cornelius Lawrence opened 42nd Street and invited Manhattanites to "enjoy the pure clean air."[10] Close to 60 years later, theatrical entrepreneur Oscar Hammerstein I built the iconic Victoria Theater on West 42nd Street.[10]

Broadway's first "long-run" musical was a 50-performance hit called The Elves in 1857. In 1870, the heart of Broadway was in Union Square, and by the end of the century, many theatres were near Madison Square. Theatres arrived in the Times Square area in the early 1900s, and the Broadway theatres consolidated there after a large number were built around the square in the 1920s and 1930s. New York runs continued to lag far behind those in London,[11] but Laura Keene's "musical burletta" The Seven Sisters (1860) shattered previous New York records with a run of 253 performances. It was at a performance by Keene's troupe of Our American Cousin in Washington, D.C. that Abraham Lincoln was shot.

The Black Crook (1866), considered by some historians to be the first musical.[12] Poster for the 1873 revival by The Kiralfy Brothers.

The first theatre piece that conforms to the modern conception of a musical, adding dance and original music that helped to tell the story, is considered to be The Black Crook, which premiered in New York on September 12, 1866. The production was five-and-a-half hours long, but despite its length, it ran for a record-breaking 474 performances. The same year, The Black Domino/Between You, Me and the Post was the first show to call itself a "musical comedy".[12]

Tony Pastor opened the first vaudeville theatre one block east of Union Square in 1881, where Lillian Russell performed. Comedians Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart produced and starred in musicals on Broadway between 1878 (The Mulligan Guard Picnic) and 1890, with book and lyrics by Harrigan and music by his father-in-law David Braham. These musical comedies featured characters and situations taken from the everyday life of New York's lower classes and represented a significant step forward from vaudeville and burlesque, towards a more literate form. They starred high-quality professional singers (Lillian Russell, Vivienne Segal, and Fay Templeton), instead of the amateurs, often sex workers, who had starred in earlier musical forms.

As transportation improved, poverty in New York diminished, and street lighting made for safer travel at night, the number of potential patrons for the growing number of theatres increased enormously. Plays could run longer and still draw in the audiences, leading to better profits and improved production values. As in England, during the latter half of the century, the theatre began to be cleaned up, with less prostitution hindering the attendance of the theatre by women. Gilbert and Sullivan's family-friendly comic opera hits, beginning with H.M.S. Pinafore in 1878, were imported to New York (by the authors and also in numerous unlicensed productions). They were imitated in New York by American productions such as Reginald Dekoven's Robin Hood (1891) and John Philip Sousa's El Capitan (1896), along with operas, ballets, and other British and European hits.

Sheet music to "Give My Regards to Broadway"

Charles H. Hoyt's A Trip to Chinatown (1891) became Broadway's long-run champion when it surpassed Adonis and its 603 total performances in 1893, holding the stage for 657 performances. Chinatown itself was surpassed by the musical Irene (1919) in 1921 as the longest-running Broadway musical, and even earlier, in March 1920, by Lightnin' (1918) as the longest-running Broadway show. In 1896, theatre owners Marc Klaw and A. L. Erlanger formed the Theatrical Syndicate, which controlled almost every legitimate theatre in the U.S. for the next sixteen years.[13] However, smaller vaudeville and variety houses proliferated, and Off-Broadway was well established by the end of the nineteenth century.

A Trip to Coontown (1898) was the first musical comedy entirely produced and performed by African Americans in a Broadway theatre (inspired largely by the routines of the minstrel shows), followed by the ragtime-tinged Clorindy: The Origin of the Cakewalk (1898), and the highly successful In Dahomey (1902). Hundreds of musical comedies were staged on Broadway in the 1890s and early 1900s made up of songs written in New York's Tin Pan Alley involving composers such as Gus Edwards, John Walter Bratton, and George M. Cohan (Little Johnny Jones (1904), 45 Minutes From Broadway (1906), and George Washington Jr. (1906)). Still, New York runs continued to be relatively short, with a few exceptions, compared with London runs, until World War I.[11] A few very successful British musicals continued to achieve great success in New York, including Florodora in 1900–01.

Early 20th century[edit]

Victor Herbert

In the early years of the twentieth century, translations of popular late-nineteenth century continental operettas were joined by the "Princess Theatre" shows of the 1910s, by writers such as P. G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, and Harry B. Smith. Victor Herbert, whose work included some intimate musical plays with modern settings as well as his string of famous operettas (The Fortune Teller (1898), Babes in Toyland (1903), Mlle. Modiste (1905), The Red Mill (1906), and Naughty Marietta (1910)).[14]

Beginning with The Red Mill, Broadway shows installed electric signs outside the theatres. Since colored bulbs burned out too quickly, white lights were used, and Broadway was nicknamed "The Great White Way". In August 1919, the Actors' Equity Association demanded a standard contract for all professional productions. After a strike shut down all the theatres, the producers were forced to agree. By the 1920s, the Shubert Brothers had risen to take over the majority of the theatres from the Erlanger syndicate.[15]

During this time, the play Lightnin' by Winchell Smith and Frank Bacon became the first Broadway show to reach 700 performances. From then, it would go on to become the first show to reach 1,000 performances. Lightnin' was the longest-running Broadway show until being overtaken in performance totals by Abie's Irish Rose in 1925.

Competing with motion pictures[edit]

Broadway north from 38th St., New York City, showing the Casino and Knickerbocker Theatres ("Listen, Lester", visible at lower right, played the Knickerbocker from December 23, 1918, to August 16, 1919), a sign pointing to Maxine Elliott's Theatre, which is out of view on 39th Street, and a sign advertising the Winter Garden Theatre, which is out of view at 50th Street. All but the Winter Garden are demolished. The old Metropolitan Opera House and the old Times Tower are visible on the left.

The motion picture mounted a challenge to the stage. At first, films were silent and presented only limited competition. By the end of the 1920s, films like The Jazz Singer were presented with synchronized sound, and critics wondered if cinema would replace live theatre altogether. While live vaudeville could not compete with these inexpensive films that featured vaudeville stars and major comedians of the day, other theatres survived. The musicals of the Roaring Twenties, borrowing from vaudeville, music hall, and other light entertainment, tended to ignore plot in favor of emphasizing star actors and actresses, big dance routines, and popular songs.

Florenz Ziegfeld produced annual spectacular song-and-dance revues on Broadway featuring extravagant sets and elaborate costumes, but there was little to tie the various numbers together. Typical of the 1920s were lighthearted productions such as Sally; Lady Be Good; Sunny; No, No, Nanette; Harlem; Oh, Kay!; and Funny Face. Their books may have been forgettable, but they produced enduring standards from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Vincent Youmans, and Rodgers and Hart, among others, and Noël Coward, Sigmund Romberg, and Rudolf Friml continued in the vein of Victor Herbert. Live theatre has survived the invention of cinema.

Between the wars[edit]

Leaving these comparatively frivolous entertainments behind and taking the drama a step forward, Show Boat premiered on December 27, 1927, at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It represented a complete integration of book and score, with dramatic themes, as told through the music, dialogue, setting, and movement, woven together more seamlessly than in previous musicals. It ran for 572 performances.[16]

Ina ClairePaul McCulloughBobby ClarkGeorge M. CohanAnn PenningtonHassard ShortRichard BennettMarilyn MillerW. C. FieldsMadge KennedyFanny BriceRaymond HitchcockBillie BurkeFlorenz Ziegfeld Jr.Groucho MarxHarpo MarxLenore UlricEd WynnEddie CantorAl JolsonRalph Barton
This February 21, 1925 Judge magazine cover by Ralph Barton features caricatures of various movie and theater personalities from the 1920s; click on a caricature to be taken to the corresponding person's Wikipedia article.

The 1920s also spawned a new age of American playwright with the emergence of Eugene O'Neill, whose plays Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, The Hairy Ape, Strange Interlude, and Mourning Becomes Electra proved that there was an audience for serious drama on Broadway, and O'Neill's success paved the way for major dramatists like Elmer Rice, Maxwell Anderson, Robert E. Sherwood, Clifford Odets, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller, as well as writers of comedy like George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Classical revivals also proved popular with Broadway theatre-goers, notably John Barrymore in Hamlet and Richard III, John Gielgud in Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest and Much Ado About Nothing, Walter Hampden and José Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac, Paul Robeson and Ferrer in Othello, Maurice Evans in Richard II and the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and Katharine Cornell in such plays as Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, and Candida.

As World War II approached, a dozen Broadway dramas addressed the rise of Nazism in Europe and the issue of American non-intervention. The most successful was Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, which opened in April 1941.[17]

Postwar era[edit]

After the lean years of the Great Depression, Broadway theatre had entered a golden age with the blockbuster hit Oklahoma!, in 1943, which ran for 2,212 performances. According to John Kenrick's writings on Broadway musicals, "Every season saw new stage musicals send songs to the top of the charts. Public demand, a booming economy and abundant creative talent kept Broadway hopping. To this day, the shows of the 1950s form the core of the musical theatre repertory."[18]

Decline in late 1960s[edit]

Kenrick notes that "the late 1960s marked a time of cultural upheaval. All those changes would prove painful for many, including those behind the scenes, as well as those in the audience."[19] Of the 1970s, Kenrick writes: "Just when it seemed that traditional book musicals were back in style, the decade ended with critics and audiences giving mixed signals."[20]

Ken Bloom observed that "The 1960s and 1970s saw a worsening of the area [Times Square] and a drop in the number of legitimate shows produced on Broadway."[21] By way of comparison, in the 1950 to 1951 season (May to May) 94 productions opened on Broadway; in the 1969 to 1970 season (June to May) there were 59 productions (fifteen were revivals).[22][23] In the twenties, there were 70–80 theaters, but by 1969, there were 36 left.[24]

During this time, many Broadway productions struggled due to low attendance rates, which resulted in perceived mediocrity among such plays. For this reason, the Theatre Development Fund was created with the purpose of assisting productions with high cultural value that likely would struggle without subsidization, by offering tickets to those plays to consumers at reduced prices.[25]

Resurgence in early 1980s[edit]

In early 1982, Joe Papp, the theatrical producer and director who established The Public Theater, led the "Save the Theatres" campaign.[26] It was a not-for-profit group supported by the Actors Equity union to save the theater buildings in the neighborhood from demolition by monied Manhattan development interests.[27][28][29][30] Papp provided resources, recruited a publicist and celebrated actors, and provided audio, lighting, and technical crews for the effort.[28]

At Papp's behest, in July 1982, a bill was introduced in the 97th Congress, entitled "H.R.6885, A bill to designate the Broadway/Times Square Theatre District in the City of New York as a national historic site".[31] The legislation would have provided certain U.S. government resources and assistance to help the city preserve the district.[31] Faced with strong opposition and lobbying by Mayor Ed Koch's Administration and corporate Manhattan development interests, the bill was not passed. The Save the Theatres campaign then turned their efforts to supporting the establishment of the Theater District as a registered historic district.[32][33] In December 1983, Save the Theatres prepared "The Broadway Theater District, a Preservation Development and Management Plan", and demanded that each theater in the district receive landmark designation.[33] Mayor Ed Koch ultimately reacted by creating a Theater Advisory Council, which included Papp.[28]

COVID-19 impact[edit]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, Broadway theaters closed on March 12, 2020, shuttering 16 shows that were playing or were in the process of opening. The Broadway League shutdown was extended first to April, then to May, then June, then September 2020 and January 2021,[34] and later to June 1, 2021.[35] Then-governor Andrew Cuomo announced that most sectors of New York would have their restrictions lifted on May 19, 2021, but he stated that Broadway theatres would not be able to immediately resume performances on this date due to logistical reasons. In May 2021, Cuomo announced that Broadway theaters would be allowed to reopen on September 14, and the League confirmed that performances would begin to resume in the fall season.[36]

Springsteen on Broadway became the first full-length show to resume performances, opening on June 26, 2021, to 1,721 vaccinated patrons at the St. James Theatre.[37] Pass Over then had its first preview on August 4, and opened on August 22, 2021, becoming the first new play to open.[38][39] Hadestown and Waitress were the first musicals to resume performances on September 2, 2021.[40] The 74th Tony Awards were also postponed; the Tony nominations were announced on October 15, 2020,[41] and took place on September 26, 2021.[42] On July 30, 2021, it was announced that all Broadway theaters required attendees to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. The rule applied to guests ages 12+. Those under age 12 were required to provide a negative COVID-19 test (PCR within 72 hours or antigen within six hours of the performance start time). Beginning November 8, those ages 5–11 also had the option to provide proof of at least one vaccination shot. Effective December 14, in accordance with NYC's vaccination mandate, guests ages 5–11 were required to have at least one vaccination shot until January 29, 2022, where they had to be fully vaccinated.[43] The vaccine mandate lasted until April 30,[44][45] and attendees were also required to wear face masks until July 1.[46]

During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Shubert Organization, the Nederlander Organization, and Jujamcyn had pledged to increase racial and cultural diversity in their theaters, including naming at least one theater for a Black theatrical personality.[47] The August Wilson Theatre, owned by Jujamcyn, had been renamed after Black playwright August Wilson in 2005.[48] The Shuberts announced in March 2022 that the Cort Theatre, which was under renovation at the time, would be renamed after actor James Earl Jones.[49][50] In June 2022, the Nederlanders announced that the Brooks Atkinson Theatre would be renamed after Lena Horne,[51][52][48] The James Earl Jones Theatre was rededicated in September 2022,[53] while the Lena Horne Theatre was rededicated that November.[54]



Although there are some exceptions, shows with open-ended runs generally have evening performances Tuesday through Saturday, with a 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. "curtain". The afternoon "matinée" performances are at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays and at 3:00 p.m. on Sundays. This makes for an eight-performance week. On this schedule, most shows do not play on Monday and the shows and theatres are said to be "dark" on that day.[55][56] The actors and the crew in these shows tend to regard Sunday evening through Monday evening as their weekend. The Tony award presentation ceremony is usually held on a Sunday evening in June to fit this schedule.

In recent years, some shows have moved their Tuesday show time an hour earlier to 7:00 pm.[55] The rationale for this move was that since fewer tourists take in shows midweek, Tuesday attendance depends more on local patrons. The earlier curtain makes it possible for suburban patrons to get home by a reasonable hour after the show. Some shows, especially those produced by Disney, change their performance schedules fairly frequently depending on the season. This is done in order to maximize access to their target audience.

Producers and theatre owners[edit]

Most Broadway producers and theatre owners are members of The Broadway League (formerly "The League of American Theatres and Producers"), a trade organization that promotes Broadway theatre as a whole, negotiates contracts with the various theatrical unions and agreements with the guilds, and co-administers the Tony Awards with the American Theatre Wing, a service organization. While the League and the theatrical unions are sometimes at loggerheads during those periods when new contracts are being negotiated, they also cooperate on many projects and events designed to promote professional theatre in New York.

Of the four non-profit theatre companies with Broadway theatres, all four (Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, and Second Stage Theatre) belong to the League of Resident Theatres and have contracts with the theatrical unions which are negotiated separately from the other Broadway theatre and producers. (Disney also negotiates apart from the League, as did Livent before it closed down its operations.)

The majority of Broadway theatres are owned or managed by three organizations: the Shubert Organization, a for-profit arm of the non-profit Shubert Foundation, which owns seventeen theatres; the Nederlander Organization, which controls nine theatres; and ATG Entertainment, which owns seven Broadway houses.


Both musicals and straight plays on Broadway often rely on casting well-known performers in leading roles to draw larger audiences or bring in new audience members to the theatre. Actors from film and television are frequently cast for the revivals of Broadway shows or are used to replace actors leaving a cast. There are still, however, performers who are primarily stage actors, spending most of their time "on the boards", and appearing in screen roles only secondarily. As Patrick Healy of The New York Times noted:

Broadway once had many homegrown stars who committed to working on a show for a year, as Nathan Lane has for The Addams Family. In 2010, some theater heavyweights like Mr. Lane were not even nominated; instead, several Tony Awards were given for productions that were always intended to be short-timers on Broadway, given that many of their film-star performers had to move on to other commitments.[57]

According to Mark Shenton, "One of the biggest changes to the commercial theatrical landscape—on both sides of the Atlantic—over the past decade or so is that sightings of big star names turning out to do plays has [sic] gone up; but the runs they are prepared to commit to has gone down. Time was that a producer would require a minimum commitment from his star of six months, and perhaps a year; now, the 13-week run is the norm."[58]

The minimum size of the Broadway orchestra is governed by an agreement with the musicians' union (Local 802, American Federation of Musicians) and The Broadway League. For example, the agreement specifies the minimum size of the orchestra at the Minskoff Theatre to be eighteen, while at the Music Box Theatre it is nine.[59]


Most Broadway shows are commercial productions intended to make a profit for the producers and investors ("backers" or "angels"), and therefore have open-ended runs (duration that the production plays), meaning that the length of their presentation is not set beforehand, but depends on critical response, word of mouth, and the effectiveness of the show's advertising, all of which determine ticket sales. Investing in a commercial production carries a varied degree of financial risk. Shows need not make a profit immediately; should they make their "nut" (weekly operating expenses), or lose money at a rate acceptable to the producers, they may continue to run in the expectation that, eventually, they will pay back their initial costs and become profitable. In some borderline situations, producers may ask that royalties be temporarily reduced or waived, or even that performers—with the permission of their unions—take reduced salaries, to prevent a show from closing. Theatre owners, who are not generally profit participants in most productions, may waive or reduce rents, or even lend money to a show to keep it running.

Some Broadway shows are produced by non-commercial organizations as part of a regular subscription season—Lincoln Center Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Second Stage Theater are the four non-profit theatre companies that currently have permanent Broadway venues. Some other productions are produced on Broadway with "limited engagement runs" for several reasons, including financial issues, prior engagements of the performers, or temporary availability of a theatre between the end of one production and the beginning of another. However, some shows with planned limited engagement runs may, after critical acclaim or box office success, extend their engagements or convert to open-ended runs. This was the case with 2007's August: Osage County, 2009's God of Carnage, 2012's Newsies, and 2022's Take Me Out.[60]

Historically, musicals on Broadway tend to have longer runs than "straight" (i.e., non-musical) plays. On January 9, 2006, The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre became the longest-running Broadway musical, with 7,486 performances, overtaking Cats.[61] The Phantom of the Opera closed on Broadway on April 16, 2023, soon after celebrating its 35th anniversary, after a total of 13,981 performances.[62][63]


Attending a Broadway show is a common tourist activity in New York. The TKTS booths sell same-day tickets (and in certain cases, next-day matinee tickets) for many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at a discount of 20 to 50%.[64] The TKTS booths are located in Times Square, in Lower Manhattan, and at Lincoln Center. This service is run by Theatre Development Fund. Many Broadway theatres also offer special student rates, same-day "rush" or "lottery" tickets, or standing-room tickets to help ensure that their theatres are as full—and their grosses as high—as possible.[65]

According to The Broadway League, total Broadway attendance was 14.77 million in 2018–2019, compared to 13.79 million in 2017–2018.[5] The average age of the Broadway audience in the 2017–18 theater season was 40, the lowest it had been in nearly two decades.[66] By 2018, about 20% of Broadway tickets were sold to international visitors, although many visitors reported not being able to use their tickets.[67] In 2022–2023, the first full season since the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway theaters sold 12.3 million tickets, of which 35% were to local residents and 17% to international visitors. At the time, the average age of theatergoers was 40.4; nearly two-thirds of the audience were women; and 29% identified as a racial minority.[68]

Off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway[edit]

The classification of theatres is governed by language in Actors' Equity Association contracts. To be eligible for a Tony, a production must be in a house with 500 seats or more and in the Theater District, which are the criteria that define Broadway theatre. Off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway shows often provide a more experimental, challenging, and intimate performance than is possible in the larger Broadway theatres. Some Broadway shows, however, such as the musicals Hair, Little Shop of Horrors, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights, Fun Home, A Chorus Line, Dear Evan Hansen, and Hamilton, began their runs Off-Broadway and later transferred to Broadway, seeking to replicate their intimate experience in a larger theatre. Other productions are first developed through workshops and then out-of-town tryouts before transferring to Broadway. Merrily We Roll Along famously skipped an out-of-town tryout and attempted to do an in-town tryout—actually preview performances—on Broadway before its official opening, with disastrous results.[69][70]

Broadway national tours[edit]

After, or even during, successful runs in Broadway theatres, producers often remount their productions with new casts and crew for the Broadway national tour, which travels to theatres in major cities across the country. Sometimes when a show closes on Broadway, the entire production, with most if not all of the original cast intact, is relaunched as a touring company, hence the name "Broadway national tour". Some shows may even have several touring companies out at a time, whether the show is still running in New York or not, with many companies "sitting down" in other major cities for their own extended runs. For Broadway national tours of top-tier cities, the entire Broadway production is transplanted almost entirely intact and may run for many months (or years) at each stop. For example, the first U.S. tour of The Phantom of the Opera required 26 53-foot-long (16.1 m) semi-trailers to transport all its sets, equipment, and costumes, and it took almost 10 days to properly unload all those trucks and install everything into a theater.[71]

Second-tier and smaller cities can also attract national tours, but these are more likely to be "bus and truck" tours.[71] These are scaled-down versions of the larger, national touring productions, historically acquiring their name because the casts generally traveled by bus instead of by air, while the sets and equipment traveled by truck. Tours of this type often run for weeks rather than months, and frequently feature a reduced physical production to accommodate smaller venues and tighter schedules, and to fit into fewer trucks.[71] A typical second-tier city can usually sell only up to about eight shows (one week) of tickets.[71] For cities smaller than that, a touring production might move twice a week ("split weeks") or every day ("one-nighters").[71] For "bus and truck" tours, the production values are usually less lavish than the typical Broadway national tour or national touring production, and the actors, while still members of the actors' union, are compensated under a different, less lucrative union contract. The Touring Broadway Awards, presented by The Broadway League, honored excellence in touring Broadway.


Broadway productions and artists are honored by the annual Antoinette Perry Awards (commonly called the "Tony Awards", or "Tonys"), given by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League, and that were first presented in 1947.[72] The Tony is Broadway's most prestigious award, comparable to the Academy Awards for Hollywood film productions. Their importance has increased since 1967 when the awards presentation show began to be broadcast on national television. In a strategy to improve the television ratings, celebrities are often chosen to host the show, some with scant connection to the theatre.[73] The most recent Tony Awards ceremony was held on June 16, 2024. Other awards given to Broadway productions include the Drama Desk Award, presented since 1955, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards, first given in 1936, and the Outer Critics Circle Award, initially presented in 1950.

Broadway theatres and current productions[edit]

  • An * after the opening date indicates that the listed production has yet to open and is scheduled for the given date at that theatre.
  • An * after the closing date indicates that there is another show scheduled for that theatre.
  • If the next show planned is not announced, the applicable columns are left blank.
  • Capacity is based on the capacity given for the respective theatre at the Internet Broadway Database.[74]
Theatre Address Capacity Owner/Operator Current production Type Opening Closing
Al Hirschfeld Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 302) 1424 ATG Entertainment Moulin Rouge! Musical 2019-07-25July 25, 2019 Open-ended
Ambassador Theatre W. 49th St. (No. 219) 1125 Shubert Organization Chicago Musical 1996-11-14November 14, 1996 Open-ended
August Wilson Theatre W. 52nd St. (No. 245) 1228 ATG Entertainment Cabaret[75] Musical 2024-04-21April 21, 2024 Open-ended
Belasco Theatre W. 44th St. (No. 111) 1018 Shubert Organization Maybe Happy Ending[76] Musical 2024-10-17October 17, 2024* Open-ended
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 242) 1078 Shubert Organization The Outsiders[77] Musical 2024-04-11April 11, 2024 Open-ended
Booth Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 222) 766 Shubert Organization The Roommate[78] Play 2024-09-12September 12, 2024* 2024-12-15December 15, 2024
Broadhurst Theatre W. 44th St. (No. 235) 1186 Shubert Organization The Hills of California[79] Play 2024-09-29September 29, 2024* 2024-12-08December 8, 2024
Broadway Theatre W. 53rd St & Broadway (No. 1681) 1761 Shubert Organization The Great Gatsby[80] Musical 2024-04-25April 25, 2024 Open-ended
Circle in the Square Theatre W. 50th St. (No. 235) 840 Independent Romeo and Juliet[81] Play 2024-10-24October 24, 2024* 2025-01-19January 19, 2025
Ethel Barrymore Theatre W. 47th St. (No. 243) 1096 Shubert Organization Our Town[82] Play 2024-10-10October 10, 2024* 2025-01-19January 19, 2025
Eugene O'Neill Theatre W. 49th St. (No. 230) 1066 ATG Entertainment The Book of Mormon Musical 2011-03-24March 24, 2011 Open-ended
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 236) 1079 Shubert Organization The Notebook[83] Musical 2024-03-14March 14, 2024 Open-ended
Gershwin Theatre W. 51st St. (No. 222) 1933 Nederlander Organization Wicked Musical 2003-10-30October 30, 2003 Open-ended
Hayes Theater W. 44th St. (No. 240) 597 Second Stage Theater Job[84] Play 2024-07-30July 30, 2024* 2024-09-29September 29, 2024*
Hudson Theatre W. 44th St. (No. 141) 970 ATG Entertainment Once Upon a Mattress[85] Musical 2024-08-12August 12, 2024* 2024-11-30November 30, 2024
Imperial Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 249) 1443 Shubert Organization Water for Elephants[86] Musical 2024-03-21March 21, 2024 Open-ended
James Earl Jones Theatre W. 48th St. (No. 138) 1084 Shubert Organization Left on Tenth[87] Play 2024-10-23October 23, 2024* Limited
John Golden Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 252) 805 Shubert Organization Stereophonic[88] Play 2024-04-19April 19, 2024 2025-01-05January 5, 2025
Lena Horne Theatre W. 47th St. (No. 256) 1094 Nederlander Organization Six Musical 2021-10-03October 3, 2021 Open-ended
Longacre Theatre W. 48th St. (No. 220) 1091 Shubert Organization Swept Away[89] Musical 2024-11-19November 19, 2024* Open-ended
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre W. 46th St. (No. 205) 1519 Nederlander Organization Death Becomes Her[90] Musical 2024-11-21November 21, 2024* Open-ended
Lyceum Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 149) 922 Shubert Organization Oh, Mary![91] Play 2024-07-11July 11, 2024 2024-09-15September 15, 2024
Lyric Theatre W. 43rd St. (No. 214) 1622 ATG Entertainment Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play 2018-04-22April 22, 2018 Open-ended
Majestic Theatre W. 44th St. (No. 245) 1645 Shubert Organization Gypsy[92] Musical 2024-12-19December 19, 2024* Open-ended
Marquis Theatre W. 46th St. (No. 210) 1612 Nederlander Organization The Wiz[93] Musical 2024-04-17April 17, 2024 Open-ended
Minskoff Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 200) 1710 Nederlander Organization The Lion King Musical 1997-11-13November 13, 1997 Open-ended
Music Box Theatre W. 45th St. (No. 239) 1009 Shubert Organization Suffs[94] Musical 2024-04-18April 18, 2024 Open-ended
Nederlander Theatre W. 41st St. (No. 208) 1235 Nederlander Organization The Who's Tommy[95] Musical 2024-03-28March 28, 2024 2024-07-21July 21, 2024
Neil Simon Theatre W. 52nd St. (No. 250) 1467 Nederlander Organization MJ the Musical Musical 2022-02-01February 1, 2022 Open-ended
New Amsterdam Theatre W. 42nd St. (No. 214) 1747 Disney Theatrical Group Aladdin Musical 2014-03-20March 20, 2014 Open-ended
Palace Theatre W. 47th St. (No. 160) 1648 Nederlander Organization Tammy Faye[96] Musical 2024-11-14November 14, 2024* Open-ended
Richard Rodgers Theatre W. 46th St. (No. 226) 1400 Nederlander Organization Hamilton Musical 2015-08-06August 6, 2015 Open-ended
St. James Theatre W. 44th St. (No. 246) 1709 ATG Entertainment Illinoise[97] Dance 2024-04-24April 24, 2024 2024-08-10August 10, 2024*
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre W. 47th St. (No. 261) 650 Manhattan Theatre Club Eureka Day[98] Play 2024-12-16December 16, 2024* Limited
Shubert Theatre W. 44th St. (No. 225) 1460 Shubert Organization Hell's Kitchen[99] Musical 2024-04-20April 20, 2024 Open-ended
Stephen Sondheim Theatre W. 43rd St. (No. 124) 1055 Roundabout Theatre Company & Juliet Musical 2022-11-17November 17, 2022 Open-ended
Studio 54 W. 54th St. (No. 254) 1006 Roundabout Theatre Company A Wonderful World[100] Musical 2024-11-11November 11, 2024* Open-ended
Todd Haimes Theatre W. 42nd St. (No. 227) 740 Roundabout Theatre Company Home[101] Play 2024-06-05June 5, 2024 2024-07-21July 21, 2024*
Vivian Beaumont Theater W. 65th St. (No. 150) 1080 Lincoln Center Theatre McNeal[102] Play 2024-09-30September 30, 2024* 2024-11-24November 24, 2024*
Walter Kerr Theatre W. 48th St. (No. 219) 945 ATG Entertainment Hadestown Musical 2019-04-17April 17, 2019 Open-ended
Winter Garden Theatre W. 50th St. & Broadway (No. 1634) 1526 Shubert Organization Back to the Future: The Musical[103] Musical 2023-08-03August 3, 2023 Open-ended

Upcoming productions[edit]

The following shows are confirmed as future Broadway productions. The theatre in which they will run is either not yet known or currently occupied by another show.

Production Type Theatre Opening Ref
Boop! The Musical Musical TBA April 2025 [104]
Cult of Love Play Hayes Theater 2024-12-12December 12, 2024 [105]
English Play Todd Haimes Theatre 2025-01-23January 23, 2025 [106]
Floyd Collins Musical Vivian Beaumont Theatre 2025-04-21April 21, 2025 [107]
Good Night, and Good Luck Play TBA Spring 2025 [108]
The Last Five Years Musical TBA Spring 2025 [109]
Othello Play TBA Spring 2025 [110]
The Pirates of Penzance Musical Todd Haimes Theatre 2025-04-25April 24, 2025 [106]
Redwood Musical TBA Spring 2025 [111]
Smash Musical TBA Spring 2025 [112]
Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends Revue Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 2025-03-27March 27, 2025 [113]
Sunset Boulevard Musical St. James Theatre 2024-10-20October 20, 2024 [114]
Yellow Face Play Todd Haimes Theatre 2024-10-01October 1, 2024 [106]


  1. ^ Although theater is generally the spelling for this common noun in the United States (see American and British English spelling differences), many of the extant or closed Broadway venues use or used the spelling Theatre as the proper noun in their names. Many performers and trade groups for live dramatic presentations also use the spelling theatre.

See also[edit]


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  76. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan. "Darren Criss and Helen J Shen Will Lead New Broadway Musical Maybe Happy Ending" Playbill.com, May 14, 2024
  77. ^ Gans, Andrew. "The Outsiders Musical Will Arrive on Broadway in Spring 2024" Playbill.com, August 21, 2023
  78. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Mia Farrow and Patti LuPone Will Return to Broadway in The Roommate" Playbill.com, May 2, 2024
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  88. ^ [1]
  89. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan. "Avett Brothers Musical Swept Away Sets October Start Date" Playbill.com, June 18, 2024
  90. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Death Becomes Her Musical Will Open on Broadway This Fall Starring Megan Hilty and Jennifer Simard" Playbill.com, May 15, 2024
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  92. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan. "Here She Is, Boys: Audra McDonald Will Reopen Broadway's Majestic in Gypsy" Playbill.com, May 29, 2024
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  95. ^ Higgins, Molly and Culwell-Block, Logan. "Reimagined The Who's Tommy Sets 2024 Broadway Bow" Playbill.com, October 26, 2023
  96. ^ Higgins, Molly. "Katie Brayben and Andrew Rannells to Star in Tammy Faye on Broadway" Playbill.com, March 22, 2024
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  98. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan. "Amber Gray, Thomas Middleditch, More Will Fight About Vaccines in Broadway's Eureka Day" Playbill.com, June 18, 2024
  99. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan. "Broadway State of Mind: Alicia Keys Musical Hell's Kitchen Sets 2024 Broadway Bow" Playbill.com, December 4, 2023
  100. ^ Gans, Andrew. "James Monroe Iglehart Will Star in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical on Broadway" Playbill.com, February 28, 2024
  101. ^ Harms, Talaura. "Roundabout Sets Dates and Creative Team for Kenny Leon-Helmed Home's Broadway Revival" Playbill.com, December 6, 2023
  102. ^ Hall, Margaret. "Oscar Winner Robert Downey Jr. to Make Broadway Debut This Season" Playbill.com, May 7, 2024
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  106. ^ a b c Harms, Tamara. "Sanaz Toossi's English, David Henry Hwang's Yellow Face, New Orleans-Themed Pirates of Penzance Join Roundabout Season" Playbill.com, January 9, 2024
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  108. ^ [2]
  109. ^ Paulson, Michael (June 16, 2024). "Nick Jonas and Adrienne Warren to Star in 'Last Five Years' on Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 16, 2024.
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  111. ^ [3]
  112. ^ Paulson, Michael (March 22, 2023). "A Stage Adaptation of 'Smash' Is Setting Its Sights on Broadway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on March 22, 2023. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  113. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan. "Bernadette Peters and Lea Salonga Will Star in Stephen Sondheim's Old Friends on Broadway" Playbill.com, April 8, 2024
  114. ^ Higgins, Molly. "Nicole Scherzinger-Led Sunset Boulevard Revival Sets Dates at Broadway's St. James; Live London Album Due in April" Playbill.com, March 25, 2024

Further reading[edit]

  • Ackerman, Alan. "Liberalism, Democracy, and the Twentieth-Century American Theater", American Literary History (2005) 17#4 pp. 765–780.
  • Bordman, Gerald. American Musical Comedy (Oxford University Press, 1982)
  • Bordman, Gerald. American Operetta (Oxford University Press, 1981)
  • Knapp, Raymond. The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity (Princeton University Press, 2005)
  • Middeke, Martin, et al. The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary American Playwrights (2013)
  • Mordden, Ethan. Anything Goes: A History of American Musical Theatre (2013)
  • Roudane, Matthew Charles. American Drama Since 1960: A Critical History (1996)
  • Shiach, Don. American Drama 1900–1990 (2000)
  • Stempel, Larry. Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater (WW Norton, 2010) 826 pp.
  • Weales, Gerald Clifford. American drama since World War II (1962)
  • White, Timothy R. Blue-Collar Broadway: The Craft and Industry of American Theater (2014)
  • Wolf, Stacy. Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical (2010)

External links[edit]