If there were a pilgrimage for theater folks, it would have been Broadway theater. The terms theater and Broadway are so inextricably linked, that even a layman with a little knowledge of theater, knows about it. Broadway Theater, also simply known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theaters, located in the Theater District and Lincoln Centre along Broadaway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York city. Each of the theaters in this district is endowed with a sitting capacity of 500 or more viewers. Broadway, the street running the length of Manhattan in New york city, has been associated with American Theatrical activities since 1735, when the very first theater opened on that Street. By the end of the 20th century, the word Broadway had come to refer to a theatrical district in New York. This theatrical district is a popular tourist attraction in New York city.
THE HISTORY OF BROADWAY THEATER :
The journey of Broadway theater in New York did not begin until 1750 when Thomas Kean and Walter Murray opened a theater company on Nassau Street. This theater could accommodate upto 280 patrons and mostly staged Shakespearean plays and Ballad operas. During the revolutionary war, theater stopped in the city but began again in 1798. It was during this time that the Park Theater, a 2000-seat theater was built. After its success, the Bowery Theater was built and soon many others followed. With the opening of the Astor Place Theater in 1849, a riot occurred, because the lower class audience that frequented the Bowery took offense to the snobbery of upper class audience who attended the Astor. This riot was a milestone which separated theater in New York as the upper classes attended the Opera, the middle class watched melodramas and minstrel shows while the working class frequented the variety shows. Shakespeare was hugely popular during this time with many of his plays put on in Broadway. Musicals, the genre with which Broadway is most closely associated with, were first performed in the middle of the century. ” The Elves ” was the first ever, long run musical that played in New York and it played for 50 performances.
WHAT MAKES BROADWAY THEATER SO SPECIAL? :
The theater district, which was named Broadway by the British ( after they took over the city ) because of its unusual width, is home to 41 large professional theaters. This famous section of Broadway is also known as ” The Great White Way”. It is so called because it was one of the first streets in the USA to be lit with electric lights and today millions of lights on the theater marquee and bill board advertisements justify the aptness of the name. It remains one of the most popular tourist attractions of New York city. Many people believe that the theatrical productions on Broadway are the best in the world. Each year, the best Broadway shows are awarded Tony awards. In the 2017/18 season, the gross revenue from Broadway shows in New York was approximately 1.7 billion U.S Dollars. The longest running plays on Broadway are typically musicals and the longest running show is ” The Phantom of the Opera”, which has had more than 12,000 performances!! The longest running straight play is ” Life with Father”, that closed after 3224 performances in 1947.