The Basics of the Broadway Shows

There are few people who do not know of Broadway. It is the peak of any actor’s career, the goal that all performers strive for; even for those not particularly interested in the arts, Broadway is one of the most well-known aspects of New York life. Yet as internationally famous as Broadway is, there is more to know about it than initially meets the eye.

It is the shows, first and foremost, that make up Broadway itself. Although there are several shows that are fortunate enough to share the location of Broadway, they differ in their content and style. One of the latest trends on Broadway is theatrical adaptations of movies.

Most of these musical adaptations are aimed toward family audiences. Among the most popular, of course, are the long-running Disney productions of Mary Poppins and The Lion King. With runs of almost three years and twelve years respectively, the fame of both shows is evident; their ability to continue to entertain audiences, no matter how young, has clearly not wavered in time.
Straying from the Disney trend is Shrek the Musical, which tells the familiar tale from the movie with a musical score to match.

Though the idea of having the massive, green ogre alive on the Broadway stage may seem odd at first, the show has proven to be very well-received by film fans and theater fans alike.

However, the significant increase of children-friendly musicals, one of the most popular movie-to-musical adaptations currently on Broadway does not have its roots in a children’s cartoon. Billy Elliot was initially a film released in the year 2000; this past June, it emerged from the 2009 Tony Awards with 10 honors including Best Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. A musical about a young boy determined to dance, the hype for Billy Elliot is still strong as the end of the summer arrives; it continues to be one of the frontrunners in Broadway grosses.

There may be several familiar names found in marquees, but Broadway is not just the next level of evolution for films. Big name shows such as Wicked, Mamma Mia and The Phantom of the Opera are still marveling audiences with their productions. Though not commonly regarded as blockbuster musicals, Hair and Next to Normal are two other shows that have attracted attention despite their lack of initial popularity as movies. Though there are clear trends in Broadway productions, the diversity among individual shows is obvious; these days, it seems like there is something for everyone on the Great White Way.

The differences among shows are not the only signs of diversity on Broadway. While Broadway shows are commonly associated with crystal chandeliers and hundred dollar seats, there are many events in which performers step off their usual stages and display their work to the greater public. One such event is Broadway on Broadway: a free outdoor concert in the heart of Times Square. Casts from many of Broadway’s finest musicals take the stage to perform a number from their shows, culminating in an exciting collaboration of performances.

This year, the concert is on Sunday, Sept. 13. Though it begins at 11:30 a.m., it is best to go earlier in order to get a spot with a good view of the stage.

Whether it is the plots of the shows currently showing or the different ways to see them, there is a lot to know about Broadway. The best way to learn is to get on the subway, head to Times Square and go see a show!