Why Broadway is Important in Today’s World
Fans of the theater have felt the absence of Broadway shows over the past nine months. While we know that it will eventually be back in all its glory, it has certainly pointed out many reasons why it is vital to the world. Broadway has a long and storied history, filled with historical significance. Whether you attend a theatrical performance for escape or to think about tough societal questions, you realize the place that it has in your life.
Unlike a film, a play or musical on Broadway is a living performance. It can captivate and connect in a unique way that no other medium can claim. To understand why Broadway is so important to today’s world, it makes sense to look at its past.
The History of Broadway
Today, what we know as Broadway theater are theatrical performances that occur in the professional theatres, located along Broadway, that have more than 500 seats in the venue.
While it has grown to an industry that grosses billions of dollars a year, it didn’t start that way.
The early days of theater in New York got off to an intriguing start. Shakespearian plays and operas were among the popular shows that graced the first stages in the 1750s. When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775, the theater went on a hiatus.
In 1829, Niblo’s Garden opened up on Broadway and Prince Street. It quickly became a popular place to be on a New York evening. Eventually, more theaters began to open up when prominent entrepreneurs noticed their popularity. For much of those early days, Shakespeare’s plays were produced on the stage.
Edwin Booth became famous during that time for playing the title role in “Hamlet.”
Eventually, musicals became more prominent on Broadway stages. “The Elves” and “The Black Crook” were among the first musicals that audiences were treated to during those early days. Over the years, musicals and plays were performed on these stages, even during wars and other societal upheavals. They gave audiences the entertainment they needed and often the gateway to social conversations that needed to happen.
The Importance of Broadway in Modern-Day Life
There are some out there who may question the need for theater in modern-day life. After all, aren’t entertainment needs satiated by the abundance of streaming services and films. Even though people seem starved for content, some don’t see theater’s place in society.
First, Broadway is a huge part of the New York economy. During the 2018-2019 season, Broadway shows grossed almost $1.5 billion.
This number doesn’t include the revenue that these shows have made possible for hotels, restaurants, and other retail establishments. This is proof that Broadway is still a huge part of making New York City thrive economically.
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly proven that the city misses Broadway plays and musicals financially. Broadway also employs many people.
Beyond the financial aspect, Broadway is vital for so many other reasons. As mentioned before, when you go to see a Broadway show, you are immersed in an experience. Film separates you from the art form. Since a theatrical performance is live, you are engaged in the action through all of your senses.
Some people think Broadway is important enough that it factors into where they decide to live. People may chose to buy a home that is close to a city that hosts Broadway productions.
Broadway shows have tackled pressing social issues and started important conversations. “Angels in America,” “South Pacific,” “Rent,” “Fun Home,” and “Spring Awakening” are all productions that had people talking about important issues in the world.
Broadway shows have always been an excellent way for people to start talking about issues through the prism of entertainment.
Another reason that Broadway plays and musicals are relevant today is that they are the place where you can see the best singers, actors, and dancers in the world practice their craft.
You get to see the creative efforts of world-class set designers, choreographers, musicians, and costume designers.
As you are entertained and drawn into the story, you’ll realize that you are in a one-of-a-kind experience.
See for Yourself
Throughout its history, Broadway theater has captured the imagination of many people who found their way to a seat. If you have never been to a Broadway show before, and wonder about its relevance, make sure you get a ticket for a show once the theaters reopen. Once you’ve been in the audience for a Broadway show, you’ll understand why these shows have become part of the fabric of our society.