The difference between West End and Broadway for new theatre-goers

If you’re new theatre-goer, the names West End and Broadway probably sound familiar. But what are differences? Are they just based in different locations? Here’s the difference between West End and Broadway for new theatre-goers.

The industry behind Broadway productions is massive. In the 2016-2017 season alone, it grossed nearly $1.5 billion. In that period of time, there were 45 new productions attracting 13.27 million attendees. However, many people who go to New York to see a new show might not be going to Broadway. Instead, they may choose an off-Broadway or even an off-off-Broadway production. It all depends on the location they want to visit, the size of the theater they prefer, and the type of show they’re looking to see.

By definition, Broadway theaters must have at least 500 seats and be located between 7th and 8th Avenue and 40th and 54th Street. They host mainly plays and musicals, but every now and then you may find concerts and dance shows to enjoy. These theaters might be eligible for the Tony Awards, which are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. Some examples of Broadway locations are the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Hudson Theatre, and Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Off-Broadway theaters must be located in New York City and have at least 100 but no more than 499 seats. Some examples are the Signature Theatre, The Public Theater, and the Playwrights Horizons. You may not be aware that Stomp is actually an off-Broadway show that started in the U.K. and came to New York in 1994. Off-off-Broadway productions began as an anti-commercial movement. Those theaters have no more than 98 seats.

difference between West End and Broadway for new theatre-goers
The difference between West End and Broadway for new theatre-goers

The Travelling Squid’s Take

According to a friend who had the chance to visit both West End and Broadway, it may be better to watch a play at the theatre it was originally written for, as it could have been written for the original cast in mind. That said, for plays which are into several runs, the original cast may no longer be part of the play and it probably wouldn’t matter. For instance, the award-winning play Book of Mormon was originally written for Broadway in 2011. Hence, Broadway is a more popular location to watch it. Do indulge in some theatre nostalgia, and catch the play you’ve been waiting for!