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Your Complete Guide To Watching Broadway Musicals in New York City

“Musicals don’t get enough credit for being so surreal. It’s like an alternate universe”, said Ezra Koenig. We wholeheartedly agree! There’s nothing quite like a Broadway musical. The grand unveiling of curtains, the swell of the orchestra, choregraphies that portray a myriad of emotions and unforgettable songs that transports you to a different world - a Broadway Musical is magic in its truest sense.

Western musical theatre emerged in the 19th century and slowly caught momentum through the next decade. By the 20th century, they were called ‘Broadway musicals’ - what we know as today. What makes a performance a ‘Broadway Musical’ are the extravagant stage decor, dynamic scene changes, show lights, designer costumes, incredible live singing, dancing and acting. Couple this with technology gimmicks and a music loving audience, you’ve had yourself a real Broadway musical experience.

Broadway musicals are presented in 40 professional theatres in the Theatre District & Lincoln Center along Broadway, Midtown Manhattan in New York City. These days your options for a stellar Broadway Musical are more diverse than ever - raucous comedies like The Book of Mormon, emotional dramas like Dear Evan Hansen, classic operettas like The Phantom of the Opera, or iconic Disney musicals like The Lion King, there’s plenty for every genre-lover.

If you find yourself in New York, there’s no leaving the city without grabbing tickets to a Broadway Musical of your choice.

Broadway Musical Vs Broadway Plays

This is a common confusion among most Broadway first-timers - what is the difference between a Broadway musical and play? In simple words, a Broadway Musical is a live show that incorporates songs into its script to emote the story. With elaborate songs and dancing, the story is delivered to the audience with equal proportions of acting, dance and music.

A Broadway play, also simply known as Theatre spans genres like drama, comedy, and fantasy barring the musical element - just pure, unadulterated theatrical productions. There is a third genre that is quickly becoming popular in the Theatre District - Opera. These are musicals with operatic singing in the operatic style where the story is conveyed in a dramatic fashion with singing and less dialogues.

Choosing The Right Broadway Musical

Choosing the right Broadway musical makes all the difference. Here are a few quick factors you must take into consideration before booking your tickets.

  • The Genre

    There are different genres of musicals - drama, comedy, disney classics, movie revivals and many more. Browse the latest musicals running on Broadway, read the critic reviews and take a call accordingly. Not everything that’s on Broadway is necessarily a hit!

  • With Kids Vs Without Kids

    If you’re going for a Broadway Musical with kids, opt for the Disney Classics - The Lion King, Aladdin, and Frozen being the top rated family favourites. If you’re going with teens, School of Rock, Mean Girls or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are good options. While these musicals are mainly a hit among kids, adults are known to love them too!

  • Book your tickets in advance

    If you want to get the perfect seats to the Broadway musical of your choice, we highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. Broadway musicals are hugely popular and the good seats sell out weeks prior to the show. To avoid last-minute disappointment, grab your tickets well in advance.

Best Broadway Musicals Of All Time

These Broadway musicals are multiple award-winners, record breakers of its time, have a stellar cast and, a ticket to these shows promise an experience of a lifetime. They are the critics favourites and audience favourites - a rare combination!

Best Broadway Musicals For Kids

If you’re looking to keep your little ones entertained, our round up of Broadway musicals for kids are just what you need. Don’t worry, you’ll love them too. It’s family friendly and fun unlimited!

Best Broadway Musicals For Adults

Be it a fun night with your friends or a quiet weekend with your partner, there are Broadway musicals for every mood. While most Broadway musicals are tailored to adult taste, here are the top few musicals you shouldn’t miss out on.

Best Broadway Musicals For Date Night

Yes, a Broadway experience can be quite romantic provided you choose the right musical! Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, or just another date night out, the theatre is ideal for an intimate moment. We hope you find love amidst these Broadway musicals!

Longest Running Broadway Musicals

The longest running musical in Broadway history is The Phantom of the Opera. It officially opened on January 26, 1988 and is still playing at the Majestic The Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre. Apart from The Phantom of the Opera, here are the longest running broadway shows that are worthy of your time.

Highest Grossing Broadway Musicals

The Lion King is the highest grossing Broadway performance of all time. Ever wondered why some shows gross such high numbers while other really good Broadway performances don’t? This often happens because different shows have different seating capacities, which means some shows have the potential to make more money per performance than others. Ticket prices and actual ticket sales also play a huge factor. It’s not always that a Lion King is sold-out every night! Here are the shows that are still running and have clocked big numbers over the years.

Best Off-Broadway Musicals

If you’re looking for a Broadway musical experience that does not burn a hole in your pocket, check out these top and trending Off-Broadway musicals. With smaller theatres and an intimate setting with close-up performances, you’ll be left wondering why these shows are not on Broadway theatres already!

Broadway Musicals That Won Tony Awards

The Tony Award for Best Musical is the final award presented at the Tony Awards ceremony every year. It is one of the ceremony's longest-standing awards. A Broadway Musical is eligible for consideration in a given year if it has not previously been produced on Broadway and is not determined to be a 'classic' or in the historical or popular repertoire", otherwise it may be considered for Best Revival of a Musical.

For the 73rd Tony Awards in 2019, Hadestown, Ain’t Too Proud, Beetlejuice, The Prom and Tootsie were nominated in the Best Musicals category. Hadestown, directed by Rachel Chavkin was awarded the winner. Fun Fact: Hamilton is the most nominated musical production in Tony history, with 16 nominations

Here are other Broadway musicals that made it to the Tony award nominee and winner list

Essential Tips For Watching Broadway Musicals

  • Broadway musicals are shorter than plays. This allows you to squeeze in a performance, even if you’re short on time!

  • There is no official dress code to attend a Broadway musical, however, Broadway is often considered a special occasion by most locals. While tuxedos and gowns are a bit of a stretch, dress like you’re heading to a party. The actors appreciate it, and you won’t look out of place (barring the one odd guy in flip flops).

  • Use the restroom in the theatre before the show and don’t bank on intermission loo breaks. Theater restrooms are notoriously small, making for long lines. Not to mention, the bathrooms are often located on a lower basement level or a mezzanine level, which means you’ll have to climb a lot of stairs.

  • The doors open half an hour before the start of the musical. Arrive around 35 minutes early so you don’t have to spend time in queues and you can walk in early and get settled comfortably.

  • Even if you’re not early, don’t be late! An increasing number of shows are no longer allowing late seating, which means you’ll have to watch the show on a monitor in the lobby until intermission (or for the length of the show if it’s only one act).

  • It’s best to avoid taking your car to the Theatre district. Getting a parking spot is a tedious and expensive affair. The subway is your best bet.

  • Photography and Videography are strictly prohibited during a Broadway musical. It’s unlawful and distracting

  • Turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode. Not vibrate, not silent, no alarms. This can distract the performers and your fellow audience members.

  • If you’re opting for Standing Room Only Tickets, make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you have to stand throughout the duration of the musical - anything between 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Squeeze in your Broadway plans during Broadway Week (it goes on for a month) which lets you buy 2 tickets to most Broadway musicals for the price of 1. This does mean that you'll need to buy at least two tickets.

  • Waiting for the show’s stars to make an appearance for autographs after the musical is one of Broadway’s great traditions. Be prepared to wait as most stars have to change out of their costume and remove stage makeup before they make an appearance.

  • Theater etiquette asks that you do not leave when actors are making their curtain calls. Stick around for the extra few minutes and be a part of the audience that shows appreciation for the performers and musicians.

Best Seats For A Broadway Musical

Getting the right seats for a Broadway Musical plays a huge role in the experience. Here are a few things you must know before selecting the seats/section for your Broadway Musical:

  • Most theatres for musicals hold 1,000 to 1,500 seats while most dramas and comedies hold upto 500 to 1,000 seat theatres. So yes, you have more seats to choose from for a Broadway Musical than a play.

  • For Broadway musicals , the ideal location is around 8-10 rows back in the orchestra section or the front row of the mezzanine (in the center, of course).

  • Note, most mezzanines have a railing in the front that can get in the way of children or shorter adults. Avoid these rows at all costs.

  • If you’re interested in viewing the dance and choreography in its entirety (a bird’s eye view), center balcony seats provide a great vantage point to view the patterns and movements that are less apparent from the orchestra.

  • The most important tip for scoring good seats to a Broadway Musical is to get your tickets well in advance. The popular seats tend to book out weeks in advance, so grab them before they sell out!

FAQs - Broadway Musicals

What are the top 10 Broadway musicals?
The top 10 Broadway musicals of all time are below:
  • Hamilton
  • Aladdin
  • Lion King
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Book of Mormon
  • Les Miserables
  • West Side Story
  • Wicked
  • Kinky Boots
  • Chicago
How can I get cheap Broadway musical tickets?
There are different ways to score cheap Broadway musical tickets. The top 3 recommended ways are : Ticket Apps like Headout, Today Tix, TKTS booths and Playing the Broadway Lottery. Check out more ways to get cheap Broadway tickets
What musical should I see on Broadway?
Depending on your genre of choice, you can choose from an array of currently running Broadway musicals. Here are our favourites.
What is the best Broadway musical of all time?
While this is debatable, Hamilton and the Phantom of Opera top the list of best Broadway musicals. The Phantom of the Opera, is Broadway's longest-running show while Hamilton holds the record for the most nominations.
What was the most expensive Broadway musical to produce?
Spiderman: Turn off the Dark is the most expensive Broadway production in history with a production cost of $79 Million. The production opened in 2011 and closed in 2014, during which the show could not give back the returns to its investors.
Which Broadway musical has won the most Tonys?
The most Tonys ever received by a single Broadway Musical production was The Producers (2001) with 12 awards, including Best Musical 2001. It won 12 awards out of 15 nominations
Is there any dress code for a Broadway musical?
While there is no specific dress code for Broadway musicals, dressy casuals are recommended. Some like to dress up and make a night of it, while some like to be comfortable in jeans. However you choose to dress up (or down), you will not be denied entry to the show.
What new musicals are coming to Broadway in 2020?

While the list is constantly changing with new arrivals being announced every week, here’s what we are excited for this year:

  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • Flying Over Sunset
  • Girl From The North Country
  • Six
  • Diana
  • Sing Street
  • MJ The Musical
  • The Music Man
  • Caroline, or Change