Why Broadway?

Please see guest author Coni Koepfinger’s bio below

Why Broadway? The term “Broadway” originated because of the street’s uncommon width. However, it has become synonymous with professional theatre. Here artists creating new works can reach the widest and most diverse audiences. Imagine, a playwright, an actor, a director, or a producer, having so much faith in what they are doing that they collectively labor, often without regular compensation, to bring their work to life. All with the goal of seeing it on a Broadway stage. We know it costs a lot to get a show produced on Broadway and ticket prices aren’t exactly pocket change. So let us ask… Why Broadway? What draws so many people to this avenue in Manhattan?

Why Broadway – An Artist’s Point of View

Playwright, lyricist, and composer, Sharon Barnett, whose work includes Sammy’s Bowery Follies, exclaims, “I love Broadway! From an early age, I would walk down its streets and dream. I imagined my name in lights and myself on the stage taking bows. For the last 18 months, nobody knew if we would ever see those lights shining brightly again, but yesterday, on September 14, 2021, the bows and the applause were back. Now dreams, once again, are becoming a magnificent reality.”

Broadway – Another View

Let’s look at the other side of the curtain concerning Why Broadway? Here’s the view of someone from the audience.

“It is important to be passionate about SOMETHING and I have been passionate about BROADWAY since my English teacher, Mrs. Sarah Gold, took our high school class to see The Most Happy Fella in 1957,” proclaims Robert Diamant, social studies teacher and assistant principal at New York City’s Dept. of Education. “I have been fortunate to reside in NYC since 1942 and have attended hundreds of musicals, comedies and dramas over the years. My passion about this genre has included collecting original cast albums, posters, refrigerator magnets, and t-shirts. I have written grants allowing me to take my high school students to Off-Broadway and Broadway shows. I have joined many online groups and have communicated with like-minded individuals over the years. I have collected scores of books and magazines covering Broadway, historically and currently. I cannot wait to start going to the theater again! THAT is what BROADWAY means to this almost 80-year-old!”

In the Beginning to Why Broadway?

Another Broadway fan, Teri Wessell shares her feelings about it. Definitively describing the experience, she observes, “Being fully engaged, enlightened, entertained and wanting it again.”

And those words fundamentally sum up not just Broadway, but also the original purpose of theatre when it was born. That was in Athens in the 6th century BCE when the first actor, Thespis, stepped out of the chorus to tell his story. The Ancient Greeks knew that they were beholding something special, something vital to our way of life. They affirmed that theatre was created to entertain, to educate, and to exult the human spirit.

So, perhaps by creating Broadway again and again, we are reaching the broadest audience imaginable while engaging in important work. Perhaps, on Broadway we have the opportunity to plant the seeds of a new humanity… Thus, our love, passion, and enlightenment have a place to take root, sprout, be nourished, and flourish. Why Broadway? It’s a short question with an ever-deepening answer.

About Our Guest Author

Coni Koepfinger, a 2021 recipient of the Olwen Wymark Award by the Writers Guild of Great Britain, is currently playwright-in-residence at Manhattan Rep and has worked with the Unfringed Fest NYC, Broadway Bound Festival and Pan Asian Rep. Coni has connected hundreds through her virtual programs Airplay and Determined Women. She has been a member of the Dramatist Guild, the International Centre for Women Playwrights and the League Professional Theatre Women and currently sits as Media Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation.

Ms. Koepfinger is also the author of the article Imagination and Beyond the Curtain, which may be found on Broadway Educators.

To read All Tickets Inc.’s Buzz Stream article on Live from the Bardo: My Dinner with Mary click here.

Coni Koepfinger and Dan Carter’s Live from the Bardo: My Dinner with Mary premieres January 13-30, 2022, at Theater for the New City, New York City. For more information, please follow this link.

The Pause

Historic clock in the Flatiron District that dates back to 1909.

The shutdown of Broadway in March of 2020 was the first time that Broadway went dark due to a public health crisis.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Broadway shut down for two days. The barriers to attendance at that time were mostly transportation issues. Theatre was a welcome escape from current events.

Unlike this century, the flu pandemic from 1918-1919 did not close Broadway. Other historical closures were due to union strikes, and were measured in weeks rather than months and years.

Theatres all over Manhattan have sat dark for over a year. Now, one at a time, they are turning their lights back on.

The impact of the shutdown will be with us forever. It is changing how we think about theatre and what it does. It is also changing the way we do theatre. Professionals in every aspect of theatre are discussing how we schedule rehearsals, technical rehearsals, previews, and shows. The pause has allowed the industry time to take a good look at itself, what it does, and what it wants to be.

 Springsteen on Broadway •  Pass Over •  Hadestown •  Waitress •  Hamilton •  Wicked •  The Lion King •  Chicago •  Lackawanna Blues •  Six •  David Byrne’s American Utopia •  Come From Away •  Chicken & Biscuits •  Moulin Rouge!  •  The Musical •  Is This A Room •  The Lehman Trilogy •  Aladdin •  Thoughts of A Colored Man •  Dana H. •  To Kill A Mockingbird •  Freestyle Love Supreme •  Tina-The Tina Turner Musical •  Caroline, or Change •  Girl From the North Country •  Ain’t Too Proud-The Life and Times of The Temptations •  Jagged Little Pill •  Mrs. Doubtfire •  The Phantom of the Opera •  Trouble in Mind •  Diana •  Clyde’s •  The Book of Mormon •  Flying Over Sunset •  Company •  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child •  MJ The Musical •  Dear Evan Hansen •  The Music Man •  Skeleton Crew •  Paradise Square •  Plaza Suite •  Take Me Out •  Birthday Candles •  How I Learned To Drive •  The Minutes 

We will be discussing the effects of the pause for years to come.

In the meantime, here is a complete timeline of every show with a scheduled opening as of this writing, in order, with a countdown. Broadway is coming back. This is the time to ask: What has it become?

Countdown to Broadway

View the Timeline

Broadway Reopening & Covid Protocols

Broadway is reopening this fall. People are once again thinking about the excitement of live theater. Not all shows are opening at once, but productions are announcing their show returns daily.

As a part of the efforts to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters will be instituting practical, but reasonable, covid-safe protocols. These range from up-scaled theater-cleaning & refitted air systems, to limited-contact ticketing.

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Tired Old Jokes

In the university where I teach theatre, we had a student who would not follow safety protocols. She ignored safety signs and almost every rule that was mandated in the performance space.

With a lot of nagging, we managed to get her to pay better attention and follow most of the rules by the end of her first year, but then right at the beginning of her second year, she walked right through some caution tape and fell through an open trap in the deck.

We almost banned her from the theatre, but then we realized that she was just going through a stage.

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Oliver Herford & Celebrities of Yore

Exterior of The Players Club in New York City.  Photo taken in 2010.
The Players’ Club, #16 Gramercy Park Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 https:// creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-sa/ 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Players (or the Players Club) is a private social club. It was founded in 1888 in New York City by actor Edwin Booth. Booth was often regarded as the greatest actor of his time. It was created in response to a perception that the theatre suffered due to a lack of interaction with the wider world of culture, literature, and art.

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Old World Spectacle

Our methods of producing spectacle evolve across the decades. New technology is not necessarily more miraculous than the older methods. Every era has its own special stage magic. 17th century Europe enjoyed theaters equipped with wing-and-drop scenery combined with the pole-and-chariot system.

Český Krumlov is in the southern Czech Republic. There, The Castle Theatre sits behind the moat near one wing of the castle. A Baroque theatre space with fully functioning machinery survives there today.

Baroque opera in the Castle Theatre in Cesky Krumlov (southern Czech Republic). Pole-and-chariot set change system, in support of a wing-and-drop set.
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Quotable Reviews

    • “I’ve knocked everything in this show except the chorus girls’ knees, and there God anticipated me.”

      – George Jean Nathan on a musical in the 1920s.

    • “It is longeth and it stinketh.”

      – Caroline Alice Lejeune on Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, (1939).

    • “A bad play saved by a bad performance.”

      – George S. Kaufman regarding Gertrude Lawrence in Skylark, (1939).

Know Your Agreements!

A scene from "Avenue Q" @ Noel Coward theatre. (recast 12-07) ©Tristram Kenton 12/07 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com
A scene from “Avenue Q” @ Noel Coward theatre.
(recast 12-07)
©Tristram Kenton

When I left college, I was pretty confused. I had started out as a performance major in classical voice and I ended up with a B.A. in English. The musical theatre question “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” really applied to me. After trying out a bunch of different jobs, I found security in what most people my age are doing when they graduate: working multiple arts jobs as an independent contractor and utilizing many skills at once. I found that I was able to make money, continue performing, and feel fulfilled working with organizations that embrace youth enthusiasm and talent in the arts. However, when I found that I was unhappy with a work placement years later, I was a little stuck.

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Broadway Rush in October

If you’re like me and you love theatre but you don’t have the money to buy center orchestra seats, you’ve got to rush! Whenever I visit New York to see a show, I use the Playbill Rush, Lottery, and Standing Room link to see which of my top picks are offering deals. If the show I really want to see isn’t available, I’ll buy some inexpensive balcony seats and pull out the opera glasses. However, I get so frustrated when my friends go to the TKTS line and wait forever to pay more for tickets that are on this list.

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Rushing Could Save You Money

On December 4th in 2010, I was a freshman in college going to school in upstate New Jersey only a $25 bus ride away from the city. With my student ID in hand, I’d take the bus to Port Authority early on a Saturday, and try my luck at lottery or rush tickets. On this date, my eyes were set on seeing Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises. From 8am until the box office opened at 10, I stood in line in the cold. When I finally got in, rush wasn’t being offered that day. I bucked up after the disappointment and ended up winning lottery for the OBC of American Idiot and student rush tickets for A Little Night Music starring Bernadette Peters.

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