Broadway this, Broadway that. I’m sure that you have heard the word Broadway at least one time before. The Broadway Theater, more commonly known as Broadway, are theatrical performances shown in 41 theaters located in the theater district and the Lincoln center along Broadway, a town in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
Broadway was founded in 1750, where Walter Murray and Thomas Kean established the Theater on Nassau Street. They performed Shakespeare plays and Opera Ballads. The Theater on Nassau Street sat 280 people. As the shows got more popular, more and more theaters were built. Many of the shows performed in the 1700s and the 1800s were Shakespeare plays such as Hamlet. In 1866, the first musical premiered, it was called The Black Crook, it was a shocking five and a half hours long!
In the 1900s is when Broadway really took a turn for the better, they started installing electric signs outside of the theaters, it was nicknamed The Great White Way, and the broadway show Lightnin’ by Winchell Smith and Frank Bacon, was the first ever Broadway show to reach 700 performances. By the end of the 1920s, cinemas were a rage throughout America, actors, actresses, producers, and directors worried if the new invention, the cinema, would shut down Broadway. Thankfully, Broadway stayed open.
However, in the 1960s-1970s, Broadway lost lots of its audience, theaters, and shows. However, in the 1980s, Broadway came back strong! Its longest running show, Phantom of the Opera opened. Over the years, Phantom of the Opera has made $1.30 billion dollars! Also, in the 1980s a man named Joe Papp who established The Public Theater, led the “Save the Theaters” campaign, which helped bring more resources, audio, lighting, technical crews, etc. to the Broadway community.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Disney opened (over the years) 17 Broadway shows, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Newsies, and much more. In the 2000s, Legally Blonde, Macbeth, White Christmas, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Les Miserables, and other classics joined Broadway and helped Broadway get more audience members and theater fans. The Broadway theaters also held many popular 2000s and 2010s actresses and actors such as Sutton Foster, Hugh Jackman, Victoria Clark, Neil Patrick Harris, and Laura Bell Bundy who brought joy, laughter, and tears to the audience. Over the years, Broadway has had its ups and downs, but overall, Broadway has improved the American theater.