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Tips For Attending Your First Broadway Show

An empty red theatre shows an aisle surrounded by chairs. Theater & Shows

Before making your way to the theater, read up on these important tips and tricks to prepare yourself to attend your first Broadway show. No matter what type of genre, romance, comedy, tragedy,etc, that you enjoy, this guide can help find the best Broadway show for first timers.

Broadway in New York City

What most people think of as Broadway is actually New York City’s Theater District. While NYC has a record of theaters as early as the 1700s, it wouldn’t be until the late 1800s that these theaters moved to the Theatre District of today. The Theatre District resides in the same area as Times Square in NYC, with 41 On-Broadway theaters that can seat more than 500 people. Off-Broadway theaters have a smaller seating capacity and are scattered throughout the borough of Manhattan. 

You might be wondering: What’s the difference between On-Broadway and Off-Broadway?

  • On-Broadway refers to the Theater district venues with a seating capacity of 500 or more. These productions typically consist of popular musicals and plays.
  • Off-Broadway refers to smaller theaters with a seating capacity between 100 to 500.

Off-Broadway productions aren’t as popular as On-Broadway productions, but they tend to favor dramas. 

There are even touring Broadway shows that make stops in cities across the nation for people that can’t travel to Broadway itself to see a show. 

Components of a Great Broadway Show

Several elements need to come together to create a truly great Broadway production. One element is the story behind the musical or play, a well-developed foundation that supports the entire production. Tying into the storyline will be the show’s music and choreography. The score of a Broadway production becomes the heart of the project, with timeless show tunes and bold ballads resonating with the audience long after the curtains have closed. Even people who don’t enjoy the theater may recognize a popular song from iconic musicals. 

Another important component of a great Broadway show is the immersion factor, the ability of the performance to draw the audience into the production itself. Set design as well as props and costumes transport the audience to new worlds and bring fiction to life. An example of excellent prop usage is seen in the Life of Pi play, adapted from Yann Martel’s award-winning novel of the same name. The advanced puppetry technology that animates the movements of the animals that Pi is shipwrecked with is truly amazing. 

One last element for the creation of a great Broadway show is the ‘Wow’ Factor. Think of a theatrical flair that utilizes special effects during the performance. A memorable part of The Lion King is how the animals of Pride Rock leap and prowl off of the stage and onto the theater floor, immersing the audience in the wildlife of the savanna. The ‘Wow’ Factor is what keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, and builds on the feeling of suspense and awe to enhance the overall production.

An actor stands with arms upraised.

Broadway Theatre Etiquettes You Must Know

  • Silence or Turn Off Electronic Devices
    • Just as in movie theaters, electronic devices (phones, cameras, tablets,etc.) should not be used during the performance. It not only distracts your fellow theater patrons but can also disrupt the show itself.
  • Hold Your Applause
    • Wait until the end of the musical number or act before applauding; this again prevents any disruption during the performance
  • Keep the Noise Down
    • Any talking, if necessary, should be kept to a minimum 
    • Do not sing along to any musical numbers unless prompted by the performers; you’re there to enjoy the actors’ talents, not to display your own  
  •  Hold Any Comments Until You’ve Left the Theater
    • It’s generally considered impolite to discuss any positive or negative aspects of the performance. 

Before Buying Your Broadway Show Tickets

The following points help answer any questions that a Broadway first-timer might have, like “What time do Broadway shows start?” or “How should I behave during the show?”

  • On the Day of Your Broadway Show
    • Arrive at the theater at least 30 minutes before the performance begins
    • Make plans to eat before or after the show
  • During the Show
    • Don’t block other patrons’ view of the stage 
    • No photos or videos allowed
    • Keep talking to a minimum 

Top Broadway Shows We Recommend

  • Best Show Overall: Phantom of the Opera

Catch the longest-running show in Broadway history before the curtains close for the last time. Follow the tale of a young soprano named Christine and her relationship with the obsessive masked phantom lurking below the Paris Opera House.

  • Best Show for Kids: The Lion King

Kids and adults alike will fall in love again with The Lion King with this musical adaptation of the beloved 1994 Disney film. Join Simba, Timon and Pumbaa as they face the villainous Scar to reclaim Pride Rock.

  • Best Show for Date Night: Moulin Rouge! The Musical

See the sparks fly between a pair of lovers as they navigate a complex romance in the dazzling and show-stopping adaptation of Baz Luhrman’s 2001 film of the same name.

  • Best Show for Disney Fans: Aladdin

See how a street rat vies for the affections of the beautiful and strong Princess Jasmine while dealing with Jafar’s nefarious plots. With the help of Abu, the Genie, and three wishes, Aladdin must prove his love for Jasmine and save the kingdom of Agrabah. 

  • Best Unconventional Show: Hamilton

Enjoy Lin-Manual Miranda’s retelling of one of America’s Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton. The diverse cast put a hip-hop-styled spin on Hamilton’s life and his mark in American history.

  • Best New Show: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Follow the journey of the new generation of wizards and witches, set 20 years after Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts. This play is one of the best Broadway shows running, especially since its a re-introduction to the magic of the Wizarding World and Hogwarts for Harry Potter fans. 

Complete List of Current Top Broadway Musicals

  • List of Current On-Broadway Shows
    • Hadestown
    • Some Like It Hot
    • Chicago
    • Camelot  
    • Moulin Rouge! The Musical 
    • Wicked 
    • Life of Pi 
    • Aladdin 
    • & Juliet 
    • Bad Cinderella
    • New York, New York 
    • SIX: The Musical 
    • The Book of Mormon 
    • A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical 
    • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
    • The Lion King 
    • Leopoldstadt 
    • MJ 
    • Funny Girl 
    • Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’ 
    • Parade 
    • Hamilton 
    • Kimberly Akimbo 
    • Sweeney Todd 
    • Shucked
  • List of Current Off-Broadway Shows
    • Blue Man Group 
    • Little Shop of Horrors 
    • The Play That Goes Wrong  

Enjoy the Best of Broadway Today 

After you buy your Broadway tickets, check out these exclusive travel deals for the best places to stay while you’re in NYC. If you have the time to spare, stretch out the trip and check out some concert tours in the Big Apple or visit other NY theatres