Broadway theatre is a collective of 41 professional theatres along Broadway in Manhattan, New York. The term Broadway is said to be an American theatre with a capacity to seat a minimum of 500 people. The Broadway District became a huge tourist spot for Americans and millions of people from around the world, and it represents the art and culture of the city, these performance spaces are open for theatre, opera, musicals, shows, screenings and other stage acts. The American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League are two institutions which present awards and accolades to the people who show great promise and potential as theatre artists. The Tony Awards is the highest Broadway honour and can be considered to be equivalent to the Oscar in Hollywood. Let us look at a few interesting facts about Broadway that are not commonly known.
Broadway theatres are not actually on Broadway.
Anyone who has been to New York and has been to Broadway knows that the most popular attraction in the city only hosts four out of the forty-one theatres which are spread across the city. These four theatres comprise of The Broadway Theatre, The Winter Garden, The Marquis and The Roundabout while the rest of the thirty-four theatres are in the Broadway district between 40th and 54th street and between 6th and 9th avenue. In order to qualify as Broadway, the theatre needs to have a seating capacity of more than 500 people, anything less will be considered as Off-Broadway.
Broadway is full of controversies.
Broadway is painted with a lot of controversial events, and art is highly subjective, it can make you feel moved, or it also has the potential to question your identity and belief system and sometimes the society deems it as unethical. In the late 1960s, a play by the name of Hair triggered massive protests in the city due to its outright counterculture theme, the cast and the makers were blamed for using strong language and portraying nudity. In late 2012 and early 2013 a play by the makers of SouthPark, The Book of Mormon offended many people because of its satirical take on religion. The makers of this play, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, had earlier made a video on a fight between Jesus and Santa Claus. In 1926, a play by the name of Sex written and performed by Mae West, who was an American actress. After a few screenings, the play received heavy criticism from the viewers, and the orthodox population jumped on the pedal to reprimand the makers. During a show, police raided the theatre and arrested Mae West with all other casts.
Broadway is what gave birth to modern films, most of the acclaimed actors are from theatre backgrounds, and this is a fact prevalent all across the world. Broadway is not only a tourist spot but a symbol of America’s performing arts society, and it reveals to us the pleasure of watching acts and shows in their raw form.
Musicals have the ability to portray stories in ways which no other form of media can, the genius of the songs can be examined in the lyrics, and the American Broadway is one place where you get to witness this genius. A musical is supposed to be a metaphorical phenomenon, some kind of mysterious symbolization of our innermost effective existence. It lends itself more to the description is literature and prose rather than in equations. Broadway has set the standard for the American Dream in the culture of contemporary times, throughout the history of Broadway there have been tons of impactful shows that represent different periods of a particular time and how musical mediums can manage to tell stories that you won’t get anywhere else. A recent success in Broadway is, of course, Hamilton for quite a variety of reasons.
The core idea
The musical received 16 Tony nominations which prices that they have a concrete formula to captivate audiences. This musical is a massive success on Broadway because it is a story of immigrants comprising of people who arrived in America or the ones who were born in the countryside. History being portrayed or explained as a musical can be a bit odd. Yet, Hamilton resonates with the American people in a way which cannot be found in any other country. Alexander Hamilton is an American musical with tickets for sale in Los Angeles as well as many other U.S. cities but it’s also a musical which anyone outside of America can enjoy or relate to.
About the creator
Hamilton first started as an idea by the genius composer Lin Manuel Miranda after developing his previous musical by the name of In the Heights. He showed the opening number to the newly inaugurated president of the United States in 2009. Lin spent a lot of years working on the opening number, and he created Hamilton to develop a musical which could tell a story without being annoying or dragged out. Lin managed to talk about politics and history by beautifully incorporating it within the musical, and he made it a point to make sure that every line would carry substance.
A historical theme
One of the major themes of Hamilton has to do about the legacy of someone and how the past will look for the future, everyone wants to leave something after they die, but the inheritance can be soiled due to people ruining reputations of specific figures. In one shot, Hamilton’s character was colourfully portrayed as a young and exciting man in need of excitement and glory. Still, it also foreshadows the eventual shot which Hamilton will throw away in the battle against Burr in 1804.
Lin was always thrilled about the fact that theatre could have a place in our lives apart from the art page in the newspaper. After its release, Hamilton became a cultural phenomenon, and a smash hit taking Broadway by storm and captivating the entire country. This musical can have a positive effect on new and young audiences so that they can grow up loving and appreciating art.
In 1827 the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith found golden plates buried in upstate New York, he published a book and called it ‘The Book of Mormon’. A hundred and eight-five years later, the world was visited by a musical of the same name, and it is worth every penny and every effort to go and watch this show. When SouthPark first aired, it shocked and surprised people by doing insane things that were so outrageous and hilarious that it went on winning one Peabody and nine Tony awards. The makers of the SouthPark managed to outdo themselves by pioneering into uncharted waters and unexplored lands of comedic genius, and they have claimed it as their own. It is the brainchild of Matt Stone and Trey Parker believe that any play, movie or song can portray any serious idea, can be well absorbing, captivating and most importantly original.
Execution of the concept
The book of Mormon is entirely a league of its own, and it is something so beautiful and entertaining that it gave satire an all-new form. If you are looking for wholesome family fun, you might want to check out another play unless your idea of healthy family fun involves female castration, AIDS and insect intimacy stories. The book of Mormon follows two young and naive missionaries, Elder Cunningham and Elder Price who go on their mission to Uganda, needless to say, that its somewhere out of place. But as far as musicals go, the book of Mormon is appropriately on Broadway where musical numbers are fun, flashy and funny. Group numbers like ‘two by two’ and ‘turn it off’ properly showcase the whiteness and innocence of the mission Mormon while still serving for an enormous spectacle. Both Dave Thomas Brown and Cody Jamison Strand rock their solo parts, and the supporting characters prove to be great fun.
The audience’s taste
The Book of Mormon, in many ways, feels like a different rebirth of the classic musical. Still, with a completely new incline on things, it is not just caught up with ridiculous spectacles, there is a fantastic story which backs the music. At the same time, it could be easily be converted into a movie musical, but a lot of the stage charisma would be lost. The show is brilliantly balanced between song and dance and satirizers and praises faith at the same time, and the joy for all the purists out there is that Trey Parker has lent his voice in the show.
The book of Mormon is a wonderful comedy sensation which premiered on Broadway in 2011 and is still running there in sold-out houses, and it was transferred to London in 2013. Some people find it to be very obscene given the choice of strong language, and earlier it had stirred up protests due to the same reason. The director and the choreography team did a great job of having a creative vision and making a genuinely vibrant play. However, it can be said that the book of Mormon is a pretty adult show; it still carries a lot of childish elements from Disney.
Chicago follows the story of Roxie Hart, a young mechanic’s wife, the show begins with her having an affair with a man who says he can get her into the show business. When he comes clean, she shoots home with a handgun. After that episode, Roxie is carted off to the county prison where she encounters a fellow murderer and performer, Velma Kelly. Throughout the time in the joint, both the inmates battle each other of their name in the press. With help from their expensive and media manipulative lawyer, Billy Flynn, both Roxie and Velma are acquitted of all the charges. Based in the 1920s, the story explores the darker side of feminism when women had just recently won the right to vote, with that in mind it is interesting to see that this musical has a mostly female cast and exceedingly few leading male roles. However, despite having the heavily female cast, it is disappointing that none of the three main women who are fantastically entertaining and full of attitude, they do not have any actual redeeming qualities. Velma and Roxie are unforgiving murderers who want all the limelight for themselves.
A look into the maker’s mind
If we take a look at the most iconic song, the cell block tango, the women take on the roles of Female Fatales as they unapologetically explain the murders that landed them in prison. The women, though beautiful, are barley dresses in lingerie, the fantastically symbolic choreography displays the women’s stories played out in Roxie’s mind. There is a sense of entitlement as they deny doing the crime but also declare that the men had it coming, it is the rage within them and the passionate delivery that make us believe that the men did have it coming. Hence, as we listen to these strong-willed women justifying their actions, we as spectators buy into their stories and hope for a positive outcome.
Billy Flynn – The corrupt lawyer
Billy Flynn, the best lawyer in Chicago, who never loses a case plays an important role. Roxie initially believes that he is a wholesome man who only cares about love. However, it is apparent that it is only in it for the money, and he uses these women is ways to prove to himself and the press, how great a lawyer he is. He manipulates Roxie not only to say and do what he says but also the people covering and following the case.
In this time in the 1920s, some people would use real court hearings and murder trials as their daily dose of drama. Considering that the story is full of shady characters, it is fascinating to look at the honest characters, Roxie’s husband and the Hungarian inmate in prison. The writers of the story have put both of these characters in the lower class, depicting that being acquitted of your charges requires money. Roxie’s husband is used over and over again for publicity stunts, and the only innocent inmate become the first woman to be hanged in Chicago.
The visual appeal
What stands out the most in the blue man group performances is that there are only a few moments when you think to yourself and say ‘what is going on?’ and that is a good thing, which indicates that they have reached the ultimate threshold in terms of dramatic climax when the audience is being stimulated in so many ways that it almost pushes past the capacity of perception which could be processed or absorbed all at once from the aesthetic experience. It becomes an immersive experience rather than something to think about. They use toilet paper in the crowd, huge balloons, colourful liquid, percussive music, digital music and a variety of props, the audience is confused and not knowing what to expect as it reached some form of controlled chaos. Any show which is more than two hours long is not going to be perfect at every moment for every person, but for it to lead to heightened dramatic climaxes makes any lacklustre moments forgivable.
The musical effects
The other highlight is music, and most importantly it is running live, the arrangements are extraordinarily detailed and tightly choreographed in addition to being rhythmically complex, so it is easy to be amazed by the music but also by the fact that the band must have taken the effort to memorize it. The performers, also known as the blue men, stay on a platform mounted above the stage with glow in the dark outfits. Their drumming style will make you fall in love with their skill and precession of the actual blue men, whenever they did play. It often makes people wonder that what did these guys study or what career paths they took to end up here as this is a very unusual stage hosting specific performances.
The theme and content
They incorporate universal and existential themes portraying how our lives are integrated with digital media and technology. Some of the content they put forward is about creating giant interactive surfaces that they could disappear behind and reproject themselves somehow. The Blue Man Group caters to a vast audience. There is never a moment when people are bored or feel restless during the performance; the element of mystery and tension keeps you engaged even if nothing else works. The parts in the performance you don’t like so much, they don’t last so long, and by the end, you still want to see more.
Overall, this can be one of those first shows you can stay engaged during the entire performance or presentation of some sort, whether it was a film, musical or anything else. It is also essential to emphasize that unlike any other performance, it is different to see it in person rather than seeing it on video. However, the tickets are a bit expensive given the fact that the stage takes up a lot of time and resource to be put up in the first place and planning for such a visually appealing show, takes up a lot of support.
An overview of a great musical
Disney came up with Lion King in 1994 and was popularised in 1994-95 when it came on VHS. The core of the story sticks to a lion cub who grows up in the jungle after the tragic death of his father, and his uncle takes over the throne. In 1997, The Lion King appeared in the form of a Broadway stage show and took the world by storm, again. This Broadway show is a legendary theatrical spectacle with lyrics by Sir Tim Rice and music by Dave Elton John, the stage animation of 1994 Walt Disney’s animated classic of the same name premiered for a pre-Broadway try-out in Minneapolis in 1997 before transferring to Broadway in the same year and was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won six of them including best musical and best direction of a musical for Julie Taymour. She was the first female ever to win the prize for the best director in a musical category. She defied critics who said convincing stage adaption of an animated story featuring singing lions was impossible, well obviously they were wrong because the Broadway production is selling 100% of the tickets and has been running house-full for every show since then. The production house was found in 1999 and celebrated its 20th century in 2019 at the Lyceum Theatre in London.
The history of the story
The story is some sort of loose adaption of Shakespeare Hamlet that an exiled prince summons up the courage to return his rightful place at the head of his homeland. The Lion King is the top-grossing musical ever created, amounting to more than 9 billion dollars and this is one of the significant reasons why Disney came up with a new 3D version of its 1993 film, given the fact that it would be the very way to capitalise on nostalgia with the help of a legendary story. The musical is divided into two acts amounting up to two hours and thirty minutes, including an interval.
The choreography and the costumes fill the stage with colours and energy, the very efficiency of the actors shows that the whole act has been practised hundreds of times, it almost seems like the portrayal of a classic story using ballet. The stage is so well set and distributed that you will be awe for most of the time during the play. The set is big, bold and vibrant, it seems almost impossible to fit all the props and characters on stage, but they pull it off correctly.
Critics say that all movies are lion king, which essentially means that someone realises that evil needs to be defeated and takes a step in that direction. In many ways, the movie can learn things from the musical, mostly its spontaneousness and enthusiasm. This is one of those musicals which runs for year after year gathering more audience after every performance.