The section of lower Broadway from its origin at Bowling Green to City Hall Park is the historical location for the city's ticker-tape parades, and is sometimes called the Canyon of Heroes in reference to such events.
One famous stretch near Times Square, through which Broadway passes, is the home of many theaters, housing an ever-changing array of commercial, large-scale plays, particularly musicals. This part of Broadway, also known as The Great White Way, draws millions of tourists from around the world. Starring in a successful Broadway musical is considered by most singers and actors as the ultimate success in their chosen profession, and many songs, stories, and musicals have themselves been based around the idea of such success. The annual Tony Awards recognize some of the most successful new shows and revivals each year.
While the razzmatazz of Broadway appeals to a mass audience, some theatergoers prefer the more experimental, challenging, and intimate performances possible in smaller theaters. Broadway theatres need not be located on or near Broadway, and off-Broadway theaters can be on Broadway: theatres are designated as Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway on the basis of the number of seats they contain, with Broadway theatres having more than 300 seats. Some theaters (by adding or subtracting a few seats) can convert from Broadway to Off-Broadway designation. See list of Broadway musicals.
Further north, Broadway follows the old Bloomingdale Road as the main spine of the Upper West Side, passing the campus of Columbia University on Morningside Heights as it continues northwards.
Broadway theatreBroadway theatre is often considered the highest professional form of theatre in the United States. Broadway theatre or a Broadway show refers to a performance (usually a musical or stage play) staged in one of forty professional theatres located in New York City. Broadway theatres are usually run by a producing organization (e.g., Nederlander, Disney, etc.) or another theatre group (e.g., Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center Theater, etc.) While the term Broadway refers to the street in Manhattan, most Broadway theatres are not located on this street. The majority of Broadway theatres are located in the area often called "midtown", in and around Times Square.
All Broadway shows are professionally produced and adhere to strict contracts for all artists involved (e.g., actors, directors, musicians, playwrights, etc.) Artistic labor organizations like Actors' Equity Association and the Dramatists Guild of America bargain for contracts guaranteeing minimum wages and other rights involved with the rehearsal and production process. On rare occasions, disputes over contracts can result in a group of artists going on strike. In 2003, musicians in the orchestra pit of Broadway musicals went on strike to protest producers plans to replace musicians with a "virtual orchestra."
Broadway shows may run for a varying number of weeks, dependent on ticket sales. Musicals tend to have longer runs than do stage plays. The longest running show in Broadway history was Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, which closed in 2000 after running for 7,485 performances at the Winter Garden Theater. In addition to long runs in Broadway theatres, producers often copy the production with a new cast and crew for the Broadway Tour which travels to theatres across the United States. Both musicals and stage plays on Broadway and in their respective tours often rely on casting well-known performers in leading roles to draw larger audiences or bring in new audience members to the theatre. Actors from movies and television are frequently cast for the premieres of Broadway shows or are used to replace actors leaving a cast. Many performers, however, are still primarily "stage" actors, who spend more time on the stages of New York and will appear in television and screen roles as a secondary venue.
Broadway shows and artists are honored every June when the Antoinette Perry Awards (Tony Awards) are given by the American Theatre Wing. The importance of these awards has increased since their annual broadcast on television. Celebrities are often chosen to host the show, like Hugh Jackman and Rosie O'Donnell, in addition to celebrity presenters. While some critics have felt that the show should focus on celebrating the stage, many others recognize the positive impact that famous faces lend to selling more tickets and bringing more people to the theatre. The performances from Broadway musicals on the telecast have also been cited as vital to the survival of many Broadway shows.
Seeing a Broadway show is a common tourist activity in New York City and a business that generates billions of dollars annually. The TKTS booth in Duffy Square (at Broadway and 47th) sells half-price tickets for same-day tickets for many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. This services helps sells empty seats and makes seeing a show in New York more affordable. Many Broadway theatres also offer special student rates, same-day "rush" tickets, or standing-room tickets to help ensure that more people have the opportunity to see Broadways shows.
Smaller theatres in New York City host a huge variety of other theatrical performances; theatre occurring in these spaces is known as off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway.