Broadway Terms and Definitions

This photograph of the New Amsterdam Theatre was taken by Beyind My Ken on November 11, 2011 from the 9th floor of the New 42nd Street Building.The theater was built in 1902 to 1903.
This photograph of the New Amsterdam Theatre was taken by Beyind My Ken on November 11, 2011 from the 9th floor of the New 42nd Street Building.The theater was built in 1902 to 1903. | Source

To what does the term "Broadway" refer?

Broadway refers to the professional Theatre District in New York City, New York (Manhattan).

Broadway theaters must have at least 500 seats, and with one exception, be located in the area extending from 42nd to 54th Streets between 6th and 8th Avenues. The theaters are all in the vicinity of Broadway, a street which crosses Times Square.

The exception to being situated in the Times Square area is the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, which is located on 65th Street in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts complex.

Theaters which have less than 500 seats are known as off-Broadway theaters—even if they are situated in the Broadway area defined above.

There are many terms and definitions unique to Broadway and the theater-going experience. Gaining an understanding of these terms will enhance your viewing enjoyment when you attend a performance.




Sarah Brightman and Antonio Banderas | March 6, 2006

Theatre District of New York City

show route and directions
A markerNew Amsterdam Theatre -
280 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
[get directions]

B markerBelasco Theatre -
111 W 54th St, New York, NY 10105
[get directions]

C markerBroadway Theatre -
1681 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
[get directions]

D markerCadillac Winter Garden -
1634 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
[get directions]

E markerHelen Hayes Theatre -
240 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036
[get directions]

F markerImperial Theatre -
249 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036
[get directions]

G markerLongacre Theatre -
220 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036
[get directions]

H markerGershwin Theatre -
222 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
[get directions]

I markerNeil Simon Theatre -
250 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019
[get directions]

39 Broadway Theaters

The following 39 theaters are all considered to be Broadway theaters. The Vivian Beaumont Theatre is the only theater not in the Times Square / Broadway area. It's located in the Lincoln Center complex.

(click column header to sort results)
Seating Capacity  
Theater Name  
Address  
597
Helen Hayes Theatre
240 West 44th Street
650
Samuel J Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street
740
American Airlines Theatre
227 West 42nd Street
766
Circle in the Square Theatre
1633 Broadway
805
John Golden Theatre
252 West 45th Street
806
Booth Theatre
222 West 45th Street
922
Studio 54 Theatre
254 West 54th Street
943
Lyceum Theatre
149 West 45th Street
947
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th Street
1025
Music Box Theatre
239 West 45th Street
1040
Belasco Theatre
111 West 44th Street
1093
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
1095
Longacre Theatre
205 West 46th Street
1096
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
243 West 47th Street
1101
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Streer
1102
Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street
1105
Vivian Beaumont Theatre
150 West 65th Street
1108
Eugene O'Neill Theatre
230 West 49th Street
1109
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 West 47th Street
1120
Ambassador Theatre
219 West 49th Street
1122
August Wilson Theatre
245 West 52nd Street
1218
Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th Street
1232
Nederlander Theatre
208 West 41st Street
1380
Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 West 46th Street
1428
Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street
1435
Imperial Theatre
249 West 45th Street
1437
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 West 45th Street
1468
Shubert Theatre
225 West 44th Street
1498
Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre
1634 Broadway
1509
Lunt Fontanne Theatre
205 West 46th Street
1609
Majestic Theatre
247 West 44th Street
1615
Marquis Theatre
1535 Broadway at 45th Street
1710
Minskoff Theatre
200 West 45th Street
1710
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street
1743
Palace Theatre
1554 Broadway
1761
Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway
1801
New Amsterdam Theatre
214 West 42nd Street
1829
Foxwoods Theatre
213 West 42nd Street
1935
Gershwin Theatre
222 West 51st Street

Broadway-Related Terms and Definitions

The following 25 terms and accompanying definitions are just some of the ones unique to theater-going.

Broadway-Related Term
Definition
Alternate
An alternate is someone who plays a role in place of a star on an occasional basis. If a production has both matinee and evening performances, the alternate might play the role for all the matinees.
Book
The book is the story upon which the production is based.
Cast Album
A cast album is a live recording of a stage production.
Chorus
The performers who are part of the chorus are the background singers and dancers in a production. If singers, their voices punch up the sound being heard by the audience. If dancers, their movements fill in empty spaces on the stage.
Company
All of the people assocated with a production are the company.
Dance Captain
The dance captain teaches choreography to dancers joining the company as replacements, and assists understudies in learning their roles.
Diva
A diva is a larger-than-life female star whose fans are often fanatical in their devotion to the singer. Broadway divas include the late Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Bernadette Peters.
Entr'Acte
The entr'acte is the music played between the first and second acts of a musical production before the action begins, often before the curtain is raised.
Equity
Equity is the name of the actor's union.
Featured Performer
A featured performer is someone who is not the star of the production, but who has an important enough role for their name to be listed separately in the credits.
Flop
A flop is a production in which the show's investors failed to receive a return on their investment.
Gypsy
A gypsy is a performer who spends their entire theatrical career as a chorus member, moving from one production to another.
House
The house is the number of seats sold in the theater for a given performance.
Libretto
The libretto is the lyrics of the songs in a musical theater production.
Musical
A musical production is one in which dialogue, song, and dance combine to tell a story.
Orchestra
The orchestra is the ground floor level of seats in a theater.
Overture
An overture is a medley of bits of the songs that will be performed in a musical theater production. It's played before the curtain is raised on the opening act.
Preview
The preview period is the first few weeks of a show's production run. Any kinks or problems with the production are ironed out during this time.
Production Number
A production number is an elaborate song and dance number involving many cast members.
Reprise
A reprise is a song which is sung more than once in a musical production.
Showstopper
A showstopper is a production number which is so popular, it literally stops the show. There is so much applause and cheering, the performers cannot continue until the audience calms down.
SRO
Some theaters sell Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets for sold out performances. There is a designated area in the theater in which people who have purchased SRO tickets stand for the entire performance.
Standby
A standby is an understudy who has learned several of the major roles in a production who literally "stands by" in case they are needed at the last moment to take over someone's role.
Swing
A swing is a person who has learned all of the chorus roles in a production. The swing is called upon to take over any one of a number of minor roles should someone not be able to perform at the last moment.
Understudy
An understudy is someone who can cover for a number of major roles in a production should the person in that role not be able to perform.

Have you ever attended a performance in a Broadway theatre?

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Broadway theatre advertisement from 1873
Broadway theatre advertisement from 1873 | Source

When you attend a theatre performance, on Broadway or elsewhere, do you prefer seeing dramas or musicals?

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Comments 55 comments

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

What a great hub for theater buffs. I'd like to add one more definition for "diva:" an actor who thinks she is a larger-than-life female star, whether she is or not, and whether she is a woman or a man.

I've unfortunately encountered quite a few of these in my stage career, and we were nowhere near Broadway.

Voting this Up and Interesting.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

A very interesting and useful hub, Daisy. Is there a name for show that has been continuously run non-stop for years?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio (alocsin),

Thanks for reading my article and being the first person to comment in it. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I've also encountered the type of diva to which you referred when I worked at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Terrye (TToombs08),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

The term *blockbuster* started out as a theater term meaning a major theatrical production hit, but in recent years it's been used more to describe a hit movie.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Thanks for defining this term. I did think that Broadway was a huge theater in New York. I realize now that it is quite a large section hosting several theaters. I would love to attend a show some day as I hear so many positive reviews of the shows presented. I didn't know that Antonio performed in Phantom Of The Opera. I do love his acting and it is nice to see him that he took on a challenge here as well. Thanks for the education.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting.

I grew up within 25 miles of New York City, so theater-going was something I was able to enjoy on a fairly regular basis. Having 38 theaters with walking distance of each other gave one so many choices of performances. I would purchase tickets on the day of the performance from a ticket-selling venue that sold last-minute tickets at half price.

I saw Phantom twice, once in Los Angeles and once in London. The video I included of Sarah and Antonio singing was from a Canadian production of Phantom. As I recall, the reviews of his singing were quite good.


travmaj profile image

travmaj 4 years ago from australia

This is so exciting and on the bucket list for me - meanwhile I'll be in the London's West End next week. Oh, the choice! I found your - Broadway related terms really interesting - many I didn't know the terms for. Thank you. Awesome and interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

travmaj,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading, and commenting in, my article.

If you attend a performance in the West End while you're in London, please post another comment here.

Enjoy your holiday!


remaniki profile image

remaniki 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Hi Daisy,

Good information for theater fans. I have heard of 'Broadway' but knew nothing more about it. Now if someone starts a discussion on this topic, I am sure I can participate. Thank you vary much for the knowledge.

Cheers, Rema.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Rema (remaniki),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

My favorite HubPages articles have always been the ones in which I learn something new. I think I'm going to amend that to include *in which my readers learn something new*.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

Voted Up and Useful. This is a reference keepsake. Thanks.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Thank you, Daisy, I was wondering where the term "blockbuster" originated. You are a wealth of knowledge. :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

MsDora,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

I'm glad you enjoyed it and found the information worth keeping for reference purposes.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Terrye,

Thanks for visiting again. It's interesting, isn't it, how the term *blockbuster* went from being a term associated with the theater to a term that's associated with movies?


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Very, Daisy, but I guess movies stole a lot of their ideas and terminology from the theatre. :)


one2get2no profile image

one2get2no 4 years ago from Olney

When my company sent me to New York I was so pleased that I would get to see Broadway Theater and in the 12 years I worked in New York I saw over 50 shows. I loved it.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

one2get2no,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

I'm glad you had the opportunity to work in the United States and to see so many shows in New York while you were here.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

What a really useful hub, this is great for anybody visiting the theatres, and the terms were something I wasn't familiar with especially Alternate, I haven't been to see a show for years, I really must go, wonderful, nell


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

This is really a great hub to introduce a person to the theater. I remember the first play I attended and the questions I silently had during a simple glancing at the program. This would have been very beneficial. Another well presented and informative Hub! Great job!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

We call our 'Broadway Theaters' 'State Theaters'. We have only a few of them - one in each capital city. The others - and some of them are even more modern and better equipped - are simply called 'Auditoriums' or 'City Halls'. Shows like Phantom of the Opera would only be performed in State Theaters. My son often plays the tuba or percussion in the orchestra responsible for the music, and that means 1-2 free tickets for his mamma..... Whoopee....

Sarah Brightman is one of my favorites. Her voice always delights.

Voted up, awesome, informative, very well presented :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. Take the train to London and see a show in the West End! What a great weekend trip you could make of it!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Rich (rcrumple),

Thanks for reading and commenting in another of my Hubs. I appreciate your continued support of my writing.

I don't remember the name of the first Broadway performance I saw, but I think it was during a school trip to New York City.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Martie,

It's great to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

Thanks for sharing the information about South African theaters.

Sarah Brightman is one of my favorites, too. She's a very talented performer.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I feel so culturally inept not knowing about Broadway but this is a very cool hub. It amazes me how much work and dedication the performers, writers, directors, producers, and staff put into just one show. My dream one day is to see a Broadway show. Great job Daisy!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Alecia,

Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting in it. I'm glad you enjoyed my article.

With your love of music, it sound like a trip to New York City is in order for you. I know you would have a great time!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

What a great hub filled with information so many are unfamiliar with . Living in NY I take these things for granted though I still remember my first Broadway show! One of the shows we went to, "Big" my daughter won the tickets and we had front row seats..I wouldn't recommend that as I had a stiff neck for days.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (tillsontitan),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

Having grown up within 25 miles of New York City, it seems as though I've always known about Broadway and the professional Theatre District. I'm glad my Hub has enabled readers who aren't from New York to learn about this area.


Doc Sonic profile image

Doc Sonic 4 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Great hub, Daisy. Voted up and interesting. I love the Lion King clip. Even though I saw that one at the Lyceum in London and not on Broadway, it was still a pretty good performance (just kidding, obviously. It was awesome). I learned a few new terms from this hub. Thanks!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glen (Doc Sonic),

Thanks for reading my article, viewing the video clips, and commenting.

I wanted to include a Lion King clip since the costumes are so colorful, and the music is terrific. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Disney organization has actually uploaded a video to YouTube.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Very cool--it has been a while since I have paid homage there--makes me want to go!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audrey,

It's nice to "see" you again. Whenever I publish my geography Hubs, I want to visit all the places I've discussed. The same with my museum articles.

Now that I've published this article, I can't wait to visit Manhattan again. I used to live within 25 miles of New York City. What I miss the most are the theaters.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

I've always wanted to get into Theatre. Thanks for sharing this, Daisy! I really have to go to a few plays and musicals very soon...


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Keith (KDuBarry03),

Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting in it.

You simply must attend some musical theater productions! With your music background and your writing skills, I see a potential career path here, my friend.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

What an interesting and unique hub loaded with great information. Thanks!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glimmer Twin Fan,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my Hub and commenting in it. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.


shruti sheshadri profile image

shruti sheshadri 4 years ago from Bangalore, India

this sounds so interesting ! sadly, we do not have anything like this in india :(

voted up !


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Shruti,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

Are there no professional theaters in India? Or is that there are no cities in India which have theater districts, areas in which many theaters are within walking distance of each other?


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

I do love the theatre and this is an ace hub on theatrical terms and Broadway theatres. I have never been to NYC and hope to do it soon. this sure will come in handy... thanks for sharing, Daisy.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mohan (Docmo),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I appreciate your continued support of my writing.

I'm fortunate in that I've attended performances in the West End in London on several occasions. You will absolutely adore the theater (theatre) district in New York City!!! Imagine...38 theaters within walking distance of each other.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Daisy, as a theater lover I have taken much interest in Broadway and off-Broadway since long time. I heard about the theater district from the theater artists who came to participate in theater festival in Nepal.

Its my dream to watch Broadway performances. I hope to fulfill my dream someday.

Thanks for this comprehensive article.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Vinaya,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I have no doubt at all that you will fulfill your dream and visit Broadway.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

This covers a lot of ground, Daisy, and helps those less familiar with dramatic terms! Thanks for sharing! Shared and tweeted as well.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Michelle (midget38),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comments. Thanks, too, for sharing and tweeting my Hub.

I enjoy reading Hubs in which I learn something new. I try to include something educational in what I write, as well.


onlooker 4 years ago

Wow! this is so very fascinating Daisy! Thank you. I never knew about Broadway and its specifics. I would love to see a broadway show someday its glitz and glamour, drama and art. Yet again I leave one of your hubs always a little smarter. Regards, Ava.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ava (onlooker),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. It might take me a bit longer to research and write my Hubs, but when I see that someone has learned something from what I've published, it's certainly worth the effort.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

This is a marvelous contribution to "Broadway" and musical production terms. I noticed the "Walter Kerr" broadway theater in the list and immediately got goosebumps. I'm wondering if that specific Walter Kerr is related to the long line of Kerr's I come from. My brother, grandfather, great-grandfather etc. are all Walter Kerr's. And with my background in musical theater it would be exciting for me to learn that I'm related. Genealogy, here I come!

Well done, Daisy. Voted up, across (not funny) and sharing everywhere.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audrey (vocalcoach),

Thanks for reading my article, adding your comment, and sharing my Hub. I appreciate your continued support of my writing.

It would be so exciting if you found that the *Broadway Walter Kerr* was related to your family. Please post another comment when you have something to share with us.

I have a first cousin "several times removed" who was a very well-known vaudeville performer...Sophie Tucker, the "Last of the Red Hot Mamas."


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Daisy, fascinating hub with loads of info completely new to me - I love the 'gypsy' reference for people who go from production to production in chorus roles - it might have been an opportunity for a name less endearing but I think 'gypsy' is rather nice.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie (Jools99)

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I appreciate your continued support of my writing.

I think *gypsy* is a good descriptive name for the chorus members who go from production to production...they don't have a permanent home, they wander about.


mary615 profile image

mary615 23 months ago from Florida

I've had the pleasure of seeing several productions on Broadway, but I have not been back in several years. The last I saw was Phantom and I loved that.

Great interesting Hub. Voted UP, etc. and shared.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 23 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (mary615),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub. I saw Phantom in Los Angeles and London. They were both terrific productions.


K L Gregerson 20 months ago

Daisy. Thanks for the great hub, and thanks also to your readers for their comments. Those of us who work in the theatre learn about Broadway through a strange osmosis (even if we're based far away in the mid-west). The comments from your readers serve as a reminder that we can't assume that the rest of world has the same frame of reference.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 20 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

K L Gregerson,

Welcome to HubPages. It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment.

One of the best aspects of New York City is the theatre. One of the best aspects of this article is my readers and their comments.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 11 months ago from Dubai

Interesting and informative article about Broadway. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to make the lists, voted up.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 11 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Since I grew up within 25 miles of this area, doing the research seemed to go quickly. The theater district is one of the best parts of New York City.

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