By Victoria Lee
The hills are alive with the sound of music…
Recently, I watched my first live musical and it was the best entertainment I’ve had in a while. One thing I will say, it’s much better than watching a movie version of a musical. There’s just something about seeing the actors in person that pulls the audience into the story!
The production I watched was a local one in the Bay Area and although I’ve never been to see a show on Broadway, it got me thinking how Broadway musicals and shows are becoming more mainstream and widespread in America, and how crucial they are to New York City’s economy.
After the huge success of Hamilton, Broadway has been on more people’s radars and industry data show a big increase in ticket sales and revenues.
Broadway, also known as the Great White Way, a name it earned because it was lit up with white signage on theaters, counts performances at 41 theaters in its scope (source).
Usually, when people think of entertainment, Hollywood comes to mind, but NYC also has a robust entertainment industry. Within that, Broadway has a significant impact on New York City’s economy, which is doubly important because NYC is the biggest city (by population) in the US. Currently, popular musicals like Wicked and Hamilton bring attention to the shows, leading to wider audiences and greater revenue. Tourism is another way Broadway brings money into NYC’s economy. The shows attract many international and domestic tourists to the city, for whom the shows are a must-see. These Broadway shows play a large part in making NYC, and the US in general, an economic and cultural capital.
Musicals, like The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton, are the most popular type of Broadway show with over 11.4 billion tickets sold in 2018 (source) which made over $1.4 billion in revenue (source). The longest running show on Broadway is the Phantom of the Opera, and it is extremely well-received by both critics and the general public. It has even been adapted into a movie that has made it a beloved musical to many more people. This is the kind of wide-reaching impact a Broadway show can have. Not every American can go watch Broadway shows, but the movie version of a musical can be watched all over the country and the world. For example, The Phantom of the Opera has made $845 million on Broadway alone and the show is still running today (it’s been performed over 10,000 times!) (source).
With the boom in popularity of Broadway, there’s sure to be more iconic Broadway shows in the future!