Tips for First-Time Broadway Goers

Apr 9, 2024

For educators, the journey of taking students to Broadway is an opportunity to entertain, inspire, and ignite a passion for the arts. However, choosing the right show for young theatregoers, especially those experiencing Broadway for the first time, requires careful consideration.

The key is to select a production that aligns with the group’s collective interests, accounts for the students’ maturity levels, and presents themes that resonate and provoke thought.

Broadway, the pulsating heart of American theatre, is situated in Manhattan’s Theatre District, where venues are designed to hold audiences of 599 or more. In contrast, the smaller Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theatres, with seating capacities of 100 to 499 and under 100, offer a platform for more intimate and often avant-garde shows, contributing to the rich amount of New York’s theatrical offerings.

The experience of attending a Broadway show is an essential cultural event. From the anticipation that builds as the house lights fade to the audience’s collective gasp at a show’s key moment and the shared applause at the curtain call, the experience extends far beyond the storyline and the performances. It’s an opportunity to witness the pinnacle of theatrical craft, from acting and singing to choreography, set design, and technical wizardry.

For educators looking for show recommendations, several long-running and new productions are particularly suitable for young audiences. With its breathtaking visuals and music by Elton John and Tim Rice, The Lion King provides an engaging narrative of the circle of life. Its educational value is enhanced by the availability of study guides that delve into the show’s themes and production process.

Wicked offers a fresh perspective on the characters from the Land of Oz, emphasizing friendship and the complexity of good versus evil. The show’s engaging score and the chance for groups to participate in a workshop dedicated to all things Wicked give students a deeper appreciation of the creative process behind a large-scale musical.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical transports audiences to the bohemian world of Paris with its romantic storyline and a soundtrack that spans generations. The production’s lavish sets and costumes provide a feast for the senses, and while recommended for viewers aged 12 and up, it introduces older students to the art of stage adaptation from film.

Hamilton has achieved a revolutionary status on Broadway with its contemporary retelling of historical events through hip-hop and R&B. It has made the American founding era accessible and relevant to a younger audience, often sparking an interest in history and politics.

The revival of Sweeney Todd, starring notable Broadway talents like Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster, offers a darker but equally enriching theatrical experience. The show’s combination of suspense, humor, and memorable music creates a compelling narrative that can lead to discussions about storytelling and the darker aspects of human nature.

Newer productions like Suffs, with its empowering story of the suffragists, provide historical context and a connection to present-day discussions on civil rights and gender equality. The Heart of Rock and Roll, a vibrant musical featuring the songs of Huey Lewis and the News, offers a feel-good experience with themes of love and ambition.

Water for Elephants introduces a narrative set in a Depression-era circus, directed by Jessica Stone and featuring performances by Isabelle McCalla and Grant Gustin. The musical’s rich storyline and theatrical acrobatics make it a great choice that can spark conversations about the transformative power of love.

Educators can turn to Broadway Inbound for group ticket purchases when budgeting for a Broadway visit, providing a streamlined and cost-effective process. It’s important to note that in Broadway theatres, every seat is designed to provide an enjoyable viewing and listening experience, regardless of the price point. Thus, even the more affordable seats in the rear mezzanine ensure that students engage fully with the show.

Broadway’s diverse performances offer something for every group, with each show serving as a conduit for education, entertainment, and inspiration. For first-time theatregoers, the experience of live performance is transformative, and the memories forged in the glow of the Broadway stage are likely to inspire a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

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Photo Courtesy of Joan Marcus.