Broadway – what is it?

Broadway is a Brand of Excellence

Broadway is the name given to the 40 or so major theatrical shows running in designated theatres on or near the ‘Street of dreams‘, the ‘great white way‘ within the ‘city of angels‘, the core of the ‘big apple‘, which was also my home and office in Times Square since 1995.

Often abbreviated to ‘BWAY‘, it’s often considered the highest professional form of theatre in the United States. Be it theatre (or theater), or a show, ‘Broadway’ refers to a performance (usually a play or musical) staged in one of the larger professional theatres located in New York City, with 500 seats or more, that appeal to the mass audience. Along with London’s West End, Broadway is considered of the highest quality.

About Broadway

While the term “Broadway” comes from the street of the same name, not all theatres are located on this street. The majority of BWAY theatres are located in the area called Midtown, in and around Times Square. Broadway theatres are usually run by a producing organization (e.g.,  Shubert, Disney, et cetera), or another theatre group (e.g., Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center Theater, et cetera).

Further, a new class of show called “Touring Broadway” refers to Broadway shows that have played in or will play in Broadway theatres across North America (USA and Canada).  Each major city has one large “Broadway Class” theatre, and when presenting a Broadway touring production, this show, and the city in which it plays become part of “Touring Broadway”.

All Broadway shows are professionally produced and adhere to strict contracts for all artists involved (e.g., performers, directors, musicians, playwrights, stage managers, etcetera). Artistic trade unions such as Actors’ Equity, commonly known simply as “Equity,” International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, commonly known simply as “IATSE”, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, commonly known simply as “SSDC” and the Musicians Union commonly known simply as “Local 1”, and many others for press agents, ushers and other workers, 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 them with “virtual orchestras.”

Broadway shows may run for a varying number of weeks, depending on ticket sales. Musicals tend to have longer runs than do stage plays.

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 country. 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 BWAY 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 or ‘Tony’s’) are given by the American Theatre Wing. The ‘Tony’ is Broadway’s highest theatre award. The importance of these awards has increased since their annual broadcast on television began. 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 musicals on the telecast have also been cited as vital to the survival of many shows.

Seeing a Broadway show is a common tourist activity in New York and a business that generates billions of dollars annually. The TKTS booth in Duffy Square, at Broadway & 47th Street, sells half-price tickets for same-day tickets for many Broadway and still professional Off-Broadway shows. This service helps sell 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.

Some theatregoers prefer the more experimental, challenging, and intimate performances possible in smaller theatres, which are referred to as Off-BWAY and Off-Off-Broadway (though some may be physically located on or near Broadway). The classification of theatres is governed by language in Actors’ Equity contracts. To be eligible for a Tony, a production must be in a house with 500 seats or more, which pretty much defines the Broadway Theatre. Some theatres (by adding or subtracting seats) can convert from Off-Broadway to Broadway and vice versa.

百老汇 是什么?(What is “Broadway“?)

百老汇是一个世界级的品牌。

百老汇戏剧往往被认为是美国最高水准的专业戏剧。百老汇戏剧或百老汇演出是指在位于纽约市的大型专业剧场(剧场座位有500个或以上)中针对普通观众演出的剧目(通常是舞台剧或音乐剧)。与伦敦西区戏剧一样,百老汇戏剧通常被认为是戏剧行业中质量最高的戏剧。

虽然百老汇这个词来源于一条街道的名称“百老汇”,但是并不是所有的百老汇戏剧都在这条街道上的剧场上演。 大多数百老汇剧场位于时代广场内以及周围的市中心区域内。百老汇剧场通常由制作机构(比如舒伯特和迪斯尼等)或其他剧场团体(比如曼哈顿戏剧俱乐部、林肯中心剧场等)经营。

此外,一种新类型的演出“百老汇巡演”是指在北美(美国和加拿大)各地的百老汇剧场已经或者将要上演的百老汇戏剧。每一座大城市都有一个大型的“百老汇级别”剧场,在演出百老汇巡演剧目时,这种演出以及演出所在的城市就成为了“百老汇巡演”的一部分。

所有百老汇演出都是专业制作的戏剧,所有演员都严格遵守合同规定(比如演员、导演、作曲家、剧作家、舞台经理等)。艺术工会(比如演员公平工会以及舞台导演和舞蹈指导协会)进行合同谈判,为演员保障最低工资以及排练和制作过程中涉及的其他权利。极少情况下,合同纠纷会导致演员群体罢工。2003年,百老汇音乐剧管弦乐池中的演奏者们就发起罢工,抗议制作人试图用“虚拟管弦乐团”来替换他们。

百老汇演出持续时间不定,根据售票情况一般在几周左右。音乐剧比舞台剧的演出持续时间长。百老汇历史上演出时间最长的剧目是安德鲁•劳埃德•韦伯的《猫》,该剧在冬季花园剧场演出了7485场,于2000年结束。

百老汇戏剧除了持续时间长之外,制作人往往用新演员班底照搬剧目进行百老汇全国巡演。百老汇的音乐剧和舞台剧及其各自的巡演往往依靠在主要角色中安排知名演员来吸引更多观众或者新观众。电影电视中的演员往往参加百老汇戏剧的首演,或者更换离开演员队伍的演员。但是,许多演员仍然主要是舞台演员,更多时间是在纽约市的舞台上表演,而且也会在电视电影中出现。

百老汇戏剧和演员每年六月会进行评奖,由美国戏剧协会给获奖戏剧和演员颁发托尼奖。托尼是百老汇最高级别的戏剧奖。这些奖项的重要性自从开始每年电视直播之后与日俱增。 名人经常被邀请来主持颁奖晚会,比如休•杰克曼和罗斯奥•汤尼尔(Rosie O’Donnell),此外还有名人颁奖嘉宾。虽然一些评论人士认为演出应该以舞台艺术为重点,但是其他许多人则认为名人效应会提高票房而且吸引更多观众进入剧场。百老汇音乐剧的电视转播也被认为对许多百老汇戏剧的继续存在起到了关键作用。

在纽约观赏百老汇戏剧是一项必不可少的旅游活动,而且也是每年创造数十亿美元收入的产业。达菲广场、百老汇大街和第47号大街的TKTS售票厅销售许多百老汇和非百老汇(499座以下)专业戏剧的当天半价票。这种服务可以销售空余座位,并让纽约市的百老汇戏剧更加贴近平民消费水平。许多百老汇戏剧还提供学生优惠票价、当日“急需”票或者站票,以确保更多的人有机会能够观赏到百老汇演出。

一些戏剧迷们更喜欢在小型剧场中看到更加具有试验性的、挑战性的近距离演出,这种演出被称为百老汇街外戏剧“通常座位在499以下并必须聘用工会内部人员并以赢利为目的地演出称为Off-Broadway,不以赢利为目的的纯艺术形式称为off-off-Broadway”(虽然一些剧院也可能就在百老汇大街上或附近)。戏剧的分类由演员公平工会合同中的规定来管辖。为了具备获得托尼奖的资格,戏剧作品必须要在可容纳500个或更多座位的剧场演出,这种剧场基本上可以称作是百老汇剧场。一些剧场(通过增加或减少座位)可以从百老汇外剧场转变为百老汇剧场,反之亦然。

November 12th, 2004|Reference, Theatrical|
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