The Broadway Theatre District refers to the area around Times Square where more than 40 theatres are located. The plays and musicals performed at these theatres (along with those performed at the West End in London) are generally regarded as the highest quality. As such, it’s usually considered as quite an achievement if a show (or a performer) makes it to Broadway. Most of the shows there are running on limited engagement (typically for a few months), though there are some popular ones that run for years, even on open ended engagement (the longest running show on Broadway currently is The Phantom of the Opera, which opened in January 1988 and is still running today).
My first exposure to Broadway musicals was in high school, when a classmate performed The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera for a piano recital. I liked the music, and found out that it was part of scores for the musical. The first musical performance I had ever seen was my high school’s production of My Fair Lady.
Later on in college, I went to see several Broadway musicals who happened to be on tour and visited the city I lived in. When I graduated from school and started working in Dallas, TX (thus having some disposable income and I could afford going to more shows), for a couple of years I had season tickets for the Dallas Summer Musicals (a series of musicals that come to perform in Dallas during the summer months). That gave me exposure to a wide range of shows, from the very famous ones like The Phantom of the Opera to the not as well known, but still pretty good ones like The Scarlet Pimpernel.
During my first year working, I was assigned to work on a project in our New York City area office for a couple of months. Since for that project I could only go back home to Dallas every other weekends, during the weekends when I had to stay in New York City I took advantage of being there by going to see several shows on Broadway. That was definitely a unique experience, as you would go to the Theatre District area and see people going to the shows (most shows have the same show time, 8 pm) and later leaving from the shows. It’s pretty neat to walk from street to street and see billboards of many famous shows — Cats, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Lion King, etc.), and in some cases, for limited time some shows would have big-name actors/celebrities performing (Nathan Lane in The Producers, Antonio Banderas in Nine, etc.).
The last show I saw on Broadway was Les Miserables few years ago. Les Mis is my favorite musicals and I have seen it many times (including twice on Broadway). That last one I went with my cousin who was visiting from Indonesia and wanted to see a musical on Broadway. Since then, I have seen many Broadway musicals being performed in Washington, DC, area where I live, but I haven’t been back to Broadway to see one there. May be sometime soon I will do that again.
The photo below was taken right after seeing Les Miserables. You can see on the same street, there was The Producers showing across the street, and at the theatre next to the one where Les Miserables was showing, there was a billboard showing that famous mask from The Phantom of the Opera.