What Makes a Broadway Show a Broadway Show?

Location is everything in NYC. It’s no surprise that geography plays an integral part in determining if a theater is Broadway-certified, off-Broadway, or off-off-Broadway. Genuine Broadway theaters are officially classified as Broadway Houses by the Broadway League, and they have to exist between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue, and 41st Street and 54th Street. Broadway, the street, runs diagonally within this area. That messes up Manhattan‘s tidy grid system, but also creates Herald Square, Madison Square, and Times Square, among others. The Vivian Beaumont Theater is the only Broadway-certified theater that breaks the rule. It’s at Lincoln Center.

Off-Broadway theaters have no such limitations. You can find them anywhere in the city, although you’re likely to have the most luck in the Village or the Upper West Side. The same is true for off-off-Broadway theaters — they’re all throughout the city. They’re the smallest of the three, as the theaters hold fewer than 99 people. In contrast, an off-Broadway theater can accommodate between 99 and 499 patrons. Legitimate Broadway theaters hold 500 people or more.

Naturally, there’s a considerable price difference as well. Broadway tickets are expensive, and a ticket for a hot show is as rare as a unicorn. Scoring a pair often comes down to both luck and money. Both off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway productions are typically more affordable, and today’s popular off-Broadway show might become tomorrow’s smash hit on the Great White Way. Keep reading to learn more about differentiating Broadway performances from shows that take place off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway.