NYC Theatre Basics

September 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

Without  a doubt, when it comes to the theatre world, only London rivals the Big Apple in terms of the sheer number and variety of productions each year.

Whether your preference is a play or a musical, on Broadway or Off-Broadway, if the theater is your thing, you will likely find a show to fit your schedule and budget.

Here are the basics to help you navigate the options available and determine the best way to purchase tickets.

Broadway and Off-Broadway

Technically speaking, Broadway is defined as the 11-block strip of Manhattan, running between 42nd and 53rd Streets, and 6th and 8th Avenues.  The area is also known as The Great White Way and is home to over 40 theatres.  In addition, although not located on The Great White Way, productions at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre are also listed as being on Broadway.

Off-Broadway is everything else.  It is tempting to go for the big Broadway shows, but I would suggest taking a look at the current offering further afield before making your decision.   There are gems that are very often overlooked simply because of their location (read “status”).  Most Off-Broadway theatres are much smaller than their Broadway counterparts, providing a much more intimate theatre-going experience.

Show Schedule

In order to assist with your planning, it is worth noting that most theatres run on the following schedule:

Evenings: Monday – typically dark; Tuesday – Saturday 8:00 P.M.

Matinees: Wednesday & Saturday 2:00 P.M.; Sunday 3:00 P.M.

There are exceptions, for example some productions run early (7:00 or 7:30 P.M.) on Tuesday evenings and others geared towards children may very well have 7:00 PM. curtain times.  Always confirm the day/time when ordering.

Also, make a note the show’s running time and whether or not there is an intermission.  This will help you book dinner/lunch reservations and make other plans.


Most ticket web sites will provide a seating chart for the theatre.  Center Orchestra are usually the best seats.  However, the front of the Mezzanine (first two or three rows) will often provide better viewing than rear Orchestra seats.

Ordering Tickets

First and foremost … book early!  As soon as you are able to confirm your travel plans, do your research and buy your tickets.

See the next post for the online options for ordering and insider tips on how to obtain discounted tickets.


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