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A brief description of Broadway Theatre categories and what to expect
The 6 Different Types Of Broadway Shows
Theatre, just like any other popular form of entertainment these days, has various sub-categories and trends. Broadway is the most popular form of musical theatre. There are currently forty Broadway theaters currently in operation in New York City, offering both musicals and plays. Plays in general seem to be a bit less trendy and they do attract a more specific audience, while many musicals attract large tourist crowds.
The popularity of musicals to tourists and people who may be relatively new to the theatre scene, often makes them follow more popular trends to draw the current crowds. We can generally divide current Broadway musicals into roughly five categories. Not all musicals fit neatly into these categories, but can serve as a guide to some of the current popular and typical Broadway musicals.
1. The Based-on-Blockbuster-Movie Musical
Musicals based on movies have been increasingly common in recent years because they attract large audiences of movie fans and usually have established story lines that are familiar to many people. Examples of recent Broadway musicals based on movies include "Hello Dolly", "Finding Neverland", "Kinky Boots", "Groundhog Day", "School of Rock-The Musical", "Aladdin", and of course "The Lion King". Disney musicals tend to draw families because they are appropriate for young children while also appealing to parents who grew up with the classic films.
2. The Jukebox Musical
Jukebox musicals are stories based around a popular artist's songs and often their life story. Some recent Broadway jukebox musicals include "Jersey Boys", "Mama Mia", "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical", and "On Your Feet". Jukebox musicals attract audiences from the artist's age group and fan base, leading to many long-running shows and often awards.
3. The Based-on-NY Times-Best-Seller-Musical
Musicals based on books are really becoming increasingly popular and they draw both specific reader and general public audiences. Several recent examples are "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder", "Matilda", "Les Miserables", and of course the long-running "The Phantom of the Opera" which is based upon the 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux. Some musicals can fall into multiple categories at once because original books are often made into films and also they can appear as a musical on Broadway and London's West End.
4. The Historical Musical
Some Broadway blockbusters include "Hamilton" and "Allegiance." Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit musical "Hamilton" is based on the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton, the founding father himself and was created by Miranda after he was inspired by Ron Chernow's biography. "Allegiance" is based on its leading man's (George Takei) experiences in a Japanese internment camp following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
5. The Revival
Revivals are shows that have been brought back to the stage after the original run has closed. Revivals remain popular and remind audiences of the classic days of the Broadway theatre which they grew up hearing about. Classic musicals draw broad audiences and retell wonderful stories from the recent and distant past. A few examples are "Hello Dolly", "42nd Street", "The King and I", "Fiddler on the Roof", and "The Color Purple".
6. The Almost-Completely-Original Musical
Some recent examples are "Something Rotten!", "The Book of Mormon", and "Wicked". However, one could argue that "Wicked" is a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz", and therefore based on a movie. "Something Rotten!" is loosely based on the origins of the first musical, and could also be considered historic. Additionally, "The Book of Mormon" is based on the Mormon religion and its various stereotypes, so it could be considered to be based upon a book. Moral of the story: while these types of musicals are almost completely original, nothing's really ever completely new. Someone got the idea from somewhere and built upon it to make a unique story. That's the beauty of theater: artists interpret events to make them into beautiful works of art to be shared with audience from all over the world.