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Broadway vs. Off Broadway Theater

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What distinguishes Broadway vs. Off-Broadway (and Off-Off-Broadway) theaters is simply the number of seats in the theater. 

Theaters with a house larger than 500 seats are considered Broadway theaters or On-Broadway theaters. 

Theaters with houses between 99 and 499 seats are Off-Broadway.

Any theater with less than 99 seats is considered Off-Off-Broadway.

It doesn't necessarily have to do with the quality of the show, so never rule out seeing an Off, or Off-Off-Broadway show.

You can save some money on discovering Off-Broadway theater during Off-Broadway Week!

Amazingly, only four of the 40 Broadway Show theaters are actually on Broadway

All the other Broadway theaters are in the theater district in the blocks east and west of Broadway around Times Square.

To learn more about these side streets and their historic theaters, consider taking our guided tour of Broadway and the Theater District or our self-guided version.

For a more in-depth outing, consider taking the Disney on Broadway tour which includes behind-the-scenes admission to a theater in addition to the opportunity to try on costumes and props from musicals like The Lion King and Mary Poppins!

Meanwhile, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theaters are scattered around Manhattan and NYC, especially in Greenwich Village.

TIP: Be sure to check out our post on getting discount Broadway theater tickets.

Additional Facts:

Broadway theaters are, more or less, theaters in New York that must abide by Actors' Equity's Broadway production contracts.

Other Unions of theater workers (stagehands, musicians, playwrights, etc.) also have contracts linked to the size and type of the theater.

Ticket prices are higher on Broadway, and the costs of creating and running a show are also higher.

Musicals on Broadway typically have an average initial cost of $9.6 million and for Off-Broadway musicals $1 million (plays are considerably less expensive).

The weekly running costs of a Broadway musical are typically $250,000 to $650,000, and Off-Broadway musicals are typically in the $50,000 to $100,000 range,

For an actor on Broadway, the current basic minimum weekly salary is $1861, and Off-Broadway between $566 and $1008, depending on the size of the house.


About The Author


Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: November 3rd, 2021
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