Broadway vs. Off-Broadway Theater

Updated: Dezember 22, 2023

This is a common question that we get from tour guests or from members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.

Many people misunderstand the difference and assume that the difference has to strictly do with geography.

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

Broadway theaters are theaters with more than 500 seats. 

Off-Broadway are theaters with between 99 and 499 seats.

Off-Off-Broadway are theaters that have less than 99 seats.

It doesn't necessarily have to do with the quality of the show. In fact, some of the best shows and musicals are off-Broadway productions.

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.

New York Walking Tours

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 for Off-Broadway between $566 and $1008, depending on the size of the house. 


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About The Author

Katherine Weatherford

I'm Katherine Weatherford and I'm a tour guide for Free Tours by Foot in NYC, but I have also been working professionally in theater for nearly two decades. I have worked onstage as an actor, both in New York as well as on the road, and have also worked behind the scenes as a choreographer, costumer, stage manager, and director. I am now the Co-Artistic Director of Greenwood Lake Theater , a professional theater company in the Hudson Valley. I love going to see shows of all kinds. Read More...
Updated: Dezember 22nd, 2023
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