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Thoughts on Broadway Ticket Prices

Without a doubt, Broadway is one of the most profitable enterprises in the United States. Theatergoers from all across the country (and even the world) flock to New York City to witness some of the best theater performances on earth; yet, for some, attending a Broadway show at all is impossible due to a lack of funds. Ticket prices for even the least popular of shows often range well above $100 per ticket, and more popular shows like Hamilton often average over $240 per ticket, if any tickets are even left for purchase.

A small sample of some of the many shoes that have graced Broadway stages in the past few years.

Although viewing theater is one of the favorite pastimes of a large portion of the population, people without the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars for a few hours of entertainment are barred from experiencing their favorite form of entertainment in person. Because Broadway shows are so infrequently recorded and presented to the public in the form of DVDs or screenings, these people are left without the ability to experience theater at all.

There are ways to buy discounted tickets, but these methods are unfortunately few and far between. Rush tickets and lottery tickets are occasionally offered by shows such as Fun Home and Thérèse Raquin, but the chances of actually receiving these tickets are slim. Spending hours waiting in lines for merely the opportunity of purchasing discount tickets that very quickly sell out is extremely frustrating, and not an option for those that work full-time jobs or raise children.

A line of people waiting outside in the cold and snow for the possibility of purchasing rush tickets.

In order for everyone to have the opportunity to view live theater, something needs to be done. We need to ensure that all people are able to view some of the most beautiful art on earth. Successful Broadway shows routinely make over $1 million per week. Plays cost around $2.5 million to produce, and musicals cost between $10 and $15 million per week (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes). Following these numbers, it would take a mere three weeks for a play or sixteen weeks for a Broadway show to make a profit, which is usually just a small fraction of a show’s run. Although it would certainly take longer for a show to regain the money spent on its production if ticket prices were lowered, a sizeable profit would still be made relatively quickly, and due to more of the population being financially able to purchase tickets, may not even see a significant loss in immediate profit.

The salaries of Broadway performers also factors into the cost of tickets. Members of the ensemble or chorus of a show are paid around $1,807 per week, and more well established Broadway stars are paid anywhere around or upwards of $10,000. Subtracting these costs from a weekly gross of $1 million still leaves a large sum of profit for those producing the show, and those otherwise subsidizing the production.

Although profits are certainly important to those who produce shows and the actors who perform in them, allowing audiences the ability to attend some of the most impressive and beautiful art on Earth should be more of a motivation than extreme profit. People of all socioeconomic backgrounds deserve to have the experience of viewing live theater and witnessing the joy that it can bring to those lucky enough to see it.

One of the many beautiful scenes from Fun Home, featuing Sydney Lucas as Small Alison and Michael Cerveris as her father.

Image Credit: Matt H. Wade, Andrew F. Kazmeirski on Shuttershock, Huffington Post

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