Ask Playbill.com is a weekly Playbill.com column that answers questions about theatre, generated by readers and Playbill.com staff, every Thursday. To ask a question, email [email protected]. Please specify how you would like your name displayed and please include the city in which you live.
This week's question comes from the Playbill.com staff.
Question: What constitutes a Broadway theatre?
Answer: The theatre community has a generally good idea of what constitutes a Broadway theatre, but a written definition is hard to find. For instance, the League of American Theatres and Producers does not have a written definition of Broadway, according to a spokesperson. A spokesperson for Actors' Equity says that the actors' Broadway contract doesn't have a set definition of a Broadway theatre, but the Off-Broadway contract does (in order to eliminate Broadway theatres from its jurisdiction). According to that contract, a Broadway theatre has more than 499 seats, and is located either in a box bounded by 34th Street, 56th Street, Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue, or a box bounded by 56th Street, 72nd Street, Fifth Avenue and the Hudson River. This definition, however, appears a bit confusing, as it encompasses places like Town Hall, which is mainly used for concerts, and City Center, which is used for the Encores! series, dance performances and other events, and is not typically considered a "Broadway" theatre.
The Tony Awards — which are generally considered awards for "Broadway," of course — simply determines eligibility for its awards based on a set list of 39 agreed-upon theatres, from the Ambassador to the August Wilson.
Question: Which Broadway theatres are actually located on Broadway?
Answer: According to the Tonys' list of eligible theatres, six Broadway theatres have an official address on Broadway: the Broadway, the Winter Garden, the Circle in the Square, the Gershwin, the Marquis and the Palace. Playbill.com, however, lists the Circle in the Square and the Gershwin as being on 50th Street and 51st Street, respectively, and both of their main entrances are off a covered driveway that runs between those two streets. And, the Palace's entrance is on Times Square — which Broadway runs through — but it seems to be closer to Seventh Avenue than it is to Broadway.