Broadway vs West End: Who's on top?

7 March 2019

American and British Theatre both have one thing in common… the desire to entertain their audiences. This is achieved in a variety of ways; whether the audience is taken on a heart-wrenching emotional journey or leave crying with laughter, the central reason for the creation and performance of high end theatre is in many people’s view to entertain the public.

The West End and Broadway are home to some of the most popular theatres in the entire world. With millions attending productions at each location every year, there’s no doubt that they’re very popular.

We all have different taste as to what we like, that’s a given to humanity, but it’s amazing to see that this can also affect the theatrical worlds too.

There are many musicals that have performed on the stages of Broadway and yet never made it to the West End, for example Tarzan: The Musical, Newsies, The Little Mermaid, Brooklyn The Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and If/Then, none of which were lucky enough to cross over the pond. It seems that if it doesn’t do great on Broadway then why swim all the way to the West End? Different taste works both ways too.

There are small differences between both these entities, London has more activity and more non-musical plays. There is also more experimentation and boundary-pushing. Whereas Broadway lately has more musicals and more family oriented shows. Ticket prices on Broadway are a little higher, and on the West End, there are more discounts for students and seniors. The theaters are about the same size with a few exceptions on both sides of the Atlantic. There are other contractual and cultural differences. However, those differences aren’t significant to the professionalism of both Broadway and the West End.

Compared to the West End, Broadway has a lot more theatres within its city, each one inviting new musicals/ plays to perform year after year. In London we tend to keep our musicals in one place. Les Miserables has entered its 32nd year with no sign of budging from the Queen's Theatre, whilst in comparison only having a limited run on Broadway. Woman in Black has yet to move from the Fortune Theatre but has not even seen Times Square. The Phantom Of The Opera is the only musical that Broadway and West End can agree on, becoming one of the longest running musicals in both cities.

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