A Broadway production is one that occurs in the NYC Theater District in a venue with 500 or more seats. Most Broadway productions aren’t even actually on Broadway (the street.) All this designation means is that the people involved (actors, technicians, directors, musicians, etc) get the highest union rates for their work, and therefore the producers get to choose among the best and well-known people.
An Off-Broadway production is in a venue with 100-499 seats. Believe it or not, some of these are actually on Broadway (the street.) The people involved are paid less, and the budgets are smaller. Some of them may not even be unionized. There are tons of fantastic Off-Broadway productions, but don’t expect anything huge and spectacular. Lots of Off-Broadway shows eventually move to Broadway; Avenue Q is a recent example.
William Finn’s off-Broadway musical “March of the Falsettos” and its sequel “Falsettoland” were combined to make “Falsettos” on Broadway. Excellent show(s) if you ever get a chance to catch a local production.
Any off-Broadway show that moves onto to Broadway is worth seeing. As noted below “AQ” started off, moved on, and won the Best Musical Tony! Other fine examples are “Urinetown” and the current hit “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
Lots of 'em. Besides the above-mentioned Rent and Grease, consider that Man of la Mancha started off-Broadway, as did The Elephant Man.
Off-Broadway is cheaper, so Broadway shows tend to be surer bets for investors, and I suspect off-Broadway runs might be a way of convincing people that a show has legs.
Also, “Off-Broadway” doesn’t mean “not as good”. The Fantasticks ran for a helluva long time, none of it on Broadway.
Off-Broadway is also a good venue for more original shows. NOBODY would have predicated the amazing success of “Urinetown” and “AQ” or would have risked bringing them to Broadway first. These original shows usually start Off-Broadway, get a lot of word of mouth and (now) Internet posts about how “You have to see this show” and then get the angels they need to move onto Broadway.
What you saw were Broadway Touring companies. (probably) The show will have the same, or nearly the same, set design, costumes and choreograpy and the singing and acting will be just a cut below what you would see on broadway in NYC. But it’s really quite hard for most people to notice a difference.
Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway are also places writers can be a little more expiermental and can put the show up and watch it with an audience and then start tweeking the script.
I’ve noticed a definite difference between Broadway productions and those staged by national touring companies. Broadway’s tend to be bigger, better and field top-notch talent. That said, some national companies stage truly outstanding shows themselves; it’s just that Broadway’s, IMHO, are typically a couple cuts above. The Broadway backdrop doesn’t hurt, of course.
I dunno about that, my striped friend. I live in the Detroit area, and have had the opportunity to see some shows both on broadway and locally. I’d say the really talented people are often the ones who travel. Either that, or I’ve just been to NYC on some bad nights.
Looking at the notes in a Playbill, actors on Broadway seem to go from regional theatre, maybe Off Broadway or Broadway minor roles, to National touring companies Lead roles, to Broadway lead or secondary roles.
But since I live in NYC, I haven’t seen a National Touring company in a while.
Doh! Carnac snuck in front of me. Oh well…anyhow, I will bow to those who have seen more than just a couple of shows, but I certainly noticed a difference when I saw Aida, and it wasn’t in favor of the Broadway cast.