How do Broadway plays differ from community theatre productions?

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago
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    I attend a lot of theatre, from community level to local pro to Broadway and the West End.

    Community theatre in general has people who are doing this for fun, without further aspirations. Some are pretty talented, but not at a professional level. The costumes are home-made or thrift store finds, not necessarily quality, and the sets are whatever they can scrounge. Tickets are affordable, and a small donation to the theatre group will be genuinely appreciated. (Make it separately from buying your ticket; the box office doesn't know what to do with them.) There's often a need for volunteers who build or sew, even if you don't want to go on stage.

    Local theatre ranges from a similar to community to experimental or avant garde to full-on professional, including leading actors you've seen on TV or in movies. The professional ones produce plays as good as the ones on Broadway, IMO. You can expect excellence at anything where all the cast are members of Actors Equity (excluding any kids in the show). I've held season tickets to a professional local theatre for a couple of decades, that's how good I think they are.

    At professional local theatres, sets are quality but not elaborate, able to handle simple special effects like flying, running water, or someone disappearing in a puff of smoke. (I've attended a play where they barbecued on stage and gave it to audience members at the end, and another where the entire set was a genuine garage sale and they'd sell audience members whatever they wanted during intermission.) Costumes are well made and appear authentic and accurate to the time period, down to the shoes and hairstyles.

    Broadway has not only the best actors they can get, but often a celebrity-level actor. People may recognize the lead at a professional local theatre, but they know the name of the lead on Broadway--and may be attending just to see that person live on stage. (Raises hand. Wipes a tear at not seeing Ed Harris when Broadway went dark.) Costumes and sets are full-on glitz, elaborate and clearly not sparing much expense. But the shows, while excellent, are not really any better than good local theatre.

    A few years ago, we saw the same play three times in rapid succession: local, Broadway, West End. While they had differences, none was better than the others. I thought that was pretty cool.

  • 1 month ago

    They gave more elaborate props. Local community productions gave no props or minimal props. 

    They don’t have all those fancy clothing. 

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