A Love Letter to Broadway

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“Give my regards to Broadway, remember me to Herald Square, tell all the gang at 42nd Street, that I will soon be there”

– George M. Cohan


Broadway theater, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in professional theaters, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan. 

This Shiny app built in RStudio is created to send my love to Broadway. Code can be found here in my Github repository.

The dataset is made available by the Broadway League and organized by Austin Cory Bart from the CORGIS Dataset Project. The marvelous design is from David Smale.

Let’s have fun playing with this interactive Shiny App and see what you can find out about Broadway shows!

Shiny App

The dataset stretches from the 1990s to August 2016, and only shows that reported capacity were included. The dashboard has the following tabs:

  • Intro
  • Running Weeks
  • Price
  • Broadway Theatres
  • The Book of Shows

Running Weeks

Running weeks is often used to measure the success of a Broadway show. The bar plot for running weeks is derived from the selected show type — musical, play or special performance — and year range. The red line represents the average running weeks for shows selected. Below is the data for 10 years from 2006 to 2016 for 3 show types:

My findings:

  • Musicals have the longest-running weeks at around 80-week. That’s four times the length of the average 20-week run for plays and 16 times the run for special performances, which typically last for only 5 weeks, mostly during the holiday season.
  • Top classic musicals dominate the musical market with more than 1000 running weeks over the past 15 years, while the average life circle for musicals remains the same.
  • Plays ran longer than 20 weeks on average 15 years ago, while it is a common practice now for plays to run only 20 weeks, usually a classic revival starring celebrities.
  • Chicago, Jersey Boys, The Phantom Of The Opera, Wicked, The Lion King are the longest-running musicals from 2006 to 2016. Likely most people who will venture to see a Broadway show believe you can’t go wrong with long-running classics.

Broadway Ticket Price

My findings:

  • The average ticket cost for a musical today is $90, close to double the  $50 cost of 10 years ago. Now some musicals can be extremely expensive with an average price of over $200 ( Examples include The Book of Mormon and Hamilton).
  • It costs $75 to see a play nowadays, again close to double the $40 cost of 10 years ago. As in the case of musicals, tickets to plays can cost more with an average price of over $150.
  • Broadway show prices increase over the years and show a bigger deviation.
  • The majority of Broadway shows are musicals. Musicals were more expensive than plays in general in the past, though the price difference is not that obvious now.
  • Prices can be higher during holiday seasons and summer.

Broadway Theatres

Lastly, you can zoom in, drag, hover and select nodes to reveal the strength of the connection between theatres and Broadway shows.

Each red star represents a theater that hosts the most shows, and each black dot represents a Broadway show from 1991 to 2016. The lines link a show to the theater(s) they were at. For example, Macbeth had four productions in four different theatres in 25 years. Just for fun, can you find out which theaters it was in. 

You can always search for show name, opening year, show type or theatre under The Book of Shows tab for more information.

I hope you enjoy this Shiny App and explore as much as you can. If you find something interesting about Broadway shows through this app, I’d be happy to hear about it! 

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: R – NYC Data Science Academy Blog.

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