5 Tips to Getting a Job on Broadway (Updated 2020).

20I get a lot of emails from folks telling me that it’s their dream to work on Broadway.  Some want to be General Managers.  Some want to be Casting Directors.  Some don’t have a clue as to what they want to do, but they know they want . . . well . . . to be a part of it, New York, New York.

Some have finished school.  Some have even been through graduate school.  And quite a few through law school, actually.  Some haven’t even finished high school.

But they all know they want to do what I have been so blessed to have been able to do . . . work in an industry that they love.

Since I was one of those people who dreamed about working on Broadway, I’ve come up with some tips for folks looking to land that theater job . . . and keep it.  And while, sure, these tips are focused on the NY scene, they are easily applied to wherever you may be.

So if you’re looking to work on the Broadway, here are five tips to help you out:

1.  Got an interview?  Get tickets.

One of the first questions I ask people who sit in front of me looking for a job is, “What shows have you seen lately?”  And then I ask, “Have you seen mine?

I can’t tell you how many people say no.

Does it count them out?  Not 100%.  But the people that say yes?  Oooohhh, they vault to the top of the leader board.  It’s not about kissing a$$, or putting some bucks in my till.  It’s about a gesture that says, “I’m interested in seeing the work that goes on here, so I can show you how I can contribute to making it even better.”

I know, theater tickets are expensive.  But they’ll be a lot easier to pay for if you have a job that pays you a salary.

Make an investment in your search, and people will invest in you.

2.  Get in the right room.

There’s no question that Broadway is a very closed-door industry.  And it’s hard to get that open, no matter how hard you knock.  Here’s the good news.  Once you do get the door open and you get in the room, the door usually shuts and we don’t let you out.  You’re ours!  Bahahahahaha.

Jobs are the best way to get entry into the room, but there’s the catch 22, right?

So how else can you get potential employers to know who you are?  Emails rarely work.  Cold phone calls?  Forget it.  So, attend Galas.  Go to conferences (like my annual conference!).   Get to opening nights.  Invest.  Do whatever you can do to put your face in front of employers.  I’ve hired at least three people who grabbed me for an intro after listening to me speak on a panel.

A face-to-face intro is a zillion times more “impressive” than an electronic one.

3.  Be prepared to start at the bottom.

I have a lot of respect for people who have earned MBA’s, JD’s, MD’s, or any advanced degree that cost six figures and took several years.

But that doesn’t mean you get to start at the middle.

Broadway is a niche industry which requires a lot of specialized knowledge that isn’t taught in any curriculum (except it’s all on The TheaterMakers Studio).

So that means anyone looking to get a job in the biz has to start where everyone else does . . . at the bottom. Fortunately, the bottom is a little better now than when I first started out in this industry 20 years ago!

It means having a “can-do” attitude! My staff knows that no task is too small (we have spring cleaning each year and everyone pitches in), and no project too large. It’s all about teamwork, collaboration, and a positive attitude.

But do what’s required with a smile on your face, and you’ll rise to the top quicker than you can say “I went to graduate school for this?”

4.  We don’t punch clocks.

At the end of every interview, I always ask if the job candidate has any questions.  (Tip:  Have a question or two . . . it’ll keep you in the room longer and create a stronger impression.)  The questions they ask me, teach me more about their personality than any other part of the interview.  And the one question I hate the most?  “What are the hours?”

This is indicative that they aren’t prepared for #3 above.

Office hours may be 10am-6pm, but everyone does the work for the love of it. If you love what you do, then you won’t be watching the clock. And I only want to work with people who truly love what they do.

Need an example of these type of employees? Stop by my office sometime and meet anyone on my staff.

5.  Remember JFK.

I’ve saved my favorite tip for last . . .

When going in for an interview, remember these words:  “Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company.”

Remembering that mantra will get you in the perfect frame of mind to seem like the perfect employee.

_ _ _ _

Are you looking to get a job on Broadway? Join The TheaterMakers Studio FREE for 30 days to learn more about the business and better prepare yourself for getting a job!

Want to hear what it really takes to get in the room from Broadway insiders? Get industry knowledge when you listen in on my one-on-one podcasts with Todd HaimesKevin McCollum, and Joe Mantello.

  • Sara Wolter says:

    Great tips Ken. I would also add “the show must go on” curtain up at 2pm or 8pm so whatever it takes to give the audience a 100% experience is always part of a job description no matter what your job is….

    • Dan says:

      Thank you mr.ken
      I’m a junior in high school and I have had broadway in my mind forever it’s hard when you don’t know how to start I felt so over welmed this helps so mutch

  • Patricia says:

    These tips are true for any profession where people want to make their mark and have a great career. I also love problem solvers who don’t give you the problem but let you know how it can be fixed or even better how they fixed it!

  • Rachel says:

    Great Tips! I love this article. I have a question about tip 4. Do you have any questions that you can suggest to ask? Have there been any questions that impressed you or interested you in an interview?

  • Maury says:

    Young people! Take in every word! Ken speak-eth the truth!

  • Mackenzie says:

    I love how much you appreciate your staff. I hope you share it with them as much as you share it with us!

    Also, I totally understand #2. I attended your master class at Emerson a few years ago and wanted to introduce myself, but you were whisk away too soon!

  • Bea says:

    Thank you very much for this article!!!!very usefull, also for the spanish teather industry!!!


    It”s true! I saw one day a doctor on the TV and he said that when he must choosea new doctor in his team the first think he ask is if they play sports.For every job you need tips.But more important if you are happy to do one job or another.To wake up in the morning with a big smile on the face .I work in the theatre ,I stay all day.I make marionettes and I play also.
    Unfortunately I live in Greece.It”s difficult for me to come in USA.I saw your shows on the net.I know that it”s not the same but we are furaway.That”s why give me a chance even by E-mail or Skype to talk with you and you never know!
    There are my tips to have a meeting with you!

  • Erika Carrillo says:

    Love this advice!I’m currently going to North Dakota State University and I’m studying the hospitality and tourism insudtr with a minor in business administration. I always loved music. Music has been always in my family’s blood.I remember doing skits with my mom on the streets in Ecuador ( church , singing in front of people and dancing! I wish the world wasn’t about just money and getting paid to live. I wish we can just live sharing our passion with the wold. That is why I’m considering in double minor in theather dance! My Dad said that it will be a waste of time and that probably wont get paid enough! but it is my passion and I’m going to pursue that! I wish everyone could see this article! is exactly of how I feel inside! time is important but when you do what you love it goes faster and sometimes you wishes that time goes slower. Time should never be a problem.
    Thanks for sharing Mr. Davenport,

    Erika Carrillo

  • Elsa Noemi Pagan says:

    I really liked what you had to say, nice and down to earth. would love to work on broadway with props or whatever. Maybe one day it will come true for me. Thanks again.

  • Terrianne says:

    I truly appreciate the strong advice. I am a singer/actress who has come to the realization of what I really want out of life through many various experiences. I came to this site looking to see how to audition for Broadway and this has helped me tremendously. Thanks so much for giving back. That is my ultimate goal. I will get there!

  • Courtney Teresa Jones says:

    I am only 12, going on 13, years old, ( this is my mom’s email. ) and it is my dream to be on Broadway. So can you tell me, what kind of expectations do you have, and what training do I need to have a higher chance of getting a lead role?

  • Chiara Bortolini says:

    Dear Ken Davenport,

    I’ve read with accurance your article, and I’ve found it absolutely useful for those, as I am, who would love to get into Broadway-exciting world. All the tips are extremely keen. You always underline to keep in touch with professionals, and speak face to face to express the truly desire to be on Broadway. And this is definitely very important. However,as I’m Italian and living in Italy at the moment, could you suggest me how to land that theatre job in the distance? I know you’ve got an extraordinary and very high-quality experience about this world and it would be a privilege recieving your advices.

    Thank you very much for all the time you could give me.

    Best regards,
    Chiara Bortolini

  • Makylah Ladd says:

    Love the advise taking in every word it’s defiantly my dream to live in NWY and get in Broadway

  • Emily says:

    Thanks for the advice I’m a highschool student and my dream job would is to be a Theater Tech working on Broadway. Reading this article helps me to understand what this will take. Thanks. 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    I want to work on Broadway . And I will.

  • Emily says:

    This website is so inspiring. Im 18 and I don’t want to be on broadway, I NEED it. I can’t even picture myself doing anything else with my life than performing. It is my absolute dream to make it on Broadway. This website made me realize a little more that if I don’t stop giving up then maybe I actually do have a chance.

  • Nikki Taylor says:

    I like to sing and act and i like the musical and be in one of the like The Music Man and Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat and bye bye birdie.

    By:Nikki Taylor

  • Phoebe Tango says:

    What if you Dont have a resume ? No experience ? But Broadway is what you desire , not a spark but a fire. When I ask this I am no liar ? ….when can I be hired?

  • Elizabeth Marvitz says:

    Thanks for the tips! I find them really practical and helpful! I would also like to ask though what an audition would be like and what are some amazing things to do to stand out (per say what types of clothing to wear, what songs to sing or monologues to perform, and what questions to ask)? What should I be ready for? And what are things I should stay away from talking about or auditioning with?

    Thank you in advance for your time!

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  • Nicolas says:

    Thanks for the advice! I’m a senior in high school now and I basically live in the theatre… I do approximately 10-11 shows a year..:) I do have a question tho. What type of questions impress you the most? Yeah.. I have a lot of questions during interviews but I don’t like to feel like I’m dragging the interview on forever.

  • Gena Sims says:

    Thank you so much for this advice, Mr. Davenport! As an aspiring Broadway performer, I got great insight into the business world of Broadway by reading this article. It helps me see that with the right attitude and a lot of perseverance, I can turn my passion into a successful career.

  • kelly says:

    I currently have 2 years behind me of being a behind the scenes tech for shows in high school and hopefully will soon be doing the same in college. I want to major in graphic arts and animation and get a minor in hospitality or be on lighting or set crew for Disney shows and musicals: )

  • amrita gerretz says:

    I have a dream since i was like 10, im 15 right now and i really-really wanna be an actress but english isn’t my best side but i’m ready to do almost everything to get on Broadway! It is so frustrating to think that maby i’ll never going to be an actress. I really hope that people are going to notice me: )

  • Lesly says:

    Hello my name is Lesly Rivera am 12 years old but turning 13 in a month I saw the tips you gave and I thought they were Fantastic. I really really want to be on Broadway its my dream now and always! I just love the thought of me being on Broadway the dancing, the singing and especially the acting. Everyday I look in the mirror and act like one of my fav’s Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Lawrence. Acting always makes me feel happy the closes way for me to even become an actress is by pretend. I also have a question I want to become a Motivational Speaker as well could I do both? Pray to the Lord that one day I will become an actress.God Bless and best of luck to you and your Broadway shows! 🙂

    P.S It would be awesome if you email me the answer to my question alright bye take care. 🙂

  • Asako says:

    Hi, I am a college student in Japan. I just wanted to tell you that this article encouraged me a lot.
    My dream is to become a stage manager for musicals. I don’t think I would be able to work on Broadway since it’s too far from here and my English is not very good. I hope I can get a backstage job for musicals or dramas here in Japan.
    Now I know I have to start at the bottom, and I’m ready to do whatever I can do.
    I think your tips are true and useful not just in New York, but also in any other places.
    Thanks a lot for the wonderful advice!

  • Katie says:

    I am a high school student in a small town, I am in love with theatre, and I have a passion for music. Now that I am a senior that needs to figure out what I really want to do in life I ask myself “what would I really love to do?” and I think theatre. For a lot of people that is unfortunate to hear and it is a hard thing to love because it “doesn’t pay the bills”. I just wish I had more encouragement because it is what I love.

    • Kati says:

      Katie my mantra is “don’t take life too seriously, it’s not like we’re getting out alive” follow those big dreams right out of your small town! Make it big and who cares if you “pay the bills” if Broadway is what you want go get it! Kick butt and take names that’s what I always say.

  • Don Carlson says:

    I’ve been singing undiscovered for almost two decades and have won at the one variety show and one karaoke contest I competed in, as well as had a minor hit song on a movie soundtrack- but have not had any formal voice training and am not exactly sure what the Broadway vocal sound is these days. It’s something I *can* mimic it at a loud volume, but kind of fear “the belt” as it sounds traditionally. Is shouting musically an absolute requirement, or is a strong mix just as acceptable if it sounds good and is well projected with shimmering vibrato?

    Best Wishes,

    Don C.

  • Don Carlson says:

    By the way, I noticed the SPAM problem you seem to be having. Sorry to see that. Wish I could help more, but for now what you can do is have all blog guests enter a CAPTCHA before they can leave a comment. Opportunists…

  • Tatiyana Royal says:

    I am really, really into Broadway and I have done multiple musicals from Broadway. I am only fourteen, but it is my life long dream to be in Broadway. My parents bug me and say that I would struggle if I don’t have a good salary and the average Broadway actor doesn’t have a salary that is satisfactory for New York. In spite of their comments I am determined to do what I really want. and that is to be on Broadway. I am gifted and have been told that by many people, so I will push and push until I have achieved what I want. Also, I have a very good sense of self- motivation.

  • Aminata Johnson says:

    Hi I absolutely love Broadway, my life goal is to be in a Tony Award winning Broadway show. I’m still very young so I’d like to know if it would be smart to audition for a broadway show at a young age (10-18)?

  • Patrick Lewis says:

    I feel like creatives always like and want to hire me more than the casting agents . How do I get over the casting hurdle to be seen by more creatives ? Sometimes I feel casting is show blocking me from getting seen by the people that are actually creating the show and have worked with me in the past .

  • Cydney says:

    Hello, sir! I am a 16 year-old high school student. I love theatre and I’ve been part of stage crew for numerous shows for the past three years. I want to get into the Broadway scene, and I want to get in early, since, as you said, it’s a very closed-door industry. I would like to get a job over the summer, and I’m seriously considering a job on Broadway if at all possible. I just would like to ask, how old does one have to be to get a job on Broadway? Also, what jobs, if any, would be available for a 16-17 year old? It doesn’t have to be stage crew, I don’t expect to be able to get directly involved like that right away at all.
    Thank you very much, and thank you for posting these tips, they are incredibly useful.

  • charlie says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I am always searching for strong advice from experts, such as yourself. Thank you for the insight that will help me to understand what I need to continue to work on and what to expect when I feel I am ready to give a company every ounce of me. I am currently sixteen and am working hard at school and in outside studies to become someone who can make it. I feel so excited when I can read articles that will help me. I’m currently working within my third high school production, and have finally proven myself worthy of a lead supporting role. I will be able to see Godspell and Kinky boots before years end. Thanks again.

  • As a young emerging producer and general manager based in London, these tips are so useful for getting interviews in the West End – which is very similar in being largely closed-door, but when you are in, you ar IN!!

    Thanks Ken for your daily blogs, great advice to all us young producers over the globe!

  • Krista Hasiotis says:

    I have always been interested in working in the Entertainment/Theater Industry. How could you get into this type of Industry w/ no experience? People tell me how I should try to get into the entertainment Industry b/c how I look. But I want to get into the Theater Industry because I would love to possibly make a career out of it. I am very enthusiastic, and ambitious about getting my foot in the door. I would also like to Thank You on the tips you have suggested as well. Thank You. Krista Hasiotis

  • Novie says:

    I’m still on college, taking Bachelor of Arts Major in English and badly want to work in Broadway. Hey can you wait for me to be there? By the way, i love your tips it gives motivation in a way.

  • Nathan Lane says:

    I used to want to be on Broadway and then I met the people. It is a very ugly world fill with people who forgot their shit stinks too and this article is a perfect example. Queen please, we know you’re all that and no, I didn’t go see your lame ass show! GET OVER YOURSELF.

  • Haley Morgan says:

    Hello, my dream is to follow in the footsteps of Ariana Grande and I want to be on broadway more than anything in the world. I know I can do it because it must happen because it is my dream. However, I live in Indiana so it’s very frustrating. What type of classes should I take to practice, and how can I do it? Please reply back to me!! Thank you so much for your time!!

  • Georgia says:

    Hello, thank you so much for this! I was actually fuming when I read the part about hours because this is my dream and I’d do anything for it. Everyone I’ve spoke to seems to think that believing in yourself and working hard is what works so that’s what I’m going to do and if it works out then I’ll be thanking you! Xxx

  • Sam Erickson says:

    Thanks so much! I was wondering if there was a good article for auditioning for broadway, because when Hamilton comes to MN in 2019, im going to audition.

  • Joan Adams says:

    Thanks so much for the tips. I was wondering how many shows should I attend? And when attending them could I talk to you after the show about getting a career on broadway? Also, I know a big part of broadway is dancing and I have no professional training in that area whatsoever, what would you suggest I do in that case? last minute lessons? Also once you do get the job how do you keep it? and what are your tips for being at the top of your game?
    Thank you

  • Mya says:

    Of you wanted to make a Broadway show, what age will you have to be?

  • Sindel Wille says:

    I promise you’ll see me on that stage someday. I could think of no better place to be than doing what I love. Whether it’s background or center stage performing comes from the heart.

  • Annalise says:

    There is no better place that I belong beside a big stage in front of an enormous crowd. Singing, dancing, and acting are the only essentials I need in life. That stage will one day, have me on it.

  • Emily says:

    Hi Ken, my name is Emily and I’m pretty young but I have a big heart and dreams, I also sing pretty good and I’m obsessed with the biz. But I also have the worst anxiety and stage fright. I love the musicals and watch behind the scenes of the actors and everything. If I wanted to start I’m in a small town so how could I already make my way up in I’m only a teen?

  • Maddie Cariss says:

    Hi Ken! Really loved what you wrote it answered pretty much all my questions about what it is like and what it takes, but I do have 2 more question. 1.I understand in this inderusy you will probably get rejected a lot. But say you are an average person, with an average singing, dancing and acting abilities who are passionate about Broadway. How many auditions do you think it will take before they get a role? (big or small) 2. This question is mainly based on auditions in new york, how many people on an average audition, for example, the Ensemble. Also sorry for the long comment I just want to know as much as I can so I thrive and actually have some idea of what I’m doing. From Maddie Cariss

  • Piper Grace says:

    I really appreciated that advice! I am fourteen years old and have had a passion for Broadway since I was seven when I got the starring role in the school play. I love to work hard and pour my heart into musical theatre. There are a few complications though. First, my parents don’t want me to pursue acting. They want me to be an engineer. Second, I live in New Mexico. There isn’t much “pre Broadway” theatres here. I’ve been doing shows at the community college since I was nine. I need some advice on how to pursue my dreams. I plan to go to college in New York or Boston. So should I just keep working harder than ever and audition when I get there? I love the atmosphere of the theater so much that I am willing to just bring coffee to the actors or go and get them lunch. I would even be willing to work in the ticket office for goodness sake. I have been taking dance lessons since I could walk and singing and acting lessons since I was ten. Tap dancing is my passion and I am part of a professional tap company based out of Phoenix, Arizona called tap 24.7. Once I again when I am older I would love to help the theater in anyway possible. Thanks so much for the advice

  • Gwyneth says:

    Hi! My name is Gwyneth, i am 15 years old and by the end of this 2017, i need to be ready and know what i want to do and what i want to be. Which is theater. I am very late but sadly i just knew what i really want and passionate in and it is performing. I love performing ever since i was a kid but i never know my love being on stage, creating and acting that play could mean so much to me. I live in Indonesia and indonesia here there is no such thing as theater or performing arts, plays, drama. IT IS VERY RARE and only the professionals can apply for the job like a 17 year old girl who have been doing ballet ever since she was a baby. Me? As i say again, i just knew that i am passionate at this section and i really want to make this a dream come true. I’ve been taking dancing lessons but im not a big pro yet, i also suck at singing but im taking lessons and my dad doesnt allow me to pursuit my dream as he think i suck at it (well yeah obviously because i never actually have a big experience on theater only dance performances yeah) and i am only allowed to go there if i am able to recieve a scholarship. My dad wishes me to stay here and learn on interior design which i don’t really want to because it is kinda boring to have as a carrer. Im commenting here because i need help, i have no basic or skill or knowledge of to be a great theater player, it would be nice if someone could suggest me like an online teaching about the steps and basics to become a great theater person. My school grades aren’t that great and I just want to be a great performer that’s all, i can be really committed if i want to and yeah i want to, so please help me and reply back to my email:) ill be waiting☺️!! Thank you xxx, great advice btw love it❤️

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