The Long & Winding Road to Broadway for 10 Tony Award winners.

How do you get to Broadway?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple or as clever as the ol’ Carnegie Hall “practice, practice, practice” joke.  Because the truth is there is no one path that shows take to the Great White Way.  Sure, out-of-town tryouts are still a thing, just like they were in the days of Oklahoma! and Gypsy.  But what kind of out-of-town tryout?  A regional tryout that has a commercial Producer enhancing the production?  Or a full-on “four wall” commercial out-of-town tryout?  And do musicals open cold on Broadway anymore?

As a Producer, I often lay out what I think the best path is for my show to get to Broadway . . . and then, almost without fail, that path changes.  Maybe the material changes, or maybe the creative team changes, or maybe the theater availability changes, or maybe another show leap frogs over the first and is ready faster, or maybe the show is ready right away so you can skip one of your predetermined steps.

You’ve heard the expression, “Man plans.  God laughs.”  I like to say, “Producers plan.  The theater Gods say, ‘Are you effin’ kidding me?'”

To give you an idea of the different paths that shows can take to get to Broadway, we made a map of the last ten Tony Award-winning Best Musicals and with their pre-Broadway productions and the years they opened on Broadway to show you just how they all ended up in the same place.

Enjoy it.  Use it to help plan your path to Broadway.  And you can always print it out and use it as a placemat.

The Road to Broadway


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  • Brad says:

    Theres a couple of errors on that graphic.

    For Reference:
    Kinky Books and Gentleman’s Guide both say 2013.
    Billy Elliott and In the Heights both say 2008
    Jersey Boys was 2006
    Spring Awakening was 2007
    In the Heights was 2008
    Billy Elliott was 2009
    Memphis was 2010
    Book of Mormon was 2011
    Once was 2012
    Kinky Boots was 2013
    Gentleman’s Guide was 2014
    Fun Home was 2015.

    • Ken Davenport says:

      Hey Brad,

      Actually, there’s a line in the blog that explains the date discrepancies. The years listed are not when they won the Tony, but when they opened. Hope that helps!

  • Eleanor T. says:

    The trip and detours along the way justify the end result, being Broadway, no?

  • RICK says:

    I have arrived at the Malcolm Gladwell’s… “Tipping Point” ….$$$$ / Local / Regional???…I WILL…Do This!!!

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