Should There Be A Ratings System for Broadway?


Back in 1968, our sister industry, the cinema, came out with a film ratings system to give parents some at-a-glance guidance as to whether or not a film was appropriate for the whole family.

It has evolved over the years, with added categories (PG13, NC17), and it’s the subject of controversy every now and again over what constitutes one rating over another.

And they’ve even expanded to other forms of entertainment like video games!

As Broadway has become more focused on the family, do we think a theater ratings system is next?

Sure, our ticketing companies ask us for “suggested ages” in our show descriptions.  But should we be doing more?  Would that help biz?  Or hurt?  Are we an art form?  Should it not matter? (We don’t see ratings at museums, do we?)

I do know that one of the most commonly submitted questions to the websites of shows I’ve produced is always, “Is this appropriate for my X-year-old child?”

It’s a tough one for us Producers to answer . . . because every parent is different, and let’s face it, we Producers want the sale.  And in a business that doesn’t like to refund, are consumers holding back on buying tickets to certain shows because they don’t know if it’s appropriate or not?

Should an independent party come in to rate the shows as a service to the theater-going community? Would shows adopt it unless they were forced?

I’m not so sure, but a former box office staffer thinks ratings belong on Broadway and has even built a website with some ratings guidelines to get everyone talking.

Check it out here.

And let me know what you think . . . are ratings good or bad for Broadway?  Comment below.

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  • Scott German says:

    Ratings alone may not help, a rating with a description of why the rating would be very helpful, i.e Recommended for Adults 18 and over, Nudity, Language, Simulated graphic violence. As a theater Dad i felt compelled to show a broad range of theater to my daughter. She saw Jersey Boys when she was 10, and That Championship Season shortly thereafter. The “F” bomb is dropped freely in both. It would have been helpful for me to know so I could lay appropriate groundwork before the show, but I strongly doubt it would have affected our buying decision.

  • Joe Marino says:

    Absolutely not.

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