Realities of Working on Broadway

Realities of Working on Broadway
Realities of Working on Broadway

What an amazing accomplishment it is to have worked on Broadway. When you think about the hundreds of thousands of actors in this world, and how few of them ever get the opportunity to audition, much get cast to perform in a Broadway play. It really is the pinnacle and highest accomplishment for anyone wanting to work in theater.

I recently had the chance to interview an actor who just finished three years working on a Broadway musical. I will share with you some of his thoughts, ideas and experiences.

I asked him about his schedule, and let me tell you, it is a grueling week of work. Typically, there will be 8 performances every week.

Here is the schedule.

  • Tuesday – performance at 8:00 
  • Wednesday – performances at 2:00 and a performance at 8:00
  • Thursday – performance at 8:00
  • Friday – performance at 8:00
  • Saturday – performances at 2:00 and a performance at 8:00
  • Sunday – performance at 3:00

He was telling me how important it is to stay in shape, eat well, get a lot of sleep and drink plenty of water. Every performance has to be given like it is being performed for the first time. Actors must be a tremendous amount of energy, focus and concentration for each performance.

I am not trying to sound negative in any way, but what a lot of people don’t realize is the toll this type of schedule can have in one’s personal life. A Broadway actor is away from his or her family quite a bit. The theater and the other actors in the play become your new family. You will spend more time with them, then your own family.

As prestigious as it is to be on Broadway, many people do not realize that the pay is not that great for most actors. If someone is a star, then the fees are much higher. But, for an actor with a small role in a Broadway play could be earning as little as $1422 per week. That is less than $200 per performance. With insurance and money going towards retirement, that number is really closer to $1700-$1800, but still, that is so much less than the fees one would earn doing a Union TV commercial, TV show or working on a feature film.

One other really interesting idea to share with you, and this is something I never thought of until after my interview. When the show ends, the actors are unemployed. Someone could have been in this amazing show, and when it closes, the actor is back to auditioning again.

I am not trying to make it sound like it is too difficult to be on Broadway. Actually, just the opposite is true. What an amazing accomplishment. I just wanted to share some of the non-glamorous aspects and some of the realities of working on Broadway.