When it comes to professional theater, there is no higher honor than obtaining a spot in one of the 41 operational Broadway theaters in New York City. However, writing a musical and having it advance all the way to Broadway isn’t easy; it takes several steps. In fact, famous composer Lin-Manuel Miranda once said it can take “seven years or longer.”
First, a composer has to come up with an idea for a musical. Once that is done, they have to find a way to workshop it. After all, the ultimate purpose of theater is to have it performed in front of people.
Composers can accomplish this by either performing the musical professionally in a workshop production or showcasing the musical in a self-made production. For instance, Nat Zegree, a writer trying to develop a new original musical, has premiered his show, “Fly More Than You Fall,” at Utah Valley University.
Through that process, a musical will hopefully gain attention from producers, and, once produced, the production team will decide whether they want the musical to have a tryout off-Broadway, like “Hamilton” and most other musicals, or directly open on Broadway, like “The Book of Mormon.”
Once a musical opens on Broadway, it needs to stay on there as long as possible–hopefully until it recoups the producer’s investment, which can be around $10 million. With that in mind, the production team then has to sift through all the early critic reviews and find at least one constructive comment, which they will publicize in an attempt to attract more audiences.
Although it takes a long time to achieve Broadway success, especially with the a lack of open theaters, the process is worth it. As Joe Iconis, the composer of “Be More Chill,” has said, “As long as one person likes what I’ve spent years making and gets to see it onstage, then it was well worth the wait.”