The Broadway audience appears to be getting slightly younger and more New York-based.
New York City residents made up 22% of all theatergoers in the 2016-2017 survey from the Broadway League, released Tuesday, marking the group’s highest percentage of Broadway audiences in 15 years. At the same time, theatergoers under the age of 18 and those between the ages of 25 and 34 came out in the highest numbers since the survey’s beginning in 1997.
In total, there were 1.65 million attendees under 18 years old and 2.34 million between 25 and 34 years old. Overall, the survey recorded 13.3 million admissions, the same number as the previous year’s survey.
With the increased numbers of younger attendees in the survey, the age of the average Broadway theatergoer dropped slightly to 41.7 years old from close to 44 years old in the previous season, yet within the typical 40-year-old to 45-year-old range.
The survey was conducted from June 2016 to June 2017 and was distributed at 48 productions at different points in each show’s schedule. Surveyed productions included “Hamilton,” which swept the Tony Awards in June of 2016, as well as new musicals “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” and “Come From Away.”
Other new shows such as “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Oslo” were not included in the survey, which was meant to sample different types of shows.
Derek Miller, a professor of theater history at Harvard University, says new shows, particularly ones such as “Hamilton” that have hard-to-get tickets, are what would bring in a larger New York audience.
“The newer a show is the more likely the people who see it live in the metropolitan area,” Miller said.
Last year, New Yorkers bought 2.85 million tickets, the highest number since admissions of 2.96 million in the 1998-1999 survey. At the same time, international admissions took a dip to 2.02 million from 2.33 million.
However, Miller said it’s unclear how statistically significant the survey numbers are, meaning it’s hard to say this is a definitive picture of the Broadway audience, without more information about the survey methods.
Similarly, he said it is hard to say whether all of Broadway is seeing a younger audience or whether shows that are popular with young audiences made up a larger proportion of the total audience.
Still, Laurence Maslon, an arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, said he feels there have been more works recently that younger demographics can relate to, citing “Hamilton” as one example.
“I think there is also more material where a younger audience [sees] themselves on stage,” Maslon wrote.
The under 18 numbers builds on last year’s momentum, when the 2015-2016 survey recorded 1.45 million in admissions from that group.
Amid some demographic changes, many statistics remain the same. The Broadway audience is affluent, with 41% of attendees reporting annual household income of more than $150,000, as well as majority Caucasian, at 77%, and majority female, at 66%, a number that has stayed near constant for at least a decade.