It’s a busy week on Broadway as curtains rise on almost half of this season’s new shows — but most of them won’t officially open until next month. It’s the beginning of fall previews, when you can start seeing shows that have moved out of rehearsal rooms and onto the stage, but are not quite finished yet.
The difference between “on sale” and “open” can be confusing even for veteran ticket-buyers, so here are the five things to know before you book a show.
You’re seeing an unfinished product
Broadway plays typically spend between two and five weeks in previews before they open. This period might be shorter if the production already had several successful workshops, an out-of-town run or a staging off-Broadway. If you know that’s the case, you can usually feel more confident buying preview seats.
If the show is new, however, previews give it a chance to make money before it’s finalized (or “frozen” in industry language) and to try out the material in front of a live audience. But it also means you’re not seeing the official version. Scenes may change, entire roles may be eliminated, or songs may be moved — or removed entirely, as it happened with a couple numbers from “Hamilton” between its off-Broadway run and the transition to the Richard Rodgers Theatre. There may also be technical elements to be worked out in terms of staging or lighting.
There’s no way to know when in the preview process a show is frozen, only that it will be by opening night.