23 Dramatic Facts About Broadway

Ellen Gutoskey
That's yak hair.
That's yak hair. / Manfred Schmid/Getty Images

What do anthropomorphic cats trying to make it to heaven, a woman who bakes murder victims into meat pies, and a people-eating plant all have in common?

They’ve all been smash hits on Broadway. (And for those still scratching their heads at the descriptions above, we’re referencing Cats, Sweeney Todd, and Little Shop of Horrors, respectively.) But long before Broadway was a theatrical haven, it was a Native American thoroughfare taken over by the Dutch.

With the arrival of enthusiastic British thespians, Oscar Hammerstein I, and a handy little invention known as electricity, the extra-wide, diagonal avenue slowly transformed into the Great White Way. On this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is talking (and occasionally singing) through 23 illuminating facts about Broadway’s history and most memorable shows, from the time Mae West got arrested mid-performance to the theater ghosts that just won’t leave.

Go behind the scenes on Broadway below, and be sure to subscribe to the Mental Floss YouTube channel for future videos.