In The Big Time!, players take the role of theater owners in Chicago during the Golden Age of vaudeville from about 1905 to about 1915. The object is to make your theater the most spectacular in the city by booking the greatest and most diverse roster of acts that you can find (and afford!).
You win the game by having the highest score on the Success Track, which represents public approbation and goodwill. While money is an important part of running a successful theater, there've gotta be easier ways to make a living than dealing with a never-ending procession of ventriloquists, jugglers, and trained animals! No, you're in this business because greasepaint is in your blood, and you can't imagine a world without limelight.
In each of four turns, players bid on the right to select acts first and place those acts in their theaters. After your theaters are booked, you tally up scores to see who was the most successful. Good shows will drive up the reputation of your theater and influence the popularity of the types of acts that you book, but a flop can always set you back!