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Off-Broadway: the cutting edge of theater
A Chorus Line. Avenue Q. HAIR. Little Shop Of Horrors. Hamilton. Rent. In the Heights. Once. What do all of these famed productions have in common? They all started Off-Broadway.
Off-Broadway is New York’s testing grounds for theater. It’s a place where actors, directors, and writers can experiment with new concepts and develop their ideas before attempting to make the leap to the big stage and the mainstream Broadway theaters.
And the artists aren’t the only ones to reap the benefits of the smaller stage — Off-Broadway theatergoers are rewarded with the opportunity to be the first to experience some of New York’s most groundbreaking musicals and plays. According to IMDB, actress Loretta Devine once said, “People see a lot of huge stuff on Broadway, but there’s always Off-Broadway energy.”
The Off-Broadway theaters themselves are tucked into some of New York’s most eclectic neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village or the Upper West Side, which means that you don’t have to fight through Times Square traffic on your way to a show.
The productions are intimate, with auditoriums seating as few as 100 people, and tend to be more affordable as ticket prices average $45 — much more affordable than the average starting price of around $75 for a Broadway production and skyrocketing up to almost $500.
The newest Off-Broadway darling to make it big on The Great White Way is Hamilton. The show was written by seasoned Broadway star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton.
The rap-driven musical made its Off-Broadway debut at The Public Theater in February 2015 with a sold out engagement, and, by August, it had transferred to Broadway with rave reviews from the New York Times and LA Times, among others. Andrew Lloyd Webber even confessed on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert that he wished he had written it, according to PlayBill!
The largest Off-Broadway theater venue is New World Stages, a complex with five different stages. The famous NWS features anywhere from five to eight different shows at any given time and has launched many Broadway careers. They also have a habit of booking Broadway shows that can no longer fill larger theaters, like Avenue Q and Rent, though they remain popular productions.
Public Theater is a non-profit organization that prides itself on producing a diverse season with classics, contemporary, musicals and experimental pieces all in the mix. In addition to their five theater venues, they house Joe’s Pub, a cabaret-style theater that features musical and spoken word art performances.
Fifty-four of Public Theater’s productions have moved on to Broadway including, A Chorus Line, HAIR and Hamilton. Public Theater is also famous for the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, which is home to New York’s beloved summer treat, Shakespeare in the Park.
If you’re searching for something tried-and-true, look no further than the The Theater Center. The Center features two Broadway legacies — The Fantasticks, the world’s longest-running musical, and Perfect Crime, the longest-running non-musical play in the history of New York theater.
Overwhelmed by all of these options? Search NewYorkCityTheatre.com, the New York Times, or Time Out for up-to-date reviews of current Off-Broadway shows. You’re sure to find something new and unexpected and it’s a great way to see an under the radar gem. Looking for tickets? Feel free to reach out to our Metro Concierge at ManhattanNYC@continentalguestservices.com or by calling 646.733.2901 who can help secure tickets before your stay at the Manhattan NYC, an Affinia Hotel.
Originally published by Affinia Hotels