This homey 60-seat black box (up some seriously steep stairs) is a mere block and a half from the subway, and only 15 minutes on the L train from Union Square. The space has become one of the best curated spots in the city; it supports up-and-coming stage talent like William Burke and avant-garde veterans such as Target Margin Theater and Cynthia Hopkins, as well as a variety of performance art and multimedia performances.
At this retro storefront theater, kids sit cross-legged on mats in front of the stage while grown-ups hunker down on bleachers behind them. All the productions, which are largely adaptations of well-known fairy and folk tales, are written by the theater’s artistic director, Nicolas Coppola.
RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions Visitors may think they know this venerable theater from TV’s Showtime at the Apollo. But as the saying goes, the small screen adds ten pounds: The city’s home of R&B and soul is actually quite cozy. Known for launching the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo, among others at its legendary Amateur Night competition, the Apollo continues to mix veteran talents like Dianne Reeves with younger artists such as the Roots and Lykke Li.
Brian Rogers and Sheila Lewandowski founded this 5,000-square-foot performance venue in Long Island City in 2005, converting a onetime hardware store into two spaces: a low-ceilinged downstairs room and a loftier, brighter upstairs whitebox. The Factory is not for rent: Rogers curates his season, inviting artists (from midcareer playwrights like Mac Wellman to rising directors like Alice Reagan) onboard—and the space pays them. It's a welcoming place (buy your chocolate-chip cookies at the box office), and the spot won an Obie for its programming, which tends toward the highly physical, the interdisciplinary and the avant-garde.
Called the New York Improv when it opened in 1963, this club showcased legends such as Bill Cosby, Andy Kaufman and Robin Williams during its first stint. After being closed for years, former collaborators opened this basement joint a few blocks from the original, and they showcase TV faces and other regulars from the club circuit. Families should check out the weekly improv show, ComedySportz.
Nearly 30 years after it started hosting experimental performances in a loft on the Bowery, this plucky organization has opened its gorgeous new space a few blocks away on the Lower East Side. A lounge, mainstage theater and studio all support the work of emerging artists, including the annual Hot! festival of work with LGBT themes.
Interviews and auditions are required at this venerable studio, which was opened in 1969 by Terry Schreiber and counts movie stars Edward Norton and Peter Sarsgaard among its conservatory graduates. Newbies can choose from three beginner classes: Meisner Technique for Beginning Actors ($695 for 12 sessions), On-Camera I ($425 for six sessions) and The Saturday Program ($260 per month) which starts with basic technique and moves on to scene study. The studio also mounts full-fledged productions, too, in case you want to see its students and alumni in action.
This classic 1903 Art Nouveau house has seen many changes on the Main Stem over the last century: vaudeville, classics, the Ziegfeld Follies (for more than two decades) and the drastic decline of the theater district during the Great Depression, and again in the 1970s and ’80s. Renovated and reopened, in 1997, the New Amsterdam soon became home to the Disney smash hit The Lion King. Since 2006, Mary Poppins has been wowing children and adults there. (The Lion King moved to the Minksoff.) The theater is operated by Disney Theatrical Productions.
The grandest of the Lincoln Center buildings, the Met is a spectacular place to experience opera and ballet. The space hosts the Metropolitan Opera from September to May, with major visiting companies appearing in summer. The majestic theater also showcases works from a range of international dance companies, from the Paris Opéra Ballet to the Kirov Ballet. In spring, the Met is home to American Ballet Theatre, which presents full-length classic story ballets, works by contemporary choreographers and special performances and workshops for children.
This dedicated comedy theater exudes a distinctly Chicago vibe, from its DIY aesthetic to its performers, many of whom are former denizens of the Windy City. Even the local players prefer theatrical or character-driven improv to the premise-based variety, and they put their love of the craft before any professional interests.
The civic-minded Oskar Eustis is artistic director of this local institution dedicated to the work of new American playwrights but also known for its Shakespeare productions (Shakespeare in the Park). The building, an Astor Place landmark, has five stages, plays host to the annual Under the Radar festival, nurtures productions in its Lab series and is also home to the Joe’s Pub music venue.
Alicia Keys, Martha Graham, Jackson Pollack and Denzel Washington are among the artists who have performed, trained or taught workshops and classes at Abrons Art Center/Henry Street Settlement, an arts venue in the far reaches of the Lower East Side. The complex includes the 300-seat Playhouse (a pretty, blond-wood auditorium with a proscenium stage), the 100-seat blackbox Experimental Theater and another 99-seat Underground Theater, all of which are for rent.
Leased and reopened by the Roundabout Theatre Company in 2009, this space used to be known as Henry Miller's Theatre—until it was renamed in honor of America's greatest living composer-lyricist. The playing space itself is located below street level (as with Circle in the Square Theatre). It seats 1,055, and has the distinction of being Broadway's first green theater—having been renovated according to U.S. Green Building Council standards.
Built in 1910, this venue was originally called the Globe, after Shakespeare's famous theater. In 1958, it was renamed for the famous acting couple of Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne. The 1,505-seat space has housed productions like the Disney properties The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Buyer beware: The orchestra sightlines at the Lunt-Fontanne can be spotty, especially if you're sitting behind a particularly tall person.
The Lyceum is Broadway's oldest continually operating legitimate space. Built by producer-manager David Frohman in 1903, it was purchased in 1940 by a conglomerate of producers which included George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart (co-authors of You Can't Take It with You and other comedies). In 1950, the Shuberts took ownership of the Lyceum, and still operate it. Alan Bates played the lovely 922-seat playhouse in John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1957), and four years later, he returned in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker (1961). More recently, the venue was home to I Am My Own Wife and Neil LaBute's Reasons to Be Pretty.
When the Shubert brothers opened it for business in 1911, the Winter Garden was heralded as a music hall "devoted to novel, international, spectacular and musical entertainments." It's current longtime occupant, Mamma Mia!, certainly fits the bill. Before that, from 1982 to 2000, Cats prowled the halls. The 1,498-seat space (with one of the larger Broadway stages and a relatively low proscenium arch) will probably have audiences shaking their booties to "Dancing Queen" for a good 10 or 15 years to come.