While some say we are currently in a golden age of Broadway, there’s more to New York theater than the 40 houses that make up the Great White Way. Some of the most innovative new plays and musicals happen on intimate Off Broadway stages, technically defined as seating between 100 and 499. So when cheap Broadway tickets are out of reach and you’ve exhausted every option for last-minute Broadway tickets, you might want to look elsewhere for entertainment options. From downtown’s legendary Public Theater to crowd-pleasing attractions at New World stages, Off Broadway shows offer something for everyone. Use our listings to find reviews, curtain times and great deals on New York theater tickets.
All Off Broadway shows
After many years, the sassy and clever puppet musical doesn’t show its age. Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s deft Sesame Street–esque novelty tunes about porn and racism still earn their laughs. Avenue Q remains a sly and winning piece of metamusical tomfoolery. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.
Three deadpan blue-skinned men with extraterrestrial imaginations carry this tourist fave, a show as smart as it is ridiculous. They drum on open tubs of paint, creating splashes of color; they consume Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch; they engulf the audience in a roiling sea of toilet paper. For sheer weird, exuberant fun, it's hard to top this long-running treat. (Note: The playing schedule varies from week to week, with as many as four performances on some days and none on others; check the show's website for details.)
Early-20th-century women's-education pioneer Mary Woolley and her longtime partner, Jeannette Marks, are the subjects of Bryna Turner's debut play, directed by Lee Sunday Evans for Lincoln Center's LCT3 wing. Enid Graham and Ruibo Qian play the central couple. Read the full review.
Cagney: Theater review by Raven Snook [Note: This is a review of the production of Cagney that opened at the York Theatre in 2015. The production moves to an open-ended engagement at the Westside Theatre on March 16, 2016, with the same cast.] Biomusicals are tricky. Boiling all the ups and downs of a celebrity’s life into a couple of tuneful hours is tough, but the biggest challenge is finding a performer who can convincingly channel the star. One glance at Robert Creighton, and you understand why this veteran Broadway character actor spent years bringing regional hit Cagney to the York Theatre Company. A compact, quadruple-threat spitfire (he cowrote the songs), Creighton smartly avoids impersonation and lets some of his own personality shine through in his take on James Cagney, the versatile Golden Age of Hollywood icon who was often pigeonholed as a gangster. Yes, Peter Colley’s book is predictable and takes liberties, and Creighton and McGovern’s old-fashioned numbers aren’t as catchy as the George M. Cohan standards used in the rousing USO medley. But the crackerjack six-person cast nails choreographer Joshua Bergasse’s exhilarating tap routines while committing to the emotional core of the story. That makes Cagney a York doodle dandy.—Raven Snook York Theatre Company (Off Broadway). Book by Peter Colley. Music and lyrics by Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern. Directed by Bill Castellino. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 25mins. One intermission. Throu
Theater review by Helen ShawThe SITI company is an odd place to find a tribute to composer John Cage. SITI (as an extension of its legendary director Anne Bogart) favors rigor, training and long rehearsal periods; Cage was interested in serendipity, turning randomness into method. SITI's style is full of choreographed gesture, finely executed angles, exact articulations; Cage was an iconoclast who thought noise was music. Bogart meets Cage! It could be a battle of the postmodern masters. Watching Chess Match No. 5 now at the Abingdon Theatre, the hope is that Cage will be a bull in SITI's china shop, that a bit of chaos will break up the company's marmoreal aesthetic. But even as it quotes Cage, Match resists him, and the resulting performance is respectful, warm-hearted, lovely…and inert.James Schuette's set is an elegant room: midcentury chairs and tables, a telephone on one wall, a dense cloud of lightbulbs overhead. On one table near the rear are a coffeepot and a toaster; sound designer Darron L. West hangs microphones low over them, so that we can hear the machines' cheerful little gurgles and pops. A shipping radio murmurs in English and Spanish, sometimes slewing down the dial into dance tunes. Otherwise, West's compositional soundscape is a soothing mix of tones and xylophone plonks, layered variously over traffic and a boisterous crowd. West is a genius of sound design, but this music has the strange effect of making us not listen; there are shades of Cage's magpie
In Jason Odell Williams's comedy, a conservative U.S. senator throws his reelection campaign into turmoil when he tweets out his honest opinions about gun control. Markus Potter directs the New York City premiere. TIME OUT DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER: CHURCH & STATEA Serious Comedy. Honest To God.Buy now and save over 35%. Tickets as low as $39!For Performances thru April 9:Mezzanine $39 (regular price $59), orchestra $59 (regular price $89)For Performances April 10–May 28:Mezzanine $45 (regular price $59), orchestra $69 (regular price $89) Promotional description: Church & State is a fast-paced, seriously funny take on faith, politics, and “The Twitter.” It’s three days before Charles Whitmore’s Senate re-election and he’s decided to finally tell the public exactly what’s on his mind, no filter. What could possibly go wrong? Written by Emmy Nominee Jason Odell Williams, and directed by Markus Potter. Nominated for 3 L.A. Ovation Awards: Best Original Play, Best Production and Best Lead Actor in a Play.THREE WAYS TO BUY TICKETS:1. Online: Click here to buy tickets through Telecharge2. By phone: Call 212-947-8844 and mention code: CBTONY33. In person: Print this offer and bring it to the New World Stages box officePerformance schedule: Monday, Wednesday–Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, Sunday at 3pm and 7:30pm All prices include a $2 facility fee. Code valid for performances through May 28. All sales are final; no refunds or exchanges. Offer subject to availability an
The trend toward boozed-up classics continues to snowball as Three Day Hangover takes over a midtown bar with a piece that shuffles Cards Against Humanity into Chekhov's masterpiece. Lori Wolter Hudson adapts and directs. (Ticket prices range from $9 for serf-level standing room to $149 for a VIP package that includes food and an open bar.)
Best Off Broadway shows
England's Janie Dee, fondly remembered here for her exceptional performance as a robot in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential, returns to MTC to star as a business exec trying to fight the invisibility of women over 50 in a dark comedy by Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike). Lynne Meadow directs the American premiere. Read the full review.
If you like a wee dram o' whiskey to go with your wintry chills, make a beeline for National Theatre of Scotland's immersive, satirical fairy tale about literary theorists caught up in supernatural mysteries. David Greig's script is in rhyming couplets and five versatile performer-musicians have been inventively staged by Wils Wilson throughout a cozy pub in the McKittrick Hotel. Read the full review.
The brilliant minds of the Debate Society—playwrights Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen and director Oliver Butler—have previously given us such treasures as Jacuzzi and Buddy Cop 2. Their latest group effort spans 40 years in the life of Steele MacKaye, a hugely ambitious and now-forgotten 19th-century theatrical impresario played by Rocco Sisto. Read the full review.
As Steven Levenson's Dear Evan Hansen burns up the box office on Broadway, Roundabout mounts his new nonmusical drama, in which a Jewish family argues about its history and its future at the turn of the 21st century. The expert Daniel Sullivan (Good People) directs a promising ensemble cast that comprises Larry Bryggman, Maria Dizzia, Tasha Lawrence, Jeremy Shamos, Seth Steinberg, Kate Walsh and Gary Wilmes. Read the full review.
Master parodist Gerard Alessandrini (Forbidden Broadway) lovingly skewers Broadway's greatest hit. His admiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda is obvious, but he can still poke fun at the Hamilton juggernaut, while taking shots at Cats and The Book of Mormon along the way. His cast is phenomenal; maybe we'll see them in Hamilton someday. Read the full review
Writer-director Leigh Fondakowski's ecological-minded new docudrama examines the catastrophic 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The text, developed from extensive interviews with those involved, is performed by an ensemble cast headed by gravel-voiced Michael Cullen.