Broadway and Off Broadway productions may get most of the attention, but to get a true sense of the range and diversity of New York theater, you need to look to the smaller productions known as Off-Off Broadway. Experimental and avant-garde plays, especially, tend to thrive in New York's best Off-Off Broadway venues; that's where you'll find many of the city's most challenging and original pieces, and get early looks at major talents. There are approximately 200 Off-Off stages in New York, from downtown Manhattan to the far reaches of the boroughs, mostly with fewer than 99 seats. The runs there are usually short, and relatively affordable; while cheap Broadway tickets can be hard to find, most Off-Off Broadway shows are in the $15–$25 range. Here are some of the current shows that hold the most promise.
RECOMMENDED: The best Off Broadway shows
Off-Off Broadway shows in NYC
Tom and Betsy Salamon’s unique adventure—part interactive theater, part scavenger hunt, part walking tour—draws participants into an amusing web of puzzles and intrigue. You can choose between the three-hour New York tour, which takes participants through various neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, or the two-hour Village tour, which travels through quirky Greenwich Village on Saturdays. Groups of as many as 11 are booked every half hour.
Adrienne Truscott's a One-Trick Pony (Or Andy K**fman is a Feminist Performance Artist and I'm a Comedian)
The boundary-violating Truscott, whose career spans from choreography to circus acrobatics and now comedy, follows her provocative last show—Asking for It, in which she joked about rape culture while naked from the waist down—with a new set that looks at feminism and the legacy of Andy Kaufman.
A woman relentlessly pursues the uninterested object of her affections in Shakespeare's rarely produced comedy, directed by Owen Thompson for the peripatetic Hip to Hip Theatre Company. Presented in rep with the company's take on King Lear, the production never plays the same park twice in a row, so check the Hip to Hip website for details.
After more than 15 years at the Waldorf Astoria, Steve Cohen, billed as the Millionaires’ Magician, now conjures his high-class parlor magic in the marble-columned Madison Room at the swank Lotte New York Palace. Audiences must dress to be impressed (cocktail attire is required); tickets start at $100, with an option to pay more for meet-and-greet time and extra tricks with Cohen after the show. But if you've come to see a classic-style magic act, you get what you pay for. Sporting a tuxedo and bright rust hair, the magician delivers routines that he has buffed to a patent-leather gleam: In addition to his signature act—"Think-a-Drink," involving a kettle that pours liquids by request—highlights include a lulu of levitation trick and a card-trick finale that leaves you feeling like, well, a million bucks.
This annual festival celebrates those vigorous American salmon preparing to swim into the shoals of the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Among the selections are David Carl's satirical Trump Lear, the dark musical comedy Geek and multiple solo shows, including Prudence Wright Holmes's Agatha Is Missing!, Chris Davis's Drunk Lion and Dandy Darkly's All Aboard.
All Out Arts presents its 16th annual LGBTQ arts fest, featuring short plays, full-length works and solo shows. Among the offerings are Mariam Bazeed's Peace Camp Org, about an Egyptian teenager at a peace-building camp in Maine; Joe Breen's All My Love, Kate, about a closeted World War II romance; Dennis Bush's …Where You Eat, an anything-goes sex comedy; Ella Boureau's Helps to Hate You a Little, a modern lesbian twist on the Persephone myth; and Ana Michael and Tony Macht's The Ugly Kids, a musical about college angst.