Broadway and Off-Broadway. Two sides of the same coin. But unfortunately, Off-Broadway shows are often delegated to a less desirable spot when it comes to ranking musicals and plays. There’s Off-Off Broadway for that kind of ridicule, folks! Getting back on topic, why are Off-Broadway shows treated like Broadway’s inferior cousin? Sure, Broadway shows have bigger budgets, name performers, and thus an effectively bigger audience, but from a purely arts point of view, the best Off-Broadway shows can rival and sometimes even better Broadway shows.
Look at Dear Evan Hansen, this year’s Tony darling, for instance. The show first opened Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre before debuting on Broadway! And this is only one of the hundreds of shows that debut Off-Broadway, leave their mark, and then move on to the big league.
From a logistics perspective, Off-Broadway is simply a collection of slightly smaller theatres, with a seating capacity of 100-499 folks, as opposed to Broadway theatres, most of which seat more than 1000 people.
If you’re planning a New York City theater experience, why not give Off-Broadway shows a chance? Here are some of the best Off-Broadway shows of this season:
Off-Broadway, Kid-Friendly, Comedy
Astor Place Theatre
1 hour 40 minutes
A show about reconnecting with your inner child, Blue Man Group is hilarious and heartwarming in equal measures. With a pronounced emphasis on being comfortable in your own skin and the power of being different, the show is not the funniest of our list, but humorous and poignant it most certainly is. Backed by a live rock band, the Blue Men Group unifies the audience for the show’s climax - an unforgettable, euphoric dance party, marking a departure from how regular shows ends.
Off-Broadway, Musicals, Comedy, Mature Content
New World Stages - Stage Three
2 hours 15 minutes
Following Princeton, a wide-eyed college grad who moves to the big city with countless hopes and aspirations, Avenue Q is one of the best comedies playing currently. With a heartwarming story, charming leads, and delightful production value, Avenue Q is pure and unadulterated joy. Here’s one shining example of how you don’t need a big stage to tell a great story with stellar production values and great performances.
Off-Broadway, Musicals, Drama, Westerner
New World Stages, 340 W 50th St, New York
1 hour 45 mins
This is the spirited tale of Bella, a young women journeying across the wild, wild West to reunite with her Buffalo soldier sweetheart. One of the freshest musical take on a Westerner, Bella: An American Tall Tale is accompanied by a majestic soul music score and a protagonist who doesn’t quit!
Off-Broadway, Plays, Comedy
The Lounge, 300 W 43rd Street , New York
1 hour, 30 mins
Set in a hidden library with over fifteen thousand books, join the ‘Drunk Shakespeare Society’ - a troupe of five professional actors - as they come together to perform one of history’s most well-known plays. A handful of shots later, let the good times roll! As the four sober actors try to keep the story on course, mayhem is sure unravel. Get ready to laugh, drink, and have a down right good time at this show!
Off-Broadway, Drama, Gothic
Barrow Street Theatre
2 hours 45 minutes
If you have an inclination for something a little dark and gothic, Sweeney Todd is perfect Off-Broadway show for you. Featuring fabulous performances from a talented cast and audience interaction the likes of which you have never seen before, this show is definitely worth your time.
Off-Broadway, Kid-Friendly, Fantasy
New World Stages - Stage Two
1 hour 10 minutes
The Gazillion Bubble Show will take you and your family into the world of blow bubble magic! With spellbinding lasers, spectacular lighting effects, and jaw-dropping pieces of bubble art, you will be transferred to an interactive bubble world. An experience that is suitable for all the members of your family, especially the kids!
Off-Broadway, Romantic, Comedy
The 777 Theatre, 777 8th Avenue, New York
1 hour 15 minutes
A titillating romantic comedy where a book discussion turns into a hysterical sex seminar. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn foolproof moves into a man’s heart and his bed from the most insightful individual on the subject : a gay man.
Off-Broadway, Interactive, Comedy
Arno Ristorante, 141 W 38th St, New York
2 hours 30 minutes
Murdered by the Mob is a one of its kind interactive comedic murder mystery. This engagement with the mob features a three-course dinner, dancing to the tunes of a professional DJ and murder clues at every turn. Stay sharp, look for cues and outsmart the mobsters and beat them at their own game.
To discover other shows on Broadway, check out our guide on the Best Broadway shows in New York. There are tons of other On and Off Broadway shows as well that you can consider! The choice is all yours!