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, Kid-Friendly, Dance
1 hour 45 minutes
A powerful, joyous medley of percussion, movement, and physical comedy, STOMP features a 8 member cast performing their asses off for almost two hours straight! The show highlight is the beautiful musical created using random objects like Zippo lighters, push brooms, wooden poles, hammer handles, garbage cans, inner tubes, and even matchboxes! STOMP, with its wit, charm, and humour, is a perfect show for families with kids.
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, Plays, Drama
Manhattan Theatre Club
1 hour 40 minutes
Cost of Living is a slice of life drama about four very different yet connected people trying to get by. Eddie, an unemployed truck driver, reunites with his ex-wife Ani after she suffers a devastating accident. John, a brilliant and witty doctoral student, hires over-worked Jess, a caregiver. Martyna Majok’s humane story laden with pathos and human spirit masterfully explores the space where bodies, both abled and disabled, meet each other.
Off-Broadway, Musicals, Drama, Westerner
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
New World Stages - Stage Four
Set in a provincial village overrun by a crooked leadership, The Government Inspector is a satirical take on the ways of our crazy world. The story begins with the arrival of an undercover inspector with a mission to root out the town’s commonplace corruption. What follows is a web of bribery, lies and utter madness.
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, Drama, Fantasy
Kingsland Ward @ St. Johns
Based on Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice in Wonderland, Then She Fell is a theatre-going experience like nothing else. The show takes the phrase “interactive theatre” and gives it a whole new meaning with hidden stories and camouflaged performers. You have to see it to believe the magic that happens in the stage. Book your spot now!
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, Musicals, Drama
How about a rose-coloured musical trip down memory lane. Join the fabulous Wonderettes in a humbling journey from their High School Prom to a 10-year reunion. With enchanting songs like Dream Lover and Son of a Preacher Man backing the show, you’re guaranteed a good time at this Off-Broadway production.
Found an Off-Broadway show you can like? You can discover the best Off-Broadway shows on Headout, an online concierge for fun experiences in NYC! If you would rather stick with Broadway, there are a lot of options you can pick from!