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Where To See Off-Broadway Shows In NYC

Picture of Dana deLaski
Updated: 24 September 2016
Though many people come to New York City for Broadway, the truth is that some of the city’s best shows are performed on smaller, lesser-known stages. While it can’t be denied that Broadway hosts some of the world’s most iconic shows, new and innovative performances are happening all over the city, and they’re worth seeking out. An off-broadway theater is defined as a space that holds 100–499 audience members, so it’s a more intimate experience. Don’t skip Broadway altogether, but if you’re looking for more options, here’s our list of where to see the off-broadway shows in NYC.

Astor Place Theater – Blue Man Group

The Blue Man Group may be just as famous as any Broadway production, but the show itself is one-of-a-kind. It takes place in the East Village and involves lots of audience participation and interaction. The blue-painted cast combines music, comedy, and technology to put on a show that denies categorization; you truly just have to see it for yourself.

Astor Place Theater, 434 Lafayette St, New York, NY, USA

New World Stages – Avenue Q

Avenue Q has moved from Broadway to Off-Broadway, and this Tony Award-winning musical is definitely one to see. It’s a hilarious show about a group of 20-somethings trying to navigate their lives in the city, and it tells this timeless story with freshness and wit. There are puppets and some foul language, and it’s known for being gut-bustingly hilarious.

340 W 50th St, New York, NY, USA

Life doesn’t sucka-sucka-sucka-sucka on #LaborDay! #AvenueQ

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The Lounge – Drunk Shakespeare

Each night, the Drunk Shakespeare Society puts on a Shakespeare play, and one of their actors takes at least six shots of whiskey before the show. Despite sounding like a joke, the show and the concept is absolutely real, and the results are a quirky and funny rendition of Shakespeare in a 90-minute show. The performance space in itself is reason enough to attend; the show is held in a library-like space with over 15,000 books, where the distinction between audience and performance space is blurred.

STOMP has been around forever, and if you haven’t seen it yet, make it a priority. It’s a musical performance that uses everyday items as instruments, and the results are a symphony made of trash can lids, buckets, and hammers. STOMP has been on stage for over 20 years and is performed in many cities, but in NYC, its convenient home in The East Village makes it easily accessible.

126 2nd Ave, New York, NY, USA

As with many things in New York City, many of the most innovative and exciting developments in theater are not happening in Manhattan. If you’re willing to head to Brooklyn, check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) at BAM Harvey Theater and see whatever’s on. This space is home to many different shows at once; everything from off-broadway to dance performance to opera can be seen here, and it’s known for being avant-garde. The group put on their first show back in 1861, and they’ve since become a leader in modern theater.

651 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Jerry Orbach Theater – The Fantasticks

The Fantasticks is about two scheming fathers who try to trick their children into falling in love, and it’s been on stage since 1960. The show’s original production ran for 42 years and put on over 17,000 performances, making it the longest-running musical in history. It has a small cast, a small orchestra, and is known as a good choice for kids, making it one of the most accessible and entertaining shows out there.

1627 Broadway, New York, NY, USA

Who's getting Fantastick with us this weekend? #TheFantasticks #OffBroadway #OffBway #Fantasticks #TryToRemember #TodayInNYC

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Kirk Theatre – Naked Boys Singing!

Naked Boys Singing! is exactly what its name suggests: a musical where the performers are naked men. For obvious reasons it’s an adults-only show, but the musical is hilarious and fun. There are eight performers, 15 songs, and the show lasts just over an hour, making it perfect for some fun with friends. It’s on at the Kirk Theatre, one of six venues in the Theatre Row complex.

410 W 42nd St, New York, NY, USA