Break Away From Broadway!
Taking in a “Broadway show” is usually on the top of any New York City vacation agenda. When it comes to theater, this city is the capital, and no trip is complete without watching the actors grace the stage. Going to Broadway, however, can be frustrating and expensive. The theaters are huge, and not every seat is a good one. Some of the productions have been there forever. When I hit the theater in New York (a few times a year), I avoid Broadway. There are too many amazing theaters in the city, with mind-bending plays and major actors – and you can get it all for much less than you’ll spend on Broadway.
Here are five of my favorite off-Broadway theaters:
Lucille Lortel: Tucked away in Manhattan’s West Village, the Lucille Lortel Theater is my favorite theater in the world. It’s small enough to ensure that there are no bad seats in the house. The house playwright, Neal Labute, has delivered some incredible work, and the plays are always cast with top talent, from up-and-comers to incredibly intimate performances form major television stars.
Union Square Theater: On the other side of the Village is a small, edgy theater that offers mind-blowing productions. Last year, I saw “TRACES” by 7 Doigts de la Main at the Union Square Theatre. The theater itself was bare bones, which is ideal for shows like “TRACES.” Don’t worry about the ambience: it’s all about the performance.
Century Center for the Performing Arts: It’s small. It’s raw. It’s awesome. The Century Center for the Performing Arts, another one in the Village, is easy to miss, and once inside, it’s easy to judge. Simply put, the place is a dump. When I went there to see “Dog Sees God” a few years ago, I was blown away to find myself standing on the sidewalk, in February, waiting for someone to come unlock the doors. My mind was further blown when I found the cast members – including America Ferrera and Eddie Kaye Thomas – in the same situation. Again, this is a theater that gets amazing plays and high-caliber talent. And, it won’t cost you a fortune to experience it.
New World Stages: This isn’t just one theater. Located in Hell’s Kitchen, New World Stages effectively a multiplex for live theater, with several performances going on at once. Sure, there are well-known productions, like “Rent” and “Avenue Q,” on the list, but the unusual stuff is far more fun. Look for quirky productions like “Sealed for Freshness” (a past performance) to make the most of your trip.
59E59 Theaters: Head across mid-town to 59 E. 59th Street for another multiple-theater site that always has something unique on its stages. I went to 59E59 back in March to see Rx, and it left me hooked. 59E59 eschews the conventional and will definitely give you something to talk about when you get home!
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