A lot of people immediately equate NYC theater with Broadway. However, there are a wealth of Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway venues where some of the greatest theater in the city takes place—usually at a fraction of the price of a Broadway ticket.
Off-Broadway theaters are professional venues that seat between 100 and 499 people, while Off-Off Broadway theaters seat up to 99. These theaters tend to host innovative productions that might seem too experimental for the mainstream crowd at first. (The Broadway smash "Hamilton" got its start Off-Broadway at The Public Theater).
There are 40 Broadway theaters in New York City—designated theaters that seat 500 or more patrons—so here are 40 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway venues where the next “It” show could be getting its start right now.
1. Ars Nova (Off-Off-Broadway/Hell's Kitchen): Founded in 2002, this theater is a haven for creative types to take risks and embrace collaboration as they work on the early stages of their careers. There is always something new being performed here including readings, workshops and variety shows. Notable folks who have had projects performed or have been in Ars Nova productions include Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of “Hamilton”), Liz Meriwether (creator of the Fox television comedy "New Girl"), Jesse Eisenberg and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Performances vary and turn around is quick, so something different is always being staged. Average ticket price is $15. 511 W. 54th St.
2. Astor Place Theatre (Off-Broadway/NoHo): Constructed in 1831 but not used as a theater until 1968, the first show here was "The Indian Wants the Bronx," written by Israel Horovitz and starring a mostly unknown actor named Al Pacino. (His Broadway debut wasn't until 1969 and "The Godfather" was released in 1972.) The popular Blue Man Group, which has been performing here since 1991, purchased the theater in 2001. Tickets start around $50. 434 Lafayette St.
3. BAM Harvey Theater (Off-Broadway/Fort Greene, Brooklyn): Formerly the Majestic Theatre, this 874-seat venue was renamed in 1999 to honor Harvey Lichtenstein, an executive director at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for 32 years. This venue is known for hosting U.S. Premieres of critically acclaimed productions and attracting some of the biggest stars of stage and screen. Tickets usually start around $35. 651 Fulton St.
4. Barrow Street Theatre (Off-Broadway/West Village): Located in the historic Greenwich House, this theater was started in 2003 by Founding Producer Scott Morfee. This venue has played host to more than 100 productions and guest artists from all over the world since it opened. Past hit shows that ran here include "BUG" by Tracy Letts and "Buyer & Cellar" by Jonathan Tolins. Tickets often start around $60. 27 Barrow St.
5. Cherry Lane Theatre (Off-Broadway/West Village): Part of the Cherry Lane's mission statement is to "... [create] theater that illuminates contemporary issues, and at its best, transforms the spirit." This oldest continuously running Off-Broadway theater in New York City houses a 179-seat main stage and a 60-seat studio. Productions range from new works by emerging playwrights to classics from icons of theater history. Tickets prices vary depending on production. 38 Commerce St.
6. Claire Tow Theater (Off-Broadway/Upper West Side): Lincoln Center Theater's newest performance space, the Claire Tow Theater, opened in 2012. This theater is the location for LTC3—a program that focuses on producing works from new artists and aims to create new audiences. Tickets usually start at $30. 150 W. 65th St.
7. Daryl Roth Theatre (Off-Broadway/Union Square): Located in the former Union Square Savings Bank, this building was acquired by producer Daryl Roth in 1996 and renovated to become the theatrical venue it is today. In addition to the main performance space (that recently showcased "Fuerza Bruta"), this theater also houses the DR2 Theatre (a cozier entity) and the D-Lounge (a cabaret bar). 101 E. 15th St.
8. HERE Arts Center (Off-Off-Broadway/SoHo): A space for groundbreaking, contemporary work for audiences who embrace the endless possibilities of the future of the performing arts. It is HERE where Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues" got its start in 1996. Shows turn over every few weeks, so it is best to check HERE's website for the most up-to-date schedule. Tickets are usually either $18 or $25, depending on the show. 145 Sixth Ave.
9. Irish Repertory Theatre (Off-Broadway/Chelsea): This theater exclusively hosts shows written by Irish and Irish-American playwrights, develops work about the Irish and Irish-American experiences and stages works about other cultures as seen through the Irish and Irish-American sensibility. Ticket prices vary depending on the production. 132 W. 22nd St.
10. La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (Off-Off-Broadway/East Village): Founded by Ellen Stewart in 1961, La MaMa is all about the people who make art and welcomes artists to come and dig deeper into their ideas in order to create something they feel they need to share with others. Every season, more than 100 productions—totaling more than 400 performances—are staged at La Mama's three theaters. Check La MaMa's website for show information, as some shows are there for a few days, while others are one-offs. Some performances are free, but ticket prices usually range between $10 and $35. 66 E. 4th St.
11. Laura Pels Theatre and Black Box Theatre (Off-Broadway/Theater District): These two theaters are housed in The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre along with an education center. These state-of-the-art theaters are used by the nonprofit Roundabout Theatre Company to revive classic plays and musicals, in addition to promoting new works from seasoned and contemporary playwrights. Ticket prices vary depending on production/theater and can start at $25 or $99. 111 W. 46th St.
12. Lucille Lortel Theatre (Off-Broadway/West Village): Built in 1926 as a movie theater (the New Hudson), it was converted to a live-performance theater (the Theatre de Lys) in the 1950s where its first production was staged in 1955. The theater was renamed in 1981 after financier/building owner Louis Schweitzer's wife, Lucille Lortel. Notable past productions include Bertolt Brecht's "The Threepenny Opera" (which ran for seven years), "Dames at Sea" (featuring an ingenue named Bernadette Peters) and "Falsettoland" (directed by James Lapine). Tickets often start at $49. 121 Christopher St.
13. McKittrick Hotel (Off-Broadway/Chelsea): This fictional Hitchcock-esque "hotel" is actually several elaborately decorated warehouses where guests walk through five floors of an interactive adaptation of "Macbeth" called "Sleep No More." Participants must remain silent and keep masks on as they leisurely make their way among scenes of actors (also silent) performing throughout the hotel. Tickets start at $86.50. 530 W. 27th St.
14. Minetta Lane Theatre (Off-Broadway/Greenwich Village): This building previously housed a printing company but was transformed into a theater in 1984. Part of Liberty Theatres along with the Orpheum Theatre and the now-closed Union Square Theatre. Tickets usually start at $89. 18 Minetta Ln.
15. Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater (Off-Broadway/Upper West Side): Opened in 1967 on the bottom level of the building that houses the Vivian Beaumont Theater—a Broadway theater—at Lincoln Center, this theater was originally called the Forum but renamed in 1971 for a notable New York philanthropist. Ticket prices vary depending on production. 150 W. 65th St.
16. New Victory Theater (Off-Broadway/Theater District): Ironically, this one-time burlesque theater and then the first movie theater on 42nd St. to show pornographic films is now New York City's only theater completely committed to staging work for children and their families. Since 1995, the New Victory Theater has engaged with kids and adults alike to make theater accessible to everyone regardless of social, racial or cultural barriers. Check the New Victory Theater's website for a schedule of what is presently playing. Tickets start at $10, but prices vary depending on the program. 209 W. 42nd St.
17. New World Stages (Off-Broadway/Hell's Kitchen): This theater complex has five stages under one roof, potentially drawing in over 15,000 audience members a week. Shows staged here range from new productions to family-friendly theatrical events (there's presently an interactive bubble show on Stage 2) to long-running shows that were once on Broadway and now are continuing their runs Off-Broadway (like the current hit, “Avenue Q,” which won several Tony Awards in 2004 including Best Musical). Ticket prices vary among the five shows running. 340 W. 50th St.
18. New York City Center Stage 1 and Stage 2 (Off-Broadway/Midtown): This performing arts center—dedicated to making dance, music and theater accessible to all audiences—has an impressive main stage, in addition to Stage 1 and Stage 2. These two intimate theaters are located on the bottom floor of the building and house shows produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club. Stage 1 seats 299, while Stage 2 accommodates 150. Tickets usually start at $90 for Stage 1 and $30 for Stage 2. 131 W. 55th St.
19. Linda Gross Theater (Off-Broadway/Chelsea): The 199-seat theater, housed in a Greek Revival building, the former parish house of St. Peter’s Church, provides a grand yet intimate space for the Atlantic Theater Company, which has produced more than 125 plays there since 1991. Co-founded by playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy, Atlantic has won a slew of awards, including 12 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Tickets for shows often start at $65. 336 W. 20th St.
20. Pershing Square Signature Center (Off-Broadway/Hell's Kitchen): Home of the Signature Theatre Company, which is committed to celebrating and honoring the playwright's creative vision. Founded in 1991, performances provide an in-depth look into the work of living playwrights and explores what is underneath the written word. This multistage venue was designed by noted architect Frank Gehry. 480 W. 42nd St.
21. Playwrights Horizons (Off-Broadway/Hell's Kitchen): This theater focuses on developing the works of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists. Six productions are staged per year on the two stages at this theater complex and all are world, U.S. or New York premieres. Ticket prices are dependent upon the show running. 416 W. 42nd St.
22. PS 122 (Off-Off-Broadway/East Village): Founded in 1980 in a formerly abandoned public school, Performance Space 122 has since become a haven for contemporary artists to express the cultural importance of live performance. It was here where folks like John Leguizamo and Eric Bogosian (who wrote and starred in "Talk Radio") found their audiences. PS 122 is presently under renovation. Check the website for further updates on its re-opening. 150 First Ave.
23. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (Off-Broadway/West Village): This organization puts on at least four main stage productions, as well as holds 40-50 private and public staged readings per season. The goal is to nurture the talents of emerging playwrights and provide them with a welcoming environment in which to develop their craft. Mainstage shows are cast with actors you've seen on stage and screen, and sometimes written by them too—plays by Jesse Eisenberg have been produced here. Tickets start at $10. 224 Waverly Pl.
24. Second Stage Theatre (Off-Broadway/Theater District and Upper West Side): Second Stage operates two theaters—the Tony Kiser Theatre in the Theater District and the McGinn/Cazale Theatre on the Upper West Side. The company's goal is to breathe new life into contemporary American works, in addition to premiere new shows by both established and new playwrights. Second Stage was the launching point for the Pulitzer Prize winner "Next to Normal" and the 2017 Tony Award-winning Best Musical "Dear Evan Hansen." Ticket prices vary. Tony Kiser Theatre: 305 W. 43rd St. McGinn/Cazale Theatre: 2162 Broadway.
25. SoHo Playhouse (Off-Broadway/SoHo): This historic venue was once headquarters for Gen. George Washington and later home to Aaron Burr in the early 1800s. Transformed into a theater in the 1920s, works from playwrights including John Guare and AR Gurney, among others, have graced the main stage since. Ticket prices are dependent upon the production. 15 Vandam St.
26. St. Ann's Warehouse (Off-Broadway/DUMBO, Brooklyn): This entity found a new permanent home at the Tobacco Warehouse in 2015, but since its inception in 1980 has been an innovative force that embraces collaborations among the performing arts, in addition to putting on new works including puppet theater. 45 Water St.
27. St. Luke's Theatre (Off-Broadway/Theater District): This 178-seat theater is housed in a Lutheran church and usually has multiple shows running at the same time. Ticket prices for productions start around $40. 308 W. 46th St.
28. The Clemente (Off-Off-Broadway/Lower East Side): The Puerto Rican/Latino institution founded in 1993 is committed to "the cultivation, presentation and preservation of Puerto Rican and Latino culture." This building also hosts events representing all areas of the visual and performing arts; some happenings are one night only, while other programs are performed for several days or weeks at a time. It is best to check The Clemente's website for the most recent schedule. Escape the Room is also located here (cost is $28 per person). 107 Suffolk St.
29. The Delacorte Theater (Off-Broadway/Central Park): This 1,800-seat open-air theater in Central Park is home to Shakespeare in the Park—The Public Theater's summer program that provides the best of the Bard, performed by stars of stage and screen, and free to the public. The 2016 season included an all-female cast for "The Taming of the Shrew" and a staging of one of Shakespeare's most rarely performed plays, "Trolius and Cressida." Tickets are available on the day of the performance at the Delacorte, downtown at The Public, via a TodayTix digital lottery or through distribution in the boroughs. The nearest Central Park entrance to the Delacorte is 81st St. and Central Park West.
30. The Flea Theater (Off-Off-Broadway/TriBeCa): Comprising three distinctly different performing spaces, each under 99 seats, The Flea Theater’s new performing arts complex, opened in 2017, is suitable for theater, music and dance, as well as hybrid performances. Dozens of new works are produced each year, giving artists at various points in their careers the opportunity to thrive in a welcoming and creative environment. Fun fact: Jim Simpson, The Flea's founding artistic director, is married to Sigourney Weaver, who sits on The Flea's board of directors. Ticket prices vary per production. 20 Thomas St.
31. The Gym at Judson (Off-Broadway/Greenwich Village): Since opening in May 2011, this performance space has hosted professional productions in addition to workshops and other artistic happenings. Ticket prices vary per production. 243 Thompson St.
32. The Public Theater (Off-Broadway/East Village): One of the U.S.' first nonprofit theaters and housed in a New York City Landmark, The Public houses five theaters that have launched some of the most influential plays and musicals in recent theater history. Opening in 1967, the very first show staged here was the original production of "Hair." Later this complex would house future Broadway smashes like "A Chorus Line," "Passing Strange," "The Normal Heart," "Fun Home," "Hamilton" and "Eclipsed." Tickets for non-members start at $65. 425 Lafayette St.
33. The Theater Center (Off-Broadway/Theater District): The two-theater complex has been home to a pair of milestone theatrical productions. Its Jerry Orbach Theater was where the revival of "The Fantasticks," the world's longest-running musical of all time, was performed. (The late Orbach was a member of the show's original 1960 cast.) "Perfect Crime," the longest-running play in the history of New York theater, is still playing at the Anne L. Bernstein Theater. Tickets for "Perfect Crime" are $60. 1627 Broadway
34. Theater for the New City (Off-Off-Broadway/East Village): This four-theater complex houses experimental and innovative works. The Theater for the New City's annual Village Halloween Ball is famous and fabulous. 155 First Ave.
35. Theatre 80 St. Marks (Off-Broadway/East Village): This cultural institution helped initiate the Lower East Side Arts Movement that resulted in its neighborhood being known as the East Village and is dedicated to making the arts more accessible. The sidewalk out front features footprints and handprints of the stars—including Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson—à la Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Multiple shows are put on here at a time in a revolving schedule, so it's best to check the website for the most up-to-date information. Ticket prices vary. 80 St. Marks Place
36. Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (Off-Broadway/Fort Greene, Brooklyn): With a mission "to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama," the Theatre for a New Audience hosts plays for the spectrum of theatergoers—whether this is someone's first or 50th time seeing Shakespeare's works in person. 262 Ashland Place
37. Theatre Row (Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway/Hell's Kitchen): Home to six cozy theaters (Acorn Theater, Harold Clurman Theater, Lion Theatre, Rodney Kirk Theatre, Samuel Beckett Theatre and the Studio Theatre) and six resident theater companies (the Actors Company Theatre, Keen Comany, The New Group, Resonance Ensemble, Theater Breaking Through Barriers and the United Solo Theatre Festival). Because there are multiple shows at a time in this theater complex, it is best to check the Theatre Row website for the most up-to-date information regarding what show is running at each theater. Ticket prices vary. 410 W. 42nd St.
38. Vineyard Theatre (Off-Broadway/Union Square): This theatrical institution is dedicated to the creation of bold new shows from upcoming and established artists. "Avenue Q" and "The Scottsboro Boys," among other productions, found success here before taking Broadway by storm. Ticket prices vary. 108 E. 15th St.
39. Westside Theatre (Off-Broadway/Hell's Kitchen): This former Second German Baptist Church hosted nightclubs until it was converted into a theater—well, two theaters—in 1976. The Upstairs Theatre (seats 270) and Downstairs Theatre (seats 249) have hosted numerous smash hits including "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," which ran for more than 10 years. Ticket prices vary. 407 W. 43rd St.
40. 59E59 Theaters (Off-Broadway/Upper East Side): This complex houses three theaters (A, B and C) that run innovative and experimental works. The "Brits Off Broadway" series is a yearly festival that imports works from the United Kingdom. Ticket prices vary. 59 E. 59th St.