Ladies and gents,
I use up so many precious column inches discussing the ins and outs of Broadway, sometimes the glorious and vibrant world of Off Broadway gets the shaft. Well, let it be known that, even as single-digit temps torment us city-dwellers, Off Broadway is hotter than hell – as anyone who has tried (and failed) to get a ticket to Hamilton can attest. (PS: there is one way to score those tix: try the “Hamilton for a Hamilton” virtual lottery on the TodayTix app!)
Deep in the heart of the West Village, the Lucille Lortel Theatre is where audiences can discover MCC’s annual slate of daring and edgy offerings. Last season’s MCC hit is often next season’s Broadway smash. Missed Hand to God at the Lortel? Catch it on Broadway this spring!
Head a few blocks East to find some of the fertilest of theatrical ground below 40th Street: The Barrow Street Theater, currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary Season. Scott Morfee’s quirky and mercurial space has been home to a string of hits over the years, including David Cromer’s record-breaking production of Our Town, and it’s where Every Brilliant Thing is currently squeezing laughter and tears out of packed houses nightly.
Head even further East and you’ll stumble upon The Lynn Redgrave Theater, where Culture Project is constantly proving that theater can be both politically provocative and thoroughly entertaining. The much raved about The Lion is occupying the space currently, and it’s a must-see.
From there, head North to Union Square where you can lose yourself in the granddaddy of immersive theater, Fuerza Bruta, at the Daryl Roth Theatre or, starting April 1, catch the Off-Broadway transfer of the hilarious 39 Steps, at the Union Square Theatre.
That’s a full week’s worth of red hot cultural offerings, and you never have to go above 17th Street!
When I came of age, Off Broadway was synonymous with doobie smoke and full frontal nudity (two things I generally prefer to enjoy in the comfort of a private residence). But I’ve also made some of my favorite theatrical discoveries in small theaters on sketchy blocks. Off Broadway is where I first encountered the genius of Charles Busch, and Charles Ludlam, and Lanford Wilson, and A.R. Gurney, and Jon Robin Baitz, and the list goes on and on. I’ve been left breathless by those brilliant weirdos at Wooster Group, who are miraculously still holed up at the Performing Garage even as the rest of SoHo has turned into a sanitized shopping mall. (Milady’s may be gone, but the Performing Garage is forever.)
None of this is to say I don’t relish the glamour and sophistication of a Broadway experience. But sometimes you have to head off the beaten path for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Tidbits from around town…
Ran into Jean Doumanian looking radiant en route to Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special.
Spotted the wonder-ful Lynda Carter on an early morning flight to Nashville, where she was going to rehearse with her band to prep for upcoming concert tour, which includes a stop at Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC.
Heard that songwriting team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, whose upcoming musical Dear Evan Hansen will play Arena Stage in DC this summer, are speaking at the TedxBroadway conference on Monday here in New York.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!