Your guide to Off-Broadway shows in New York

Learn about what kinds of theatre play off Broadway, where you can find Off-Broadway venues, and the top Off-Broadway shows to check out in the city right now.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

New York City is famous for its Broadway shows, but its wealth of Off-Broadway shows is equally key to its status as a global theatre hub. In fact, some Off-Broadway hits are just as storied as Broadway's longest-running shows. Think Blue Man Group, which has played downtown since 1991 and now amazes audiences worldwide, or The Play That Goes Wrong, which followed up its Tony Award-winning Broadway run with an Off-Broadway transfer that's still going strong.

Exciting theatre isn't just in the Theatre District — a diverse array of new, classic, family-friendly, and experimental shows are always taking place at venues in every neighborhood.

If you're looking to venture beyond Broadway and explore the full range of theatre the city has to offer, read our primer on what to expect from Off-Broadway shows, where they are, and which ones to get tickets to right now.

Get tickets to Off-Broadway shows on New York Theatre Guide.

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What is Off-Broadway theatre?

Broadly, Off-Broadway theatre encompasses any production in New York City that takes place in any venue except the 41 designated Broadway theatres. Some Off-Broadway shows take place in or near the Theatre District in Midtown Manhattan, but they also happen at venues all over the city.

Which theatres are considered Off-Broadway theatres?

Any New York City theatre with 100-499 seats is considered an Off-Broadway venue. Theatres with higher seating capacities that aren't one of the 41 designated Broadway theatres are also considered "off Broadway." Some such examples include New York City Center, Radio City Music Hall, and the Apollo Theater.

Additionally, theatres with less than 100 seats are considered "Off-Off-Broadway." However, New York Theatre Guide refers to all non-Broadway shows as "off Broadway" for editorial purposes.

What kinds of shows play off Broadway?

Off-Broadway theatre is just as varied as Broadway theatre — perhaps even more so. Plays, musicals, comedies, dramas, stand-up acts, concerts, classics, family-friendly shows, and more all take place off Broadway.

Off-Broadway venues tend to host more world-premiere plays and musicals than Broadway venues, especially from new playwrights. Some of these shows — by both emerging and established writers — will go on to a Broadway run after premiering off Broadway. Successful examples include the award-winning musicals Hamilton, Hadestown, and Rent.

Off-Broadway also tends to be the place for theatrical experimentation. If you're looking for immersive and interactive productions, unique content and themes, or shows that play around with varied forms of storytelling, you'll find all that off Broadway.

Why to see an Off-Broadway show

Off Broadway is the best place to discover the next big show in the making. Before a new play or musical becomes a hit on Broadway or beyond, you can be among the first to see it in an intimate setting.

That's another perk of Off-Broadway shows: since most are in smaller venues than Broadway shows, even seats in the back of the theatre offer a great view. If a celebrity is in an Off-Broadway show, you get to see their talents right up close, too.

Another great reason to see an Off-Broadway show is that they're located all throughout the city. If you've seen all of Broadway's major hits or live far from the Theatre District, you can discover new theatre right in your own neighborhood.

Off-Broadway shows to see right now

Check out our list of the top Off-Broadway shows in New York, highlighting long-running Off-Broadway favorites like the slapstick show The Play That Goes Wrong, the horror comedy Little Shop of Horrors, and the campy Celine Dion-inspired Titanique. These shows have drawn in audiences for months, years, and even decades.

There's always a rotating lineup of new Off-Broadway theatre to see at NYC's dozens of Off-Broadway theatres, too. Discover all the Off-Broadway shows with tickets available on New York Theatre Guide right now, and you might discover a hidden theatrical gem in plain sight.

Get Off-Broadway tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

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Photo credit: The Play That Goes Wrong off Broadway. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)

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