Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Off-Broadway

Off-Broadway

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Off-Broadway'
Start a new discussion about 'Off-Broadway'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Off-Broadway theater is a term for a professional venue in New York City with a seating capacity
Seating capacity
Seating capacity refers to the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, both in terms of the physical space available, and in terms of limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats...

 between 100 and 499, and for a specific production of a play
Play (theatre)
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

, musical or revue
Revue
A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century American popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932...

 that appears in such a venue, and which adheres to related trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 and other contracts. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

s.

History


Originally referring to the location of a venue and its productions on a street intersecting Broadway
Broadway (New York City)
Broadway is a prominent avenue in New York City, United States, which runs through the full length of the borough of Manhattan and continues northward through the Bronx borough before terminating in Westchester County, New York. It is the oldest north–south main thoroughfare in the city, dating to...

 in Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

's Theatre District
Theatre District, New York
The Theater District is an area in Midtown Manhattan where most Broadway theaters are located, as well as many other theaters, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels and other places of entertainment. It extends from 40th Street to 54th Street, and from west of Sixth Avenue to east of Eighth Avenue,...

, the hub of the theater industry in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the term later became defined by the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers as a professional venue in New York City with a seating capacity
Seating capacity
Seating capacity refers to the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, both in terms of the physical space available, and in terms of limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats...

 between 99 and 499, or a specific production that appears in such a venue, and which adheres to related trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 and other contracts.

Previously, regardless of the size of the venue, a theatre was not considered Off Broadway if it was within the "Broadway Box" (the traditional Broadway Theater District
Theatre District, New York
The Theater District is an area in Midtown Manhattan where most Broadway theaters are located, as well as many other theaters, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels and other places of entertainment. It extends from 40th Street to 54th Street, and from west of Sixth Avenue to east of Eighth Avenue,...

, extending from 40th to 54th Street, and from west of Sixth Avenue
Sixth Avenue (Manhattan)
Sixth Avenue – officially Avenue of the Americas, although this name is seldom used by New Yorkers – is a major thoroughfare in New York City's borough of Manhattan, on which traffic runs northbound, or "uptown"...

 to east of Eighth Avenue
Eighth Avenue (Manhattan)
Eighth Avenue is a north-south avenue on the West Side of Manhattan in New York City, carrying northbound traffic. Eighth Avenue begins in the West Village neighborhood at Abingdon Square and runs north for 44 blocks through Chelsea, the Garment District, Hell's Kitchen's east end, Midtown and the...

, and including Times Square
Times Square
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets...

 and 42nd Street
42nd Street (Manhattan)
42nd Street is a major crosstown street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, known for its theaters, especially near the intersection with Broadway at Times Square. It is also the name of the region of the theater district near that intersection...

). The contractual definition changed this to encompass theaters meeting the standard, with a higher minimum salary requirement for Actors' Equity
Actors' Equity Association
The Actors' Equity Association , commonly referred to as Actors' Equity or simply Equity, is an American labor union representing the world of live theatrical performance, as opposed to film and television performance. However, performers appearing on live stage productions without a book or...

 performers than for Off-Broadway theaters outside the box. Examples of Off-Broadway theatres within the Broadway Box are New World Stages
New World Stages
New World Stages, originally Dodger Stages, is an Off-Broadway venue. The architects were Beyer, Blinder, and Belle. The theatre designers were Sachs Morgan, and the interior designer was Klara Zieglerova.It is currently home to 6 shows:* Rent...

, Little Shubert Theatre
Little Shubert Theatre
The Little Shubert Theatre is located in New York City, near Broadway. Its address is 422 West 42nd Street between 9th Avenue and Dwyer Street. It was built in 2002 and has a seating capacity of 499....

 and The Snapple Center.

According to Bloom and Vlastnik, the Off-Broadway movement started in the 1950s, as a reaction to the "perceived commercialism of Broadway" and provided an "outlet for a new generation" of creative artists. This "fertile breeding ground, away from the pressures of commercial production and critical brickbats, helped give a leg up to hundreds of future Broadway greats. The first great Off-Broadway musical was the 1954 revival of the Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

/Weill
Kurt Weill
Kurt Julian Weill was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht...

 Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera is a musical by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, in collaboration with translator Elisabeth Hauptmann and set designer Caspar Neher. It was adapted from an 18th-century English ballad opera, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, and offers a Marxist critique...

."

A number of Off-Broadway musicals have had subsequent runs on Broadway. These have included musicals such as Hair
Hair (musical)
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement...

, Godspell
Godspell
Godspell is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak. It opened off Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has played in various touring companies and revivals many times since, including a 2011 revival now playing on Broadway...

, A Chorus Line
A Chorus Line
A Chorus Line is a 1975 musical about Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line. The book was authored by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, lyrics were written by Edward Kleban, and music was composed by Marvin Hamlisch....

, Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors (musical)
Little Shop of Horrors is a rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Roger Corman...

, Sunday in the Park with George
Sunday in the Park with George
Sunday in the Park with George is a 1984 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical was inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat...

, Rent
Rent (musical)
Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème...

, Grey Gardens
Grey Gardens (musical)
Grey Gardens is an American musical with book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, based on the 1975 documentary of the same title about the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale by Albert and David Maysles. The Beales were...

, Urinetown
Urinetown
Urinetown: The Musical is a satirical comedy musical, with music by Mark Hollmann, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis, and book by Kotis. It satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics...

, Avenue Q
Avenue Q
Avenue Q is a musical in two acts, conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Jeff Whitty and the show was directed by Jason Moore and produced by Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman, and Jeffrey Seller...

, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a one act musical comedy conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn, a book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reiss. The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley...

, Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages (musical)
Rock of Ages is a rock/jukebox musical, with a book by Chris D'Arienzo, built around classic rock hits from the 1980s, especially from the famous glam metal bands of the decade. The musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Asia, among...

, In The Heights
In the Heights
In the Heights is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The story explores three days in the characters' lives in the New York City Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights....

, Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening is a rock musical adaptation of the controversial 1892 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. It features music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. Set in late-19th century Germany, it concerns teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of...

 and Next to Normal. Plays that have moved to Broadway include: Doubt
Doubt (play)
Doubt: A Parable is a 2004 play by John Patrick Shanley. Originally staged off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club on November 23, 2004, the production transferred to the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway in March 2005 and closed on July 2, 2006 after 525 performances and 25 previews...

, I Am My Own Wife
I Am My Own Wife
I Am My Own Wife is a play by Doug Wright based on his conversations with German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. The one-man play premiered Off-Broadway in 2003 at Playwrights Horizons. It opened on Broadway later that year. The play was developed with Moisés Kaufman and his Tectonic...

, Bridge & Tunnel and Coastal Disturbances
Coastal Disturbances
Coastal Disturbances is a play by Tina Howe, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1986 and transferred to Broadway. It received a Tony Award nomination as Best Play.-Production history:...

. Other productions, such as Stomp
Stomp (dance troupe)
Stomp is a percussion group that uses the body and ordinary objects to create a physical theatre performance.-History and performances:...

, Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group is an organization founded by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton. The organization produces theatrical shows and concerts featuring popular music, comedy and multimedia; recorded music and scores for film and television; television appearances for shows such as The Tonight...

, Altar Boyz
Altar Boyz
Altar Boyz is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker and book by Kevin Del Aguila . Centering on a fictitious Christian boy band from Ohio, the show satirizes, among other things, the phenomenon of boy bands and the popularity of Christian-themed music in...

, Perfect Crime
Perfect Crime (play)
Perfect Crime is a 1987 Off Broadway play in the murder mystery/thriller genre written by Warren Manzi. It tells the story of Margaret Thorne Brent, an accomplished Connecticut psychiatrist and potential cold-blooded killer who may have committed "the perfect crime." When her wealthy husband, W...

 and Naked Boys Singing have run for several years Off Broadway. The Fantasticks
The Fantasticks
The Fantasticks is a 1960 musical with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. It was produced by Lore Noto. It tells an allegorical story, loosely based on the play "The Romancers" by Edmond Rostand, concerning two neighboring fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into...

, the longest-running musical in theatre history, spent its original 42-year run Off Broadway.

Awards


Off-Broadway shows, performers, and creative staff are eligible for awards from the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, the Outer Circle Critics Award, the Drama Desk Award
Drama Desk Award
The Drama Desk Awards, which are given annually in a number of categories, are the only major New York theater honors for which productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway compete against each other in the same category...

, the Obie Award
Obie Award
The Obie Awards or Off-Broadway Theater Awards are annual awards given by The Village Voice newspaper to theatre artists and groups in New York City...

 (presented since 1956 by The Village Voice
The Village Voice
The Village Voice is a free weekly newspaper and news and features website in New York City that features investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts and music coverage, and events listings for New York City...

), the Lucille Lortel Award (created in 1985 by the League of Off-Broadway Theatres & Producers), and the Drama League Award
Drama League Award
The Drama League Awards, created in 1935, honor distinguished productions and performances both on Broadway and Off-Broadway, in addition to recognizing exemplary career achievements in theatre, musical theatre, and directing...

. Although Off-Broadway shows are not eligible for Tony Awards, an exception was made in 1956 (before the rules were changed), when Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress. In the German-speaking and classical music world she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language film she is remembered for her Academy Award-nominated role in The Roman Spring of Mrs...

 won for "Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
This is a list of the winners and nominations of the Tony Award for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical. The award, introduced in 1950, was previously named as Best Performance by a Featured or Supporting Actress in a Musical until 1976....

", for the Off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera is a musical by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, in collaboration with translator Elisabeth Hauptmann and set designer Caspar Neher. It was adapted from an 18th-century English ballad opera, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, and offers a Marxist critique...

.

External links