Off-Broadway Is Up and Running During Strike

News   Off-Broadway Is Up and Running During Strike When you think of theatre in New York City, the first thing that may leap to mind is Broadway. But in light of the Nov. 10 stagehands strike against most Broadway shows, the producers and artistic directors of the Off-Broadway community have a message: Our doors are open.
Charles Busch and Van Hansis in Die Mommie Die! at New World Stages, one of the many Off-Broadway options open to theatregoers during the Broadway strike.
Charles Busch and Van Hansis in Die Mommie Die! at New World Stages, one of the many Off-Broadway options open to theatregoers during the Broadway strike. Photo by Carol Rosegg

In the hours leading up to the launch of the strike, which began with the 11 AM shuttering and union picketing of an early matinee of Broadway's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, press agents for Off-Broadway shows were e-emailing reminders that Off-Broadway plays and musicals continue as usual.

The stagehands union works under a separate agreement with Off-Broadway theatres and producers, and the strike only impacts Broadway.

Off-Broadway theatres and producers participate in the informational site, www.OffBroadway.com.

Off-Broadway producer Ken Davenport, whose shows include Altar Boyz, My First Time and The Awesome 80s Prom, told Playbill.com Nov. 10, "Work stoppages are not good for anyone. However, this unfortunate situation on Broadway is a wonderful opportunity for theatregoers to explore Off-Broadway, which is where a lot of the shows that are dark during the strike were born, like Spring Awakening, Avenue Q and even A Chorus Line."

He added, "There are over 50 unique and intimate shows of all different styles listed on OffBroadway.com…and they'll all be open for business while the Broadway League and the stagehands work out their differences. For everyone involved, we are hoping for a swift resolution." Also not affected by the Broadway strike, of course, are intimate Off-Off-Broadway productions, as well as concerts and special theatrical events such as The Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and the world premiere Cirque du Soleil performances of Wintuk at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Those shows are not at Broadway venues.

As usual, half-price deals for Off-Broadway shows are being offered at Theatre Development Fund's discount TKTS booths, making a visit to Off-Broadway perhaps even more alluring to those whose ticket-buying habits are last-minute.

It remains to be seen if families — or busloads of tourists — who are visiting from out of town and had tickets to, say, The Little Mermaid or The Lion King will opt to spend more money on a show Off-Broadway, or take in a movie or a museum or the Empire State Building instead.

The TKTS booths in Times Square and at the South Street Seaport remain open during the strike. The booths sell discounted tickets for the handful of Broadway shows that are unaffected by the strike as well as Off-Broadway and dance productions. Availability of tickets at the booths is determined by the individual producers.

"Off-Broadway is definitely alive," Off-Broadway producer and theatre owner Edmund Gaynes told Playbill.com. "While we all sympathize with Broadway's current labor problem, at least we can all gain by this opportunity to shine a greater spotlight on the other half of New York's professional theatre scene: Off-Broadway."

He said he's hoping a surplus of Broadway refugees — "New Yorkers and tourists alike" — might sample Off-Broadway.

"When the strike ends, hopefully soon, we hope they will come back to Off-Broadway again and again," said Gaynes, the producer of The Rise of Dorothy Hale and owner of St. Luke's Theatre, Actors Temple Theatre and Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street.

Sue Frost, producer of Off-Broadway's Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, told Playbill.com, "There's a silver lining in every cloud, and this could be a terrific opportunity to draw attention to the wonderful theatre happening throughout the city…"

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The following list of Off-Broadway shows currently running is not meant to be comprehensive, but to suggest the variety of work available.

1001 (Baruch Performing Arts Center)
Acts of Love (Kirk Theatre)
Altar Boyz (New World Stages)
The Awesome 80s Prom (Webster Hall)
Blue Man Group (Astor Place Theatre)
The Brothers Size (The Public Theater)
Celia: The Musical (New World Stages)
Crossing Brooklyn (Transport Group at the Connolly Theatre)
Die Mommie Die! (New World Stages)
Edge (Bleecker Street Theatre)
The Fantasticks (Snapple Theater Center)
A Feminine Ending (Playwrights Horizons)
Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening (47th Street Theatre)
Frankenstein (37 Arts)
Fuerzabruta (Daryl Roth Theatre)
Gazillion Bubble Show (New World Stages)
The Glorious Ones (Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater)
Gone Missing (Barrow Street Theatre)
Hoodoo Love (Cherry Lane Theatre)
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Westside Theatre)
The Joy Luck Club (Julia Miles Theatre)
Jump (Union Square Theatre)
Masked (DR2 Theater)
Make Me a Song (New World Stages)
The Misanthrope (New York Theatre Workshop)
My First Time (New World Stages)
My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm in Therapy! (Westside Theatre)
Naked Boys Singing! (New World Stages)
Ohio State Murders (The Duke on 42nd Street)
The Overwhelming (Laura Pels Theatre)
Perfect Crime (Snapple Theater Center)
Peter and Jerry (Second Stage Theatre)
The Piano Teacher (Vineyard Theatre)
Pumpgirl (City Center)
Queens Boulevard (The Musical) (Peter Norton Space)
The Receptionist (City Center Stage 1)
Richard III (East 13th Street Theatre)
The Rise of Dorothy Hale (St. Luke's Theatre)
The Screwtape Letters (Theatre at St. Clement's)
The Sensuous Woman (Zipper Theater)
Sive (Irish Repertory Theatre)
Spain (Lucille Lortel Theatre)
Stomp (Orpheum Theatre)
Things We Want (Acorn Theater)
Three Mo' Tenors (Little Shubert Theatre)
Tings Dey Happen (Culture Project)
Walmartopia (Minetta Lane Theatre)
The Wooster Group’s Hamlet (Public Theater)

Theatregoers peruse the TKTS booth Nov. 10.
Theatregoers peruse the TKTS booth Nov. 10. Photo by Andrew Ku