Off-Broadway Remains Vibrant Option for Strike-Stranded Theatregoers

News   Off-Broadway Remains Vibrant Option for Strike-Stranded Theatregoers
 
The Nov. 18 news that 27 Broadway shows would remain closed through Nov. 25, stranding thousands of Thanksgiving week theatregoers, sent a shockwave through the theatre community — from stagehand to dresser to actor to restaurateur to gift shop owner.
Fuerzabruta opens Off-Broadway.
Fuerzabruta opens Off-Broadway.

The stalled talks between striking stagehands and producers have had a profound effect on those who make their living from Broadway, but it's also a serious disappointment to those who make Broadway a part of their Thanksgiving-week tradition.

When Les Misérables was playing its original run, the annual performance on Thanksgiving night, for example, traditionally sold out. There was something about the show's message of hope and sacrifice that made the evening popular with families on Thanksgiving. An 8 PM performance of the revival production at the Broadhurst Theatre was scheduled for this year's Thanksgiving night as well. That's now scratched, as are all but eight Broadway shows through Nov. 25, the League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc., announced on Nov. 18.

There are refund options for theatregoers whose shows are temporarily dark. And, there are still Broadway options for those who are stranded: Mary Poppins, Mauritius, The Ritz, Pygmalion, Xanadu, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Cymbeline and Young Frankenstein are playing on Broadway. (These shows play in houses that operate under a separate contract between union and the League.)

The bad news on Broadway will continue to be good news for Off-Broadway: There are dozens of shows and thousands of seats this week for plays and musicals — many within walking distance of Times Square, where tourists or day visitors may be shopping or sightseeing.

New World Stages at 50th Street between Eight and Ninth Avenues will continue to distribute a color flyer that hawks the seven Off-Broadway shows within its midtown complex. Daryl Roth, the producer of Charles Busch's Off-Broadway comedy Die Mommie Die!, now at New World Stages, told Playbill.com at the start of the strike (which began Nov. 10) that she hoped for a speedy end to the impasse (she is also a producer of three current Broadway shows). For Off-Broadway, she said, this was a chance to make "lemonade out of lemons."

"I feel really horrible and sad about [the Broadway strike] affecting so many people," Roth previously said. "I think the good message that could come out of this, if there's anything good to be had, is that there's a huge theatre landscape in New York City, and it includes Off-Broadway and the not-for-profits. When people are making choices, they might think about those."

Also a stone's throw from Times Square, on West 42nd Street, is Theatre Row, another beehive of Off-Broadway spaces and shows. The Actors Company Theatre/TACT is currently in residence in Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre with a revival of Milan Stitt's Catholic church-set murder drama, The Runner Stumbles.

"We hope theatregoers will embrace the unfortunate Broadway strike situation as an opportunity to expand their horizons beyond the Great White Way and into the vibrant world of Off-Broadway where they can discover the work of companies such as ours, TACT/The Actors Company Theatre," TACT co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans told Playbill.com. "Though we don't have huge marketing budgets to advertise the way Broadway does — nor do we have the huge ticket prices — we do offer consistently compelling and highly entertaining work. In fact, more and more for people who like to think, Off-Broadway is the place to catch serious drama. The Runner Stumbles…received rave reviews, most notably from The New York Times, and the top ticket price is just $20. We hope people in town for the Thanksgiving holiday who are looking for a great evening in the theatre will venture slightly off the beaten path and give TACT a try."

Some theatregoers more familiar with navigating beyond midtown Manhattan will even venture to theatres in and around the traditional Off-Broadway stomping ground: 14th Street and below.

"I was planning to bring mom to Jersey Boys this weekend, but the strike steered us in a downtown direction," Edgar McIntosh, a Manhattan resident, told Playbill.com. "I just got tickets to Fuerzabruta [at the Daryl Roth Theatre in Union Square at 15th Street]."

From the creators of De La Guarda, the special theatrical event — which combines music, movement, aerial theatrics and gallons of water — will be an adventure for Anne McIntosh, who will visit from Massachusetts. Son Edgar said, "I'm really hoping she doesn't mind looking up for 65 minutes and potentially being sprayed with water — I think she'll be a sport about it."

For more information about Off-Broadway options, visit www.OffBroadway.com.

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The following list of Off-Broadway options and ideas is not meant to be comprehensive.

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)
Die Mommie Die! (New World Stages)
Doris to Darlene, A Cautionary Valentine (Playwrights Horizons)
Edge (Bleecker Street Theatre)
The Fantasticks (Snapple Theater Center)
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)
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 — Stage II)
Queens Boulevard (The Musical) (Signature Theatre at Peter Norton Space)
The Receptionist (Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center Stage 1)
Richard III (Classic Stage Company East 13th Street Theatre)
The Rise of Dorothy Hale (St. Luke's Theatre)
The Runner Stumbles (TACT at Beckett Theatre)
The Screwtape Letters (Theatre at St. Clement's)
Secret Order (59E59 Theaters)
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)
Trumpery (Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater)
Walmartopia (Minetta Lane Theatre)
The Wooster Group's Hamlet (Public Theater)

Cynthia Darlow as Mrs. Shandig, Ashley West as Sister Rita and Mark L. Montgomery as Father Rivard in <i>The Runner Stumbles</i>.
Cynthia Darlow as Mrs. Shandig, Ashley West as Sister Rita and Mark L. Montgomery as Father Rivard in The Runner Stumbles. Photo by Jennifer Maufrais
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