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See the Next Big Hit Off-Broadway

September 4, 2019 by Allison Considine
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Some of the most exciting and adventurous new musicals and plays happen Off-Broadway, outside the glare of the Broadway marquees in Times Square. The difference between Broadway and Off-Broadway comes down to space, money, and time: Off-Broadway theater is professional theater that is presented at 100 to 499-seat venues, generally with smaller budgets and limited runs compared to Broadway fare.

From opera houses to intimate black box spaces, the scene offers everything from avant-garde productions of Shakespeare to limited engagements to commercially bound tuners. So get ahead of the curve and see some artists get creative with small budgets and big ideas before the work hits the mainstream — or the Main Stem. Bonus? Off-Broadway tickets are usually a fraction of the cost of a Broadway billing. And TodayTix offers exclusive prices.

The 2019-20 Off-Broadway season is now underway. Here are some notable theater companies and productions to add to your must-see list this fall.

“History of Violence”

St. Ann’s Warehouse

St. Ann’s presents experimental works from around the globe, and its unparalleled location boasts views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

St. Ann’s 2019-20 season will kick off with Schaubühne Berlin’s production of “History of Violence” (Nov. 13-Dec. 1) by Édouard Louis. This novel-turned-play recounts a traumatic encounter the author experienced and explores societal racism and homophobia. Get tix from $34.

British storyteller and comedian Daniel Kitson will take the stage next with the American premiere of his new solo show “Keep” (Dec. 4-19). Get tix from $26.

“Manon”

The Metropolitan Opera

A visit to the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is an inimitable experience. From the Revson Fountain to the crystal chandeliers, a night at the opera is always a night to remember.

Manon” (Sept. 25-Oct. 26) composed by Jules Massenet is a sensual love story that follows a tragic beauty and her admirer. Soprano Lisette Oropesa and tenor Michael Fabiano star, and Maurizio Benini will conduct. Get tix from $30.

Giacomo Puccini’s final masterpiece “Turandot” (Oct. 3, 2019-April 25, 2020), based on the Persian epic “Haft Peykar,” will take the stage next. Sopranos Christine Goerke and Nina Stemme will reprise their performances as the opera’s eponymous princess. The cast will also feature tenors Roberto Aronica and Marco Berti, sopranos Eleonora Buratto and Hibla Gerzmava, and bass-baritone James Morris. Franco Zeffirelli will direct. Get tix from $37.

Are you a big “Hadestown” fan? Check out Mark Morriss’s “Orfeo and Eurydice” (Oct. 20-Nov. 10), another work inspired by the ancient myth. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton stars as Orfeo, and soprano Hei-Kyung Hong takes on the role of Eurydice in this opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck. Mark Wigglesworth will conduct. Get tix from $30.

Le Nozze de Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist  Lorenzo Da Ponte will take the stage with two casts. The class comedy will feature sopranos Nadine Sierra, Anita Hartig, Susanna Phillips, and Hanna-Elisabeth Müller; mezzo-sopranos Gaëlle Arquez and Marianne Crebassa; baritone Mariusz Kwiecien; and bass-baritones Luca Pisaroni and Adam Plachetka. Sir Richard Eyre will direct, and Antonello Manacorda and Cornelius Meister will conduct. Get tix from $30.

Franco Zeffirelli’s staging of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème” (Oct. 25-May 7) will be next. The four-act tragedy follows a love affair between a poor poet and a poor seamstress. The production will trade off three casts, featuring tenors Matthew Polenzani, Roberto Alagna, and Joseph Calleja; sopranos Ailyn Pérez, Hei-Kyung Hong, and Maria Agresta. Conductors will be Marco Armiliato and Emmanuel Villaume. Get tix from $30.

Another Puccini selection “Madama Butterfly” (Oct. 11-Apr. 11) will take the stage. Inspired by a short story penned by John Luther Long, the opera features an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa. The three-act opera, directed by Anthony Minghella, follows an American naval officer in Nagasaki who marries a geisha and returns to the United States leaving his lovesick bride in Japan. Sopranos Hui He and Ana María Martínez share the titular role, and tenors Piero Pretti and Andrea Carè play the naval officer. Pier Giorgio Morandi will direct. Get tix from $30.

“runboyrun” and “In Old Age” in rehearsal

New York Theatre Workshop

New York Theatre Workshop is a new-work incubator in the East Village that has played a vital role in the development of many new plays and musicals, including “Hadestown” and “What the Constitution Means to Me.” 

The company will present a slate of new plays in the fall, starting with the latest installment of Mfoniso Udofia’s The Ufot Cycle — a nine-part saga about a Nigerian-American family. Presented together will be Udofia’s “runboyrun” and “In Old Age.” The first follows a married couple — Disciple and Abasiama — who have been living the same day over and over for years until one day when frustration breaks the pattern, causing time to move forward and backwards. “In Old Age” follows Abasiama into the future as she experiences a spiritual connection with another man. Loretta Greco and Awoye Timpo will co-direct. Get tix from $29.

Second Stage Theater

Second Stage produces works by contemporary American playwrights. Second Stage Theater has three performance spaces, both on and off Broadway. Second Stage has championed many works, including “Next to Normal” and “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Bess Wohl’s “Make Believe” (through Sept. 22) is about four siblings who continue to search for answers about their parents’ mystifying disappearance thirty-two years ago. Michael Greif directs. Unlock $20 Rush tickets.

In the Broadway space, The Hayes Theater, Second Stage Theater will present the Steppenwolf Theater Company’s production of “Linda Vista” (Sept. 19-Nov. 10). The play, Letts’s third Second Stage production, follows a 50-year-old divorcé experiencing a midlife crisis. Dexter Bullard will direct. Get tix from $59.

Next up will be the world premiere of Will Eno’s “The Underlying Chris” (Oct. 29-Dec. 15). Co-commissioned by Center Theatre Group and Second Stage Theater, this play looks at the journey of a person coming into their identity and celebrates individuality. Kenny Leon will direct. Get tix from $49.

Marisa Tomei

Roundabout Theatre Company

This theater company also produces works both on and Off-Broadway in various spaces. Founded in 1965, this company grew from a small 150-seat theater in a converted grocery store basement to one of the leading non-profit theaters in New York. It specializes in producing revivals of classic plays and musicals, like “Cabaret” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”

This season will start with Tennessee Williams’s “The Rose Tattoo.” Academy Award-winning Marisa Tomei stars as Serafina, an Italian-American widow who rekindles her desire for love when she meets a new suitor. Trip Cullman will direct.

Also this fall will be “Scotland, PA” (Sept. 14-Dec. 8), a new musical with book by Michael Mitnick and music and lyrics by Adam Gwon. This tuner is a darkly comic retelling of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” that sets the classic story of revenge at a burger joint in a small town in Pennsylvania. Lonny Price will direct. Get tix from $59.