The Best Off-Broadway Theaters to Visit in New York City, According to a Theater Critic

Locals know Broadway isn't the only place you can catch a great performance in NYC.

<p>VW Pics/Getty Images</p>

VW Pics/Getty Images

One of the hottest shows in New York City isn’t opening on Broadway. You’ll have to head to Hudson Yards for that.

On Sept. 28, “Here We Are,” the highly anticipated final musical by Stephen Sondheim, begins previews at The Shed, a performing arts space at Hudson Yards. However, it’s not the only show worth putting on your calendar this fall. If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple, here’s a look at some venues far off-Broadway to check out, along with shows playing in each spot this season.

The Shed

<p>C. Taylor Crothers/Getty Images</p>

C. Taylor Crothers/Getty Images

Address: 540 W. 30th St.,

The massive, 17,000-square-foot arts center has been open since April 2019 and hosts various events, from concerts to art exhibits, plays, and more. The space is truly revolutionary thanks to its retractable walls that can transform it from an indoor to an outdoor venue with the whir of a few motors.

“Here We Are,” running Sep. 2-Jan. 7, 2024, is probably the highest-profile production to hit the theater. The show, with music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by playwright David Ives, was originally called “Square One” and takes its inspiration from two Luis Buñuel films, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “The Exterminating Angel.” Summarizing the surrealistic plot to the New York Times, Sondheim said the first act is about a group looking for a place to have dinner, while the second act finds them at dinner with no way to leave. While the play is far from Broadway, the cast is anything but — Amber Gray (“Hadestown”), Rachel Bay Jones (“Dear Evan Hansen”), and David Hyde Pierce (“Hello, Dolly!”) are all set to take the stage.

Perelman Performing Arts Center

<p>Alessandra Amodio/Travel + Leisure</p>

Alessandra Amodio/Travel + Leisure

Address: 251 Fulton St.,

An all-new venue is coming to New York this fall. The Perelman Performing Arts Center, also known as PAC NYC, will open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sep. 13. The center is set to host theater, music, dance, and film events to delight everyone. The opening event, “Refuge: A Concert Series to Welcome the World,” is a five-night, pay-what-you-wish program featuring Common, Jose Feliciano, and other musicians from around the world. Big names appearing early on at PAC include LaChance (Oct. 1), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Oct. 5), and Ben Platt (Oct. 7).

City Center

<p>VW Pics/Getty Images</p>

VW Pics/Getty Images

Address: 131 W. 55th St.,

The distinctive City Center building, with its Moorish design, has been around since the early 20th century. The center is home to the Manhattan Theatre Club and several dance companies. Next on the schedule for this venue is the annual Fall for Dance Festival, slated to run Sept. 27-Oct 8, with appearances by several companies and pre-show dance lessons. That will be followed by a new take on the Rodgers and Hart musical “Pal Joey,” directed by dancer Savion Glover and actor Tony Goldwyn, Nov. 1-5. City Center is most well-known for the Encores! series, which has revived rarely produced musicals for more than two decades. The 2024 schedule includes “Once Upon a Mattress,”  starring Sutton Foster, Jan. 24-28, “Jelly’s Last Jam,” Feb. 21-25, and “Titanic,” June 12-16.

Park Avenue Armory

<p>Randy Brooke/Getty Images</p>

Randy Brooke/Getty Images

Address: 643 Park Ave.,

The Armory’s website describes the arts complex as “part palace, part industrial shed,” adding that it fills a void in New York culture by supporting productions that might not work in a typical theater or concert hall. The space, built as the Seventh Regiment Armory in 1861, once housed a National Guard troupe known as the silk-stocking unit, whose members came from some of the city’s most influential families (think Vanderbilts and Roosevelts). Upcoming performances include the shape-shifting artist Arca, Oct. 11-15, and “The Rite of Spring,” by late choreographer Pina Bausch, Nov. 29-Dec. 14.

Delacorte Theater

<p>rmbarricarte/Getty Images</p>

rmbarricarte/Getty Images

At the Delacorte, tickets are free and distributed every morning outside the theater.

Address: 81 Central Park West,

On the Southwest corner of Central Park’s Great Lawn sits the open-air Delacorte Theater, home to the Public Theater’s renowned Shakespeare in the Park series. A gift to the people who live in or visit the city, the series has run since 1962, producing most of the Shakespeare canon, along with a little Chekhov, Brecht, and one glorious summer, the musical “Hair.”  Stars who’ve appeared on the Delacorte stage include Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, Natalie Portman, and Anne Hathaway. Tickets are free and distributed every morning outside the theater. The Delacorte, which recently underwent extensive renovations, has always been a place where the greatest plays are produced free of charge, says the Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis. “Now, this iconic theater will be revitalized for the next generation of theatergoers.” You’ve still got a few days to see “The Tempest,” but act fast. Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait until 2024. 

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