If you want to have a clear overview of the hottest Off-Broadway shows currently playing, here’s a list of the 25 top contenders with five absolute must-sees.
22 Off-Broadway Shows in NYC
1. Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots is a story about the unlikely alliance between a talented and sassy drag queen and a shoe factory owner. This is a musical that features songs by Cyndi Lauper, flawlessly performed by an amazing cast. Kinky Boots had a long Broadway run that ended three years ago. Luckily, now it’s back Off-Broadway.
2. Into the Woods
Although a production of a fairytale would seem right at home Off-Broadway, we rarely get the chance to see anything like that. That’s why Into the Woods represents a refreshing opportunity. The show is set in a fantasy landscape and its colorful characters are brought to life by a true superstar cast.
3. Between the Lines
If recent decades have taught me anything, it’s that young adult material is the ticket to instant success more often than not. Combine some high-school romance with catchy tunes, pack it in a musical with a talented cast, and you’ll get Between the Lines.
4. The Play That Goes Wrong
The Play That Goes Wrong is a hilarious comedy about – well, a play that goes wrong. The show-within-a-show setting gives us the chance to follow two tales: one about a theater production splitting at the seams, and the other about the people participating in the play. When both stories collide, the result is both comedic and meaningful.
5. Blue Man Group
If you want something weird, awesome, smart, and fun, Blue Man Group is the show for you. On stage, you’ll see three men with blue skin and a deadpan look in their eyes. They’ll drum on open paint tubs, eat candies, and do much more – including TP-ing the audience. For most of us, this might be the closest experience to meeting extraterrestrials.
6. The Butcher Boy
Musicals aren’t reserved for comedies and romance. Tragic stories can be sang to great effect, too, and The Butcher Boy is a perfect example. This is a coming-of-age story about an Irish boy who replaces the real world for one of fantasies. Only, his fantasies are much darker and more violent than the reality that surrounds him.
7. Little Shop of Horrors
There’s something about Little Shop of Horrors that keeps drawing creatives and audiences back in. This campy story was told in two movies and now in an Off-Broadway revival show. It manages to be sweet, funny, dark, witty, and campy at the same time. But instead of some shapeless mish-mash, the result is a satisfying and entertaining musical.
Stomp is an explosion of sound, choreography, and prop comedy. The show is exciting and artful while keeping a punk feel throughout. Right from the start, you’ll be drawn into several stories unfolding on stage even though the entire show doesn’t feature any spoken lines. Instead, the dancing and musical talent tell the tale.
9. Camp, A New Musical
Off-Broadway theater isn’t always edgy. It can also come in the form of Camp, A New Musical – a comedy that’s as family-friendly as they come. In the show, you follow the adventures of a group of kids at a sleepaway camp. The twist is that the camp is located near a burned-up former compound.
10. Gazillion Bubble Show
Yes, this is a show about bubbles. And no, you won’t be able to take your eyes off them. The Gazillion Bubble Show is performed by the Yang family – Deni, Melody, and Ana. Together, they create constructs made of bubbles while colored lights, lasers, and other visual trickery bring the shapes to life.
11. Perfect Crime
Who doesn’t love a good whodunit? Sure, this gimmick has been playing on our TVs for decades, but nobody really seems to mind. If you’d like to see some crime mystery-solving action on stage, Perfect Crime is there to scratch that itch. However, don’t be surprised to find a show that looks and feels like it was made almost 40 years ago – because this one was.
12. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cat on a Hot Tin roof is a classic and for a short time, you can catch its Off-Broadway version. This show has it all, secrets, sex, plenty of booze, and an atmosphere of general deception. I would call this show a must-see, but it’s unclear when it’ll be back once its current run finishes.
13. Seven Sins
Brought to us by Company XIV, Seven Sins is a dreamlike festival of song, dance, circus, and overall spectacle. The show presents you with the timeless story of Adam and Eve, their fall from grace, and the appearance of sin and temptation. But instead of shying away from the temptation, Seven Sins makes it the core of the story.
14. The Office! A Musical Parody
The Office TV show ran for nine full seasons and a total of 201 episodes. Some might say that’s more than enough, but I say – no. We need more of that cringe-inducing humor in the world. If you agree, you already know what to expect from The Office! A Musical Parody.
I can’t imagine theater without a sprinkle of Shakespeare. And few plays are as Shakespearean as Hamlet. Even if you’ve seen it a thousand times in different variants, there’s absolutely no reason not to see it once again. And if you haven’t seen Hamlet, this could be a great introduction.
16. Cost of Living
A moving story that will shake you to the core, Cost of Living deals with the lives of four characters with physical disabilities. But, like all of us, they don’t struggle with the physical alone – each of them carries emotional baggage.
Most people would say that Celine Dion and the term “silly” don’t really mix. Well, Titanique is here to prove us all wrong. This is a musical parody of the Titanic movie with an iceberg scene that will certainly produce more laughs than the original.
18. Love Quirks
Love Quirks is a musical about four New Yorkers. They drink, toast, and sing away in this, latest production of a long-standing project that has gone through numerous changes in the past 10 years.
19. The Nosebleed
The structure of The Nosebleed is borderline experimental. The show is done as a memoir that unfolds on stage in real time. In it, writer, director, and lead Aya Ogawa explores two crucial relationships – one with the deceased father, and the other with Ogawa’s own motherhood.
20. Alex Edelman: Just for Us
It takes both bravery and skill to explore societal issues through humor. However, Alex Edelman manages to do just that through a combination of clever writing and sharp wit. This one-man-show takes a comedic approach to racial tensions, all framed through the story of the performer’s young days as a Jewish man living in a volatile social atmosphere.
21. You Will Get Sick
Have you ever wondered what having a body means? Likely not – neither have I until I saw You Will Get Sick. In the show, the protagonist gets a life-changing diagnosis. The news turn his world upside-down, driving him to decisions that will change his life even further.
22. The Bandaged Place
This play is a drama about a man trying to cope with trauma and abuse. Throughout the play, he discovers that moving forward means healing his family relationships and getting some much-needed support for the journey of recovery.
Top 5 Choices Right Now
In the order of must-see, my pick for the top five Off-Broadway shows are:
1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
3. Blue Man Group
4. Little Shop of Horrors
5. You Will Get Sick
How to Get Cheap Off-Broadway NYC Tickets
With so many shows to see, you might be worrying about the budget. Fortunately, there are several ways to get Off-Broadway tickets that won’t break the bank:
1. Find discounted tickets at TKTS
2. Buy via phone or online
3. Play the ticket lottery
4. Become a TDF member
And if you want a detailed guide for affordable Off-Broadway tickets, jump to this article to get the full run-through.