BY BETH WOJCIECHOWSKI
Associate Arts and Culture Editor
Over the years, I’ve seen my fair share of local, regional and touring theatrical productions. In the past, whenever I would make the trek to New York City, it was Broadway or bust for me. If I’m going to spend the time and money to travel to New York, I might as well splurge and see a show on Broadway. I’d therefore never really considered seeing an off-Broadway show before. However, after seeing my first off-Broadway production this summer, I can safely say that I’d underestimated off-Broadway shows for too long.
According to Backstage, off-Broadway theater is defined by the amount of seats that the theater contains. A typical off-Broadway theater contains anywhere from 100-499 seats, while a theater on Broadway typically has over 550 seats. What makes off-Broadway theater unique is that often it is where popular shows, such as “Hamilton,” make their debut before moving to a bigger theater on Broadway.
In August, due to my longtime love of “Little Shop of Horrors,” I decided to use some money I’d saved up to finally see the show, which is playing off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre. I immediately noticed that tickets were substantially cheaper than what I was used to paying for Broadway tickets. As usual, I chose the cheapest seats available, but on the day of the show, I was surprised to find that my cheap tickets had gotten my family and I seats a mere eight rows back from the stage (the theater only had 12 rows of seats, but I was still impressed).
According to a survey from the Broadway League, in June 2023, the average ticket cost for seeing a Broadway show was $123, while the average ticket cost for seeing a show off-Broadway was $75. I can personally attest to the cost difference, as this year I spent $79 on a ticket for “Little Shop of Horrors” off-Broadway and a whopping $139 a ticket for “Parade” on Broadway.
The cheaper price of tickets did not diminish the quality of the production, as it was still a Broadway-quality show but with a cheaper price tag. Also, the smaller theater made the entire production feel much more intimate. I also found the sound quality to be better than what I would see at a Broadway theater since I was so close to the stage and there were speakers at the end of each row.
Moreover, I am someone who rushes to the stage door immediately after a show for actors’ autographs. Because all the seats in the theater were on the same level, I figured that showgoers would have a similar chance of meeting the show’s actors. Ultimately, however, not a single actor came out the stage door at the showing I went to, so I couldn’t confirm my hypothesis.
At the end of the day, despite my initial reservations, I definitely encourage curious theater goers to try their hand at seeing a show off-Broadway. It’s hard to beat the quality for the relatively affordable price, and it’s truly a memorable experience.