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Getting Off Broadway

Broadway is that area known to the world from 41st Street up to 53rd street where all the musicals and plays are performed nightly. But, for those of you who do not live in New York, or for those who plan on visiting the city, there is another whole world of exicting theater just waiting for you. It's called Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

Don't let the names fool you as OB or OOB has more to do with the number of seats than location. For instance, The Last Session recently completed it's run at the 47th Street theater. Now that's physically right in the heart of the theater district. The theater only seated 200 people so it would be considered an "intimate" house. Those who ventured, or dared to go off were rewarded with seeing one of the best musicals of the season whether it was B'way, OB, or OOB.

Currently, if you head just a little uptown to W. 55th Street to the Manhattan Theatre Club/Stage 1, you'll find the OB comedy "Mizlansky/Zilinsky" or "Schmucks." Be warned though, it's a limited run and a camel could pass through an eye of a needle before you could get a ticket. It's hot! Why? Great reviews and it doesn't hurt to have Nathan Lane and Lewis J. Stadlen in the cast. Through Apr. 5.

With Spring around the bend why not head on down to Greenwich Village? Do a little antiquing, or just sit in one of the sidewalk cafes for a cappuccino, then walk over to Christopher Street to the Luciille Lortel Theater and see the long running hit As Bees in Honey Drown. It's so hot that the rights have been sold for the film and major actresses have been known to have seen it several times. Wasn't that Rosie and Madonna walking down Christoper Street after seeing the show and nary a soul even noticed them? Well, that's the Village for you.

If you are one of the legions of fans of The Fantasticks, then head over to Sullivan Street. Still there after 38 years and going strong. It's the World'l Longest Running Musical. Cats has 23 more years to go!

Other Off-Broadway choices would be Grandma Sylvia's Funeral, Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back, Gross Indecency, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, How I Learned To Drive, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, June Moon, Stomp and When Pigs Fly. And there are many more choices for OB.

With OFF-OFF Broadway you never know, unless you have visited the theater before, what you're getting yourself into. It could be just a small performing space with folding chairs or a theater seating 100 on the 3rd floor of a building in Chelsea. One thing for sure though, you can find some mighty fine theater OOB. Here's an example that brought a smile to my face while going through the listings. Line by Israel Horowitz is playing at the 13th Street Repertory Company theater. I did a double bill with that show at the same theater back in 1976. Line must be running for over 25 years. Why? I dunno. Go see it. That's the only way to find out.

Even Neil Simon has moved from Broadway to, not OB, but OOB. The Good Doctor, with a star cast featuring Jane Connell and Andre De Shields can be found at the Melting Pot Theater at the Theater of the Riverside Church. (120th Street and Riverside) Take a taxi for this one!

Perhaps you'd like to see an old classic, maybe Macbeth, or The Importance of Being Earnest. Maybe a little Chekhov? Right now, you can catch The Seagull or Three Sisters, your choice.

The list is endless of all the shows currently playing. If you've seen it all on Broadway, why not venture off the beaten path and visit an OB, or OOB theater? Sometimes, the experience can be far more rewarding than Broadway, especially with drama. To find out what's playing just pick up a copy of the Sunday New York Times, or InTheater magazine. The price of a ticket can be anywhere from $10.00 to $40.00 and that's a bargain in comparison to todays $80.00 a pop on Broadway.

OOB changes so frequently that we don't list it in our On The Boards section here, but you will find Broadway and Off-Broadway... which is where you just might find me on a nice warm spring evening, sipping a cappuccino before curtain.

Wanna' talk to others about this column or anything else theatre related? Check out All That Chat

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