An off-Broadway theatre is any professional theatre venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatres, but larger than off-off-Broadway theatres, which seat fewer than 100.
An "off-Broadway production" is a production of a play, musical, or revue that appears in such a venue and adheres to related trade union and other contracts. Some shows that premiere off-Broadway are subsequently produced on Broadway.


Originally referring to the location of a venue and its productions on a street intersecting Broadway in Manhattan's Theater District, the hub of the theatre industry in New York, the term later became defined by the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers as a professional venue in Manhattan with a seating capacity between 100 and 499 or a specific production that appears in such a venue and adheres to related trade union and other contracts.
Previously, regardless of the size of the venue, a theatre was considered a Broadway house if it was within the "Broadway Box", extending from 40th north to 54th Street and from Sixth Avenue west to Eighth Avenue, including Times Square and West 42nd Street. This change to the contractual definition of "off-Broadway" benefited theatres satisfying the 499-seat criterion because of the lower minimum required salary for Actors' Equity performers at Off-Broadway theatres as compared with the salary requirements of the union for Broadway theatres. The adoption of the 499-seat criterion occurred after a one-day strike in January 1974. Examples of off-Broadway theatres within the Broadway Box are the Laura Pels Theatre and The Theater Center.
The off-Broadway movement started in the 1950s as a reaction to the perceived commercialism of Broadway and provided less expensive venues for shows that have employed many future Broadway artists. An early success was Circle in the Square Theatre's 1952 production of Summer and Smoke by Tennessee Williams. According to theatre historians Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik, Off-Broadway offered a new outlet for "poets, playwrights, actors, songwriters, and designers.... The first great Off-Broadway musical was the 1954 revival" of The Threepenny Opera, which proved that off-Broadway productions could be financially successful. Theatre Row, on West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues in Manhattan, is a concentration of off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway theatres. It was developed in the mid-1970s and modernized in 2002.
Many off-Broadway shows have had subsequent runs on Broadway, including such successful musicals as Hair, Godspell, Little Shop of Horrors, Sunday in the Park with George, Rent, Grey Gardens, Urinetown, Avenue Q, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Rock of Ages, In the Heights, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Fun Home, Hamilton, and Dear Evan Hansen. In particular, two that became Broadway hits, Grease and A Chorus Line, encouraged other producers to premiere their shows off-Broadway. Plays that have moved from off-Broadway houses to Broadway include Doubt, I Am My Own Wife, Bridge & Tunnel, The Normal Heart, and Coastal Disturbances. Other productions, such as Stomp, Blue Man Group, Altar Boyz, Perfect Crime, Forbidden Broadway, Nunsense, Naked Boys Singing, , and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change have had runs of many years off-Broadway, never moving to Broadway. The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical in theatre history, spent its original 42-year run off-Broadway and began another long off-Broadway run in 2006.


Off-Broadway shows, performers, and creative staff are eligible for the following awards: the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Obie Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Drama League Award. Although off-Broadway shows are not eligible for Tony Awards, an exception was made in 1956, when Lotte Lenya won Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera.

List of off-Broadway theatres

Capacity is based on the capacity given for the respective theatre at the Internet Off-Broadway Database.
New World Stages, Stage 1W. 50th St. 499
New World Stages, Stage 2W. 50th St. 350
New World Stages, Stage 3W. 50th St. 499
New World Stages, Stage 4W. 50th St. 350
New World Stages, Stage 5W. 50th St. 199
59E59 Theaters, Theatre AE. 59th St. 196
Theatre Three at Theatre RowW. 42nd St. 199
Irene Diamond Stage, Signature TheatreW. 42nd St. 294
Romulus Linney Courtyard TheatreW. 42nd St. 191
Alice Griffin Jewel Box TheatreW. 42nd St. 191
Playwrights Horizons MainstageW. 42nd St. 198
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwrights HorizonsW. 42nd St. 128
Stage 42W. 42nd St. 499
St. Luke's TheatreW. 46th St. 178
York TheatreLexington Ave. 161
Lucille Lortel TheatreChristopher St. 299
The Duke on 42nd StreetW. 42nd St. 199
New Victory TheaterW. 42nd St. 499
Tony Kiser TheatreW. 43rd St. 296
McGinn/Cazale TheatreBroadway 108
Westside Theatre, Upstairs TheatreW. 43rd St. 270
Westside Theatre, Downstairs TheatreW. 43rd St. 249
Vineyard TheatreE. 15th St. 132
Triad TheatreW. 72nd St. 130
Laura Pels TheatreW. 46th St. 425
Jerry Orbach TheaterW. 50th St. 199
Anne L. Bernstein TheaterW. 50th St. 199
SoHo PlayhouseVandam St. 178
Orpheum TheatreSecond Ave. 347
Minetta Lane TheatreMinetta Lane 391
New York Theatre Workshop, Theatre 79E. 4th St. 199
Claire Tow TheaterW. 65th St. 112
Mitzi E. Newhouse TheaterW. 65th St. 299
New York City Center Stage IW. 55th St. 300
New York City Center Stage IIW. 55th St. 150
Marjorie S. Deane Little TheaterW. 63rd St. 145
Linda Gross TheatreW. 20th St. 199
Irish Repertory TheatreW. 22nd St. 148
Gramercy Arts TheatreE. 27th St. 140
Classic Stage CompanyE. 13th St. 199
Cherry Lane TheatreCommerce St. 179
Jerome Robbins TheatreW. 37th St. 238
Barrow Street TheatreBarrow St. 199
Astor Place TheatreLafayette St. 298
Actors Temple TheatreW. 47th St. 199
47th Street TheatreW. 47th St. 196
Daryl Roth TheatreE. 15th St. 299
Lynn Redgrave TheatreBleecker St. 199
Elektra TheatreW. 43rd St. 199
777 Theatre8th Ave. 158
John Cullum TheatreW. 54th St. 140
Manhattan Movement & Arts CenterW. 60th St. 180
Players TheatreMacDougal St. 248
Theatre 80 St. Mark'sSt. Mark's Place 160
Theatre at St. Clement's ChurchW. 46th St. 151
The Gym at JudsonThompson St. 200
LuEsther TheatreLafayette St. 160
Martinson TheatreLafayette St. 199
Newman TheatreLafayette St. 299
Anspacher TheatreLafayette St. 275
Abrons Arts Center, Playhouse TheatreGrand St. 300