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Your Off-Broadway Theatre New York Guide

One of the defining highlights of New York City is the Theatre District. Located adjacent to the iconic Times Square, the Theatre District is home to both Broadway and Off-Broadway theatres. Broadway is the general term used for any professional theatre performance in New York City and the two types of theatres are segregated purely based on their seating capacity and size. Any theatre with a seating capacity of more than 500 is dubbed Broadway while those with a seating capacity between 100 to 499 are labeled Off-Broadway. While Broadway theatres like Music Box Theatre, Belasco Theatre, New Amsterdam Theatre and many others, get a majority of the limelight and host big blockbuster productions, Off-Broadway theatres aren't too far behind both in terms of the scale of production and the talent they attract. Many popular Off-Broadway shows, including Dear Evan Hansen, Avenue Q, Rent, The Band's Visit, Hadestown, and even Hamilton got their start at an Off-Broadway theatre before transferring to Broadway.

Given their smaller seat count, Off-Broadway theatre seating charts are generally pretty easy to understand. To help you find the best seat, we have put together a handy Off-Broadway theatre seating chart guide.

Off Broadway Theater Seating Sections

Given their smaller size, Off-Broadway theatres generally have a pretty distinct layout and structure. Some theatres are quite small and house only 100-150 seats while others are bigger and have almost 500 seats. For instance, the smallest Off-Broadway theatre is McGinn/Cazale Theatre with a seating capacity of only 108 and a single block of seats labeled under the orchestra section. The biggest Off-Broadway theatre is New World Stages, Stage 1 and 3 with a capacity of 499 and two sections, orchestra and mezzanine. Let's look at all the seating sections you can find in an Off-Broadway theatre.

  • Orchestra

    Available in all theatres irrespective of their size, the orchestra is the section closest to the stage. The orchestra is the only non-elevated seating section in a theatre but experiences a gradual incline, making viewing the stage possible for patrons seated in the last couple of rows. Given the small size of most Off-Broadway theatres, pretty much all the seats offer a pretty decent view of the stage. In particular, the center seats in the middle rows of the orchestra offer the best view of the stage. If the Off-Broadway theatre has more than one seating section, the orchestra is generally the most expensive given its proximity to the stage.

  • Mezzanine

    The first and, in many cases, only elevated seating section in an Off-Broadway theatre, the mezzanine offers decent views of the stage. Mostly available in theatres with at least 200 seats or more, this section offers clean views of the stage at reasonable prices. The front row seats of the mezzanine tie with the middle orchestra seats for the best view of the stage and are priced accordingly. Depending on how small the theatre is, certain back row seats can be slightly cramped and are not recommended for tall people.

  • Balcony

    A rare section in an Off-Broadway theatre, the balcony makes an appearance only in theatres with more than 450 seats. Like the mezzanine, the balcony is elevated and offers workable views of the stage. Since this section is the furthest from the stage, the seat prices are cheaper than both the orchestra and the mezzanine. Choose balcony seats only when you really want to watch a show and have no other seating options left.

  • Boxes

    Located on the side of the orchestra or mezzanine, the box seats offer patrons a relatively private theatre viewing experience. Not available in many Off-Broadway theatres, box seats are very limited in numbers and you'll need to book them in advance since they tend to sell out pretty fast. While you'll get a side-view of the stage from box seats, the experience of watching a performance from your private box is hard to beat.

How To Choose The Best Seats In A Theatre?

Looking for tips to help you choose the best seats in an Off-Broadway theatre? Here are some important things you should consider:

  • Theatre Design

    All Off-Broadway theatres are unique and structured significantly differently from one another. Because of their unique design, it's difficult to label any particular seat best across all Off-Broadway theatres. What is a great seat in one theatre might be mediocre at best at another. When looking for the best seat in a theatre, carefully consider the seating chart and make your decision accordingly.

  • Kind of Show

    Another important factor you must consider when choosing the best seats in a theatre is the type of show you'll be watching. A musical is better experienced from a seat which is at some distance from the stage so that you don't miss any of the action on stage. For plays, on the other hand, you would want to be as close to the stage as possible to focus better on the performers.

  • Audience Specifications

    A rare section in an Off-Broadway theatre, the balcony makes an appearance only in theatres with more than 450 seats. Like the mezzanine, the balcony is elevated and offers workable views of the stage. Since this section is the furthest from the stage, the seat prices are cheaper than both the orchestra and the mezzanine. Choose balcony seats only when you really want to watch a show and have no other seating options left.

  • Boxes

    Every individual has their preference and what's "best" for one might not suit another. Consider your preferences when looking for the best seats. For instance, tall people would prefer sitting on the front row or aisle seat of any section for better leg space while someone who has sensitive ears would rather sit on a seat in the back rows.

Keeping the above factors in mind, look for a seat that's best for you. Generally, the best seats in the house sell out pretty fast so once you're aware of which seats you like, book your tickets online at least a week in advance. This is especially necessary for popular shows with a lot of demand.

Best seats for an Off-Broadway Musical

While not as extravagant as a Broadway musical, Off-Broadway musicals are as bright, loud and joyous as the space they're in allows them to be. To best experience an Off-Broadway musical, you need to be seated at a slight distance from the stage. This is because the entire stage is utilized for musicals and if you’re too close to it, you’ll miss out on what’s going at the back portion of the stage. For musicals, the best seats would be either the middle rows of the orchestra or the front of the mezzanine.

Best seats for an Off-Broadway Play

Off-Broadway plays are different from musicals in every possible way; the staging, the scale, and even the performances. To enjoy an Off-Broadway play, you need to be close to the stage from where you can clearly watch the actors and their expressions. For this purpose, the best seats in the house are usually in the first couple of rows in the middle of the orchestra section. These front row seats allow you to immerse yourself in the actors' performance and truly experience the magic of theatre.

Best Seats In The House - Off Broadway Theatres

Despite the structural differences in most of the Off-Broadway theatres, the seats and the sections are generally similar. Every theatre will have an orchestra and, if it's big enough, a mezzanine or balcony section as well. Now, unless the theatre is absolutely different from how a regular New York City theatre is structured, the view from the second row of the orchestra will be pretty similar across all the theatres. In Off-Broadway theatres, the middle and front rows of the orchestra hold some of the best seats in the house. These seats offer a clear, unobstructed view of the stage and are close enough so that you don't miss out on anything. Here are your options of seats in Off-Broadway theatres that fit the following criteria:

  • Value For Money Section

    As the name suggests, value for money seats are those that offer a decent look at the stage at reasonable prices. In the orchestra, the rows after the middle section can be considered value for money. This is because most Off-Broadway theatres are small and even from a seat close to the end, you'll get a good look at the stage. If there's a balcony or mezzanine section in the theatre, the middle rows are pretty value for money.

  • Best Legroom Seats

    Given the limited seats and sections available in an Off-Broadway theatre, there aren't many additional legroom seats. If you need one, opt for a seat in the first row of any section or a seat next to the aisle. Typically, these seats have extra legroom. Check the theatre seating chart to better understand which seat would be preferable.

  • Best Views of The Stage

    While the best view varies from theatre to theatre, seats in the middle rows of the orchestra and front row of the mezzanine are generally considered the best in the house.

  • Premium Seats

    Premium seats are comfortable, offer the best view of the stage and are suitable for both a musical and a play. In an Off-Broadway theatre, the middle rows of the orchestra and front row of the mezzanine are considered premium.

Now that you're aware of how an Off-Broadway theatre seating chart works, book the best seats in the house for a memorable theatrical experience.

FAQs - Off Broadway Theater Seating Chart

How many Off Broadway theaters are there in New York?
There are approximately 66 Off Broadway theatres in New York currently.
Why is it called Off Broadway?
Originally referring to the location of a venue and its productions on a street intersecting Broadway in Manhattan's Theater District, a certain set of theatres were named Off-Broadway Theatres.
How many seats do Off Broadway theatres typically have?
Off Broadway theatres typically have 99 to 499 seats.
Where is Off Off Broadway?
Off-off-Broadway theatrical productions began as part of an anti-commercial and experimental or avant-garde movement of drama and theatre. These theaters are smaller than Broadway and off-Broadway theaters, and usually have fewer than 100 seats.
What is the best Off Broadway show in NYC?
Here are the top running Off Broadway shows in NYC currently!
What is an Off Broadway award called?
The Obie Awards or Off-Broadway Theater Awards are annual awards originally given by The Village Voice newspaper to theatre artists and groups in New York City.