Friday, Aug 22, 2014 05:49 am est

Cabaret, concert venues offer affordable alternatives to Broadway

Posted on February 5, 2014 | by Dylan Jarrett


Even with discounted tickets and student rush, shelling out the cash for a Broadway show can be painful. Premium seating can cost upwards of $150 for a top ticket, an unreasonable fee for struggling college students. Luckily, cabaret and concert venues around New York City offer a variety of high-quality alternative performances at a much cheaper price.

Lincoln Center’s “American Songbook” series is one such option. Focused on creating a close and intimate experience with talented artists from all genres of music, “Songbook” allows performers to sing inspiring songs they love. The series has recruited Broadway stars in the past, such as Tony Award-winners Laura Benanti and Patina Miller. On Feb. 15, Lincoln Center will host Jonathan Groff, star of “Spring Awakening” and “Frozen.” Then, on March 8, they will welcome Broadway veteran Norm Lewis (“Porgy and Bess”).

The cabaret venue 54 Below, located in the basement of the former legendary Studio 54, offers a wide range of performances for theater fans. This weekend a ten-year anniversary concert of Boy George’s “Taboo” comes to the venue. This two night-only engagement will benefit Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS and is sure to be an amazing night.

Similar to “American Songbook,” 54 Below also hosts a variety of Broadway stars. Actors Andrea McArdle (the original “Annie”), Christopher Sieber (“Shrek”) and Annaleigh Ashford (“Kinky Boots”) will perform musical sets this February. McArdle’s show will run Feb. 10 to 15, Sieber’s show will be Feb. 11 and Ashford, who has already played one show at 54 Below, will perform again on Feb. 15.

On Feb. 13, 54 Below will host the NYU N’Harmonics. One of the university’s many a cappella clubs, they will perform a Valentine’s Day-themed concert.

The classic musical theater enthusiast can look forward to the concert on Feb. 16 titled “The Sound of Their Music: Rodgers and Hammerstein at 54 Below.” This celebration of the famous duo’s music will feature performers Sierra Boggess, Christine Andreas and Patricia Racette.

Joe’s Pub, a branch of the Public Theater that focuses on up-and-coming artists, is another excellent venue. On Feb. 24, will continue its concert series at Joe’s Pub with a tribute to composer Damon Intrabartolo (“bare”), who passed away last summer. Performers will include Megan Hilty (“Smash”).

Broadway talent performs all over New York City, not just between 42nd and 50th. Students looking for a wonderful performance that doesn’t require a small trust fund to afford should be sure to check out one of these concert venues and keep their eyes peeled for more opportunities around the city.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 5 print edition. Dylan Jarrett is books & theater editor. Email her at


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