• Broadway Beat

OPINION: With Reduced Capacities, My Shower Should Be Considered an Off-Broadway Theater

by Haley Emerson. @haleyemerson_.

NEW YORK, New York — Not everyone knows that the only real difference between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway theaters is the number of seats. Yup, that’s right - all that prestige disparity, due to a few lousy seats. With theater re-openings on the imminent horizon, experts are predicting a serious cutback in all theater capacities in order to allow for social distancing.


Bearing in mind the decreased seating capacity facing Off-Broadway theaters, I’d like to submit a new venue for categorization — my shower.


What would be the first Upper East Side Off-Broadway venue, my shower is an intimate stage that would allow for residencies by up-and-coming theatrical talent, or even more established performers. The space is best suited for one-person shows, but two-handers aren’t out of the question. Imagine your favorite musical theater couple performing a back-to-basics concert of The Last Five Years (Erika Henningsen and Kyle Selig? Audra McDonald and Will Swenson? The possibilities are endless!).


With the decrease in seating availability due to COVID protocols, won’t we need more venues to accommodate the pent-up demand for live theater? The people are clamoring to experience that magic once again, and who are we to deny them that?


My shower may not look like the traditional theater venue, but that shouldn’t act as a deterrent. The acoustics are unparalleled, with no microphones or other equipment required. While the curtain may not be red and velveteen, it does have a whimsical nautical pattern, and can be easily switched out nightly to suit the performer’s preference. And just think of how convenient intermission bathroom breaks would be!


Shouldn’t we take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to democratize theater, which can be so elitist and exclusionary? Off-Broadway venues should not just be relegated to traditional theater spaces! Sweeney Todd’s pie shop production set the precedent for Off-Broadway - now let me set a new one.


If you’re interested in checking out the space (regardless of how The Establishment may categorize it), I’ll be putting on a one-woman production of Chicago this Thursday evening. Come check it out to see me nail all six parts of “Cell Block Tango”.