Situated in a prime Times Square location on the legendary 42nd Street is a beautiful, intimate theater that has become a crossroads for international performances; yet it often goes unremarked by both tourists and savvy theatergoers, perhaps because it is geared towards family entertainment rather than high-profile Broadway fare. Over the past few years, The New Victory Theater has introduced New Yorkers to some of the most innovative, breathtaking, and exciting theater that the world has to offer.
These productions certainly aren't being wasted on the young ones, who may well appreciate their humor and innovation even more than adult audiences. Still, one still can't help but feel that The New Victory is one of the best-kept secrets on Broadway. (Well...technically, it's just off Broadway.)
"[We're] the first theater for kids and families," says Lauren Daniluk, director of public relations for The New Victory. "That is our mission. What we try to do is to find the very best in the performing arts." The theater draws troupes and artists from around the globe, providing a 42nd Street home for shows that are both sophisticated and entertaining, sure to appeal to kids and adults alike.
The New Victory opened in 1995 as a major part of the "New 42nd Street" renovation. Built over 100 years ago by producer Oscar Hammerstein (the famed lyricist's father), it was originally a legitimate venue, then a burlesque house, and later a movie theater before The New 42nd Street Inc. took over the building, renovated it, and renamed it. Since then, a loyal audience has kept the seats full--and government subsidy has helped to keep the ticket prices astoundingly low ($10-$35 for general admission, $6-$15 for members). "Our strength is our membership program," says Daniluk, who notes that more than half the seats for the new season are already sold.
Opening The New Victory's season on September 15 will be Batoto Yetu, a dance troupe out of Harlem that celebrates African culture through puppetry, rhythm, and dance. Later, there will be circuses, acrobatics, and vaudeville from the Netherlands, China, Australia, etc. "What's exciting about this season," says Daniluk, "is that we're having a lot of our favorite companies come back." Among the returnees are the Young Vic (with Arabian Nights) and one of the kids' big favorites, Circus Oz.
In December, The New Victory will celebrate its fifth anniversary, and a big bash is planned. Details are secret as of now, but you can expect lots of fun and surprises--because that's what this gem of a theater is all about.