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There’s a Bright Spot in New York Theater. It’s Not Where You Think.

Broadway is struggling through a postpandemic funk, squeezed between higher production costs and lower audience numbers just as a bevy of new shows set sail into those fierce headwinds. At the same time, New York’s Off Broadway nonprofits, long essential seedbeds for many of the nation’s most acclaimed playwrights, are shedding staff, programming and even real estate.

But there is an unexpected bright spot this season. Commercial Off Broadway, a small sector of New York’s theatrical economy and one that has for years been somewhere between difficult and dormant, is back in business.

“Oh, Mary!,” a madcap comedy that imagines Mary Todd Lincoln as a daffy alcoholic, is selling out nightly at a 295-seat theater in the West Village, and is likely to transfer to Broadway this summer. Eddie Izzard’s solo “Hamlet” did well enough at a 199-seat theater in Greenwich Village that it relocated to a 349-seat house in the East Village, and next is planning runs in Chicago and London.

A commercial revival of “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” an early John Patrick Shanley play about two misfits who meet at a Bronx bar, had a profitable run downtown this season thanks to its two stars, Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott. A new play, “Job,” featuring two “Succession” alums, rode word-of-mouth to profitability, and is also exploring a Broadway transfer.

Ticket seekers waited in the cancellation line before a recent performance of “Oh, Mary!” at the Lucille Lortel Theater.Credit…Clark Hodgin for The New York Times

And a pair of good-time musicals, “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Titanique,” have settled in for open-ended Off Broadway runs.

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