6 at Astor Pl.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
| Thru 8/01 |
|Awake and Sing!|
Joseph Papp bought the old Astor Library in 1967 with the vision of turning it into a headquarters for his fledgling arts organization, but he could not have foreseen the veritable fortress of stagecraft the former public library branch would become. The looming brick façade contains a restaurant and two bars; stage, lighting, and costume shops; and six performance spaces of varying size and style, from the 130-person Joe’s Pub to the Newman Theater, which seats 299. Several black-box spaces are ideal for lo-fi shows, while the regally vaulted Anspacher Stage—the former main reading room of the Astor—lends the whole operation an air of bygone elegance. True to its mission of incubating line-toeing acts (many of which have gone on to win Tonies, Obies, and Pulitzers), each January The Public hosts the Under the Radar festival, a showcase of independent and experimental theater from around the world. But perhaps the biggest allure is the price: the most you’ll pay for a ticket at The Public is $60, and $20 “rush” tickets are available at the box office an hour before each show starts.