Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia! and Legally Blonde may be off the menu as a strike by Broadway stagehands enters its 12th day. So how about Crime and Punishment?

Talks between striking stagehands and theater owners and producers broke down on Sunday and no new negotiations are scheduled, ensuring that some 25 productions will remain dark. In the meantime, visitors to New York have been venturing into the less familiar territory known as Off Broadway.

We have definitely seen a boost in ticket sales since the strike began, said Kelly Davis, a spokeswoman for the 59E59 theater, where a 90-minute adaptation of the Fyodor Dostoevsky novel has been playing to packed houses.

With eight exceptions -- including Young Frankenstein, the Disney musical Mary Poppins and a revival of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion starring Claire Danes -- most Broadway shows are shuttered.

Theaters are refunding tickets and tourists are scrambling to change plans. Some fans are turning to Off Broadway, smaller venues that are not on the Great White Way.

Same-day sales for Masked, a play about three Palestinian brothers written by Israeli playwright Ilan Hatsor, received a boost from the strike, a spokesman for the production said.

The same is true for Secret Order, a biomedical thriller about a young man who thinks he has found the cure to cancer, which opened at 59E59 on the same weekend that the strike began and played in previews to a packed house.

Secret Order executive producer Peter Tear said crowds were more diverse than usual.

Off Broadway musicals were also getting extra attention. Altar Boyz, about a Christian-themed boy band, is being offered as an alternative to better-known musicals.


The suburbs, too, are reaching out to frustrated theater fans. This week, the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut, an hour from New York City, announced a discount holiday package for its production of A Christmas Carol.

We want to keep theater in people's lives, Tazewell Thompson, Playhouse artistic director, told the Web site Westport Now. The Playhouse has all the production values of Broadway.

Michael Taylor, whose job it is to assist theater patrons looking for discounted tickets in Times Square, the heart of the theater district, now spends his days doling out the plot synopses of lesser-known plays and musicals.

They're all doing better because there's not much to choose from, he said. And the Off Broadway guys, they are delighted.

Off Broadway listings can be found on (Editing by Daniel Trotta and Jackie Frank)