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5 best Off-Broadway Week shows that pack in the laughs and tears

Catch what could be the next Hamilton for half the price.


Shows don’t just waltz onto Broadway. They have to earn their place, which often happens in the smaller theaters sprinkled throughout the city, making them the best place to see edgier productions.The stars are just as big — Zachary Quinto is back onstage in the surrealist family dramaSmokefall, while Joshua Jackson is a Harvard scholar in the political satireSmart People— and there is always a chance you’ll see next year’s big hit in Times Square —Hamiltontook its first steps into the pages of history at the Public Theater.And duringOff-Broadway Week, which begins today through Feb. 14, many productions are offering two-for-one tickets.We picked five shows that will entertain, intrigue and move you to tears.


The Woodsman

“Wicked” started the trend of origin stories for fairy tale heroes and villains, but the witches of Oz aren’t the only ones who had a life before Dorothy blew in. The Tin Man started out flesh and blood, heart and all, as a man called Nick Chopper, and this is the story of the woman who inspired him to love, the witch who came between them, and how he ended up rusting on the side of the Yellow Brick Road. Strangemen & Co. bring the haunting story to life with life-size puppetry and original music. Through May 29, New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St.

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2 Across

The subway is an unlikely place to make a connection, but a psychologist and a former ad executive manage to find some common ground in their shared frustration over the New York Times crossword. You know they’ll puzzle each other out before getting to the end of the line, but between her abrasive wit and his persistent charm, the crossword is not the only thing causing tension. Through March 20, St. Luke's Theatre, 308 W. 46th St.


Shear Madness

It’s rare for a production to visit every city except NYC, but 37 years after it opened in Boston, this manic murder mystery has arrived. Set in a hair salon, the cast of characters are well into discussing the issues of the day, both news and gossip — each show is set on the actual day it plays, with punchlines as topical as anything on late-night TV — when they find out the old lady who lives upstairs has been murdered. It’s up to them, with help from the audience, to figure out what happened. Through Sept. 4, New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St.

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Straight

This world-premiere production opens just in time to get in on the Off-Broadway Week action on Feb. 9. “Degrassi” alum Jake Epstein plays a 26-year-old investment banker who likes what he’s supposed to — beer, sports, a girl named Emily — and a man he shouldn’t. This story of Millennial love wrestles with issues of identity, relationships and the moral issues of a generation that’s supposed to be beyond prejudices. Through May 8, Acorn Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.


Ruthless! The Musical

However badly you’ve ever wanted something in life, it’s not as much as Tina Denmark wants the lead role in her school play. Fans of the now-touring A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will enjoy watching the young starlet work her way through her rivals, aided by a sycophantic talent agent and a drama teacher who likes her style. “Ruthless!” has so much campy fun that you'll be missing your own high school musical days. Through April 2, St. Luke's Theatre, 308 W. 46th St.

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