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Shubert Organization eyeing major Off-Broadway complex

New World Stages. Photo: Howard Sherman
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The Shubert Organization, Broadway’s largest theatre owner with 17 houses, is poised to become a major player in the commercial Off-Broadway world.

According to a report in the New York Times, it is said to be negotiating to purchase New World Stages, an underground five-theatre complex located on 50th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Manhattan.

New World Stages is comprised of two 499-seat houses, two 350-seat houses and a 199-seat theatre. This would add significantly to the company’s Off Broadway portfolio, which currently includes 499-seat Little Shubert on 42nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, which opened in 2002.

New World Stages is a former movie theatre, renovated at a cost of $23 million and opened as a live venue in 2004. It is currently owned by the Dutch company Stage Entertainment, which took over operations in 2006.

It has in recent years become the venue of choice for Broadway shows looking to downsize, having been home since 2009 to Avenue Q, following the musical’s six-year Broadway run. Peter and the Starcatcher and Million Dollar Quartet also moved to New World Stages following their Broadway engagements, and a revival of Rent opened there in 2011, after the show’s 12 year Broadway run ended in 2008.

In addition to Avenue Q, New World Stages is currently home to Heathers, The Musical, which closes in early August.

Neither The Shubert Organization or Stage Entertainment would confirm the Times’ report.