07/19/2013 12:18 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Why You Should Take Off-Broadway Seriously

It's a common misconception among casual theatre patrons that when a show is Off-Broadway, it's less prestigious or of lower quality than a Broadway show in New York.

In fact, Off-Broadway has nothing to do with the quality of the show -- it has not been "kicked off Broadway," as the name might suggest. It simply means the show is housed in a smaller venue, seating anywhere from 100 to 499 audience members. By contrast, New York's largest Broadway theatre, the Gershwin Theatre, seats nearly 2,000.

Off-Broadway shows provide a more intimate theatre experience, which is of great benefit to some productions. Here are some other things you might not know about seeing a show Off-Broadway:

• Like many Broadway shows, some run for a limited number of performances, but others have been running for more than a decade. The hit percussion show STOMP has been at the Orpheum Theatre for nearly 20 years.

• Broadway isn't the only place to see celebrity actors. Recently, Travelzoo has featured shows starring Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty).

• Your theatre may be nowhere near the actual Broadway street. Although many Off-Broadway venues are in the theatre District, they're spread around all over Manhattan. So, it's important to follow the cardinal rule of theatre-going in any city, for any show: Triple-check your tickets for curtain time and location.

• Several well-known Broadway shows got their start in smaller Off-Broadway venues. These include Avenue Q" which claimed the 2004 Tony Award for best musical and then moved back Off-Broadway to New World Stages, Little Shop of Horrors, and Rent.

When you're choosing a show, there's just as much variety Off-Broadway. Click here for deals on some of our favorite Off-Broadway shows this summer. Find New York City hotel deals and Manhattan entertainment discounts too on Travelzoo.

Kristyn Schiavone is a Travelzoo Deal Expert based in Chicago. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.