New Kid on the Block: The Flea Theater

One could quibble that The Flea Theater, which was located at 41 White Street for just over two decades, hardly qualifies as a “new kid on the block.” But its new complex on Thomas is an impressive step forward. While getting a tour from producing director Carol Ostrow, I suggested that other theater companies have to be wondering how the Flea pulled it off.  “It didn’t just happen,” she said. “It took a long time.”

At 11,300 square feet, the new Flea is 25 percent larger than its previous incarnation. The mission, however, remains the same: “We’re still here to raise a ‘joyful hell in a small space,'” says Ostrow. “But that had become increasingly difficult in the old, cranky space. You had to walk up stairs to get inside, and there was only one way to get onstage.” She’s especially proud that the entire theater is ADA-compliant—for audience, cast, and crew.

There are three theaters, each named for an inspirational figure: On the first floor is the Pete (for the late playwright A.R. Gurney), with room for 40 people and an adjacent terrace that the Flea plans to use for site-specific works, parties, cabaret shows, and more. Downstairs is the 46-seat Siggy (for Sigourney Weaver, whose husband, director Jim Simpson, was a founder of the company). And upstairs is the Sam (after agent Sam Cohen), with room for around a hundred seats, in flexible formats.

Programming additions include Cereals, a series of “culturally diverse folk tales for kids” that runs on weekends, and Flea Fridays, pre-theater performances that cost $15 and include a beer or glass of wine. “They’re meant be little snippets,” says Ostrow. “You can go have dinner and come back for a play, or go off and do something else.” Currently scheduled for scattered dates, they will eventually be the first and third Fridays of each month.

Finally, Ostrow says that the Flea is “totally willing” to welcome the community—for meetings or what not—when the theaters aren’t in use, such as before noon.

The Flea Theater is at 20 Thomas (between Broadway and Trimble Place), 212-352-3101,

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1 Comment

  1. Bravo. This is a major feat for The Flea and