After shutting down in spring 2020, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater will pull back the curtain on its new Lower East Side location at 242 East 14th Street this fall.
The comedy theater first opened its doors in the East Village in 1999. It gained a cult following for its daily improv, stand-up and sketch comedy shows, as well as its on-site classes. Its success allowed for it to also open up a sister outpost in Los Angeles. When Covid hit, the company decided to pull out of its New York City real estate. It wasn’t until the end of last year that its staff got a glimmer of hope that the theater would reopen in the city that never sleeps.
“There was a long time where we didn’t expect UCBT to reopen at all,” its managing art director Michael Hartney tells What Now New York.
Hartner and his co art directors Iliana Inocencio and Laura Canty-Samuel were tasked with finding a new theater space last year, ultimately settling on a Lower East Side spot that is optimally located nearby the 14th Street train station. The theater is slated to offer 130 seats with a spacious bar and lounge and will serve beer, wine, cider and snacks akin to its flagship.
The new location will also be under the new leadership of Hartner, Inocencio and Canty-Samuel who have decided to give their performers a share in the venue’s ticket revenue. Its autumn debut will showcase its most popular pre-pandemic shows Harold, Maude and Betty, all of which they are currently holding auditions for, as well as accepting submissions.
“Homecoming is going to be a real party,” Hartney says.
With a more accessible location, its art directors anticipate and welcome a wider audience.
“It’s going to be bigger and better,” Inocencio says about the new location. “It’s the same fun, risky, exciting comedy but with even more diverse perspectives.”
“We want our comedy to be as diverse as the train,” Canty-Samuel adds. “We want to see people with bold ideas. There’s no pay to play, which I think is one of the most impressive things about our theater.”