By Anthony Paradiso

The Players Theatre. 115 MacDougal Street Between West 3rd & Bleecker Streets

Since the 1950s, a little theater house on MacDougal Street has served as a haven for off-Broadway plays and artists in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village. The theater can be spotted while walking on MacDougal Street, next to the Comedy Cellar on its left and Minetta Tavern just across Minetta Lane, because of the sign for the famous village nightclub “Café Wha” which exists in the theater’s basement. Let’s look at the history of this theater to give you a sense of its importance to the Village.

The theater and Café Wha were built in 1907. From then until the 1950s, it was a carriage house for police horses but was then converted into a theater. Not long after, Café Wha opened in 1959 and famous musicians and stand-up comics such as Bob Dylan and Richard Pryor got their starts- performing there. In 1992, Natalie Portman and Britney Spears appeared on stage at the theater in a performance of Ruthless!, an off-Broadway musical that ran for 342 performances, from March of 1992 to January, 1993.

This month, the main stage is showing a dark
comedy called Blood Countess, about a Hungarian noblewoman who allegedly was a serial killer.

Despite not being a large building, the Players Theatre houses two venues; the 50-seat Steve and Marie Sgouros Theater, and the larger “Main Stage” which can seat 199. This month, the main stage at the Theatre is showing a play called Blood Countess.

Sara Fellini, who works at the Theatre, explained the plot: “Elizabeth Bathóry was a Hungarian noblewoman who allegedly was a serial killer,” Fellini said. “So, its like a dark comedy which is historically based but also very fun.” Blood Countess’s first showing will be at 7:00 PM on Jan. 5 and will take place on the main stage. The play is produced by the “Spit & Vigor” theater company.

Meanwhile, a more lighthearted play called The Dog Show will premiere on Jan. 12 at 7:00 PM at the Steve and Marie Sgouros Theater. Fellini described The Dog Show as “a dark comedy about a broken family that returns to their once-thriving dog kennel to piece together their past.”