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New York's best: The top things to do in NYC

Find New York City's best restaurants, bars, theater, events and live music with our authoritative guide to the best Gotham has to offer

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Find the best things to see and do in New York City right now—from Gotham's best restaurants and bars to rooftop films and burlesque. In these best-of lists, our editors spotlight the superlative events and venues that'll keep you cultured and entertained all year long. Ready? Let's get going!

Things to do

The best things to do in New York this winter

Shake off the cold with the festivals, concerts and culture you can’t miss this season

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Restaurants

100 best New York restaurants

From unimpeachable classics to buzzy newcomers, these are the spots to know right now

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Things to do

50 best NYC attractions

Prioritize your sightseeing with this guide to the city's best museums, parks and historic sites

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Bars

Outdoor drinking spots for fall

Celebrate the fall with something boozy and delicious at our pick of the best outdoor bars in NYC

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Things to do

Best free things to do in NYC

We’ve got the best free events, shows, parties and things to do in town right here—no money down

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Bars

50 best New York bars

From dives to cocktail dens, here are the best bars to visit right this second

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Theater

Best Broadway shows

The musicals, plays and revivals to see now

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Restaurants

100 best dishes and drinks

Check out this year’s roundup of awe-worthy dishes and drinks

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Things to do

New York's 10 best beaches

Summer's here! Plan a beach outing with our guide to New York City's best seaside retreats. Most popular in Attractions & Days Out Popular features in Things to Do The New York bucket list Here are the ten New York experiences you simply can’t miss. Cheap date ideas for fun-seeking New Yorkers Don’t fret, penny-pincher—each of these fun cheap date ideas will cost you $30 or less. Don’t be a tourist: Find in-the-know things to do in New York Tired of swamped tourist traps, huh? Check out these alternative things to do in New York. A visit to one of NYC's beaches is a great way to cool off during the city's sticky summer. The best part: They're totally free. Visit these spots if you need a weekend escape. Or if you'd like to go further out, see our list of off-the-beaten-track beaches, all an hour away or less. The city-run beaches are open for swimming from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. RECOMMENDED: Summer in New York guide Tweets about "@timeoutnewyork" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); 1. Fort Tilden Beach NYC’s best-kept secret is open again after its year-and-a-half-long rehabilitation following Hurricane Sandy. This lifeguard-free three-mile stretch of clean sand, trees and grassy dunes is so isolated that even on a summer weekend you’ll get a good 50 yards of bea

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Best things to do by borough

Things to do

Manhattan

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Brooklyn

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Queens

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Bronx

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Staten Island

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See the best things to do by neighborhood

New York restaurants

Restaurants

Best coffee shops in New York

Perk yourself up with caffeine and a pastry at these coffee shops and espresso bars New York's dizzying landscape of coffee shops, baristas and cafés may make you want to give up and settle for a bodega-sourced buzz. Thankfully, we’ve cut through the noise to bring you this list of the best coffee shops and espresso bars in New York City. From staples like Blue Bottle Coffee to new coffee shops like The Roost and Two Hands, here are the top spots to grab a cup o' joe. Abraço This international coffeeshop and espresso bar draws on Spanish, Italian and Middle Eastern traditions. Snacks like olive-oil cake, cured-olive cookies and pain perdu with sweet ricotta are offered alongside espresso drinks made from Counter Culture Coffee beans. Blue Bottle Coffee Before this Williamsburg coffee bar and roastery came along, the only place in New York where you could find San Francisco’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee was at Gramercy Tavern. Now caffeine fanatics can sample the company’s shots of espresso and cups of joe—made to order from freshly roasted, mostly organic beans—without dropping a wad of cash on a dinner. Iced-coffee fans in particular should take note: Five contraptions from Japan slowly cold-drip Kyoto-style brew, while those who like to add milk should consider the stronger New Orleans-style preparation, fortified with chicory. Café Grumpy Husband-and-wife-owned Cafe Grumpy might have an extensive drink menu, but the baristas' utter dedication to the almighty bean is no less

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Restaurants

Best diners and luncheonettes

New York diners are exemplars of comfort, convenience and nostalgia—here are the best diners and greasy spoons across the boroughs New York City is flush with top-rate fine-dining restaurants, but even we highbrow Gothamites like to trade white-linen tables for weathered Formica from time to time. Enter: the diner, those all-day havens of squeaky leather booths, sizzling flattop grills and stick-to-your-ribs comfort fare. From brunch in the a.m. to burgers in the p.m., these are the best diners in NYC. Academy Restaurant A steadfast standard of the neighborhood, Academy Restaurant has held strong in Fort Greene’s rapidly changing surroundings. As new eateries and coffee shops pop up, Academy, with it’s unassuming exterior and equally as modest interior, could easily be overlooked if not for the massive signage out front. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and certainly don’t judge a diner by its paint job: The food is always hot, the staff is always accommodating and the menu is damn cheap for the area. Alpha Donuts Alpha Donuts may appear to be a simple donut shop from outside it’s Queens Boulevard storefront, but inside you’ll find it’s a classic New York diner seemingly untouched by time. The people behind the small Formica counter greet neighborhood locals by name while serving up classic greasy-spoon fare such as thick-cut French toast, a full Irish breakfast and fried-chicken sandwiches. Of course, if all you need is a glazed donut and coffee to go, you’ll still be in goo

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Restaurants

Best burgers in NYC

The quest for the perfect burger is on! Eat your way though the city's most beloved patties. Most popular in Food & Drink Like the Subway Series, the large-soda ban and Anthony Weiner’s fitness for office, the topic of best burger in NYC can fuel furious debate among New Yorkers, fans staking out their affinity with impassioned fervor. In a diverse landscape of patty melts, double doubles, fancy chef creations and more, there’s a burger out there for every diner, whether you grew up eating at a bistro in France or an In-N-Out in California. Gotham restaurants have been putting a fancy spin on the humble sandwich since the iconic ‘21’ Club put out its duck-fat “haute” version in the 1950s (see Hamburger history for more fascinating trivia). In recent years, we’ve seen the meteoric ascent of Shake Shack, the weirdest burgers popping up in New York restaurants and a slew of new burgers tricked out with primo ingredients. Taste your way through our lists to decide on your favorite.RECOMMENDED: Best restaurants by cuisine More Food & Drink features 100 best restaurants From unimpeachable classics to buzzy newcomers courting the food-world cognoscenti, these are the 100 best New York restaurants you need to know about right now. Food & Drink Awards 2014 The year's best restaurants and bars in New York City—you voted for your favorites, we picked ours too! The technology revolution has hit our tables, with iPhones more ubiquitous than saltshakers and any great meal snapped and

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Restaurants

Best New York pizza

Our five-borough tour of the best New York pizza skips from legendary institutions to new-wave joints. Here are the reigning pies in Gotham. Most popular in Restaurants In 1905, Lombardi’s opened as New York's first pizzeria, bringing the simple Italian dish to Gotham. Owner Gennaro Lombardi helped train a generation of pizzaioli, dispatching thin-crust acolytes all over the city: Patsy Lancieri over to East Harlem with Patsy’s, John Sasso to the West Village with John’s of Bleecker Street, and Anthony Pero out to Coney Island with Totonno’s. Since then, a new generation has ushered in traditional Neapolitan-style pies (Kesté Pizza & Vino), wildly creative toppings (Paulie Gee’s) and, of course, the fried-pizza craze (Forcella). The onetime exotic immigrant food is now synonymous with Gotham, and arguing over the city’s best pizza has become a classic New York pastime. With that in mind, we trekked all over town to find out if old favorites still lived up to their reputation and if new pizzerias could rise to the fierce competition. Here are the best New York pizza spots. RECOMMENDED: Complete New York pizza guide You might also like NYC’s 12 best sushi restaurants Gotham's new pizza mecca City's greatest bagels and lox New York's top BBQ joints Tweets about "@timeoutnewyork" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs

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New York bars

Bars

Best beer gardens and beer halls

Brewhounds can keep the suds flowing at these drinking destinations Most popular bars Imbibing alfresco is one of our favorite things to do in New York City and beer gardens are some of the best outdoor bars. Booze away a sunny day with a cold pint of beer at one of these biergartens in warmer months, then cozy up inside a suds hall when it gets cold. More Food & Drink features Best beer in New York City Get the lowdown on the best beer bars to open within the past year, tastings and other boozy happenings Best poutine in NYC From cheese-curd purists to newfangled updates, here are New York’s best takes on that Canadian junk-food classic 50 best brunch places Browse through our full list or choose your next brunch spot by category Andaz Wall Street Chill out beneath the umbrellas and choose from four draft options. German suds are well represented (try the balanced, hoppy Spaten Premium lager, $7), and the menu elevates beer-hall basics, serving both brats and Hudson Valley duck-and-fennel sausages ($5 each). Beer Authority This bar’s debut upped the midtown drinking game with a serious brew roster comprising 80 international craft drafts and 100 bottles. During the milder months, office escapees relax on the roof-deck bar, covered by a tent or umbrellas, depending on the weather. Sip Southern Tier Pumking ($7) and Cigar City Jai Abi IPA ($9) from the two casks on hand, or try the Boulder Shake chocolate porter ($9) on tap. Round out your session with such classic pub gr

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Bars

NYC's best rooftop bars

Have a cocktail high above the city and take in spectacular views at one of the best elevated bars in NYC The best NYC rooftops NYC's best rooftop bars Have a cocktail high above the city and take in spectacular views at one of the best elevated bars in NYC Cool things to do on NYC rooftops Don’t limit your rooftop activities to downing 40s, dude. Discover open-air spots where you can rock out, catch a flick, find your center, get dirty and okay, even drink—like an adult.  Rooftop Films summer series in NYC It's better than a drive-in! Watch great indie films, documentaries and more under the stars at this outdoor summer movie series. 10 non-douchey rooftop bars We all love a good rooftop bar with the breeze and the booze and the pretty sites for our eyes. But nothing ruins a night out or a nice bit of day drinking like an obnoxious crowd. You know the kind. The Beckys and Chads of the world.  Lucky for us, non-douchey rooftop bars do exist. Here are 10 of the best ones for you to check out, asshole-free™. From trendy Midtown clubs to laid-back Park Slope hidden gems, Time Out has found the best rooftop bars in NYC. Read on for our guide to the city’s 30 coolest elevated drinkeries, and find out where you can sip a cocktail or a beer with a gorgeous view of the city surrounding you. RECOMMENDED: Best summer drinks in NYC Summer drinking in NYC Best rooftop bars Have a cocktail high above the city and take in spectacular views at one of the best rooftop bars in NYC. Summ

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Bars

Best beer in New York City

Get the lowdown on the best beer bars to open within the past year, tastings and other boozy happenings, and more Most popular bars Good news, beer lovers: NYC’s craft-beer scene is as strong as ever. Check out our city-spanning guide to the best beer bars, sudsy soirees for novices and vets alike, and the best bets for New York City Beer Week. RECOMMENDED: All of New York's best bars More Food & Drink features 100 best restaurants From unimpeachable classics to buzzy newcomers courting the food-world cognoscenti, these are the 100 best New York restaurants you need to know about right now. Food & Drink Awards 2014 The year's best restaurants and bars in New York City—you voted for your favorites, we picked ours too! The technology revolution has hit our tables, with iPhones more ubiquitous than saltshakers and any great meal snapped and shared before a fork scrapes the plate. In that spirit, we're honoring the best restaurants and bars New York served up this year, including new-age beer haunts, polished New-American dining rooms and a high-marked Mexican canteen. See if your favorites earned top marks, as well as our 10 critics' picks. 2014 Food & Drink Awards Readers’ choice winners We nominated dozens of the city’s best restaurants, bars and chefs. You picked 10 victors. Here are your Readers' Choice winners for 2014. Another food-and-drink-filled year has come and gone. In 2014, we saw a wave of amped-up Asian, nouveau steakhouses and an Italian juggernaut. Here ar

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Bars

Best Bloody Marys in New York City

Brunchtime bastion and New York icon the Bloody Mary turns a cool 80 years old—and she’s never looked better The origins of the Bloody Mary, that hangover-cure godsend of vodka and tomato juice, are as murky as its contents. But the modern-day iteration, a brunch favorite redolent with horseradish and hot sauce, was perfected right here in Gotham, by French barman Fernand Petiot at the St. Regis Hotel 80 years ago this year. Since then, the cocktail has been tweaked with abandon, from subtly upturned flavors to outright spirit swapping. Whether classic or with a cool twist, these Bloody Marys are bloody good. Red Snapper at The King Cole Bar The quintessential Fun fact: When Petiot introduced his vodka-and-tomato concoction to the St. Regis’s King Cole Bar in 1934, the name Bloody Mary was deemed too vulgar for the hotel’s chichi clientele, and it was thus rechristened the Red Snapper. The bar’s signature drink hasn’t changed much in those eight decades: It’s still silky smooth with rich tomato, but a delayed kick of smoky cayenne pepper leaves lips tingling. Though heavy-handed on the booze—not that we’re complaining—a thick lemon wedge is wrung for full-force tang to cut both the spirit and sweet veg juice. $24. Green (Bay) Bloody Mary at Bar Sardine The Mary of a different color This striking chartreuse glass will catch you by surprise twice: first with a punch of tart tomatillo, more sour than its sweet red cousin, and then with a hit of house-made serrano hot sauce that

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Broadway and New York theater

Theater

Best Broadway shows

So you want to catch a few Broadway shows? Time Out New York's theater critics offer the perfect short list of the most exciting plays, musicals and revivals on Broadway. Each year more than 12 million people—locals and tourists—take in a Broadway show. It’s been this way for more than a century, Broadway as the epicenter of New York’s bustling theatrical life. Time Out New York’s theater critics offer their top picks and favorite shows. Whether it’s date night, a family outing or you’re going solo, here’s the best tips for what spectacular entertainment is right for you. Anything Goes "There's no cure like travel to help you unravel the worries of living today," sing the sailors of the SS American as they prepare for a transatlantic journey at the start of Anything Goes. Roundabout Theatre Company's shipshape revival of this Cole Porter vehicle, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, doesn't pretend to offer anything more (or less) than just such old-fashioned escapism: a nostalgia trip on a big Broadway liner.Like good meringue, insubstantiality requires skill to whip up. A total of six book writers are credited with the knowingly flimsy setting for Porter's jewellike score: a mildly naughty nautical farce involving gangsters, socialites, Yale men, a jazz singer and a pair of Chinese gamblers. In 1934, the show was already something of a throwback; its original script was by the English wags Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, who had collaborated with Jerome Kern on the Princess Theatre musicals of the 1910s.Since then, Anything Goes has been overhauled more regularly and extensively than any other major work in the Broadway-musical canon, with the possible exception of Pal Joey. Tailored to the talents of stars Ethel Merman (as nightclub chanteuse Reno Sweeney), William Gaxton (as oft-disguised romantic lead Billy Crocker) and Victor Moore (as adorable criminal Moonface Martin), the script underwent a complete rewrite by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse prior to its Broadway debut. Two unfaithful film adaptations followed, as well as a reconceived 1962 Off Broadway revival.The version of Anything Goes that is currently afloat at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre is essentially the one that was concocted for Lincoln Center's hit 1987 revival, which starred Patti LuPone as Reno. By this time, the musical's weightlessness had become part of its charm. Its newest book writers—Russel Crouse's son, Timothy, and another second-generation Broadway librettist, John Weidman—modeled their treatment on the 1934 version, with a few Porter standards added in to sweeten the pot, including "It's De-lovely" and "Easy to Love." (The latter was actually written for the original production, but cut at Gaxton's behest.)Those songs and the score's other highlights, such as "I Get a Kick Out of You," represent golden-age Broadway craftsmanship at its finest. The witty range of metaphors with which Reno and Billy out-compliment each other in "You're the Top," which extends the concept of excellence from Keats and Shelley to Mickey Mouse and cellophane, is typical of Porter's finesse at mixing highbrow and lowbrow elements into a single—unibrow?—sensibility.If Porter is the star of Marshall's revival, it's partly because he doesn't have much competition. A pert, plucky triple threat, Sutton Foster carries the bulk of the score as Reno, and holds her own in the big numbers---especially in Marshall's undulating staging of the title song, which builds in waves and cascades in pleasing rushes of tap dance. Omnicapable though she is, however, Foster is a tomboy in a role built for a broad. LuPone's vocals in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" exploded like a trumpet of lust; there's just nothing very horny about Foster. She anchors the show, but doesn't have the weight to stop it.Yet who else, realistically, could be cast as Reno? Broadway doesn't seem to mint broads anymore. Older comic character actors are in wider supply, though, so the Roundabout could have skipped the revival's one real misstep: Joel Grey's strange, precious performance as the lovable goon Moonface Martin. Grey is musical-theater royalty, of course, but here he misses the boat. His "Friendship" duet with Foster is anemic, and the staging of his solo number, "Be Like the Bluebird"—in which he does a soft-shoe with a Tinkerbellish blue spotlight—puts a double dose of twee in "tweet, tweet."Below the title, things start looking up. Colin Donnell is a deft, full-voiced and romantically persuasive Billy; as Hope, the pretty young lady he pines for, Laura Osnes knows how to give an ingenue some spine. The gangling Adam Godley nearly steals the show as her befuddled British fianc—he's a terrific comic dancer—and Arrested Development's Jessica Walter is enjoyably tart as her mother. Rounding out the cast with aplomb are Jessica Stone as a sailor-friendly floozy and the invaluable John McMartin as a perpetually sloshed millionaire.Polished and restored in ways that emphasize its status as a musical-theater antique, the Cole-powered ship that is Anything Goes doesn't aim to transport you. What it does provide is smooth sailing—no small thing in Broadway's iceberg-ridden waters. The show still works as a pleasure cruise: Get on board, sit back and just enjoy the view as the old showboat glides comfortably on.—Adam FeldmanFollow Adam Feldman on Twitter. The Best Man Last time Gore Vidal’s 1960 political potboiler was on Broadway, there was another presidential election under way: the 2000 contest. Back then, the play seemed like a perfect fit: The backroom showdown between thoughtful and sensitive ex–Secretary of State Bill Russell and dirty-fighting, callow Senator Joe Cantwell mapped neatly onto Gore and Bush, respectively. But this year? What theater piece could adequately capture the orgy of vileness that is the current race for the White House? Vulgar religious bigots, dead-eyed plutocrats, philandering boors; mounting Marat/Sade or Ubu Roi would be the proper artistic response to the political moment. And yet Jeffrey Richards (who was also behind the last revival of The Best Man) has brought the chestnut back, in a sterling production that makes a vibrant argument for Vidal’s perceptive look at the sad farce of choosing American leaders. Michael Wilson shepherds a tight, propulsive staging; speeches pop and stakes remain high. Just as Wilson gets a blue-ribbon troupe of character actors all on the same page, he gathers the whole audience into the same convention hall: The house of the Schoenfeld is draped in patriotic bunting and signs announcing state delegations (Montana, California, etc.). John Gromada’s evocative sound design wraps us in a caucus-hum of speeches, cheering crowds and news reports. This environmental surround (primarily used during the intermissions) keeps our energy up and our minds focused on the goal as Vidal’s three-act amorality tale plays out. The cast is stuffed with worthies having a blast: James Earl Jones as feisty ex-POTUS Arthur Hockstader; Angela Lansbury as the gimlet-eyed chair of a woman’s committee; and the blazing Jefferson Mays as a proto–Swift Boat mudslinger. Holding the center with grace and assurance are Eric McCormack and John Larroquette, both physically assured, perfectly cast leading men. Between two such complex, opposing forces, the choice is tough indeed.—David Cote Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote The Book of Mormon If theater is your religion and the Broadway musical your sect, you've been woefully faith-challenged of late. Venturesome, boundary-pushing works such as Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Next to Normal closed too soon. American Idiot was shamefully ignored at the Tonys and will be gone in three weeks. Meanwhile, that airborne infection Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark dominates headlines and rakes in millions, without even opening. Celebrities and corporate brands sell poor material, innovation gets shown the door, and crap floats to the top. It's enough to turn you heretic, to sing along with The Book of Mormon's Ugandan villagers: "Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-a, fuck you in the eye."Such deeply penetrating lyrics offer a smidgen of the manifold scato-theological joys to be had at this viciously hilarious treat crafted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, and composer-lyricist Robert Lopez, who cowrote Avenue Q. As you laugh your head off at perky Latter-day Saints tap-dancing while fiercely repressing gay tendencies deep in the African bush, you will be transported back ten years, when The Producers and Urinetown resurrected American musical comedy, imbuing time-tested conventions with metatheatrical irreverence and a healthy dose of bad-taste humor. Brimming with cheerful obscenity, sharp satire and catchy tunes, The Book of Mormon is a sick mystic revelation, the most exuberantly entertaining Broadway musical in years.The high quality of the writing, design and direction (the latter duty shared by Parker and the seasoned Casey Nicholaw) should surprise no one: Parker and Stone have been honing their musical-theater chops for nearly two decades. The team's student film, Cannibal! The Musical, was made in 1993, and in 1999, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut was aptly (if cheekily) hailed as the year's best new musical. More recently, Team America: World Police paid snarky homage to Rent with the parody ballad "Everyone Has AIDS." As for Lopez, his long-running puppets-behaving-badly hit speaks for itself. These song-and-dance pranksters were destined to one day mock the Church of Latter-day Saints, an institution that, like the Broadway musical, is a singularly American invention.Starting off in (where else?) Salt Lake City, Utah, The Book of Mormon follows a mismatched pair of proselytizers, Elders Price (Rannells) and Cunningham (Gad). The former is the clean-cut ideal of a Mormon doorbell-pusher: white-bread, well-groomed and safely asexual. Cunningham, however, is a fat, slovenly manchild who tends to lie. Despite Price's callow wish to be assigned missionary work in Orlando, Florida, the two are sent to save souls in war-torn, AIDS-ravaged, poverty-stricken Uganda. The dawning horror on Rannells's face and the spastic, gleeful incomprehension on Gad's upon hearing the news is priceless. The evolving friendship between their two characters lays the emotional foundation for the show, and gives even the cruelest jokes about disease, racism and homophobic self-loathing a sweetish, innocent finish. That human dimension reminds you that the long-lived comic genius of South Park (heading into its 15th year) relies on children blinded by navet, but who can see through society's lies.Likewise, by smashing together two disparate worlds—prim, über-Caucasoid Mormons and long-suffering, hope-starved Africans—the creators can lampoon Western illusions about that complex, troubled continent (the anthem "I Am Africa" is sung by distinctly pale cast members), while scoring laughs off the sort of horrors that should never be put on a Broadway stage ("I have maggots in my scrotum" is a recurring lament). We chortle disgustedly at an African man who thinks raping a baby will cure his AIDS (a documented crime), but truly grotesque is the notion that a couple of Bible-toting white boys can be of any real help.In fact, the uses and abuses of faith, the strange persistence of these ancient (or in the case of Mormonism, not so ancient) bedtime stories, is a central theme. Religion, the creators firmly point out, is showbiz, and the satire bites into both the absurdities of Joseph Smith and his angel Moroni, and the intoxicating frivolity of musicals. Of the dozen or so classics referenced by musical pastiche, sight gag or laugh line, there's Wicked, Pacific Overtures, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Music Man, The Lion King (naturally) and The Producers.Such a magpie aesthetic makes perfect sense for a show that examines, with impressive insight, cultural transmission, adaptation and assimilation. "It was a bunch of stuff you made up," Price says to comfort Cunningham, who fabricates a wildly blasphemous version of Mormonism for the natives. "But it pointed to something bigger." Just so, The Book of Mormon is more than a collection of offensive jokes about female genital mutilation, bestiality and Mormon kitsch; it's about our ineradicable hunger for narrative and mystery—no matter how weird, sick or damnably fake.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. Chicago This John Kander–Fred Ebb–Bob Fosse favorite—revived by director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking—tells the saga of chorus girl Roxie Hart, who murders her lover and, with the help of a huckster lawyer, becomes a vaudeville star.—David Cote Clybourne Park Bruce Norris's button-pushing 2010 comedy finally makes it to the Great White Way—after a very public spat between the stubborn author and ex-producer Scott Rudin. But forget that slapfest: The real battles are onstage in this sharp, scalding, bleakly funny satire on race, class and real estate, which retains its pitch-perfect original cast. Death of a Salesman “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away,” rages the soon-to-be cashiered salesman, far past his prime, with a head fogged in memories and a heart in shards. “A man is not a piece of fruit!” To borrow Willy Loman’s orchard metaphor, Philip Seymour Hoffman still has plenty of pulp: He’s 20 years younger than the character he plays in Mike Nichols’s magnificent, bracing revival of Death of a Salesman. Whereas firing aged workers is common enough in business, most 44-year-olds would not be hired for Willy on the basis of youth (admittedly, Lee J. Cobb was 38 when he originated the role in 1949). But Hoffman makes Willy his own: stamping the iconic figure with hangdog gravitas, slow-burning humiliation, fast-flaring passion and a genius for making each moment acute and dangerously raw. In short, Hoffman is stupendous; I can’t wait to see him do it again when he’s retirement age.He’s also not working in a vacuum, often a danger with celebrity vehicles. In fact, the actor’s penchant for weary, bruised numbness actually clears dramatic space around him, letting other cast members fill in the blanks of Arthur Miller’s elegiac wake-up call for American dreamers. As a paragon of spousal loyalty, Linda Emond radiates rueful common sense as Linda. Andrew Garfield’s defeated, self-loathing Biff rivals Hoffman for sheer visceral punch. And Finn Wittrock’s Happy is the eternally neglected second son, using good looks to win the attention from women he never got from dad. Together they are persuasive as a real family and as a microcosm of society corroded by capitalism. Willy’s Horatio Alger notion of success—the unfettered individual making his fortune in the world—leads to an atomized clan in which each member is isolated, lonely, unconnected. It’s the modern family as a failed business model.If Nichols had cast just the central leads smartly, there would still be plenty to savor, but down the line you won’t find a single weak performance or slack beat in this remarkably tight and muscular staging. The scenes crackle, Miller’s poetry sings and the machinery of domestic tragedy clicks horribly into place. “After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive,” muses Willy bleakly as he sees a life insurance policy as the only guarantee of an income for his cash-strapped wife and feckless sons. That same grim thought must have occurred to countless citizens in recent years, facing chronic unemployment, foreclosure and crushing debt. Willy, comparatively, has it good: the aforementioned policy and a paid-up mortgage. As a grieving Linda notes in the play’s incomprehensibly sad final lines, “We’re free.”In terms of design and direction, there’s no attempt to tart up Salesman for modern tastes or strip it down for archetypal minimalism (the latter Robert Falls’s valid approach with Brian Dennehy in 1999). This is the original-practices school of reviving classics: Follow the blueprints, read the instructions and build it carefully. Jo Mielziner’s original 1949 set design has been scrupulously re-created, and it perfectly captures the play’s mix of household intimacy and urban anomie: the Loman home as a squat cell with shadowy buildings towering behind it. Brian MacDevitt’s lights melt gracefully from sepia-tinted nostalgia to nauseous-gray dawn. And, of course, operating the heavy machinery with a steady hand is Mike Nichols, who makes certain that attention is paid to an American masterwork that still has the power to stun, amaze and electrify. Willy, you haven’t aged a bit.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. Jersey Boys A star is reborn in Jersey Boys when the puppyish John Lloyd Young takes vocal wing, channeling the legendary thrills and trills of Four Seasons frontman Frankie Valli. As Young's bright falsetto rings through the air, the August Wilson Theatre becomes a rejuvenation room, transforming baby boomer women into screaming Valli girls in the throes of Young love.With Jersey Boys, the Broadway musical has finally done right by the jukebox, presenting the Four Seasons' infectiously energetic 1960s tunes as they were intended to be performed. True, the script adheres closely to the dramatic beats of a VH1 biopic: building bridges in the first act, delving into tunnels in the second. But under Des McAnuff's sleek direction, the result feels canny instead of canned. And Bob Gaudio's music, as sung by a dynamic cast and shaped by Steve Canyon Kennedy's exemplary audio design, sounds as good as it ever did (and sometimes---blasphemy!---even better).That the audience responds to the actors as though they were the Four Seasons themselves is testament to Jersey Boys' equanimity in its treatment of its lead characters, who include the affable Gaudio (Reichard) as well as the incorrigibly delinquent Tommy DeVito (Hoff) and the inscrutable Nick Massi (Spencer). As each of these men---clean-cut singers with rough-hewn pasts---tells his side of their history, it becomes clear that although Young may lead the pack, this is a ultimately a show for all Seasons.---Adam Feldman Jesus Christ Superstar What now to do about Jesus Christ Superstar—parable, musical, ’70s kitsch? Conceived as an album, then moved to the stage in 1971, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s pop opera is a motley union of high and low: classical strains and rock riffs, biblical storytelling and savvy spin, timeless story and somewhat dated telling. Rice’s libretto takes straightforward versions of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Pontius Pilate—and, until the end, Judas—and transplants them into the potted soil of post-Warholian media celebrity. “What’s the buzz?” ask the Apostles. “One thing I’ll say for him: Jesus is cool,” concedes the high priest Caiaphas. “Prove to me that you’re no fool,” Herod taunts Christ. “Walk across my swimming pool!” Des McAnuff’s Broadway revival, imported from Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival, is powerfully sung, strikingly designed and almost totally humorless. Paul Nolan’s Jesus is especially careful in this regard: Handsomely leonine and blessed with a preternatural screech-tenor range, Nolan plays Jesus with one long “haunted, hunted” look; he’s an eerily passive cult leader, prone to occasional bursts of extreme-vocal anger. Josh Young’s Judas, more sensitive and sensual, seems locked in a subtle love triangle with Jesus and Chilina Kennedy’s well-acted Mary; Tom Hewitt seasons Pilate with the actor’s usual heavy-lifting acumen. Only Bruce Dow is allowed to go comic in Herod’s overtly campy (and vaguely homophobic) number; otherwise the production is as serious as church. And although McAnuff’s approach leads to occasional moments of deadpan by default, it brings Jesus Christ Superstar’s serious side to blazing life. The dramaturgy groans, but the music sounds terrific and the stagecraft is often inspired.—Adam Feldman The Lion King Director and designer Julie Taymor takes a reactionary Disney cartoon about the natural right of kings—in which the circle of life is putted against a queeny villain and his jive-talking ghetto pals—and transforms it into a gorgeous celebration of color and movement. The movie’s Elton John–Tim Rice score is expanded with African rhythm and music, and through elegant puppetry, Taymor populates the stage with an amazing menagerie of beasts; her audacious staging expands a simple cub into the pride of Broadway, not merely a fable of heredity but a celebration of heritage.—Adam Feldman Mary Poppins Often tarred as a juggernaut with a monolithic approach to separating parents from their hard-earned cash, Disney has actually spawned an interesting range of musicals over the past decade. There has been the Slavishly Faithful Theme Park Atrocity (Beauty and the Beast), the Teen-Oriented Pop Pageant (Aida), the High Concept Flop (Tarzan) and one artistic success, the Artful Ethnic Spectacle (The Lion King). Now, with Mary Poppins, comes a strange new beast for Uncle Walt’s menagerie: the Integrated Musical That Adults Can Enjoy. At this rate, Disney may well generate its own Sondheim by 2076.Based equally on the famed 1964 movie and P.L. Travers’s original, darker novel, the story should be familiar: Overworked and emotionally distant parents (Jenkins, Luker) hire an efficient but odd nanny (Brown) to tame beastly brats. Said nanny turns out to be a good witch who teaches the children lessons about laboring cheerfully and obeying authority. Poppins enlists the help of chimney sweep Bert (the feather-footed Lee) and various magically animated toys and statues that may frighten the children, but turn out to be harmless.Happily, Mary Poppins is not so benign: It’s a smart, dark-hued extravaganza crisply staged by Richard Eyre and wittily choreographed by Matthew Bourne. Julian Fellowes’s droll, economical book establishes surprisingly sympathetic characters and decent dramatic stakes in the family plotline. Of course, if you’re tired and just want to forget about your kids for two hours, they should be mesmerized by Bob Crowley’s looming, eye-popping sets and the flying effects. Hey, it’s Disney: Let it take care of the tykes. — David Cote Newsies No one knows what to do with newspapers these days. They kill trees, get your fingers smeary and, in the event their stories are actually true, lag behind the Internet. Anyone who works at a daily (or even—gulp!—a weekly) frets constantly about impending obsolescence. So imagine what a joy it is to see the dear old things so gainfully employed in Disney’s barnstorming, four-alarm delight Newsies. The “papes,” as they’re called by the show’s scrappy New Yawk street hawkers, are indispensable props. They’re stuffed greedily into sacks, hurled as missiles during fights, even spread on the floor for an impromptu dance surface. But it’s not just the clever recycling of tabloid sheets that endears you to this bright, invigorating extravaganza: Not since Wicked has there been a big-tent, family-friendly Broadway musical that gets so much so right.Set during the city’s newsboy strike in the summer of 1899, Newsies takes the diverting Disney film and adds extra tunes and many more high-jumping dances for the spunky male ensemble. The Alan Menken–Jack Feldman score pleasingly blends music-hall orchestral swing and power pop, and Feldman’s lyrics are more graceful than you’d expect from a show aimed primarily at tweens. Harvey Fierstein’s book brims with sass and big-hearted sympathy for the underdog. And director Jeff Calhoun’s designers balance a gray-brown palette with splashes of color (mostly from costumes), creating grit to rub up against the material’s built-in melodrama and sentimentality.Jeremy Jordan is a charismatic wonder in the lead role of Jack Kelly, the kindhearted teen who dreams of escaping to Santa Fe but accepts the mantle of hero, unionizing the newsies and standing up to antilabor magnate Joseph Pulitzer (John Dossett, squeezing notes of subtlety from a villain role). Old-fashioned book musicals with pluck, brains and heart are so rare these days; when you see one as blissfully fun as Newsies, it belongs on the front page in 72-point type.—David Cote Porgy and Bess “I’m a purist,” the woman in the next row informed me during intermission at the new version of Porgy and Bess. This free admission was undoubtedly in reference to Deidre L. Murray’s reorchestration (with William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke) of George Gershwin’s score and her new vocal arrangements, not to mention the rewritten libretto by Suzan-Lori Parks. So was she enjoying the show? “I’m a purist,” she repeated, wrinkling her nose. Only in the arts do you find proud waving of the p-flag. In matters of politics, ethnicity or religion, insisting on purity can get you tagged a fanatic or a racist. But when it comes to Porgy and Bess, some folks don’t want their masterpiece adulterated with a single drop of Broadway schmaltz or even politically sensitized redaction.But what is a revival’s creative team to do, when the very words of DuBose and Dorothy Heyward’s libretto and the lyrics, by them and Ira Gershwin, are penned in that antique “darkie” style—Porgy singing “I got plenty o’ nuttin’,” the inhabitants of Catfish Row guarding against the “debbil” while longing to get to “Hebben”? Today, the original creators’ earnest attempt to reproduce a 1920s Gullah dialect reads like orthography as blackface.One solution is to bleach the language. In the program’s cast list, drug-dealing, craps-shooting Sportin’ Life is now called Sporting Life—which makes him sound like an allegorical figure in a symbolist parody by P.G. Wodehouse. Terminal gs have been added to song titles (“I Got Plenty of Nothing”), and lyrics in the scripts distributed to critics are much less awkwardly Stepin Fetchit than the supertitles you read on the 1993 DVD of Trevor Nunn’s opera production.Even as the language has been scrubbed of artifice, designer Riccardo Hernandez has stylized the look of South Carolina black neighborhood Catfish Row. Rather than render the locale with gritty, realistic detail, Hernandez has created a rough-hewn wooden floor and a large circular wall composed of slabs of whitewashed boards, weather-beaten window frames and bits of ironwork. It’s patchwork, just like the whole project.The onus is on director Diane Paulus to bring coherence to this mix of political agendas and aesthetic strategies. For the most part, she succeeds, fusing a powerful ensemble into a vibrant, joyous community, at the same time allowing space for the mythic dimension of the story. Paulus also adds neat dramaturgical flourishes: Bess (McDonald) has an unexplained scar on her left cheek, just as lame beggar Porgy (Lewis) drags his twisted left leg around. Everyone has damage in this poverty-stricken, oppressed society, from which liquor, gambling and “happy dust” offer only momentary reprieve.And that’s perfectly in keeping with the melodrama. Porgy and Bess is about abjection and deliverance. Its characters have only love and faith to raise them out of the morass of self-destruction, embodied by Sporting Life (Grier) and the homicidal bully Crown (Phillip Boykin) who treats coke-snorting, no-hope Bess as his chattel. She, in turn, can’t break Crown’s hold over her, composed of fear, addiction and erotic fixation. Porgy must pit his love for Bess against Crown’s brutal strength and Sporting Life’s serpentine conniving.To play these complex, desperate people, you need actors who can do more than “park and bark,” as they say in opera circles. And what a marvelous cast this is. McDonald, as the world knows, was born to play the role, and she claims her birthright with both hands, delivering a Bess bursting with intelligence, fire and earthy sexuality. Lewis glows with customary virile heartiness, as well as smouldering rage. Who knew that the frisky Grier had such singing chops? And Boykin steals his scenes as a volcanic, godless Crown.The changes to the book are mostly cosmetic. Parks retains many lines, making sure the white people are extra villainous and Porgy’s more noble. In the second act, she invents a brace for Porgy’s leg, an innovation that makes his decision to leave Catfish Row more plausible than pathetic.Murray’s treatment of the score and vocals is more problematic. She has rooted out the operatic grandeur of Gershwin’s music, transposing down the ethereally high opening notes of “Summertime,” rendering recitative as dialogue and encouraging Lewis to warble in a folksy fashion that blurs speech and song. We lose a great deal of beautiful symphonic music and full-bodied singing—even if the melodies remain heart-stoppingly gorgeous.On balance, does it work? Yes, as a version of Porgy and Bess. There have been valid variants on the classic ever since the 1942 musical-theater adaptation on Broadway. I’m not going to pine for an “authentic” take or howl that Paulus & Co. have sold out the Gershwins. Due to a fine cast, some clever dramaturgy and the inherent musical glories of the material, the new Porgy and Bess has integrity. Does it have greater integrity than what you'd see in an opera house? I’m no purist, but as Sportin'—er, Sporting Life says—it ain’t necessarily so.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. Rock of Ages The new jukebox musical Rock of Ages, which crams 30 hard-hitting ’80s hits into a self-consciously campy romantic comedy, knows its demo. For anyone who threw devil horns at a Quiet Riot concert, had their ears shredded by Eddie Van Halen’s awesome fretwork or felt their heart bursting from Steve Perry’s caterwauling, this slick package is cock-rock nirvana. And if a two-hour set of pulse-quickening covers isn’t enough, there are strippers, a funny narrator (Mitchell Jarvis, ripping off Jack Black’s spaz-rocker shtick) and—for the ladies out there—American Idol cutie Constantine Maroulis. Yes, the ingredients are all fast-food leftovers. But mixed together and nuked for three minutes, they are quite tasty.You may be surprised to learn that there’s a book to Rock of Ages. And yet Chris D’Arienzo makes a good-faith offering of actual characters who are somehow motivated to launch into renditions of “We Built This City” and “Cum on Feel the Noize.” The ridiculous plot involves German developers who want to raze Los Angeles’s Sunset Strip, including legendary music club the Bourbon. Meanwhile, wanna-be rocker Drew (Maroulis) tries to win the hand of actress-turned-stripper Sherrie (Kelli Barrett). But enough narrative: More Whitesnake and Pat Benatar!Rock of Ages shouldn’t be this enjoyable, but director Kristin Hanggi whips her talented cast into a lather of headbanging goofiness, turning up the volume to avoid explanations. It pretty much works: They bring the face-melting solos, you supply the flashbacks.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. Seminar Something about the way Alan Rickman enunciates pussy—and he gets to say it a fair amount—makes the vaginal epithet both more vulgar and more glorious than you'd expect. It snakes out of his mouth plump and humid, contemptuously come-hithering. But then, as disgraced fiction star turned book editor Leonard, Rickman's trade is to transmute words from base metal to glistering gold. That's the promise he dangles before four young scribes in Theresa Rebeck's sexy, savvy, uproarious new comedy, Seminar. There's always danger when writers lampoon other writers: You never believe their wunderkinds are so wonderful, and they tend to burlesque bad writing beyond credibility. The acid test comes when someone reads a passage aloud that is purportedly genius or dreck. Rebeck wisely curtails recitation of manuscripts. Instead we watch as Rickman's Leonard—being paid $20K to teach a ten-week intensive course at the Upper West Side apartment of Kate (Rabe)—pages through student submissions. A curl of the lip, a twitch of the eyebrow, a flare of the nostrils: These nonverbal signals speak volumes. Out of small gestures and that slurry, violoncello delivery, Rickman crafts one of the most vivid, dimensional stage monsters in years: a burnt-up monument to cynicism and appetite who beds his students when not pulverizing their egos. Rickman gives the comic performance of the season.But then, he's surrounded by a superb quartet of younger actors and has a doozy of a script at his disposal: smart, bitchy and character-driven. Rebeck's play sizzles with the malicious glee of a writer allowing herself to take revenge on every idiotic editor, literary manager or TV producer who tried to impose their vision on her words. Not that we should doubt Leonard's good taste or overestimate the talents of his breathless would-be protgs (who include Jerry O'Connell, Hettienne Park and drolly bitter Linklater). In fact, Seminar nearly winds up as a bittersweet homage to editors, those servile ministers who labor in the shadows to make the work the best it can be. In that spirit, let's end this chapter with praise for director Sam Gold, whose understated but perfectly calibrated staging maintains the nuanced integrity of each character while allowing each to be hilariously prideful, greedy and lustful. What have we learned by Seminar's end? The publishing world is a jungle, and it's best to have a big-toothed cat like Alan Rickman by your side.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. Venus in Fur Sexual heat is the last thing you associate with Manhattan Theatre Club; there's more erotic thrill in its lounge brownies than most mainstage offerings. But then, not every play features Nina Arianda in garters, bustier and testicle-squashing boots. Plenty of ink has already gushed over this gutsy comic newcomer, who burst onto the scene last year in the Classic Stage Company premiere of Venus in Fur, David Ives's clever meta-adaptation of the 1870 kink classic by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (the Austrian author who gave masochism its name). Arianda followed up that star-is-born turn as the blond vamp-simp of Born Yesterday and now she reprises her role as Vanda, the neurotic, mysterious actor who gives a last-minute nighttime audition for Thomas (Dancy), a repressed writer-director trying to bring Sacher-Masoch's novel to the stage.For Broadway, director Walter Bobbie milks the script more; the action clocks in about ten minutes longer than it did at CSC. Although easing up on the accelerator gives us more time to savor the sensual-slapstick dance between Dancy and Arianda, it also means the climactic 20 minutes---as gender roles and power positions sharply flip—grow a tad overindulgently logy. Undaunted, Arianda maintains terrific tension at all times—as well as full comic release.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. War Horse Never cry for machines. I don't care how holistically Zen you are, objects assembled from wood, fabric and metal screws don't feel, they function. Alas, the same sort of objectification extends to how we treat animals; we reduce them to tools or slaves, or dinner. So when Joey, the astonishing equine-engine (puppet seems too puny a term), gallops across no-man's-land during World War I and gets snarled in lines of barbed wire, tears of pity may short-circuit your empathy apparatus. It's only a mock horse manipulated by actors, yet your heart breaks. Animal and machine are caught in a tragic trap of man-made cruelty.Based on a formerly obscure young-adult novel by Michael Morpurgo, the stark and thrilling War Horse charts a coming-of-age tale of loyalty and survival, focusing on Devon country lad Albert (Seth Numrich) and a draft-horse--stallion mix whom he names Joey (crafted, as all the nonhuman characters are, by South Africa's artful Handspring Puppet Company). Sold to the France-bound army by Albert's feckless father, Joey is plunged into the industrial hell of the Great War, terrorized by machine guns, shells and, in a very alarming sequence, a tank prototype. Albert enlists to fight, mostly to recover his four-legged friend. Both boy and beast undergo a series of grim trials, as we witness the horrors of war from both the English and German sides.Directors Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris knit together striking design elements (the puppets, video animations, painterly light and smoke displays) and a sterling ensemble of local troupers (including T. Ryder Smith, Richard Crawford and Alyssa Bresnahan) to build a triumphant epic of human and animal spirit, working together to heal some of the perilous wounds we have inflicted on nature. War Horse will make you believe that puppets live and breathe, and perhaps even have souls.—David CoteFollow David Cote on Twitter. Wicked This musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz addresses surprisingly complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, fighting fascism. Thanks to Winnie Holzman’s witty book and Stephen Schwartz’s pop-inflected score, Wicked soars. Currently, the cast features Jackie Burns as Elphaba and Chandra Le Schwartz as Glinda.—David Cote Related stories: 25 Greatest Broadway divas of all time10 Hottest chorus boys and girls on Broadway25 Best Tony Award telecast performances

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Theater

Best Off Broadway shows

The best play, musicals and revivals on New York's more intimate stages Although people think Broadway is synonymous with New York theater, truth is there’s a lot of great stuff beyond the bright lights of the Great White Way. Some of the most innovative new plays and musicals are happening on the city’s more intimate Off Broadway stages (technically defined as seating between 100 and 499). From the award-winning Public Theater downtown to the crowd-pleasing attactions at New World stages and the city’s network of great nonprofit companies, Off Broadway offers something for everyone. Avenue Q After many years, the sassy and clever puppet musical doesn’t show its age. Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s deft Sesame Street–esque novelty tunes about porn and racism still earn their laughs. Avenue Q remains a sly and winning piece of metamusical tomfoolery.—David Cote Blue Man Group Three deadpan, blue-skinned men with extraterrestrial imaginations carry this tourist fave, a show as smart as it is ridiculous. For sheer weird, exuberant fun, it's hard to top this long-running treat.—AF 4000 Miles One of theater’s more irksome stock characters is the Naughty Granny. She’s the wrinkled biddy with the potty mouth, the one who drops the f-bomb and can’t repress R-rated comments about sex or messy bodily functions. It’s a cheap comic trick that playwright Amy Herzog wisely avoids in her fine, deeply affecting dual character study 4000 Miles. Not only is Vera Joseph a vibrantly dimensional 91-year-old—prickly and stubborn but mentally acute—she is played by the magnificent Mary Louise Wilson. The veteran actor etches a shockingly honest portrait of pride, moral clarity and flintiness in Vera, who is neither a saint nor the butt of jokes.Although Vera has an isolated life, Wilson is not alone on stage—nor is she the only one doing excellent work there. In the first scene, she gets a surprise visit from her twentyish grandson, Leo (Ebert), who has biked cross-country from Washington to New York. Along the way (we gradually learn), Leo lost his best friend and fellow traveler, Micah, in a fatal road accident. For her part, Vera has been bereft of her husband, Joe, for a decade. Bridging gulfs of space and time, Vera and Leo connect over several days while he crashes in her West Village apartment, negotiating romantic potholes with an estranged girlfriend (Zoë Winters) and an art student (Greta Lee) he picks up at a bar. There’s the expected generation-gap humor and odd-couple laughs, but Herzog also digs deeply and humanely into her characters’ psyches, tracing the emotional fault lines that link them to a painful family history.Although 4000 Miles makes one think of a first-rate novella, it is solidly theatrical, thanks to keen, atmospheric work by Daniel Aukin, one of new drama’s best (and most underused) directors. Aukin never lets his actors force the comedy or pathos, and his stage pictures (gorgeously lit by Japhy Weideman) pulse with the rhythm of authentic life. 4000 Miles is the sort of rich, satisfying play you should take your grandmother to—especially if she’s as smart and fierce as Vera. Freud's Last Session The setup for Freud’s Last Session—an imaginary meeting between the granddaddy of psychoanalysis and budding fantasy writer C.S. Lewis in which they argue about the existence of God—is a bit artificial, but the work itself feels refreshingly authentic. The play is set in London in 1939, just days after Hitler’s invasion of Poland and weeks before Freud’s death from a deliberate morphine overdose, giving playwright St. Germain no shortage of high stakes in which to ground this most elusive and familiar of debates: faith versus reason. Predictably, Freud is the hardened realist who bases his beliefs on science, while Lewis is the awestruck Christian convert who follows his heart.This production from Barrington Stage Company is nothing if not thorough: both St. Germain’s script and Brian Prather’s set, a re-creation of Freud’s study in which the proverbial couch looms large, have been meticulously researched and thoughtfully assembled. Rayner and Dold manage humanizing portrayals that avoid slipping into clich; there are as few false notes in their emotional vicissitudes as in their accents. Rayner’s evident anguish from a painful oral prosthetic (Freud was in the final throes of mouth cancer when he died) garners palpable sympathy from the audience. Although the lives and ideas of the two men are necessarily compressed and oversimplified, it is pleasant to spend an hour in their company under the willful delusion that you are a fly on the wall.See more Theater reviewsSee more in Theater Gatz “Since the introduction of printing, and the fatal development of the habit of reading amongst the middle and lower classes,” Oscar Wilde wrote in The Critic as Artist, “there has been a tendency in literature to appeal more and more to the eye, and less and less to the ear which…from the standpoint of pure art, it should seek to please.” An aesthete who elevated recitation over print, Wilde would have been quite flummoxed by Gatz, the jaw-dropping literary installation by Elevator Repair Service. This eight-hour-plus immersion—in which 13 actors read aloud every blessed word of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby—is thoroughly aural, even musical. And yet, the production acts upon the eye, through a meticulously layered physical score buzzing around Scott Shepherd, our intensely listenable narrator. Shepherd reads beautifully; we watch him read; we listen; we imagine that we read along with him; and so Fitzgerald’s images are burned into our brains by an indirect circuit of seeing and hearing on intermeshed levels. After eight hours of this, our narrative-absorbing faculties have been so recalibrated that we forget where ERS’s frame ends and Fitzgerald’s picture begins.Directors John Collins and Steve Bodow and their ensemble created the piece and presented a work-in-progress in January 2005 in the Wooster’s Group’s Performing Garage. Because stage rights to The Great Gatsby were owned by the makers of a conventional adaptation, Gatz was prohibited from being performed in the city. Years of international tours and rising acclaim later, the company has come home. To Public Theater chief Oskar Eustis’s enormous credit, he has given one of downtown’s most enduring and original companies (innovating since 1991) the high-profile gig it deserves.Not that Gatz’s physical setup looks terribly deluxe. Set designer Louisa Thompson’s crummy office appears stuck in the late ’80s (office equipment looking distinctly pre-Mac and -Staples). One dreary morning, suited drone Nick (Shepherd) enters, takeout coffee in hand. Futilely trying to reboot a recalcitrant computer, Nick discovers a battered copy of The Great Gatsby in a Rolodex on his desk. (Collins & Co. are not above a visual pun for “found text.”) Evincing a mix of boredom and vague curiosity, Nick cracks the book open and begins to read. And read. And read some more. Eventually, coworkers wander in: a cocky janitor (Gary Wilmes), an impish colleague who loiters, reading a golf magazine (Susie Sokol), an attractive, sad woman (Victoria Vazquez) who may be having an affair with the janitor. And then there’s the grim, hulking owner (Jim Fletcher) of this unidentified business. Each of the workers takes on a character from Gatsby, and Fletcher, improbably, becomes the title role.Fletcher doesn’t really resemble the dashing, handsome playboy Jay Gatsby as we may cast him in our minds. That’s as it should be: Gatz is constantly opening up a space between Fitzgerald’s writing and the real life we see before us, in all its silliness, randomness and banality. The book offers escape, a new self, vicarious thrills.Because secondhand, mediated living—its pleasure and its danger—lies at the heart of both the novel and ERS’s reconstructive project. Those acquainted with the Fitzgerald material know, Jay Gatsby is not what he stages himself to be. Far from the wealthy playboy who bags wild game and amasses rubies, family all conveniently dead, James Gatz is a bootlegger from a poor clan in North Dakota. Gatsby creates an elaborate (if ultimately tawdry) fiction and lives in it. Nick Carraway, the novel’s narrator, lives through Gatsby, eventually seeing through his lies and delusions, but still enchanted by the beautiful dreamer. We, in turn, are seduced by Nick’s dryly elegant prose. When the novel reaches its end and the plot strands are tied up with aplomb (if a bit of contrived happenstance) the grand title character evaporates into the ether—his wealth, his friends, his glamour, shrunken into Jimmy Gatz, petty crook.The Great Gatsby never existed; we watch eight hours of people reading the book, but the performance constantly resists full narrative embodiment. If there’s a strong whiff of irony in the honorific “great,” then by calling its work Gatz, ERS lay claim to a sort of purism. After the workday is done, or the party is over, all that’s left is a book. The rest is mere imagination.—David Cote Now. Here. This. In the wake of revelations that monologuist Mike Daisey mashed together fact and fiction for his Apple critique The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, the issue of truth on stage has been on theater folks’ minds. Indeed, I could feel the Daisey Effect while watching the bubbly Now. Here. This., a highly personal musical scrapbook by the creators of [title of show]. As I bopped along to Jeff Bowen’s sunny pop score and chuckled at book writers Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell’s wistful whimsy, I had to wonder: Did Heidi Blickenstaff really destroy the neighbor’s kitchen floor with bleach? Were Blackwell’s parents hoarders? Did Bell strut his stuff as a teen model? Or is it all just lies?Normally, I wouldn’t care, but the show is explicitly framed as an autobiographical group self-examination, delving into the pains and joys of childhood in a quest to understand how these performers got here. Taking its title from a passage by philosopher-monk Thomas Merton about living fully in the moment, the piece is sweetly cosmic in outlook: The first number, “What Are the Odds,” traces life on Earth from the first amino acid to this very second at the Vineyard. The rest of the show is structured as a larky trip through a natural-history museum. As Blackwell, Bowen et al. goof on Neanderthal dioramas and turtle exhibits, they mull over the past. Interestingly, for a show that seeks the present, a good deal of time is spent dwelling on yesteryear.Fans of [title of show]’s meta-backstage antics and sassy digs at Broadway might be surprised by how little show-queen dish (like, none) there is in Now. Here. This. Instead, it’s a touching, plucky and heartwarming ode to art and friends (very adeptly staged by Michael Berresse). Just when you thought you knew everything about these frisky, oversharing divas, they can still surprise.—David Cote Rent When it transferred to Broadway in 1996, trailing a Pulitzer and zooming toward multiple Tony wins, Jonathan Larson's Rent was a revelation to some and a punch line to others. On the astonished side, you had many New York critics eager to champion a piece with the veneer of hipness and youthful urgency. Meanwhile, snickers and eyeball rolls came from people who had actually done the East Village thing: gone broke, made theater, got high and had their heart broken in a neighborhood that, by the early '90s, was already the overpriced sandbox of trustafarians and NYU brats. The spectacle of cute bohemians belting power ballads about AIDS and art on the Great White Way seemed doubly commodified. When I finally caught up with Rent in 2001, I wanted to leave at intermission, feeling no compelling reason (narrativewise) to stay. Moreover, the rock portions of Larson's score were overblown and phony, the characters whiny. But by then, it didn't matter what I thought. Attended by endless hordes of Rentheads (did they actually visit the LES or just surge en masse to the Nederlander?), the show ran for 12 years before closing in 2008. Guess who had the last laugh?Beyond the question of whether or not Rent was culturally authentic, the fact remained: Lots of people admire this "rock opera" update of Puccini's La Bohme with a fanatical devotion...and others do not. As someone in the latter category, I was surprised by my mild enjoyment of some numbers in the current, downsized Off Broadway revival---even though the musical is ultimately defeated by structural weakness and its dumbed-down, romanticized portrayal of 1990s starving artists, squeegee men, junkie strippers and magical transvestites.Director Michael Greif's chamber-version cast does make some improvements on the original. Adam Chanler-Berat, as shy video artist Mark Cohen, has a low-key nebbishy charm and frisky intelligence that was lacking in Anthony Rapp's strenuous, white-bread conception of the character. Likewise, Nicholas Christopher's gentle community activist Tom Collins and MJ Rodriguez's sassy drag queen Angel overcome the treacly niceness with which their roles are written to create a charismatic couple both drawn together and torn apart by AIDS. It helps that both can sing.Which is more than you can say for another pair of lovers in this production---HIV-infected songwriter Roger (Matt Shingledecker) and heroin addict--exotic dancer Mimi (Arianda Fernandez). Both are frequently flat and strident in their vocals, making Larson's pseudo-rock numbers even more bombastic and silly. If only Greif and his casting agent had found a young actor who cut a believable grunge figure and made Roger's search for a new song seem less like the amateur noodling of a pouty poseur. Alas, Shingledecker, clad in tight-fitting plaid pants, hair moussed up, looks more like a well-fed roadie for Hootie and the Blowfish than a sickly, tortured troubadour.The final romantic duo in the story, lesbian performance diva Maureen (Annaleigh Ashford) and buttoned-up lawyer Joanne (Corbin Reid), offers sparks and chuckles, but the miscast Ashford flattens an already attenuated caricature. Rather than try to rediscover Maureen and her (admittedly foolish) solo art, Ashford squeaks her lines and stuffs cheap sight gags into nearly every moment.Humor is a tricky thing to try to inject into Rent. The musical, despite Larson's occasional feint at irreverence or poking fun at his characters, is earnest and brooding to a fault. Larson's score has always been problematic, with touching, sensitive love songs ("Seasons of Love," "Without You") uneasily cohabiting with clunky or pretentious power pop ("Out Tonight," "What You Own"). Larson was a concise, elegant lyricist who had a good ear for soft, melting ballads, but his second-act book falls apart, the score rounded out with B-sides.I wish Larson had lived to outgrow his greatest hit. The passage of time may have softened my previously derisive attitude toward Rent. Now that 15 years have passed since its earliest previews at New York Theatre Workshop, the show comes across as a sweet, idealistic museum piece. And whatever else the critics say this time, rest assured: The Rentheads will come.See more Theater reviews Silence! The Musical If this tuneful parody of the 1991 to-catch-a-serial-killer flick were a meal (come on, no other metaphor will do), it would be a bucket of popcorn slathered in melted cheese, sprinkled with Tabasco and washed down---not with a nice chianti---but with a pitcher of fruity sangria. Campy, cheerfully vulgar and mounted on the cheap, Silence! The Musical is ideal summer fare, not particularly nutritious but sweet, tangy and very, very tasty.There is craft beneath this goofy stunt, first presented in 2005's Fringe Festival. Songwriter brothers Jon and Al Kaplan (Web sensations who also musicalized Predator and Conan the Barbarian) pair with book writer Hunter Bell of [title of show] and director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli to serve up a narratively faithful but tonally irreverent retelling of FBI agent Clarice Starling (Harris) and her quest to nab woman-skinning transsexual psycho Buffalo Bill (Stephen Bienskie) with the help of human-flesh connoisseur Hannibal Lecter (Barrett). Famous quotables from the original screenplay furnish songs with titles such as "If I Could Smell Her Cunt," "Are You About a Size 14?" and "I'd Fuck Me."If you've seen the Jonathan Demme film, but those numbers don't prompt a chuckle, you might need to rent it again, since the laughs work best with the movie's crisp, unnerving images fresh in mind. Still, there's so much comedic talent to savor, you can enjoy Silence! on its own daffy merits. Harris perfectly nails Jodie Foster's clenched, twangy-lisping Starling, whereas Barrett smartly avoids aping Anthony Hopkins. Pungent, punchy and raunchy, with a sheepish chorus to boot, the consummately silly Silence! will leave you stuffed and wanting mutton more.See more Theater reviews Sleep No More To untimely rip and paraphrase a line from Macbeth: Our eyes are made the fools of the other senses, or else worth all the rest. A multitude of searing sights crowd the spectator's gaze at the bedazzling and uncanny theater installation Sleep No More. Your sense of space and depth---already compromised by the half mask that audience members must don---is further blurred as you wend through more than 90 discrete spaces, ranging from a cloistral chapel to a vast ballroom floor. Directors Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle, of the U.K. troupe Punchdrunk, have orchestrated a true astonishment, turning six warehouse floors and approximately 100,000 square feet into a purgatorial maze that blends images from the Scottish play with ones derived from Hitchcock movies---all liberally doused in a distinctly Stanley Kubrick eau de dislocated menace.An experiential, Choose Your Own Adventure project such as this depends on the pluck and instincts of the spectator. You can follow the mute dancers from one floor to the next, or wander aimlessly through empty spaces. I chose the latter, discovering a room lined with empty hospital beds; a leafless wood in which a nurse inside a thatched cottage nervously checks her pocket watch; an office full of apothecary vials and powders; and the ballroom, forested with pine trees screwed to rolling platforms (that would be Birnam Wood). A Shakespearean can walk about checking off visual allusions to the classic tragedy; the less lettered can just revel in the freaky haunted-house vibe.The only caveat I would offer is to attend Sleep No More fully rested: You need your wits about you. All the same, stumbling groggily up and down staircases and around darkened hallways gives the night the sludgy, abstracted aura of a nightmare. But is it your bad dream, or have you slipped inside Macbeth's?—David CoteSee more Theater reviews Traces The name of the Montreal-based neocircus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main translates to English as "7 Fingers," and its tremendously entertaining Traces---a brash athletic vaudeville with a street-smart twist---treats its seven performers accordingly. Each is completely individuated, but connected at base to the rest; and together they pack a freakish punch, though it often feels more like a chuck to the chin. Despite moments of urgency, and a suggestion of crisis outside its walls, Traces is suffused with an infectious spirit of camaraderie; the show's humanity and charm make its exuberant, parkour-inflected feats of acrobatics especially thrilling to watch.In sharp contrast with the alien-costume-ball aesthetic of that other Quebecois circus in town, the versatile and flexible Traces performers wear loose modern clothes and are identified often by name, as they deserve to be. (They are Mason Ames, Valrie Benot-Charbonneau, Mathieu Cloutier, Bradley Henderson, Philippe Normand-Jenny, Xia Zhengqi and Florian Zumkehr.) All of them have subspecialties in terms of circus skills and apparatus---Henderson nails a Cyr-wheel routine, Zumkehr does a hand-balance act on stacked chairs---but they also leap, twist, flip, spring and dance in group efforts; the set functions variously as stage, gymnasium, living room, bunker, skateboard park, basketball court, artist's studio and piano bar. Codirected by Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider, Traces celebrates youthful vigor, achievement, fun and possibility in a world that only seems inhospitable to them. Eager and able to please---in the finale, the cast literally jumps through hoops---the show drops your jaw into a big goofy smile.See more Theater reviews Tribes Short reviews seldom permit mention of sound design, but no discussion of Tribes would be complete without a nod to Daniel Kluger’s exquisite aural landscape. The physical elements of David Cromer’s in-the-round production at the Barrow Street Theatre are all top-shelf (starting with Scott Pask’s impeccably specific set), but sound plays an especially important role, because Nina Raine’s domestic drama is centrally concerned with cacophony.Tribes’ hearing-impaired main character, Billy (played with variety and sensitivity by deaf actor Harvard), belongs to a family that has deliberately refused to accommodate his disability. The racket is everywhere: in the din of the family dinner table, where confrontation is treated as a measure of interest and affection; in the accusatory voices heard by Billy’s brother, Daniel—played by Will Brill, shaky of body and, less felicitously, of accent—in the bloom of schizophrenia; and in the growing roar experienced by Billy’s new friend Sylvia (the excellent Pourfar, flirty yet flinty) as she slides into hearing loss. (“No one told me it was going to be this noisy going deaf,” she complains.)Jeff Perry carps admirably as Billy’s acidulous father, and the soulful Mare Winningham rises to the task of balancing him; Gayle Rankin is also utterly persuasive as Billy’s sister, a would-be opera singer who doesn’t seem to have stopped to hear herself sing. Raine’s capacious writing explores issues of communication, self-expression and individuation with a wonderful ear for detail. Even under Cromer’s alert and clear-eyed direction, Tribes loses some steam as it builds to its finale. But there are moments in this play that I don’t think I will ever forget—scenes that tap the beauty that can live and resound in silence.—Adam Feldman You Better Sit Down: Tales from My Parents' Divorce The surprising, plaintive thing about the title of the new Civilians show, You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce, is that you never actually hear it. It is, of course, straightforwardly descriptive: Four of the company’s documentarian-performers (Matthew Maher, Caitlin Miller, Jennifer R. Morris and Robbie Collier Sublett) have interrogated their parents about their marriages, and the radically simple production consists entirely of the actors sitting in armchairs, reciting verbatim from those interviews. Sit Down is not the painful project it sounds like: Time and distance—often nearly 20 years’ worth—make the tone rueful rather than tortured, and the Civilians (abetted immensely by Anne Kauffman’s deft direction) keep things at a gentle, nearly philosophical remove. The main appeal here is voyeuristic, of course, though we also experience a nearly sensual pleasure in the welter of specificity—Maher’s barking imitation of his father’s laugh, Sublett’s mother describing costumes from a long-ago revue. We squirm delightedly at the period detail when Morris’s mother (who sounds like a pistol) can exactly summon up the look in her groom’s eyes when he first clocked her wedding hat. But it’s poignant to hear how, among these many keen recollections, the memories of telling the kids have receded into the fog. That title implies the children will be center stage; the actual show denies them that over and over again. I found myself most touched by the series of residual shocks under the substrate of this elegant, wistfully funny show—the little tremors from lifetimes spent realizing that a parent’s trauma is forever out of reach.—Helen Shaw Related stories:Best theater bars and cafésBest Off-Off venues30 Greatest American family dramas

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Theater

Best Off-Off Broadway venues

They're small, cheap and out of control—the city's coolest experimental stages. Ars Nova There aren’t many entertainment options along Tenth Avenue, but one is worth the trek: A jewel box of a theater stages a heady, well-selected repertory of comedy, cabaret and music shows in an environment that’s focused more on the performance than on the cash register at the bar. The schedule is erratic, so call before heading out. The semiregular Jewcy provides some kosher laughs for Jews and those who wish they were. The Brick This scrappy 70-seat space—an erstwhile garage—popped into the theatrical scene in 2002 squished into a vanishingly tiny spot on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg. Its founders, Robert Honeywell and Michael Gardner, have maintained a rattling schedule of tartly themed summer festivals (The Moral Values Festival), pieces by low-budget, high-concept avant-gardists like the Debate Society and Ian W. Hill, and works helmed by Honeywell and Gardner themselves. The Bushwick Starr Don't get nervous at the "Bushwick" in the name: This comfortable 60-seat black box (up some seriously steep stairs) is a mere block and a half from the subway, and only 15 minutes from Union Square. The space is largely a rental venue, attracting avant-garde fare like Target Margin's Tennessee Williams festival and a variety of performance art and theatrical performances. The Chocolate Factory Brian Rogers and Sheila Lewandowski founded this 5000-square-foot perfomance venue in Long Island City in 2005, converting a onetime hardware store into two spaces: a low-ceilinged downstairs room and a loftier, brighter upstairs whitebox. The Factory is not for rent: Rogers curates his season, inviting artists (from midcareer playwrights like Mac Wellman to rising directors like Alice Reagan) onboard—and the space pays them. It's a welcoming spot (buy your chocolate chip cookies at the box office), and the spot won an Obie for its programming, which tends towards the highly physical, the interdisciplinary and the avant-garde. Dixon Place More than 22 years after it started hosting experimental performances in a loft on the Bowery, this plucky organization has finally opened its gorgeous new space a few blocks away on the Lower East Side. A lounge, mainstage theater and studio all support the work of emerging artists. Flea Theater Founded in 1997, Jim Simpson’s cozy, well-appointed black-box venue has presented avant-garde experimentation (such as the work of Mac Wellman) and politically provocative satires (by the likes of A.R. Gurney and Jonathan Reynolds). A 40-seat basement theatre is home to the Flea’s resident young acting company, the Bats. HERE After a recent refurbishment, this downtown stalwart is now one of the most comfortable experimental spaces, what with its cozy lobby café (1 Dominick) and relatively impressive multimedia capacity. The upstairs space—long, wide and low—has played host to recent smashes like Taylor Mac’s epic The Lily’s Revenge, while the downstairs 70-seat black box sees new works by everyone from Karinne Keithley to Tina Satter. HERE’s strength lies in its come-one-come-all attitude, its absurdly generous grant and commissioning programs, and a genuine warmth that is largely thanks to the venue’s doyenne and founder, Kristin Marting, and the community of artists who call HERE a second home. Incubator Arts Project at St. Mark’s Church After 20 years upstairs at the historic St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theater—famous for its baroquely designed avant-garde productions—will cede control to the Incubator, the adventurous developmental series with an eye for the best in local experimental theater. Tina Satter, Theater of a Two-Headed Calf and Target Margin have all done work here recently, working around the space's crazy, asymmetrical shape and weirdly placed columns to make some of the season's most exciting work. Kraine Theater Part of the gaggle of theaters on East 4th Street, the 99-seat Kraine is part of the loosely affiliated Horse Trade theaters (which also include the Red Room and UNDER St. Marks), where irreverent, independent work bubbles incessantly. The venue—a sweet proscenium with creaky, back-crippling red velvet seats—can also be rented, so it's difficult to pin the spot down in terms of a unified aesthetic. La MaMa E.T.C. Walk into this revolution-red theater—with its narrow First Floor Theater, its spectacularly barnlike next-door Ellen Stewart Theatre and the groovy attic Club Theater—and you are transported back in time to the New York scene's ’60s heyday. The mama herself, Ellen Stewart, first opened La MaMa's doors in 1961, and she has since produced major figures like Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban and Ping Chong, along with younger multicultural, dance-theater and avant-garde artists, as well as her own exuberant riffs on classical myth. New Ohio Theatre Having lost the lease on his Soho space in 2010, after nearly three decades there, Robert Lyons moves his indispensable theatrical crucible (home to the summer Ice Factory Festival and much more) to the landmarked Archive building that formerly housed the Wings Theater. Theater for the New City Although the institution has been around in some incarnation since 1971, the sprawling cement complex was only converted from its former state as a WPA building in 1986, and its four stages have been chock-full of experimental, politically conscious theater ever since. Many of the shows—albeit offbeat—are appropriate for children.

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Theater

Best theater bars and cafes

Pershing Square Signature Center Signature Theatre, founded by James Houghton in 1991, focuses on exploring and celebrating playwrights in depth, with whole seasons devoted to works by individual living writers. In 2012, it moved to a home base equal to its lofty ambitions. Designed by star architect Frank Gehry, the new Signature Center comprises three major Off Broadway spaces: a 299-seater mainstage, a 199-seat miniature opera house and a malleable courtyard theater named for the late Romulus Linney. The wonderful, spacious cafe area is great for meetings or preshow drinks and a nosh. HERE After a recent refurbishment, this downtown stalwart is now one of the most comfortable experimental spaces, what with its cozy lobby café (1 Dominick) and relatively impressive multimedia capacity. The upstairs space—long, wide and low—has played host to recent smashes like Taylor Mac’s epic The Lily’s Revenge, while the downstairs 70-seat black box sees new works by everyone from Karinne Keithley to Tina Satter. HERE’s strength lies in its come-one-come-all attitude, its absurdly generous grant and commissioning programs, and a genuine warmth that is largely thanks to the venue’s doyenne and founder, Kristin Marting, and the community of artists who call HERE a second home. 59E59 This chic, state-of-the-art venue, which comprises an Off Broadway space and two smaller theaters, is home to the Primary Stages company. It’s also home to other worthy programming, such as the annual Brits Off Broadway festival, which imports some of the U.K.’s best work for brief summer runs. The venue boasts three separate playing spaces. Theater A, on the ground floor, seats 196 people; upstairs are the 98-seat Theater B and a 70-seat black-box space, Theater C. St. Ann's Warehouse The adventurous theatergoer’s alternative to BAM, St. Ann’s Warehouse offers an eclectic lineup of theater and music. Recent shows have included high-level work by the Wooster Group and National Theatre of Scotland. BAM Harvey Theater Brooklyn Academy of Music’s beautifully distressed, 874-seat Harvey Theater—along with its grand old opera house (two blocks away on Lafayette Avenue)—is the site of the annual multidisciplinary Next Wave Festival, as well as other international offerings. Recent headliners include Ethan Hawke in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Fiona Shaw in Beckett’s Happy Days. Ars Nova Thoughtful, professional productions (as well as riotously silly ones) are nurtured in the impeccably curated development program at Ars Nova. The space isn’t bad, either: Rather than dusty bar glasses and dripping basement fixtures, the narrow venue glows with luxe wood appointments and a handy bar, which often features snacks integrated thematically with the shows. The monthly Showgasm variety show is a good bet, as is the once-a-year ANT Fest, a hectic explosion of new comedy, music and performance acts. Classic Stage Company With a purview that includes Greek tragedies, medieval mystery plays and Elizabethan standards, Classic Stage Company (under artistic director Brian Kulick) makes the old new again with performances including open rehearsals, staged readings and full-blown productions. The 199-seat black-box space is arranged for performances with audiences on three sides of the stage. New World Stages Formerly a movie multiplex, this center—one of the last bastions of commercial Off Broadway in New York—boasts a shiny, space-age interior and five stages, presenting everything from campy revues such as Naked Boys Singing to, more recently, the Broadway transfers Avenue Q and The 39 Steps.

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Live music in New York

Music

Best big live-music venues

You want big and loud? You got it.

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Music

Best downtown rock clubs

Where to get your next noise-fix.

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Music

Best classic New York venues

Impress your date. Take your parents. Go by yourself—just be wowed.

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Music

Best hidden gems

Wanna know where the locals go? Check out the city's best-kept live-music secrets.

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Things to Do in New York

Things to do

Best walking tours in NYC

Tours of New York abound, but these bespoke, pop-culture-themed itineraries will help you discover a new side of NYC These great walks explore New York through the lens of our favorite music, TV shows, movies, books and events. Channel Zosia Mamet and the cast of Girls while wandering the West Village, and embark on a journey of kinky discovery a la Fifty Shades of Grey’s nouveau nymphet Anastasia. Or if you’re as psyched about fitness as we are, use Manhattan’s West Side as your personal training center, then reward yourself with a cold craft beer. The 10 coolest NYC walking tours We've got ten NYC treks perfect for everyone from brownstone lovers to beer guzzlers More great walks Punk-rock walk Punk bands and history come alive on this East Village walking tour Superhero walk Become the hero-or heroine-of your own story Game of Thrones walk Imagine you’re in Game of Thrones’ Westeros as you tour NYC’s Chinatown and Lower East Side Fifty Shades of Grey walk E.L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy sparked curiosity in kinky sex, but we’ll school you on the real side of BDSM Girls walk HBO’s hit series Girls reminds us why we love NYC, from the High Line to dive bars Indie nightlife walk Indie bars and live-music venues thrive in Greenpoint and Williamsburg Dance walk So You Think You Can Dance addicts can embrace the dance craze New Girl walk Zooey Deschanel and her adorkable New Girl character, Jess, would approve of this Fort Greene walking tour Suits walk Guys who want to

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Museums

10 best parks in New York City

Take advantage of spring's warmer temperatures at ten of New York City's best public parks. New York City is full of public parks—in fact, nearly 14 percent of the city is covered in green spaces. But some of these verdant spots stand out above the rest. Here, we've rounded up ten of our favorite New York City parks—pack a picnic basket and hunker down for an afternoon, or simply lace up your sneakers and take a walk. Brooklyn Bridge Park This park on the East River offers gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, and it contains several playgrounds for youngsters. Wander among the piers and make sure to stop by Jane’s Carousel, a 1922 merry-go-round that's housed in an airy, transparent pavilion, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Central Park For your stroll head to the 38-acre wilderness area on the west side of the park known as the Ramble. The area has a storied history (as a gay cruising spot dating back to the turn of the last century, among other things), and it was even proposed as a recreational area in the mid-'50s. Thankfully, the winding trails, rocks and streams remain, seemingly waiting to be discovered. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park Most Manhattanites venture out to these parts only to catch a Mets game or tennis at the U.S. Open, but visitors will also be enticed by the 1964-1965 World’s Fair sculptures, particularly the iconic 140-foot-high Unisphere, a mammoth steel globe that was the fair’s symbol (and site of the apocalyptic battle scene between humans and aliens in the first Men in Black movie). Also visible are the remnants of the New York State Pavilion, erected by Philip Johnson for the fair. Measuring 350 feet by 250 feet, this now-eerie plaza is bordered by 16 100-foot steel columns. Fort Greene Park Both Brooklyn's first park and one of it's loveliest, Fort Greene Park plays host to the Soul Summit house-and-classics get-togethers on summertime Sunday afternoons. The High Line Opened in 2009, this highly anticipated outdoor park sits on the elevated infrastructure built on Manhattan's West Side in the 1930s. Today, sumptuous gardens and outdoor sculpture adorn this magnificent walkway, which is also an excellent place to enjoy a view of the Hudson River. Hudson River Park This strip of waterfront park stretches from Battery Park to 59th Street, allowing you to walk, bike or skate while looking at the Hudson River and New Jersey. There are flowers, benches, piers and lots of programs—including youth sports and kayak rides in the river. Inwood Hill Park There’s a unique reward for trekking to the northernmost corner of Manhattan, where you’ll find enormous trees in the island’s last virgin forest. Much of the park has never been developed; due to its comparatively remote location, the land remained rural up until its 1916 purchase by the Parks Department, who decided to leave Inwood as natural as possible. As a result, the area remains very similar to the way the island was 500 years ago. Pelham Bay Park Jutting into the Long Island Sound with rocky outcroppings, marshy inlets and lush forest, Pelham Bay Park looks more like Maine than the Bronx. The city’s largest park at 2,766 acres—three times the size of Central Park—it takes hours to explore. Among the massive park's attractions are Orchard Beach, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, and the recently renovated Pelham Bay Golf Course. Prospect Park Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who most famously designed Central Park, also put their stamp on bucolic Prospect Park. Amenities like the Long Meadow and Nethermead offer plenty of space to pull up on a patch of grass and indulge in some people-watching, and the woodland expanse of the Ravine is a towering forest within bustling Brooklyn. But we also have to give props to Robert Moses: The controversial city planner was behind some of the park’s kid-friendly offerings, including the zoo and Wollman Rink (which is currently undergoing an extensive renovation). Riverside Park This scenic four-mile waterfront park extends from 72nd to 158th Streets along the Hudson River in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Facilities include sport courts, a skate park, bike paths on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway and a public marina at 79th Street. Fans of You’ve Got Mail will recall that the promenade at 91st Street is the spot where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan finally revealed their true identities. RELATED: The best gardens in New York CityBest New York City parks for a walkHigh Line guide

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Museums

The best New York City tourist attractions that locals love

Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade One of the thrills of living in New York City is staring at the iconic skyline—obviously the world’s best—every once in a while. You’ll find no better vantage point than the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge (enter at Park Row and Centre St; nyc.gov). Stroll across the legendary structure and take in the view—if you look to the south, you’ll see Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty. Once you’ve hit Brooklyn, you have two options: Head into Brooklyn Heights and stroll along the Promenade, overlooking lower Manhattan. Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society The massive institution is home to more than 5,000 creatures in myriad exhibits, including an outdoor baboon reserve, a sea lion pool and an exhibit dedicated entirely to Madagascar. Visitors can ride the Wild Asia Monorail, which tours 38 acres of exhibits that house elephants, Indo-Chinese tigers, deer, antelope and Mongolian wild horses, or wander over to see two gargantuan Nile crocodiles. Amphibian fans can also read about the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to save the Kihansi spray toad, a species now extinct in the wild. On a rainy day, step into any of the indoor attractions: the World of Birds, Mouse House, World of Reptiles and Congo Gorilla Forest. Step into the Mouse House to coo over a litter of baby degus, tiny chinchilla-like rodents native to Chile. Central Park Divide-and-conquer might be the best strategy when exploring Central Park—its sprawling 840 acres are too great to take in during one visit. Instead, hit some of the highlights: Go for a stroll around the tranquil Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (circle the 1.58-mile track a few times for an actual workout), or join the semiclothed hordes who lay out in Sheep Meadow during the summer. Or find the details in some of the park’s most famous attractions, such as lines from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” inscribed along the base of the Alice in Wonderland statue. Coney Island Cyclone No visit to Coney Island is complete without a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone, a fixture since 1927 that has spawned seven clones around the world. Heck, it was even declared a city landmark in 1988 and a National Historic Landmark in 1991. The twister takes just under two minutes to whiz you through a dozen drops (one at a heart-stopping 60-degree angle), achieving a top speed of 60mph. That may not sound very fast, but you’ll surely be humbled (which is to say petrified) by the ancient wooden tracks that look like they belong underneath a steam locomotive. Empire State Building It’s worth braving the long lines, steep ticket prices and dizzying heights to see the city from atop this storied building. Built in 1931, the skyscraper is currently the tallest building in New York, and is one of the most immediate symbols of Gotham—so much so that it’s played a role in films such as King Kong, An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park This massive green space still features remnants of the 1964–1965 World’s Fair, including the 140-foot-high Unisphere, a mammoth steel globe that was the fair’s symbol (and site of the apocalyptic battle scene between humans and aliens in the first Men in Black movie). Also visible are the remains of the New York State Pavilion, erected by Philip Johnson for the fair. Measuring 350 feet by 250 feet, this now-eerie plaza is bordered by 16 100-foot steel columns. While you’re there, pop into the Queens Museum of Art (New York City Building, enter at 111th St and 49th Ave, Flushing, Queens; 718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org; Wed–Sun noon–6pm; suggested donation $5, seniors and students $2.50, children under 5 free), home to the Panorama of the City of New York, a ginormous scale model of New York City featuring Lilliputian landmarks, including the Empire State Building and Queens’s own Citi Field. Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse The MTA spent 12 years removing decades of cigarette smoke and train exhaust from the ceiling of the train station in order to recapture its sea-green splendor. You can get an idea of how much elbow grease was needed for the project—the cleaners left an untouched, almost-black tile over Michael Jordan’s steakhouse. Visit at midday, when you can stare up at the zodiac signs painted in gold leaf on the ceiling without being trampled by commuters. The High Line Not all art in Chelsea is in the galleries—the neighborhood’s elevated park also features a number of rotating public art installations. With the opening of the green space’s second half between 20th and 30th Streets in 2011, this landscaped aerie doubled in size, providing twice the escape from the bustle of the city. The Statue of Liberty Lady Liberty’s beacon still beckons (although these days, it’s mostly to the city’s visitors, not new immigrants). Rather than admire her from afar, hop on a boat to check out the 125-year-old statue. For a closer look, snag a spot on one of the National Park Service’s free half-hour tours of the grounds; the NPS also offers tours of the statue’s crown, which are limited to 240 people per day (so reserve your tickets in advance). Or simply climb aboard the New York Water Taxi (departs from South Street Seaport, Pier 17, South St at Fulton St; call 212-742-1969 or visit nywatertaxi.com for details; $15–$25), whose Statue of Liberty Express Tour Route allows you to circle her island before heading back to shore. South Street Seaport The former Fulton Street Fish Market building at Pier 17 was rebuilt as a high-end shopping mall in the early 1980s—but if you’re looking to avoid throngs of people, we suggest detouring to the pier itself, where you can check out the largest privately owned fleet of historic ships in the country. Afterward, hit one of the area’s surprisingly decent drinking destinations: We’re especially fond of Fresh Salt (146 Beekman St between Front and South Sts; 212-962-0053, freshsalt.com), a cozy, nautically themed bar that was formerly a fish smokehouse. RELATED: 10 best parks in New York CitySecrets of classic New YorkNYC's 20 most iconic street views

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Things to do

10 lesser-known NYC attractions

We love the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building as much as the next tourist, but the city is full of equally impressive—and less well-known—things to do

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Art in New York

Art

Best Chelsea art galleries

David Zwirner Zwirner mixes museum-quality shows of historical figures with a head-turning array of contemporary artists. Tanya Bonakdar Gallery This elegant space reps such powerhouse names as New York City Waterfalls maestro Olafur Eliasson. Gagosian Gallery Larry Gagosian’s mammoth (20,000-square-foot) contribution to 24th Street’s galleries was launched in 1999. Luhring Augustine This cool gallery features work from an impressive index of artists that includes Rachel Whiteread and Pipilotti Rist. The Pace Gallery To view shows by some of the 20th century’s most significant artists, head to this NYC institution. Gladstone Gallery Gladstone is strictly blue-chip, with a heavy emphasis on the Conceptual, the philosophical and the daring. Matthew Marks Gallery The Matthew Marks gallery was a driving force behind Chelsea’s transformation into an art destination. Paul Kasmin Gallery Morris Louis, David Hockney and Annette Lemieux are a few of the heavy-hitters at this gallery. Sean Kelly Gallery This gallery has a strong reputation for supporting work based in installation and performance. Cheim & Read This international group of established contemporary artists includes such superstars as Diane Arbus and Jenny Holzer.

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Art

Best Lower East Side art galleries

At these art galleries on the Lower East Side, you'll find big names alongside up-and-coming talent. In the past few years, the Lower East Side has seen a steady migration of art galleries, and the area's growth has accelerated. Lower rents than Chelsea have allowed young dealers to open shop, bringing a whole new generation of artists to public attention. Here are ten of the best venues; click through to see what they're showing. Canada One of the original LES galleries, Canada still keeps it real with a program that reflects a funky DIY aesthetic. Ramiken Crucible Musician and artist Mike Egan established this small space in 2009 to showcase unrepresented artists he likes. On Stellar Rays This gallery's rather exotic name originates from a 9th-century text by Arab philosopher Alkindus. Rachel Uffner Rachel Uffner cut her teeth working at Christies and as director for D'Amelio Terras gallery in Chelsea. Scaramouche This small, young gallery privileges performance, video and Conceptual work. Lisa Cooley Lisa Cooley's roster of artists seems to share a penchant for Conceptualist sleight-of-hand, mixed with unexpected materials. Sue Scott Gallery Sue Scott stocks her gallery with a lineup of artists that tips predominantly, though not entirely, toward painters. Eleven Rivington An offshoot of 57th Street's tony Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, Eleven Rivington offers an impeccable midtown atmosphere in small-storefront form. Klaus von Nichtssagend This space with a made-up name was opened by Rob Hult and Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy in 2004 and moved to the Lower East Side in 2011. Sperone Westwater Started in 1975, this old-school-as-it gets gallery is housed in a purpose-built showcase designed by starchitect Lord Norman Foster.

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Art

Best off-the-beaten-path art galleries

At these out-of-the way art galleries, you'll find up-and-coming talent worth watching. Fisher Landau Center for Art This gallery in Queens showcases the personal collection of Emily Fisher Landau. Soloway This Billyburg gallery takes its name from a plumbing and heating business that used to occupy the storefront location. Algus Greenspon This gallery is a revival house for forgotten artistic careers. SculptureCenter SculptureCenter is one of the best places to see work by blossoming and midcareer artists. Broadway 1602 The trek to this upper-level space in the Garment District is worth the trouble. These off-the-beaten-path NYC art galleries may seem far-flung, but what they have on view is worth the trip. Here are the best; click through to see what they're showing.

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Art

Best photography galleries

These galleries are renowned for showing the best work by photographers both established and up-and-coming. Click through to see what's on view now. International Center of Photography The International Center of Photography boasts two floors of exhibition space, as well as a library housing thousands of biographical and photographic files. Aperture Gallery Located in the headquarters of the Aperture Foundation, the Apeture Gallery hosts free artist’s lectures, panel discussions and book signings along with exhibitions. Pace/MacGill Part of Pace Gallery, Pace/MacGill, focuses on photography, showing such established names as Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Irving Penn. Yossi Milo Gallery Yossi Milo’s impressive roster of camera talent encompasses emerging artists as well as more established photographers. Danziger Gallery This contemporary photography gallery opened in 1989 in Soho, and settled into its current Chelsea location in 2004. Howard Greenberg Gallery Founded in 1981 the gallery’s collection includes images snapped by Berenice Abbott, Edward Steichen and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Steven Kasher Gallery This Chelsea space is your best bet for a photographic history of New York. Yancey Richardson Gallery This gallery shows contemporary works by such artists as Hellen van Meene, Sebastião Salgado and William Eggleston. Robert Mann Gallery Robert Mann Gallery specializes in 20th-century masters of photography and an international cadre of emerging and midcareer artists working in photo-based art. Bonni Benrubi Gallery, Inc. This gallery, which, since its 1987 founding has migrated from its original home on the Upper East Side to a space in the Fuller Building on East 57th Street, specializes in 20th-century and contemporary photography.

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New York clubs and nightlife

Clubs

Best dance clubs

Your guide to the best dance clubs, from legendary house music havens to upscale rooftop lounges to Brooklyn's underground gems

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Clubs

Best parties

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Clubs

Best burlesque shows

A Burlesque Affaire Doc Wasabassco presents this weekly burlesque event at French bistro Affaire, with entertainers from the Wasabassco stable (GiGi La Femme, Gal Friday, Nikki Le Villain and Nasty Canasta among them) performing. Rhinestone Follies The Rhinestone Follies gals—Kita St. Cyr, Beelzebabe, Hazel Honeysuckle and Ginger Brown—favor the beautiful over the shocking, wear lots of feathers and glitter, and rarely use post-1960s music in their acts. Tonight’s edition of the “sparkliest show on earth” features star turns from burlesque beauties Bettina May and Medianoche, with Bastard Keith as the night’s debonair MC. Floating Kabarette! Galapagos reclaims the circus with this recurring cabaret night, with an array of burlesque artists, chanteurs and chanteuses, aerialists, cabaret acts, vaudevillians and much more serving up the eye-popping goods. Les Fleurs de Shanghai The romance and decadence of old Shanghai (or, as it was sometimes called, the Whore of Asia) come to life at Tribeca eatery-lounge Duane Park. Calamity Chang and her guests provide the burlesque; music from the ’20s through the ’50s comes courtesy of the Night Fragrance Jazz Band, featuring Dances of Vice's Shien Lee on vocals. This month's guest is violinist Andy Lin, who tonight will be performing on the erhu. Nuit Blanche: Film Noir Dances of Vice brings a glamorous menagerie of glittering showgirls and exotic performers to the Meatpacking District for this weekly burlesque show. With an all-new production each week, the affair features three sets of glamorous performances followed by a dance party with DJ Eve Salvail. Tansy Tan Dora, Gal Friday, Medianoche, Cassandra Rosebeetle and Calamity Chang take the stage tonight. For dinner reservations, call 212-675-2400 (or just imbibe a cocktail or three).

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Music

20 best house tracks ever

We’ve set our mixers to bliss to find the 20 best house tracks of all time

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Shopping in New York

Shopping

15 best shops in NYC

Conquer NYC's shopping scene by visiting the best shops for clothing, deals, accessories, home goods and more

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Shopping

Best vintage stores and thrift shops

Find classic pieces, retro treasures and great deals at one of our top ten vintage stores

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Shopping

Best flea markets in New York

Spend your weekend indulging in gourmet eats, antiques and craft goods at New York's most happening flea markets

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Shopping

100 best gift shops in New York City

Find the perfect present at one of NYC's top 100 gift shops

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New York comedy

Comedy

Best comedy clubs in New York

Where comedy is concerned, New York is very much a stand-up town

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Comedy

Best cheap comedy shows

If You Build It Locals Nick Turner and Kara Klenk pass the microphone to fellow stand-ups. Sweet Seth Herzog has moved the venue of his weekly LES mainstay from the Slipper Room (which is under renovation) to this spot; it still features scads of downtown stand-ups and, quite often, his mother. Hot Tub Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler's much-beloved variety show is back on a weekly schedule. Let the weird characters and superb guests creep their way into your heart. Totally J/K Downtown scenesters and longtime pals Joe Mande and Noah Garfinkel host stand-ups in this weekly show. Don't skip out early: Sometimes the best part is the show's recurring "List of Nothing," a wonderfully batty chronicle of the duo's shared imagination. Pretty Good Friends Every week at this spirited neighborhood venue, Eugene Mirman hosts a collection of his comedian pals in a stand-up show formerly known as Tearing the Veil of Maya. Tell Your Friends Liam McEneaney’s “workout comedy room” offers established comics a place to try new material.

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Comedy

Best free comedy shows

Whiplash Leo Allen hosts top local comics in the newest incarnation of the UCBT’s popular late-night Monday slot. Comedy at KFBK The smooth and delightfully understated Hannibal Buress hosts fellow stand-ups. Comedy as a Second Language Sean Patton and Chesley Calloway welcome stand-up comics to the stage in this weekly show. The Chris Gethard Show This beloved, bizarre talk show from improviser and storyteller Gethard moves its dares, roughhousing and general awkwardness to public access, with a live studio audience. Tickets for the live show are first-come, first-served; e-mail zerolaughs@gmail.com to get on the list. Big Terrific New-breed darlings of the alt scene Max Silvestri and Gabe Liedman typically draw big names to their warm show in Williamsburg. ASSSSCAT 3000 NYC’s long-form improv royalty (including UCBT and SNL folk) play pickup-game style in this famous long-running show.

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Comedy

The 10 best comedy shows of 2014

The absolute best of New York’s stand-up, improv and sketch shows from 2014

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New York books

Things to do

The 10 best books of 2014

From feminist essays to a fictional apocalyptic pandemic, these are our favorite books of the year

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Things to do

Best reading series

Eat, Drink and Be Literary This series of civilized yet casual evenings features dinner, wine and a reading from a noteworthy writer, followed by a moderated Q&A about the author's creative process. Franklin Park Reading Series Notable authors spin yarns in this Crown Heights series, which is curated by Penina Roth. The Poetry Brothel This interactive performance series presents a literary cathouse, where male and female “poetry whores” provide private readings behind closed curtains. For discounted entry, join the group's mailing list at thepoetrybrothel.com. The Behind the Book Reading Series At this monthly event, sponsored by literacy nonprofit Behind the Book, authors read from their recently published titles. The Moth StorySLAM! Ten stories. Three teams of judges. One winner. The outrageously (and deservedly) popular spontaneous reading series pits local scribes against one another, challenging them to come up with an impressive work based on a specific theme. Get in line early, as spots for writers and spectators alike go quickly. KGB Bar Sunday Night Fiction Suzanne Dottino curates this weekly literary series for a local crowd.

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Things to do

Best bookstores

McNally Jackson Books McNally Jackson features a good variety of nonfiction, novels and magazines, as well as an expertly curated selection of children's classics and perennial favorites. Young readers can also swing by for the weekly story and crafts session, which takes on a different theme each Saturday. Strand Book Store Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. If you spend enough time here you can find just about anything, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest of sci-fi pulp. Greenlight Bookstore Opened in 2009, Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore is run by Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, who formerly worked at another high-end independent bookstore, McNally Jackson. She brought with her an eye for a comfortable space, and she's stocked it with a selection that goes well beyond best-sellers. The store hosts reading events for both adults and children, often with local writers. And why not? Brooklyn has literary talent galore. BookCourt Located just a few blocks from Atlantic Avenue, the recently expanded BookCourt is a long-standing independent seller with a great selection and lots of space to browse. The store carries all kinds of books (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's books) and literary periodicals, and spotlights new work by local authors. BookCourt's impressive reading series includes a stellar list of children's book authors. 192 Books Owned and ‘curated’ by art dealer Paula Cooper and her husband, editor Jack Macrae, 192 offers a strong selection of art books and literature, as well as memoirs and books on gardening, history, politics, design and music. Regular readings, signings and discussions, some featuring well-known writers, are further good reasons to drop by. The powerHouse Arena PowerHouse publishes beautiful photo books, but the company's loftlike space and gallery in Dumbo hosts all kinds of events, including some of the hottest authors and illustrators in kid lit. WORD Henry Miller grew up not too far from this quaint literary emporium, and though this independent bookstore carries classics on par with the Tropic of Cancer author, the quaint shop also proffers more up-to-date titles. Weekly literary events are frequent at this bibliophile's hub. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Housing Works Bookstore Cafe is an extraordinarily unusual and endearing place. The two-level space—which stocks a range of literary fiction, nonfiction, rare books and collectibles—is a peaceful spot for solo relaxation or for meeting friends over coffee or wine. All proceeds from the café go to providing support services for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The premises also host an interesting array of literary events.

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Things to do

Best specialty bookstores

Idlewild Books A visit to this second-floor travel bookstore—which carries JFK Airport’s pre-1963 moniker and even some of its old stained glass—is a reminder that vacations used to be fun before inflated fuel prices and security lines. Guidebooks, travel-related fiction and photo books line wooden bookshelves, while stools and glowing lights invite readers with a wanderlust to take off a load and stay awhile. Mysterious Bookshop Devotees of mystery, crime and spy genres will know owner Otto Penzler, both as an editor and from his book recommendations on Amazon.com. His shop holds a wealth of paperbacks, hardbacks and autographed first editions. Phaidon Store This retail location for one of the world's most prestigious art publishing houses is spacious and colorful, a good place to spend an hour or two browsing. Bluestockings This self-proclaimed “radical” bookstore and café hosts readings and discussions on health, race, class and sexuality, featuring stellar writers such as graphic novelist Alison Bechdel and Christian-right watchdog Michelle Goldberg. Revolution Books Where else but Revolution Books can you find multiple biographies on Joe Strummer, Spanish editions of Noam Chomsky and an entire section on occupied Palestine? In their own words, this fiercely independent business is “a crucible where a reenvisioned revolutionary communism interacts and mixes it up with all the streams of progressive, radical and revolutionary intellectual life.” You can buy books or speak your own mind: Stop by on Tuesday evenings for lively conversations with Marxists. Midtown Comics Wild about Wolverine or mad for obscure Manga? Billing itself as the largest retailer of comic books, graphic novels, Manga and related collectibles in the U.S., Midtown also stocks magazines, books, DVDs, action figures and assorted swag. If you’re over 18, penetrate the gated area reserved for “adult comics.”

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Comments

5 comments
Rhea S
Rhea S

I'm going to do go crazy in New York City!! just got my tickets last week thanks to Lufthansa's amazing ticket prices :) bit.ly/1Da11sS

Bob-der-Baumeister
Bob-der-Baumeister

hi i am bobiebob the baumeister and i live in the central parc, my best friends are the birds

Walter Streng
Walter Streng

The BEST ROCK SHOP in New York City is by far ROCK STAR CRYSTALS. Located in Manhattan, they have the best collection of rocks and minerals at the lowest prices! Check them out at www.rockstarcrystalsmanhattan.com or call them at 212 675 3065. Their store is open every day, and seeing is believing, so check them out.