The top 20 New York theater shows this winter

Book tickets and stay cozy at the hottest plays, musicals and revivals on Broadway and Off.

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The mercury is plummeting and we’ll see snow any day now, so this is the time to make winter survival plans. That includes bundling up, getting exercise, not drinking too much and feeding your brain. Although spring is the truly busy time for New York theater—with shows opening to be considered for a variety of prizes (such as the Tony Awards)—there’s plenty to see between now through the end of February. January alone offers three major Broadway openings (Picnic, The Other Place and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and a slew of wild experimental work downtown at various festivals: Under the Radar, COIL and Other Forces. So check out our top picks for the winter, click through to the shows and start booking tickets now. What better way to stay warm than with a cozy show and the company of fellow theater lovers?

  • Photograph: Richard Termine

    Water by the Spoonful
    Second Stage Theatre
    In previews; opens January 8
    Quiara Alegría Hudes continues the trilogy she began with 2006’s Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue in this family drama, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Davis McCallum directs the New York premiere, starring Armando Riesco as a soldier who returns from Iraq to his Puerto Rican family in Philadelphia; Liza Colón-Zayas, Frankie R. Faison, Bill Heck and Zabryna Guevara are also part of the cast.—Adam Feldman

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Picnic
    American Airlines Theatre
    Previews start December 14; opens January 13
    Sam Gold directs this Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the 1953 William Inge drama about lust and shame in a small Kansas town. The top-flight cast includes Reed Birney, Ellen Burstyn, Mare Winningham and, as tortured lovers Hal and Madge, Sebastian Stan and Maggie Grace.—David Cote

     

     

  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    Richard Rodgers Theatre
    Previews start December 18; opens January 17
    Last time we saw Maggie the Cat purring for her boozy, neglectful Brick, it was 2008 and the all-black version of Tennessee Williams’s classic. Now Scarlett Johansson headlines yet another revival, directed by Rob Ashford. Benjamin Walker (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Ciarán Hinds and Debra Monk also star in the juicy tale of sexual compulsion and lies.—DC

  • Other Forces
    Incubator Arts Project
    January 3–20
    The Incubator Arts Project joins in the avalanche of January festivals with this smaller celebration of innovative work. This year the lineup includes writer-director Julia Jarcho's new play, Grimly Handsome; a reworking of a Nellie Tinder hit from early 2012 (pictured above); and ace guitarist James Moore (Neutral Hero) doing an encore performance of John Zorn's The Book of Heads.—DC

  • Photograph: Hunter Canning

    Job
    Flea Theater
    January 4–28
    Thomas Bradshaw's alternately earnest and sick adaptation of the Biblical story revels in his typical transgressive shocks (raped corpses! castration!) but also offers tidbits of theosophical noodling about divine will and suffering. Young actors in the Bats, the Flea's resident ensemble, gamely throw themselves into the sword-and-sandals tomfoolery.—DC

  • COIL
    Various venues
    January 3–19
    P.S. 122, in temporary exile from its home base on First Avenue, schools us all in this sampler of avant-garde subjects, including theater works by Radiohole (Inflatable Frankenstein, above), Kristen Kosmas, Brian Rogers and Split Britches veteran Peggy Shaw. The shows are spread out at various venues (the Kitchen, Dixon Place, etc.), so check out ps122.org for details and to buy tickets.—DC

  • Amandine
    Cherry Lane Theatre
    Previews start January 9; opens January 16.
    Musical-theater favorites Gideon Glick, Tonya Pinkins, Alexandra Silber and Nathan Lee Graham star in a new musical inspired by 19th-century intersex memoirist Herculine Barbin. Winter Miller (book) and Lance Horne (music) weave a story of romance, gender confusion and the struggle for identity.—DC

  • Under the Radar 2013
    Public Theater
    January 9–20
    The Public and downtown impresario Mark Russell present edgy new works from all over the globe, including Nature Theater of Oklahoma's epic, ten-hour Life and Times: Episodes 1–4 (produced by Soho Rep); Zero Cost House from Pig Iron Theatre Company; an Iranian spin on Shakespeare called Hamlet, Prince of Grief; and the inimitable Taylor Mac's A 20th Century Abridged Concert of the History of Popular Music.—DC

  • Bethany
    New York City Center Stage II
    Previews start January 11; opens January 20.
    Ugly Betty no more, America Ferrera stars as a woman driven to extremes by the tanking economy in a new play by recent Juilliard graduate Laura Marks. Gaye Taylor Upchurch (Harper Regan) directs the production for Women's Project Theater, the first at the troupe's new home downstairs at City Center.—AF

  • Photograph: Greg Gorman

    The Vandal
    Flea Theater
    Previews start January 18; opens January 31.
    As an actor, Hamish Linklater (pictured, above, in School for Lies) has brought goofy wit and heart to multiple roles on stage and television; now he ventures into playwriting with a dark comedy about strangers at a bus stop. Flea caller Jim Simpson directs a cast that includes the soulful Deirdre O’Connell (In the Wake), the gruff Zach Grenier (33 Variations) and rising young talent Noah Robbins (The Twenty-Seventh Man).—AF

  • All in the Timing
    Primary Stages @ 59E59
    Previews start January 22.
    Last seen Off Broadway in an extended run 20 years ago, David Ives's intoxicating six-pack of high-concept sketches returns to tickle our brains again. Director John Rando (Urinetown) restages these clever vignettes, whose topics include an Esperanto-type language; Philip Glass buying a loaf of bread; and the mad, dying thoughts of Leon Trotsky.—DC

  • Cinderella
    Broadway Theatre
    Previews start January 25; opens March 3.
    The 1957 made-for-TV Rodgers & Hammerstein musical finally makes it to the Broadway stage. Playwright Douglas Carter Beane gives the book a makeover, and the production stars Laura Osnes in the title role and Santino Fontana as her prince. Mark Brokaw directs the fairy-tale enchantment.—DC

  • Photograph: Kevin Sprague

    Women of Will
    Gym at Judson
    Previews start January 27; opens February 3.
    The founder of Massachusetts's Shakespeare & Company festival, Tina Packer has spent the last 15 years of her estimable career developing a five-part theatrical cycle based on Shakespeare's most headstrong women. Now she distills that work into a single night, in a production directed by Eric Tucker and costarring Nigel Gore.—AF

  • Moose Murders Shamelessly Revised
    Connelly Theatre
    January 29–February 10
    Arthur Bicknell's infamous 1983 murder-mystery farce, set in a country lodge, is widely regarded as one of the most outrageous fiascos in Broadway history. Now the playwright takes a shot at fixing some of its more egregious faults in a revised version, directed by Steven Carl McCasland for the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective.—AF

  • The Madrid
    Manhattan Theatre Club
    Previews start February 5.
    TV powerhouse Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie) returns to the stage in Liz Flahive's dramedy about a schoolteacher who abandons her familiar life. Leigh Silverman (Chinglish) directs the world premiere for MTC, with a cast also comprising John Ellison Conlee, Phoebe Strole, Christopher Evan Welch, Heidi Schreck and theater treasure Frances Sternhagen.—AF

  • Photograph: Jeff Sugg

    This Clement World
    St Ann’s Warehouse
    February 5–17
    The globe is warming and the oceans are rising, and the marvelous Cynthia Hopkins has something to say about it. In her newest multimedia music-theater piece, the performer explores the meaning of climate change, backed by a 15-piece band and chorus. Frequent collaborator D.J. Mendel directs.—DC

  • Passion
    Classic Stage Company
    Previews start February 7; opens February 28.
    Love is an implacable disease, wasting and contagious, in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's grim adaptation of the 1981 film Passione d'Amore, in which a sickly woman stalks a handsome soldier. John Doyle directs for CSC the piece's first major New York revival; the undeniable Judy Kuhn stars as Fosca, with Ryan Silverman and Melissa Errico as the pretty couple whose mutual desire stands in her way.—AF

  • Talley's Folly
    Laura Pels Theatre
    Previews start February 8; opens March 5.
    Danny Burstein (Golden Boy) plays a Jewish immigrant and Sarah Paulson (Crimes of the Heart) is the small-town Protestant girl he wants to marry in Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer-winning 1979 romantic comedy, set in 1944 Missouri. Michael Wilson directs the revival for Roundabout Theatre Company.—AF

  • Photograph: Michael J. Lutch

    The Laramie Cycle
    BAM Harvey Theater
    February 12–24.
    Director Moisés Kaufman reunites with the original cast of the landmark documentary theater piece The Laramie Project. This time, they pair their study of a Wyoming town in the wake of the 1998 murder of gay student Matthew Shepard with its 2008 epilogue. The whole cycle runs about five hours on marathon days, which includes a dinner break.—DC

  • Ann
    Vivian Beaumont Theater
    Previews start February 18; opens March 7.
    Lone Star State Governor Ann Richards (1933–2006) is the subject of Holland Taylor's solo tribute, which premiered in Galveston, Texas, two years ago. Exploring this charismatic, flamboyant political animal, Taylor goes in search of the woman behind the big hair and down-home twang.—DC

Photograph: Richard Termine

Water by the Spoonful
Second Stage Theatre
In previews; opens January 8
Quiara Alegría Hudes continues the trilogy she began with 2006’s Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue in this family drama, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Davis McCallum directs the New York premiere, starring Armando Riesco as a soldier who returns from Iraq to his Puerto Rican family in Philadelphia; Liza Colón-Zayas, Frankie R. Faison, Bill Heck and Zabryna Guevara are also part of the cast.—Adam Feldman


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