New York theater events you must see this winter

Soak up some sizzle with this winter's hottest Broadway and Off Broadway events. We've gathered the best New York theater festivals, plays, musicals and operas to help you plan your calendar.

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Cirque Eloize: Cirkopolis

Cirque Eloize: Cirkopolis Photograph: Valerie Remise


Opera glasses at the ready! The big freeze is the perfect time of year to get cozy at one of New York’s many theater productions, whether it's a Broadway blockbuster or an up-and-coming Off Broadway show. If you're looking for thrills and spills, Rocky the musical hits the stage, and there's even a Breaking Bad opera. Lovers of the Bard and other classic playwrights can rejoice with the opening of a new Shakespeare center in Brooklyn.

RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in New York City this winter

See The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic in one of the city's grandest venues

  • Price band: 2/4

Legendary director Robert Wilson’s music-theater hybrid, which follows the life and work of avant-garde performance artist Marina Abramovic, will have its U.S. premiere in the Armory’s impressive 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall. The artist herself—who famously stared down gallerygoers at MoMA in 2010—stars in the production alongside actor Willem Dafoe. The piece covers Abramovic’s life from her Yugoslavian childhood through her rise to prominence in the American art world.

  1. Park Avenue Armory 643 Park Ave, between 66th and 67th Sts
  2. Thu Dec 12 - Sat Dec 21
More info

Escape dreary city life via transporting troupe Cirque Eloize

  • Price band: 3/4

This contemporary-circus troupe from Montreal brings its latest show to NYC, performing classic acrobatics and tightly choreographed dance numbers against a backdrop of original video projections. Expect jugglers, contortionists and Cyr-wheel artists in pieces inspired by the struggle to escape a soul-crushing industrialized city. If that hits a little too close to home, rest assured: At least onstage, humanity wins in the end.

  1. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts 566 La Guardia Pl, at Washington Sq South, 10012
  2. Wed Dec 18 - Sun Jan 5
More info

Catch an eyeful of experimental theater and dance at American Realness festival

  • Price band: 2/4

This annual performance fest pushes the envelope of dance and contemporary performance. The fifth year’s adventurous lineup includes 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot, a criticism of cheesy pop music; Commentary=Not Thing, a dance play exploring the complexity of relationships through nude performers and repeated text; and myendlesslove, an examination of gay sex and queer grief. Wind down from the performances at the Lounge, a pop-up nightlife hub that American Realness will share with other festivals, housed in the Public Theater.

  1. Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement 466 Grand St, at Pitt St, 10002
  2. Thu Jan 9 - Sun Jan 19
More info

Explore the avant-garde at the 2014 Coil Festival

  • Price band: 2/4

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 Mac Wellman, Tina Satter, Reid Farrington, Okwui Okpokwasili, Phil Soltanoff and Brokentalkers. The shows are spread out at various venues (the Kitchen, the New Ohio, etc.), so check out ps122.org for details and to buy tickets.

  1. Various venues
  2. Fri Jan 3 - Sun Jan 26
More info

Embrace theatrical up-and-comers at Under the Radar 2014

  • Price band: 2/4

The Public and downtown impresario Mark Russell present edgy new works from all over the globe, including 600 Highwaymen's The Record, John Hodgman's I Stole Your Dad, Edgar Oliver's Helen & Edgar, Roger Guenveur Smith's Rodney King, SKaGeN's BigMouth and Daniel Fish's Eternal. Visit the festival's website for details.

  1. Public Theater 425 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
  2. Wed Jan 8 - Sun Jan 19
More info

Support innovative new operas

  • Price band: 2/4

Prototype: Opera/Theatre/Now, an opera and musical-theater jubilee created in response to the sudden explosion of great new chamber works, stems from a collaboration between HERE Arts Center and Beth Morrison Projects. The second annual iteration features seven innovative events, including Paul’s Case, an opera based on a 1906 short story by Willa Cather; Have a Good Day!, a chamber piece about retail cashiers; and Thumbprint, about a Pakistani woman fighting back in the wake of a brutal rape. The untimely demise of New York City Opera was a blow to Gotham’s classical scene, but clearly it ain’t licked yet.

  1. Various locations
  2. Wed Jan 8 - Sun Jan 19
More info

Cook up a batch of fun at the new Breaking Bad musical

  • Price band: 2/4

Meth kingpin Walter White’s TV reign on Breaking Bad may be over, but his legacy continues beyond the annals of Netflix: One World Symphony maestro Sung Jin Hong has reimagined the dearly departed AMC series in his new mini opera, Breaking Bad–Ozymandias, combining it with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ode to impermanence, “Ozymandias.” And get ready for the opera’s pièce de résistance: the “Bitch Aria,” performed by—you guessed it—Jesse Pinkman. The two-night program also includes selections from Wagner’s Flying Dutchman and Berlioz’s “La Captive.”

  1. Church of the Holy Apostles 296 Ninth Ave, at 28th St
  2. Sun Jan 26 - Mon Jan 27
More info

See furious fists fly on stage at Kung Fu

  • Price band: 2/4

Kung fu movies always seem to be just as much about ballet as they are about all-out melees, so it’s perhaps fitting that the story of Bruce Lee’s life is getting adapted into a multidisciplinary stage piece. Directed by Leigh Silverman and penned by noted Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang (The Dance and the Railroad), Kung Fu promises a mix of dance, martial arts and opera—and, presumably, lots of jump kicks. Onetime So You Think You Can Dance contestant Cole Horibe stars as the man himself.

  1. Pershing Square Signature Center 480 W 42nd St, at Tenth Ave
  2. Tue Feb 4 - Sun Mar 16
More info

See a celebrated playwright's newest work, Outside Mullingar

  • Price band: 3/4

Brían F. O’Byrne and Debra Messing (Smash) headline this new dramedy by John Patrick Shanley (Doubt). They play lovelorn, fortyish singletons in rural Ireland, living next door to each other but separated by family feuds and romantic fears. Seasoned Shanley collaborator Doug Hughes directs.

  1. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 W 47th St, between Broadway and Eighth Ave
  2. Fri Jan 3 - Sun Mar 16
More info

Find out if Sly Stallone can produce a musical at Rocky

  • Price band: 3/4

One of the latest films to get the Broadway treatment is this iconic portrait of a Philadelphia thug chasing his boxing dreams. The jury’s still out as to how well the story of a raw-egg-swilling palooka will translate to the stage, but the champ’s got a strong team behind him: golden-boy director Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher), Tony-winning songwriting team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime), book writer Thomas Meehan (The Producers), and, cowriting and producing, original movie star and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone.

  1. Winter Garden Theatre 1634 Broadway, between 50th and 51st Sts
  2. Tue Feb 11 - Sun Nov 23
More info

See if the Polonsky Shakespeare Center measures up to London's Globe theater

Brooklyn might not have the Globe, but the borough now has an impressive stage dedicated to works by the Bard and other classic playwrights. After 34 years of vagabonding, heavyweight company Theatre for a New Audience cut the ribbon on what will be its first permanent home in October. And the opening is a doozy: Legendary director Julie Taymor is mounting a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring Homeland’s David Harewood as Oberon (through Jan 12, $20 and up). 866-811-4111, tfana.org

  1. 262 Ashland Pl between Fulton St and Lafayette Ave, Fort Greene, Brooklyn


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