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20 Broadway shows and Off Broadway events this winter

Winter brings a wave of new Broadway shows and downtown festivals. Use our guide to keep up with all the action.

 (Photograph: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg)
Photograph: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg


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.

 (Photograph: Evgenia Eliseeva)
Photograph: Evgenia Eliseeva

All the Way

Former TV meth overlord Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) gets back to his stage roots in this Washington period drama set in the 1960s. Cranston takes on the swaggering role of President Lyndon B. Johnson, fighting to pass his landmark civil rights bill. Bill Rauch directs the Robert Schenkkan piece.

 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Tales from Red Vienna

Two of New York's finest stage actors, Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur) and Kathleen Chalfant (Wit), star in the premiere of David Grimm's drama, set in Austria in the wake of World War I. Kate Whoriskey directs for MTC.

 (Photograph: Joan Marcus)
Photograph: Joan Marcus

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical

Recently minted Broadway star Jessie Mueller finally gets a vehicle specially crafted for her gorgeous voice and her innate warmth. She plays the great singer-songwriter Carole King in a retrospective about King's early life and career. Playwright Douglas McGrath provides the book.

 (Photograph: Helen Warner)
Photograph: Helen Warner

The Night Alive

The Atlantic reaches across its namesake ocean to import the Donmar Warehouse production of the latest work by writer-director Conor McPherson (The Weir), in which a lonely Irishman tries to help a struggling woman and finds himself in a sea of troubles. The cast includes Michael McElhatton, Ciarán Hinds and Jim Norton.

 (Photograph: T Charles Erickson)
Photograph: T Charles Erickson

The Bridges of Madison County

First a best-selling book, then a 1995 movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, this tale of a photographer and the unhappy Italian wife he tenderly romances has returned as a Broadway musical. The score is by Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years), while Marsha Norman wrote the book. Bartlett Sher directs Steven Pasquale and Kelli O'Hara as the lovers.

 (Photograph: Jenny Anderson)
Photograph: Jenny Anderson


Stage (and screen) beauty Rebecca Hall stars in journalist-playwright Sophie Treadwell's 1928 classic about a woman whose attempts to escape society's gears result in madness and homicide. The revival of this rarely seen modern classic is staged by acclaimed British director Lyndsey Turner.

 (Photograph: Gregory Costanzo)
Photograph: Gregory Costanzo

Kung Fu

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.

 (Photograph: James Allister Sprang)
Photograph: James Allister Sprang

Cry, Trojans!

Director Elizabeth LeCompte leads the Wooster Group through the thorny and blood-smeared passages of Shakespeare's undermounted Troilus and Cressida. This being a Wooster joint, the classic text is fractured and refracted through representational strategies involving American "Indians." The ensemble includes Gary Wilmes, Scott Shepherd and the great Kate Valk.

 (Photograph: Julie Mack)
Photograph: Julie Mack

COIL Festival

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.

 (Photograph: David Paul Morris)
Photograph: David Paul Morris


The New Group continues its impressive commitment to provocateur Thomas Bradshaw (Burning) with the world premiere of his play about pornographers living next door to respectable suburban families. Scott Elliott directs a cast that includes Ella Dershowitz, Laura Esterman and Daniel Gerroll.

 (Photograph: Johan Persson)
Photograph: Johan Persson

King Lear

The wave of high-profile Shakespeare continues with Frank Langella's take on the grief-madded monarch. Angus Jackson directs his production after its triumphant run at Chichester Festival Theatre. Rather than bearing a directorial concept, this Lear mainly showcases a mighty, magisterial turn by Langella.

 (Photograph: Gerry Goodstein)
Photograph: Gerry Goodstein

Hand to God

After a successful, widely acclaimed 2011 premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Robert Askins's wild, dark comedy gets another outing, courtesy of MCC Theater. Mauritz von Stuelpnagel returns to the director's chair, joined by two original lead actors: the superb Steven Boyer as a troubled teenage Christian puppeteer and Geneva Carr as his tightly wound mom.

 (Photograph: Joseph Moran)
Photograph: Joseph Moran

The Happiest Song Plays Last

With this look at a successful pair of Puerto Rican cousins, Quiara Alegría Hudes completes the stage trilogy that began with Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Water by the Spoonful. Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs for Second Stage.

 (Photograph: Andrew Eccles)
Photograph: Andrew Eccles

Outside Mullingar

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.



Red Bull Theater strays from its usual classical-theater path to revive Joe Orton's taboo-busting 1965 dark comedy, in which a bank robber hides stolen cash in his recently deceased mother's coffin. Jesse Berger directs a cast that includes Nick Westrate and Rocco Sisto.

 (Photograph: Marek Berry)
Photograph: Marek Berry

Under the Radar 2014

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.


Love and Information

The great English playwright Caryl Churchill dissects our fractured, data-clogged culture with this dizzying mosaic of microdramas, originally presented at the Royal Court Theatre in 2012. Consisting of 57 scenes and 100 characters, the piece is directed by frequent Churchillian James Macdonald and features a 16-member New York ensemble.

 (Photograph: Gregory Costanzo)
Photograph: Gregory Costanzo

The Open House

Having delighted and annoyed audiences with such prickly plays as Middletown and Thom Pain (based on nothing), playwright Will Eno returns with an unconventional take on family drama. The Debate Society's astute Oliver Butler directs.

 (Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith)
Photograph: Richard Hubert Smith

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

After the rapid demise of The Testament of Mary on Broadway, the formidable Fiona Shaw bounces right back to the New York stage, opposite dancer Daniel Hay-Gordon, in a theatrical version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem about a doomed nautical voyage. Phyllida Lloyd, whose résumé runs from classical theater and opera to Mamma Mia!, directs the production for BAM's Next Wave Festival.

Days are growing shorter, the nights are getting colder…how to keep our spirits up during the winter months? That’s easy: Go see a show. Between now and the onset of spring, theater is as busy as ever, with new Broadway shows and lots to see Off Broadway (not to mention January festivals). Plus, with lowered post-holiday tourist trade, you’re in a better position to score discount theater tickets. We singled out 20 of the best winter theater offerings. Click through the slide show below for details and links to buy tickets. Have we missed something? Add your picks in the comments section below. (And go here for more winter activities.)

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