All Off Broadway shows A–Z
Maddie Corman (Next Fall) opens up in an autobiographical solo show that explores the aftershocks of her husband's 2015 arrest on a shocking charge. Kristin Hanggi (Bare) directs the world premiere.
Four driven showbiz underlings clamber up the ladder of success in this original musical by Bryan Blaskie and Manny Hagopian. After a well-received debut at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival, the show now goes bicoastal, directed once again by C. Ryanne Domingues.
A proud Theban king goes to pieces after snubbing the Greek god Dionysus and his pack of wild women in Bryan Doerries's adaptation of Euripides' ripping tragedy. Carl Cofield directs Classical Theatre of Harlem's free alfresco production at Marcus Garvey Park, starring Jason C. Brown as the vengeful diety and featuring choreography by Elisa Monte Dance's Tiffany Rea-Fisher.
Three deadpan blue-skinned men with extraterrestrial imaginations carry this tourist fave, a show as smart as it is ridiculous. They drum on open tubs of paint, creating splashes of color; they consume Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch; they engulf the audience in a roiling sea of toilet paper. For sheer weird, exuberant fun, it's hard to top this long-running treat. (Note: The playing schedule varies from week to week, with as many as four performances on some days and none on others.)
Improv comedians eschew the same old song and dance in favor of a brand-new song and dance, devised on the spot from audience suggestions. It’s an old game, but somehow this gang makes it seem fresh.
A vacationing gay couple stumbles into a free-spirited compound of nudists in a very campy new musical comedy conceived and directed by Marc Eardley. The show is staffed by an all-male cast of seven; the book and lyrics are by Jay Falzone, and five composers have contributed music.
The second play in Shakespeare in the Park's 2019 season is this rarely performed tragedy, in which the hoi polloi of Rome turn against an arrogant war hero (and lifelong mama's boy) when he refuses to show off his scars. The reliably insightful Daniel Sullivan directs the production; the cast includes Jonathan Cake, Kate Burton, Louis Cancelmi, Jonathan Hadary, Teagle F. Bougere, Amelia Workman and Enid Graham. See our complete guide to Shakespeare in the Park tickets for details.
Four friends explore the history of brunch and the cocktails associated with it in a musical companion piece to Anthony Caporale's popular A Spirited History of Drinking, formerly known as The Imbible. The score is by Josh Erlich; Carorale wrote the book, and codirects the show with Nicole DiMattei. Admission includes a modest brunch and three complimentary cocktails, so arrive half an hour early to take full advantage.
Chen Shi-Zheng's immersive kung fu musical, commissioned by the Shed, imagines twin siblings caught up in the prophecies and struggles of a secret Queens sect that guards an elixir of immortality. Written by Kung Fu Panda screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, the show incorporates multiple songs by Sia as well as an original score by the Haxan Cloak. The cast includes David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors) and Martha Graham Dance Company principal PeiJu Chien-Pott; expect elaborate dances and martial-arts sequences.
Rob Ackerman offered a detailed look at the world of food photography in the 2001 comedy Tabletop. Now he takes audiences behind the scenes once again in a play about the troubled shoot for a TV commercial. Theresa Rebeck directs a cast of six that includes Ann Harada and Dean Nolen.
An actor drinks heavily (in the vein of Comedy Central's Drunk History) and then tries to corral others into enacting a story by the Bard. Bibulous excess is encouraged. TIME OUT DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER:DRUNK SHAKESPEAREThe hit theatrical comedy in the heart of Broadway $35 for balcony tickets (regular price $55) $49 for mezzanine tickets (regular price $69) $69 for stage-side tickets (regular price $89) Promotional description: The stage is set at the Lounge, a hidden library on 47th and Eighth featuring craft cocktails and more 15,000 real books. Five professional New York actors meet as members of the Drunk Shakespeare Society. One of them has at least five shots of whiskey, then overconfidently attempts to perform a major role in a Shakespearean play. Hilarity and mayhem ensue as the four sober actors try to keep the script on track. Every show is different depending on who is drinking…and what they're drinking! Only one can be King. Learn more about the exclusive King Experience. TO BUY TICKETS: Click here to buy tickets Performance schedule: Monday at 7:30pm; Wednesday at 8pm; Thursday at 7:30pm; and Friday and Saturday at 8pm and 10pm. Some weeks also offer performances on Tuesday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 7pm and/or Saturday at 6pm. Running Time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission. 21 or over only. Photo ID required. Offer for performances thru 4/28/19. Not all seats discounted. Discount code valid for stage-side, mezzanine and balcony seats only. All purchases with c
Theater review by Raven SnookChristopher Shinn’s 2007 drama Dying City compresses huge issues—class and political divides, the nature of truth, the impact of chronic violence—into an intimate three-character power play. Therapist Kelly (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) receives an unexpected visit from Peter (Colin Woodell), the identical twin of her late husband, Craig. An up-and-coming Hollywood actor and motormouth, Peter initially just seems to want to reminisce about his sibling, a Harvard grad who died a year earlier while on military duty in Iraq. As their slippery conversation progresses, it becomes clear that Craig had a very dark side—and that Peter, in his own way, may be as dangerous as his brother was. Dying City requires a palpable sense of unease from the get-go; the brilliance of Shinn's script is often in what the characters don't say. But although Shinn is a hugely gifted playwright, he is an inexperienced director; the result is a middling production that feels detached from the play’s insightful examination of how trauma can misshape lives. Fargo’s Winstead, in a dispassionate stage debut, barely musters more than a shrug in her tricky passive-reactive role, which leaves Woodell floundering; his Peter is more convincing than his Craig (whom he plays in flashbacks), but both are superficial. Shinn's craft as a writer still shines through, so the audience has plenty to think about. But at its most potent, Dying City should leave you anguished, not analytical. Seco
David Kwong combines his two passions, magic and crossword construction, in an evening of cryptic pleasures at the High Line Hotel. In addition to illusions, the evening includes riddles and puzzles created by Kwong for the occasion.
Theater review by Raven Snook Enter Laughing turns flop sweat sweet. This is the third time in 12 years that the York Theatre Company has mounted Stan Daniels and Joseph Stein’s once-unsuccessful musical, based on Carl Reiner's semiautobiographical novel about a horny Jewish nebbish with showbiz dreams in 1930s New York. Enter Laughing was adapted into a popular play and movie before its 1976 musical adaptation tanked on Broadway under the title So Long, 174th Street. But these days, when humor often has a bitter political aftertaste, it's comforting to slurp up the show’s Borscht Belt silliness, especially when the actors will do anything for a laugh. Heck, even the York's artistic director takes his pants off in a cameo for comedy's sake. Some nostalgia for juvenile, pre-PC shenanigans is admittedly required to enjoy watching David Kolowitz (an affable Chris Dwan) attempt to juggle the ladies in his life, appease his overbearing mom (Alison Fraser) and perform in an excruciating melodrama under the mentorship of a never-was impresario (David Schramm, giving full Orson Welles) and his lusty daughter (Farah Alvin). Stein's gag-filled book and Daniels's klezmer-meets-musical-comedy score flirt with raunchiness, but it’s pretty innocent stuff. In this goofy world, an accidental brush against a woman's breast inspires nothing more than a jokey ballad, though there are a few concessions to modern sexual sensitivities. ("Undressing Girls with My Eyes" is now "Romancing Girls wi
Aurélien Bory and his French spectacular-theater troupe, Compagnie 111, return to BAM with a piece that draws on the work of writer George Perec to explore human relationships to obstacles and space. The cast comprises Martin Salvan, singer Claire Lefilliâtre and three dancer-acrobats.
Theater review by Adam Feldman [Note: This is a review of the 2018 production of Fairview at Soho Rep. The production returns for an encore run at Theatre for a New Audience in June, 2019, with the entire original cast. In April, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.] At several points in the first act of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s metatheatrical semicomedy Fairview, the upper-middle-class black women onstage look straight out into the audience and check their makeup. The fourth wall here is a one-way mirror, like the ones in police stations or psych-test observation rooms: The characters can see themselves, but they can’t see us watching them and sizing up their dynamics. As “Family Affair” plays on the stereo, Beverly (Heather Alicia Simms) nervously prepares a big dinner—it’s her mama’s birthday, and everything must be perfect!—for her jocular husband (Charles Browning), her undermining sister (the impeccable Roslyn Ruff) and her sporty daughter (Mayaa Boateng). It’s all quite familiar until, suddenly, it’s not. A half hour into the play, Drury (We Are Proud to Present…) switches its frame: As the opening scene replays in silence, we hear the voices of four white people who are chattering about it and over it, as though they were watching a reality TV show. What they are gabbing about is race—including which race they would like to be if they weren’t white—and they inevitably deal in stereotypes. (They are also stereotypes themselves: the rich liberal, the overtalki
Theater review by Raven Snook Folksbiene's Yiddish-language Fiddler became an unlikely hit last summer—see our original review, below—prompting multiple extensions and now, a move to a larger theater uptown. Those who get shpilkes imagining what that migration might do to Tevye the dairyman and his brethren can breathe easy. They've arrived with their stripped-down aesthetic and emotionally lucid production intact. In fact, it feels even more resonant thanks to beautifully evolved performances, the recasting of a few key roles and, sadly, a heightened sense of vulnerability due to the recent spike in anti-Semitism. (Be prepared to be wanded at the door.) Once again, Steve Skybell's Tevye is rich and real as he avoids the trap of scenery chewing. (Beowulf Boritt's barely-there set of parchment wouldn't make much of a meal, anyway.) Under Joel Grey's actor-friendly direction, Skybell consistently goes for nuanced naturalism instead of laughs or apoplexy, and he has a lived-in chemistry with newcomer Jennifer Babiak as his anxious wife, Golde. The strong-voiced Drew Seigla as Pertshik, the Bolshevik revolutionary who woos Tevye's second oldest daughter, is another welcome addition. The rest of the returning romantic leads are as charming as ever, making sure never to cross into cloying, and Jackie Hoffman's Yente provides plenty of comic relief without succumbing to caricature. Admittedly, this may not be the most spectacularly sung, danced or designed Fiddler ever to hit the
Undeterred by the failures of Frankenstein-themed tuners on Broadway and Off Broadway in 2007 (and Off-Off Broadway in 2016), composer-librettist-scientist Eric B. Sirota ventures back into the mad musical laboratory for his adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic horror novel. Clint Hromsco directs the premiere.
Self-described “bubble scientist” Fan Yang's blissfully disarming act (now performed in New York by his son Deni, daughter Melody and wife Ana) consists mainly of generating a dazzling succession of bubbles in mind-blowing configurations, filling them with smoke or linking them into long chains. Lasers and flashing colored lights add to the trippy visuals.—David Cote TIME OUT DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER:THE GAZILLION BUBBLE SHOW It will blow you away!!!Tickets as low as $49 (regular price $79) Promotional description: After twenty years as a Master of Bubbles, Fan Yang brought his unique brand of artistry to the Big Apple in 2007 and has since wowed bubble lovers of all ages. The Gazillion Bubble Show truly is a family affair for Fan: His wife Ana, son Deni, daughter Melody and brother Jano all can be found on stage in New York and around the world performing their bubble magic. Audiences are delighted with an unbubblievable experience and washed with a bubble tide; some even find themselves inside a bubble. Mind-blowing bubble magic, spectacular laser lighting effects and momentary soapy masterpieces will make you smile, laugh and feel like a kid again.THREE WAYS TO BUY TICKETS:1. Online: Click here to buy tickets through Telecharge2. By phone: Call 212-947-8844 and mention code: GBTONYF453. In person: Print this offer and bring it to the New World Stages box officePerformance schedule: Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 11am, 2pm and 4:30pm; Sunday at 12pm and 3pm Running time: 1h
This delightful show written and directed by Nick Brennan follows Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia and Rose as they prepare for the Shady Pines Gay Pride Talent Show. That should be enough to convince you it's worth 90 minutes of your time, but if you're still unsure, the evening also boasts a 1980s fashion show and a Golden Girls trivia challenge.
Moira Buffini imagines the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher in this comedic history play, in which the main characters are played by two actresses apiece and two other actor play everyone else. Indhu Rubasingham directs the NYC premiere at the Brits Off Broadway festival.
Robyn Lynne Norris's comedy is based on what she learned when she created dozens of fake profiles that proved unexpectedly popular on a dating website. Lorin Latarro directs the NYC premiere, which integrates a few songs and patches of improv.
New York Classical Theatre mounts a free alfresco production of Oscar Wilde's dazzlingly epigrammatic upper-class farce, directed by Stephen Burdman. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the production features conventional casting; on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the entire cast switches roles to play characters of the other gender.
In this original musical, the multifariously talented Grace McLean delves into the early life of the visionary 12th-century German nun, theologist, composer and botanist Hildegard of Bingen. McLean plays the future saint's childhood mentor; three young actresses split the role of her tutee. Lee Sunday Evans directs the world premiere for LCT3.
An undocumented Mexican delivery guy and a lovely but incompetent young Russian spy are the central characters in Jamie Jackson and SoHee Youn's musical rom-com, set amid the ethnic mosaic of Hell's Kitchen. Bill Castellino (Desperate Measures) directs the Off Broadway premiere.
Musical theater does right by the jukebox with this behind-the-music tale, presenting the Four Seasons’ energetic 1960s tunes (including “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”) as they were meant to be performed. Ten months after concluding an 11-year run on Broadway, the show follows Avenue Q's example and returns for an open-ended run at Off Broadway's New World Stages. Under Des McAnuff's sleek direction, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice's biography feels canny instead of canned.
New Georges presents Chana Porter's time-leaping experimental play, which traces 20 years in the globe-trotting journey of a woman who secretly wants to be a lion. Tara Ahmadinejad directs the NYC premiere, whose cast includes Polly Lee, Moe Angelos and Eliza Bent.
Theater review by Helen Shaw [Note: The production returns for an encore run at Theatre Row in June, 2019, with Kevin Isola assuming the role of Vanya.] Despite the lack of a samovar and wistful-looking birches, Aaron Posner’s engaging Life Sucks.—the period is part of the title—is closely mapped onto Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. In the haze of late summer, Sonia (Kimberly Chatterjee) yearns for the dashing Dr. Aster (Michael Schantz), while her uncle Vanya (Jeff Biehl) lusts after Sonia's stepmother (Nadia Bowers); Sonia’s father (Austin Pendleton) pontificates and fusses and closes his eyes to Ella’s clear attraction to the doctor, and everyone works at cross purposes to their own happiness. Posner may have borrowed Chekhov’s kaleidoscopic love pentangle, but he’s updated events to the present day and salted the evening with postmodern hijinks, which include frequent check-ins with the audience and a theaterwide show-of-hands about regret. It’s a comedy! It makes you cry! Tl;dr: It’s Chekhov. Life Sucks. is the third in a cycle: Posner has also tweaked The Seagull into Stupid Fucking Bird and Three Sisters into No Sisters. The freewheeling theater thinker Jeffrey M. Jones calls this kind of piggybacking adaptation “gauge theater” because it constantly measures and reevaluates the distance between the original and the new version. Often, even elsewhere in Posner’s own Chekhoviana, that mental push-me-pull-you can be a little tiring, but not in Life Sucks. It helps that o
Theater review by Raven SnookKate Hamill’s crowd-pleasing stage version of Little Women at Primary Stages reimagines Louisa May Alcott's beloved 19th-century coming-of-age tale through a modern lens. They may wear modest period costumes (by Valérie Thérèse Bart) and talk about the raging Civil War, but the four March sisters grapple with many of the same issues that young women do today as they try to find their way in life and love within strict constraints of gender and class. As in most screen and stage incarnations of the book, the de facto protagonist is the tomboyish aspiring writer Jo. Kristolyn Lloyd is marvelous in the role, sporting a manly suit and gait as she alternately collaborates and clashes with her siblings and the boy next door, Laurie (Nate Mann). The other sisters are portrayed in broad strokes, at times even crossing into camp, but it mostly works. Hamill's high-strung Meg is a hoot, and Carmen Zilles's vain Amy manages to be more amusing than annoying. Only Paola Sanchez Abreu's too-saintly Beth feels one-dimensional (an issue that stems from the source material). During the play’s first fabulous act, director Sarna Lapine keeps the episodic tale moving swiftly and smoothly as the cast leans into the humor without sacrificing the heart. Act II, by comparison, seems rushed and disjointed—and, perhaps, a little too woke. Hamill takes significant liberties with Alcott’s plot, and her version of Jo, though politically pleasing, is so in touch with her sexua
Theater review by Diane Snyder Few playwrights depict domestic tension with the subtlety and insight of Donald Margulies. In Long Lost, two very different middle-aged brothers reunite for the first time in 10 years, still feeling the aftershocks of a devastating loss. In a quietly explosive 90 minutes, the play explores the difficulty of letting go of the past, and how seemingly small cracks in relationships can lead to foundation-shattering destruction. Shortly before Christmas, recovering addict and ex-convict Billy (Lee Tergesen), in need of a place to stay, drops in on his brother, David (Kelly AuCoin), who left the family farm years earlier and found success as a financial consultant in New York City. When nostalgia isn’t enough to secure an invitation for the holidays, Billy announces that he’s dying of cancer. David’s no-nonsense wife, Molly (Annie Parisse), suspects that he’s lying, and Billy’s behavior—passing out drunk, smoking pot with the couple’s 19-year-old son, Jeremy (Alex Wolff)—doesn’t do much to win her over. But Billy, whom David describes as “a chaos machine,” seems determined to destroy what’s left of his family when he doesn’t get his way. Daniel Sullivan, who also helmed Margulies’s Sight Unseen and Dinner with Friends, has assembled a superb cast. Parisse excels as the tightly wound Molly, Tergesen shifts from charming rascal to cruel ne’er-do-well with ease, and Wolff is endearing as a young man deeply affected by the secrets of his elders. But t
Playwright and MacArthur "genius" grantee Luis Alfaro brought an updated version of Greek drama to the Public Theater in 2017 with Oedipus El Rey. Now he does it again with the mother of all tragedies, Medea, reimagined as the tale of a young Mexican immigrant in Queens. Sabina Zúñiga Varela plays the vengeful woman, and Alex Hernandez is her faithless husband; Chay Yew directs the local premiere.
Playwright Halley Feiffer (I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard) and director Trip Cullman (Choir Boy) continue their long collaboratation with the New York premiere of her modern riff on Chekhov's Three Sisters, in which siblings in a provincial town face the slow evaporation of their dearest hopes. The promising cast includes Tavi Gevinson, Rebecca Henderson, Chris Perfetti, Greg Hildreth, Sas Goldberg, Ryan Spahn, Alfredo Narciso, Matthew Jeffers, Ray Anthony Thomas and Steven Boyer.
A former streetwalker moves to a farm with her new husband, who is ignorant of her past, in this 1948 drama by theater icon Micheál Mac Liammóir, the cofounder of Dublin's Gate Theatre. Aidan Redmond directs the play's U.S. premiere, with a cast that includes Brenda Meaney, Jesse Pennington and Con Horgan.
Theater review by Raven Snook As the "Stacey Abrams 2020" posters plastered on the set suggest from the get-go, Shakespeare in the Park's modernized new production of Much Ado About Nothing is powered by strong women of color—and most of the actresses in Kenny Leon's all-black ensemble command authority thrillingly as they win our laughs and hearts. When Don Pedro (Billy Eugene Jones) and his pals Claudio (Jeremie Harris) and Benedick (Grantham Coleman, adorably goofy) return from a seemingly civil rights–related war, they're keen to spend time with the ladies in the home of their host, Leonato (Chuck Cooper): nubile Hero (the refreshingly forceful Margaret Odette) and tenacious quipster Beatrice (Orange Is the New Black’s radiant Danielle Brooks). While Hero and Claudio hook up relatively smoothly, at least at first, longtime frenemies Beatrice and Benedick would rather fight than flirt—until their meddling friends get involved. The villain of the play is Don Pedro's dour and dishonest half-brother, Don John (Hubert Point-Du Jour), but most of the others also engage in deception to get what they want, and although their chicanery is inspired by romance, it can easily be manipulated into violence and hate. Leon's lucid production starts out frolicsome and funny; Brooks luxuriates in the humor, turning even the pronunciation of Benedick’s name into a punch line. But the show turns wistful after Hero and Claudio's nuptials are scuttled by John’s duplicity. Beatrice's anguis
A teenage Star Wars fan, a Blockbuster Video clerk and an activist actress create a musical celebration of the Force in this new musical by Tom D'Angora, Taylor Cousore and Scott Richard Foster, with a score by Billy Recce. Cousore and Foster also costar with the winsomely daffy Emily McNamara.
Eight reasonably nice-looking men take it all off and vocalize in this collage of cutesy vignettes on gay themes, recently revamped with new jokes and more up-to-date references. Although sex is central to most of the numbers, the goofy nudism has no erotic charge, and when the show tries to be serious, it's hard to watch with a straight face.
Theater review by Regina Robbins A kooky slice of California life, Carla Ching’s Nomad Motel focuses on two families who have lost their bearings, if they ever had any to begin with. Teenager Mason (Christopher Larkin) has lived in the U.S. for four years; his super-intense dad, James (Andrew Pang), sends him money from their native Hong Kong, expecting him to get straight A’s and acceptance to Harvard, but the kid is a musician at heart. Mason’s classmate Alix (Molly Griggs) is a SoCal native who lives in a cheap motel with her little brothers and her flaky mom, Fiona (Samantha Mathis), because they have lost their house. Alix yearns to flee to college in New York, while Mason can’t manage to draft an application essay. Teamed up for a class assignment, they are drawn closer together as their respective parents screw up on monumental levels. Ching’s script, which veers from dark comedy to heartfelt drama to borderline farce, contains some truly lovely moments; a scene between Alix and her earnest ex, Oscar (Ian Duff), is especially poignant. But Nomad Motel has a few too many plot threads—panic attacks, a rescued baby bird, a Chinese crime syndicate—and after setting up an admirably diverse cast of characters, it settles for a conflict in which two young men of color vie for the affection of a cute white girl. Director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar stages the action without blackouts or breaks, which lets lighting designer Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew and set designer Yu-Hsuan Chen disp
The Irish Rep takes a deep dive into the oeuvre of Irish master playwright Sean O'Casey, presenting a trio of the dramatist's best-known works. Ciarán O'Reilly directs The Shadow of a Gunman, set during Ireland's bloody War of Independance. Neil Pepe directs Juno and the Paycock, starring O'Reilly and Maryann Plunkett as an unhappy couple in a family torn by strife. Finally, Charlotte Moore helms The Plough and the Stars, an Easter Uprising tragedy. Each of the three plays is rolled out separately, then joins the others in a repertory schedule. See reviews of all three below. The Plough and the StarsTheater review by Helen Shaw The Sean O’Casey season at Irish Rep comes to a booming close with the 1926 drama The Plough and the Stars, the third of O’Casey’s famous Dublin Trilogy, and the play that may have driven O’Casey out of Ireland. After writing a play set during the Irish War of Independence (The Shadow of a Gunman) and one during the Irish Civil War (Juno and the Paycock), the great Irish realist turned to the moment the fuse first caught light: the bloody Easter Rising of 1916. The Plough and Stars was another of his delicately balanced, long-burning plays, in which a group of believably regular people—self-deceivers and boasters and opportunists—get caught up in the sudden catastrophe of history. But this time, audiences rioted. The Easter Rising was considered the province of saints and heroes, and the Plough knocked them roughly off their plinths. In late 1915,
Theater review by Adam Feldman Dave Malloy never stops surprising you. His songs start in one mode, then veer into another and another; his bridges lead to whole new roads. In his splendidly wrought new musical, Octet—performed nearly completely a capella, with rare exceptions (pitch pipes, a tambourine, a mallet, some chairs)—the auteur of the stylistically panoramic Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and the eerie Ghost Quartet invites us to an intense meeting in a church basement, convened under enigmatic circumstances by an unseen man named Saul. The eight attendees have gathered to explore their addictions to the internet (“the monster”), and at first, the structure is episodic and confessional: Jessica (Margo Seibert) sings about the trauma of starring in an infamous viral video; Henry (Alex Gibson) chews over his obsession with Candy Crush; group leader Paula (Starr Busby) reflects on the toll that smartphones have taken on her marriage. For a while, it seems like this is what Octet will be: A Chorus Online. But the show gets progressively spikier and weirder. As Karly (Kim Blanck) and Ed (Adam Bashian, his bass voice plumbing the depths of depression) sing about sex, and Toby (Justin Gregory Lopez) about paranoia, the musical’s universe expands beyond the basement, building to a monologue about God, by Marvin (J.D. Mollison), that explodes into full-on magical realism (or at least, per Clarke’s third law, sufficiently advanced technological realism). And jus
Having already created goofy musical spoofs of shows including Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, Bob and Tobly McSmith—joined again by composer Assaf Gleizner, who wrote the score for Friends! The Musical Parody—take on yet another TV institution. Donald Garverick directs a cast led by Sarah Mackenzie Barron, in male drag, as paper tiger Michael Scott.
Mark Mauriello and Andrew Barret Cox's queer nightclub musical immerses audiences in a secret future bunker at which culture has been whittled down to "sequins, reality television and the complete works of Oscar Wilde." Shira Milkowsky directs for the Neon Coven.
A wily cop tries to psych out a possibly homicidal shrink in Warren Manzi’s moldy, convoluted mystery. The creaky welter of dime-store Freudianism, noirish attitude and whodunit gimmickry is showing its age. (Catherine Russell has starred since 1987.)
A tot obsessed with pink cupcakes finds herself turning her favorite rosy hue in this long-running children's musical, with music by John Gregor and book and lyrics by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann. Teresa K. Pond directs.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival's three-year project, overseen by Lue Morgan Douthit, invited 36 playwrights—including many writers of color—to adapt the entire Shakespeare canon into contemporary English. New Yorkers can sample the results at CSC's series of readings. Participating writers in this massive undertaking include Christopher Chen, Migdalia Cruz, Amy Freed, Marcus Gardley, Hansol Jung, Ellen McLaughlin, Yvette Nolan, Lloyd Suh, Caridad Svich and Jeff Whitty. The casts include Pun Bandhu, Tina Benko, Jeff Biehl, Becca Blackwell, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Mark Blum, Yvette Clark, Angel Desai, Shannon DeVido, Vanessa Kai, Mia Katigbak, Bianca Leigh, Bobby Moreno, Gregg Mozgala, Diana Oh, Portia, Constance Shulman, Tony Torn, Zenzi Williams, Lisa Wolpe and Jade Wu.
Theater review by Adam Feldman [Note: This is a review of the 2017 Broadway production, which moves Off Broadway to New World Stages in 2019 with a new cast.] Ah, the joy of watching theater fail. The looming possibility of malfunction is part of what makes live performance exciting, and disasters remind us of that; the rite requires sacrifice. There is more than schadenfreude involved when we giggle at, say, a YouTube video of a high-school Peter Pan crashing haplessly into the scenery. There is also sympathy—there but for the grace of deus ex machina go we all—and, often, a respect for the efforts of the actors to somehow muddle through. Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong takes this experience to farcical extremes, as six amateur British actors (and two crew members who get pressed into service onstage) try to perform a hackneyed whodunnit amid challenges that escalate from minor mishaps (stuck doors, missed cues) to bona fide medical emergencies and massive structural calamities. Depending on your tolerance for ceaseless slapstick, The Play That Goes Wrong will either have you rolling in the aisles or rolling your eyes. It is certainly a marvel of coordination: The imported British cast deftly navigates the pitfalls of Nigel Hook’s ingeniously tumbledown set, and overacts with relish. (I especially enjoyed the muggings of Dave Hearn, Charlie Russell and coauthor Henry Lewis.) Directed by Mark Bell, the mayhem goes like cuckoo clockwork. If you want to have a
A newly elected county commissioner finds that being a good politician is harder than it seems in this new play by Bekah Brunstetter (The Cake). Geordie Broadwater directs the world premiere for Theater Breaking Through Barriers, whose casts prominently include people with disabilities.
Theater review by Diane Snyder For seven Harry Potter novels, the mediocrities of the Hogwarts house Hufflepuff lived in the shadow of their overachieving schoolmates. Matt Cox’s Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic gives them their due. In this funny and affectionate homage to J.K. Rowling’s world of wiz kids, Harry, Hermione and Ron take a back seat to average American wizard Wayne (Zac Moon), goth gal Megan (Julie Ann Earls) and math genius Oliver (Langston Belton), who is stuck at a school that doesn’t even teach his subject. They may not be at the top of the class, and they’re not wild about Harry, but they persevere through adversity and find power in friendship. A press release asks that the word parody be avoided in describing Puffs, but much of the show’s comedy is clearly aimed at Potterphiles. The 11 cast members play an assortment of characters, from a mumbling potions master to a squeaky house elf, and some of the jokes will be lost on those with no knowledge of the films or books. But even Potter virgins will enjoy the show’s witty wordplay and well-executed physical comedy. At times, the pacing is so frenetic that jokes can’t find a place to land, but there’s heart as well as humor here. In the past two years, Cox and director Kristin McCarthy Parker have shepherded their silly, subversive show from the People’s Improv Theater to Off Broadway’s New World Stages. Like its main characters, Puffs illustrates the heigh
Chris D’Arienzo’s tongue-in-cheek mixtape musical of hair-band favorites opened on Broadway in 2009 and played there for six loud and silly years. Now, following in the footsteps of shows like Avenue Q and Jersey Boys, it is returning for an encore run at Off Broadway's New World Stages complex. Kristin Hanggi returns to direct a cast that includes PJ Griffith, Matt Ban and Dane Biren along with original cast members Mitchell Jarvis and Katie Webber.
The persecution of LGBT people in Uganda is the subject of English playwright Chris Urch's 2015 family drama about a closeted gay man and his preacher brother. Kenyan-American director Saheem Ali directs the U.S. premiere for Lincoln Center Theater.
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
Theater review by Raven Snook An exploration of the ripple effects of rape culture, Something Clean deals with the aftermath of a sex crime, but we never meet the perpetrator or the survivor. Selina Fillinger's shattering one-act unfolds in a series of swift two-person scenes. The luminous Kathryn Erbe plays Charlotte, the upper-class suburban mom of a Brock Turner–like college athlete whose paltry six-month sentence for sexual assault sparks national outrage. On her tortuous journey of self-discovery, Charlotte bonds with Joey (the excellent Christopher Livingston)—the young, black gay man who runs the sexual-assault prevention center where she becomes a volunteer—and retreats from her husband, Doug (Daniel Jenkins), a workaholic who refuses to face their new reality. Working in an unnervingly intimate space, director Margot Bordelon elicits spot-on performances from all three members of the cast. The writing sometimes slides into didacticism, as when Joey schools Charlotte on white privilege and on terms such as genderqueer and cis. But for the most part, Fillinger’s meticulously constructed drama smartly focuses on the personal, not the political: The heart of the piece is the burgeoning friendship between the fastidious Charlotte and the fabulous Joey, through which she starts to find a purpose outside her family. Because of her son's actions, Charlotte's perspective on her whole life shifts. Watching her parse her past while trying to plan a productive future can be di
Todd Robbins (Play Dead) is a sideshow master who combines technical expertise with humor, historical knowledge and good old-fashioned showmanship. In his soirees at the McKittrick, he welcomes guest magicians (such as Matthew Holtzclaw, Jason Suran, Noah Levine and Prakash Puru) to perform feats of close-up magic in an intimate setting.
[Note: The review below is for a 2014 version of this show, which was then titled The Imbible. A revised version now plays at New World Stages. A different, brunch-theater edition, titled Day Drinking, plays on weekend matinees.] Remember Bill Nye the Science Guy? Great! Now imagine him as a bartender who is deeply interested in the history of ethanol alcohol, really likes wigs and costumes, and just joined a coed barbershop quartet. That description of Anthony Caporale’s The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking may sound far-out, but the show is both educational and entertaining. (It's also a fine showcase for a cappella classics arranged by Josh Ehrlich and performed by a gifted ensemble that includes the show's director, soprano Nicole DiMattei.) Mixing whimsy and information, Caporale makes the story of our relationship with alcohol remarkably compelling. And the show's lessons—on subjects like the drinks served at Prohibition-era speakeasies, the origin of the gin and tonic, and the difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink—can be washed down with complimentary, thematically appropriate beverages. As Caporale says, “Trust me, I get funnier with every sip.” That makes the show a must-see for anyone who enjoys free booze, which is probably nearly everyone.—Amelia Bienstock
This shrewd garbage heap of clog dancing, prop comedy and chest-thumping percussion spins out impressive (if numbing) variations on vaudeville by way of English punk.
Theater review by Helen Shaw By the end of the radiant, furious, exhausting metamusical A Strange Loop, the show has worn itself completely out. The performers totter as they take their bows; there’s no leftover curtain-call razzmatazz. Its blazing star, Larry Owens, is barely offstage the entire time—when he is, it’s for a quick change—and you can hear the weariness in his voice as he gives his last ounce of energy to his final song. Michael R. Jackson’s roller-coaster “Big Black and Queer-Ass American Broadway” creation asks impossible things of its writer (a shattering level of self-examination and rude candor), its lead actor (Owens flays himself alive) and, not least, from its audience. It doesn’t end, exactly, so much as it pushes to its outer limit of endurance. Even the music dwindles into a repeated phrase of four notes: Jackson, a lyrical and musical talent with deep wells of invention, has dropped the bucket down as many times as it will go. Owens plays Usher, a gay black Disney usher writing a musical called A Strange Loop about a gay black Disney usher named Usher. The other characters onstage are his six Thoughts—à la Inside Out or Herman's Head—which manifest as everything from Self-Loathing (James Jackson Jr.) and Sexual Ambivalence (the crystal-voiced L Morgan Lee) to Corporate Niggatry (Jason Veasey), who tries to get Usher interested in something “unapologetically black,” like Wakanda. (Usher, wearing a #bellhooks T-shirt, demurs.) It’s never clear when
Matthew Amendt imagines the dissolute life of Aristophanes in 5th-century Athens in a new play that blends romance, tragedy and against-all-odds comedy. Bill McCallum directs a cast of 11 that includes Amendt, Ron Menzel and Broadway veteran Derek Smith (The Green Bird).
At first blush, Then She Fell seems to be a small-scale cribbing of Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. Yes, you wander solo through intricately dressed rooms in a creepy building; yes, that man in a cravat is crawling up the wall in front of you. But you begin to realize that Third Rail Projects’ interactive riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books is using a similar language to give you a different experience: When you peer into the looking glass, it stares right back at you. Performed in the former Greenpoint Hospital, the show only permits 15 audience members a pop—making for a distinctly intimate experience. You’re given a shot of mulled wine and a set of keys before nurses, Carroll characters and even the psychotropic author himself usher you through a combination Wonderland–psych ward. As in Sleep No More, no two individuals will have the same evening. You may find yourself taking dictation for the Hatter (the mesmerizing Elizabeth Carena), painting cream-colored roses red with the White Rabbit (Tom Pearson) or sitting down to the infamous tea party with the whole gang. The experiences that director-designer-mastermind Zach Morris and his company offer are stunningly personal. You don’t have a mask to hide behind here—when you peep in on the Red Queen (Rebekah Morin) having a private breakdown, she catches you watching through the two-way mirror. And then—well, I don’t want to give away the game. And it is a game; as you’re pulled from place to place, you begin to realize that M
Theater review by Adam Feldman On paper, it sounds like a honey of a show: a new musical, adapted from Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling 2001 novel, with a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and a score by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam). But The Secret Life of Bees turns out to be all buzz and no sting. Set in the Deep South in 1964, the show centers on a teenage girl, Lily (an excellent Elizabeth Teeter), who flees her abusive home with her maid, Rosaleen (Saycon Sengbloh), to seek refuge at an apiary run by black women. But after a strong start, the show melts into a stagnant muddle of The Secret Garden, The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird. It leaves some of the city’s best voices without much to sing about. The principal beauty-eyed bee-holders are sisters: the sunny August (LaChanze), the cloudy June (an amusingly sour Eisa Davis) and the stormy May (Anastacia McCleskey). Their vocals are glorious—the cast also notably includes Brett Gray and Jai’len Christine Li Josey—but the show doesn’t seem to know what story it is telling, or how to tell it; its final thudding anticlimax is preceded by a seeming deus ex machina involving a wooden sculpture of a black Virgin Mary that is smeared in melted honey like a driftwood Karen Finley. One gets the sense that everyone involved is trying to avoid the suggestion that comes through in the show’s final image: that the central function of the story’s black women is to pol
Four women perform hits from the past 100 years of pop music, ranging from torch songs to anthems of liberation, in a revue by Dorothy Marcic (Sistas). TIME OUT DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER:THIS ONE'S FOR THE GIRLS From the soundtrack of your lifeTickets as low as $49 (regular price $75) Promotional description: A high-energy celebration of women that’s certain to thrill men, women and everyone in between! This “engaging, compelling and funny” new musical (Miami Herald) looks at the role of women over the past 100+ years through 40 hits. Featuring Top 40 songs like "Respect", "Stand by Your Man", "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", "These Boots are Made for Walkin’", "I Will Survive", "Greatest Love of All"... A new musical by Dorothy Marcic. Directed by Tamara Kangas Erickson. Starring Traci Bair (Cirque Dreams, Pandora's Box), Aneesa Folds (Ragtime, Sistas), Jana Robbins (Broadway's Gypsy, I Love My Wife, Crimes of the Heart) and Haley Swindal (Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde, The Secret Garden at Lincoln Center). With musical direction by Zachary Ryan.THREE WAYS TO BUY TICKETS:1. Online: Click here to buy tickets through Telecharge2. By phone: Call 212-947-8844 and mention code: TONY493. In person: Print this offer and bring it to the St. Lukes box office (308 W 46th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves)Performance schedule: Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm *Valid for performances thru 9/5/18. Regularly $75. All prices include a $2 facility fee. All sales are final; no refunds or exchange
April Matthis has the title role in Lydia R. Diamond's drama, adapted from Martha Ackmann's biography about the first woman to play professional baseball in the Negro Leagues. Pam MacKinnon (Clybourne Park) directs the world premiere of a piece that was commissioned by Roundabout Theatre Company.
Gordon Dahlquist's play looks at differing accounts of a 1920s Chinese political murder mystery as rendered in a Hollywood film, a DVD version of that film and a memorial reconstruction of it in a dystopian future. Aneesha Kudtarkar directs for the National Asian American Theatre Company.
In this solo musical, veteran monologist David Cale digs deep into his troubled childhood in an English industrial town, where he attempted to escape a violent family life through imagination, music and animal care. Robert Falls directs the New York premiere; Matthew Dean Marsh cowrote the music, which is performed by a six-piece band.