UPDATE: Due to efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, all Broadway productions are canceled through at least April 12, 2020. All Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions are now canceled as well. If you purchased tickets through broadway.timeout.com, call 1-866-276-4886 for a refund.
New York theater ranges far beyond the 41 large midtown houses that we call Broadway. Many of the city's most innovative and engaging new plays and musicals can be found Off Broadway, in venues that seat between 100 and 499 people. (Those that seats fewer than 100 people fall into the Off-Off Broadway category.) These more intimate spaces present work in a wide range of styles, from new pieces by major artists at the legendary Public Theater to crowd-pleasing commercial fare at New World Stages. And even the best Off Broadway shows usually cost less than their cousins on the Great White Way—even if you score cheap Broadway tickets. Use our listings to find Off Broadway reviews, prices, curtain times and great deals on New York theater tickets.
Recommended: Critics' picks for theater and Broadway
All Off Broadway shows A–Z
Theater review by Melissa Rose Bernardo All the Natalie Portmans has a good gimmick at its core. Whenever the play’s heroine, 16-year-old Keyonna (Kara Young), is lonely or distressed, her imaginary best friend, Natalie Portman (Elise Kibler)—actress, activist, Harvard alum—magically appears in costumes from her most famous films: the feathered tutu from Black Swan, the intergalactic warrior gear from the Star Wars prequels. “She the best in the game right now,” Keyonna tells her older brother (Joshua Boone) as she tapes Cosmopolitan pics of Portman to her dream board alongside photos of Julia Roberts and some token shots of Gwyneth Paltrow. “Hollywood is full of beautiful, talented women, Sam. And I see that. I honor it. And someday I’mma make mad money exploiting the hell out of it. Natalie is my ticket.” The rest of C.A. Johnson’s play, unfortunately, is awash in Hollywood-style clichés. Keyonna is smart as hell but skips AP calculus “ ’cause it’s easy.” (Between this play, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven and The New Englanders, Young is quickly cornering the market on brash, brainy teenagers.) Sam is trying to be both brother and father to her since their dad died; their alcoholic mom (an excellent Montego Glover) disappears for days at a time, leaving her kids to scrounge for food and rent money. And when she is there, she’s by turns disinterested and demeaning, referring to the lesbian Keyonna as her “ass-backwards daughter.” Johnson puts a twist on the love-tria
In Eric John Meyer's comic drama, five friends united by a seemingly harmless love of My Little Pony get caught up in dynamics from outside their Brony bubble. The Assembly's Jess Chayes (Home/Sick) directs the NYC premiere for Dutch Kills.
The journalist and comedian Faith Salie explores her own deep-seated need for other people's admiration in an autobiographical solo show directed by Amanda Watkins. The performance will be recorded by Audible for future audio release.
Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's darkly brilliant 1990 musical follows a group of president killers (or attempted killers) as they plead their demented causes and bemoan their exclusion for the American Dream. Director John Doyle's starry cast includes Steven Pasquale as John Wilkes Booth, Brandon Uranowitz as Leon Czolgosz, Will Swenson as Charlie Guiteau and Judy Kuhn and Tavi Gevinson as Sara Jane Moore and Squeaky Fromme.
Washington, D.C.'s Happenstance Theater visits NYC with a zany physical comedy about 18th-century French aristocrats amusing themselves on the guillotine's edge in the midst of the Reign of Terror. Mark Jaster and Sabrina Selma Mandell direct a cast of six in this collectively devised piece.
Comedian Sarah Silverman adapts her 2010 memoir about her adolescent struggle with incontinence—talk about yellow journalism!—into an original musical. Joining her to write the script is Joshua Harmon (Significant Other); composer Adam Schlesinger (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) shares credit for the lyrics. The director is Anne Kauffman, best known for very serious plays like Mary Jane.
Sean Carvajal and Maribel Martinez play an upwardly mobile Dominican-American couple in New York City in this romantic two-hander by Guadalís Del Carmen. Melissa Crespo directs the premiere.
Lynn Clay Byrne takes a sympathetic look at the challenges faced by prison inmates and their loved ones in this new drama. Benjamin Viertel directs.
Theater review by Raven Snook Blue-collar folk ballads performed live by Steve Earle underscore Coal Country, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s devastating documentary play about the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that killed 29 workers in rural West Virginia—and ripped an already unstable community apart. On a bare stage, the cast gives voice to seven men and women who lost loved ones in the blast, including two who came close to dying themselves. The play ramps up slowly as they describe their lives before the calamity and share background information about the coal industry; every once in a while, Earle sings a mood-enhancing tune, and he even gets the audience to join in on a union song. Deep divisions of politics, wealth and power underlie the story. But Blank and Jensen, just as they did with former death-row inmates in The Exonerated and Iraqi refugees in Aftermath, compassionately channel true accounts of survival without editorializing, so nothing gets in the way of our empathy. Under Blank’s restrained direction, the performances are gorgeously authentic and underplayed. (Michael Gaston is a standout.) Even though you know what’s coming—the catastrophe was covered extensively in the media—the play’s intensely personal and detailed recollections of the disaster and its aftershocks are deeply affecting. It’s not just that people died that day because of corporate greed. It’s that their way of life is dying, too, and no one is coming to save them. Public Theater
Theater review by Naveen Kumar [Note: This is a review of the 2019 Bedlam production of The Crucible. The production returns for an encore run at the Connelly Theater on March 27, 2020.] There has never been an inopportune moment to stage The Crucible, but with impeachment hearings underway, Arthur Miller’s indictment of miscarried justice seems especially instructive. Bedlam’s characteristically smart, stripped-down production pulses with an electric current and lays bare the play’s bitter truths. It is as gripping and revelatory a Miller production as New York has seen in years, and a bracing reminder of what a real witch hunt looks like. What begins as seemingly absurd paranoia—provincial and insular, funny in the style of Christopher Guest—gradually expands into terrifying life-or-death drama, as in a fun-house nightmare. In 17th-century Salem, rumors of witchcraft spread after a group of girls are caught dancing in the woods at night. John Proctor (Ryan Quinn) sees his life methodically turned inside out when their ringleader, his dismissed servent and onetime dalliance Abigail Williams (a blood-chilling Truett Felt) points her finger at his wife out of jealous vengeance. The quiet restraint of Susannah Millonzi’s breathtaking performance as Elizabeth Proctor cements a shift in tone that endures until the tragedy’s final heartbreak. Bedlam artistic director Eric Tucker, who also plays Reverend Hale, at first frames the story as a kind of wry pageant. The ensemble gather
Theater review by Adam Feldman Earlier this season, in The Thin Space, Lucas Hnath looked at channeling the dead. His latest play, the uncanny and deeply unsettling Dana H., channels the living. Its subject is harrowingly personal. In 1997, when Hnath was in college, his mother, Dana Higgenbotham, was beaten and held captive for five months by a violent criminal and Aryan Brotherhood gang member named Jim. (They had met when, working as a chaplain, she had counseled him after a suicide attempt.) In 2015, Steve Cosson, of the docutheater troupe the Civilians, interviewed her about this ordeal. Their conversations form the basis of Dana H., but instead of editing them into a conventional script, Hnath has kept them in audio form. In the title role, Deirdre O’Connell does not speak a word; for 75 minutes, calmly facing us in an armchair, she lip-syncs to Dana’s actual voice. O’Connell is simply astonishing. Long-form lip-sync is not new—one thinks of Bradford Louryk’s Christine Jorgensen Reveals, Lypsinka’s The Passion of the Crawford, much of the Wooster Group’s oeuvre—but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done quite so unshowily. This is a performance of virtuoso naturalism; the technique is so perfect that it disappears. At many points in the show, I would have believed O’Connell was talking into a body mic, even though Mikhail Fiksel’s sound design makes it clear that we’re listening to an edited recording. (The actor and magician Steve Cuiffo is credited as her lip-sync cons
Joe Pantoliano, a.k.a. Joey Pants, who has built a formidable career as a character actor playing gangsters and other ne'er-do-wells in The Sopranos and beyond, returns to the stage in a play by William Francis Hoffman. Bobby Moreno directs the world premiere of a family drama set in the 1950s.
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 in Times Square 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; Friday and Saturday at 8pm and 10pm; and Sunday at 7pm. Some weeks also offer performances on Tuesday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 9:30pm and/or Saturday at 4pm and 6pm. Running Time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission. 21 or over only. Photo ID required. Offer for performances thru 4/4/21. Not all seats discounted. Discount code valid for stage-side, mezzanine and balcony seats only. All pu
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS throws its beloved annual fund-raiser dedicated to paschal chapeaus. Broadway, Off Broadway and touring companies perform skits, songs and dances while showing off bonnets created specially for the event.
Theater review by Naveen Kumar The ostensible subject of Endlings, Celine Song’s deconstructed new play, are elderly women native to a small island off the South Korean coast, where for centuries such women—known as haenyeo—have plunged into the ocean to gather seafood. But these divers turn out to be red herrings for the bigger fish that Song is out to fry: herself, her creative process, and the systems supporting this very play (including the theater in which it’s being presented). Although the result is less than cohesive, Endlings is a bold and revealing act of autofiction by a playwright actively wrestling with her identity as an artist. We meet three haenyeo as they climb into snug orange wetsuits (the costumes are by Linda Cho) for a long day of foraging. Weathered but spry, each is introduced by the voice of a droll, unseen narrator. One (Hustlers’s Wai Ching Ho) is in her 90s and obsessed with peak TV; another (Emily Kuroda) is in her 80s and immune to common niceties, and the third (Jo Yang) is in her sprightly 70s and possessed of a playful vanity. A surrogate for Song, played Jiehae Park, soon interrupts the action and wrests the play into the here and now. If these divers are the "endlings" of the play’s title, or the last of their kind, the playwright is in some ways the first of hers. Unmasked as our narrator, the playwright identifies herself as an immigrant artist trying to gain footing on another coastal island half a world away from the one depicted on s
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.
Having reached Broadway last year with the blood-soaked comedy Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, the brilliantly cockeyed Taylor Mac (The Lily's Revenge) swings back downtown with a queer romantic allegory about a dandyish hero who tries to convince a group of muddy anti-intellectuals to abandon the swamp they live in. Directed by Niegel Smith, this immersive show is performed by members of the Flea's resident company, the Bats, in a large ball pit.
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: 1hr. N
Will Eno (The Realistic Joneses), who specializes in existential dry comedy, turns his wry wit to Henrik Ibsen's sprawling outsize 1867 satirical verse epic, Peer Gynt, which follows the dreamily egotistical title character through decades of wild adventures (including a near-marriage to the daughter of a mountain troll and stints as an outlaw, slaver and prophet). In Eno's pared-down version, starring Joe Curnette and directed by Oliver Butler (What the Constitution Means to Me), the main character is a contemporary dope on a journey to find himself.
Writer-performer Drew Droege, beloved for his online impersonations of Chloë Sevigny, follows up on his hilarious and poignant 2016 solo show Bright Colors and Bold Patterns with another boozy look at modern gay culture. This time the occasion is a 41st birthday party populated by the main character's friends, frenemies, exes and more. Tom DeTrinis directs.
Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd) and Craig Bierko (The Music Man) star in George Eastman's two-hander about the tested relationship between an elderly, sharp-witted Vermont man and his son. Karen Carpenter directs the premiere.
The formidable Roslyn Ruff (Fairview) stands in for playwright-poet Claudia Rankine in a new piece that investigates the mindset of white male privilege, based on the author's conversations with real men. Taibi Magar (Is God Is) directs the world premiere, which was commissioned by the Shed.
[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
Lynn Nottage's heartbreaking 2003 drama, about a black seamstress in turn-of-the-20th-century New York and her pen-pal suitor in Panama, gets expanded into a chamber opera with music by Ricky Ian Gordon and a libretto by Nottage herself. Lincoln Center Theater resident director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific) directs, and Dianne McIntyre choreographs; the central role of Esther is played by classical soprano Kearstin Piper Brown (or Chabrelle Williams at the Wednesday and Saturday matinees).
David Gould stars as the embodiment of the disastrous 2017–18 New York Islanders season in a mostly solo show compiled by Liza Birkenmeier from verbatim commentary by sportscasters and fans. Katie Brook directs the premiere as part of the reliably interesting Next Door at NYTW series.
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.
Theater review by Helen Shaw For seven months in 2015 and 2016, the British duo Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson ran a theater in Calais, France, in the makeshift settlement that many called the Jungle. Thousands of refugees waited there to cross the Channel into England, and volunteers like the Joes had shown up to help. They called their performance structure—a pack-and-play geodesic dome—the Good Chance Theatre, because immigrants thought, each night, that they had a “good chance” to get to Dover. The camp was bulldozed in 2016, along with all its chances, but people are still there, sleeping under tarps and bridges. Murphy and Robertson’s The Jungle is based on their time in Calais. If you’re looking for effortless exposition or delicate characterization, this nearly three-hour immersive play won’t afford it. It’s not artful as a piece of drama; rather, it’s a deliberate cacophony of voices. Co-directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin insist on roars of disapproval and protest at every turn: A chorus of shouts goes up after almost every declarative statement, and every entrance is taken running. The play wants you to feel, for a moment, what it’s like to live each moment at a crisis point. The Joes write from what they know, so white British volunteers—particularly the idealistic Beth (Rachel Redford) and the overwhelmed Sam (Alex Lawther)—stand at the center of the work, with Sudanese, Afghan and Iraqi immigrants explaining their stories to them. Here are the seemingly i
The Irish Rep honors Lady Augusta Gregory, a cofounder of Dublin's Abbey Theatre and a central figure in the burgeoning Irish literary scene of the early 20th century. Ciarán O'Reilly directs a collage of texts by Gregory herself, including personal writings and selections from her plays.
Theater review by Adam Feldman [Note: The role of Seymour is currently played by Gideon Glick. Jeremy Jordan steps into the part for two months on March 17.] Little Shop of Horrors is a weird and adorable show with teeth. Based on Roger Corman’s shlocky 1960 film, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s 1982 musical tells the Faustian story of a dirt-poor schlub named Seymour (Jonathan Groff), a lowly petal pusher at a Skid Row flower shop, who cultivates a relationship with a most unusual plant. What seems at first a blessing—a way for the lonely Seymour to earn money and to get closer to his boss, Mushnik (Tom Alan Robbins), and his used and bruised coworker, Audrey (Tammy Blanchard)—soon turns sinister. The plant, whom he names Audrey II (designed by Nicholas Mahon and voiced by Kingsley Leggs), requires human blood to grow, and Seymour doesn’t have enough of his own to spare. He doesn’t want to feed the beast, but he can’t resist the lure of the green. Arguably the best musical ever adapted from a movie, Little Shop does for B flicks what Sweeney Todd does for Grand Guignol. Librettist Ashman and composer Menken—who, between this show and their Disney animated films, did more than anyone to return musical theater from its mass-culture exile in the late 20th century—brilliantly wrap a sordid tale of capitalist temptation and moral decay in layers of sweetness, humor, wit and camp. Their extraordinary score bursts with colorful rock & roll, doo-wop, girl-group pop and R&B; Ashman’
Four New Yorkers sing their hearts out in a musical by composer Seth Bisen-Hersh and book writer Mark Childers. This production, directed by Brian Childers, is the latest iteration of a project that has been presented in various forms for the past ten years.
Theater review by Helen Shaw [Note: This is a review of the 2019 production of Lunch Box in Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks Festival. The show now returns for a full production, courtesy of the Play Company, with original cast members Ugo Chukwu, Keilly McQuail, Julia Sirna-Frest and Paco Tolson joined by Tina Chilip, David Greenspan, Mel Krodman and Olivia Phillip.] Hey, here’s a dare! Try seeing Lunch Bunch, Sarah Einspanier’s excellent workplace comedy, when you’re hungry. Its characters are overtaxed public defenders (the script suggests they might be in the Bronx), and their lone joy is a co-op lunch agreement shared by five proud members. In rattling, lickety-split dialogue, the lawyers tell us about the sustainable homemade delicacies—like sesame-encrusted kale chips and jackfruit barbecue—that they bring in to share with fellow Bunchers. (My notes here read: “Buy jackfruit.”) Membership in the Lunch Bunch is jealously guarded, so when rookie cook Nicole (Julia Sirna-Frest) subs in for a vacationing Tal (Eliza Bent), we have the whisper of plot. But there’s little room for a story, because Einspanier has crammed every second with marvelous character studies and syncopated conversations that reveal the topsy-turvy stakes of a life lived in service. Everybody in the office is tightly wound: Jacob (Ugo Chukwu) is one bad salad away from a breakdown, and Tuttle (comic superwoman Keilly McQuail) keeps wondering if her misery means she’s making a difference. Behind its giddy sur
Claire Foy and Matt Smith, who played the young Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in the first two seasons of The Crown, recouple to make their U.S. stage debuts in a play by Duncan Macmillan (People, Places and Things). Matthew Warchus (Matilda) directs the revival of Macmillan's 2011 drama, in which a contemporary couple wrestles with the ethics of bringing a baby into a world on the brink of ecological disaster.
Dan White is something of a local sensation and a regular guest on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show, and it's not hard to see why. His NoMad Hotel show, which sells out weeks in advance, is an ideal fancy-date night. Handsome and smooth, White offers modern variations on classic routines, blending multiple kinds of magic (mentalism, card tricks, illusionism) into an admirably variegated evening of entertainment. If a few of the effects don't fit the intimacy of the room—when I saw the show, a transformation illusion didn't quite come off—most of the tricks leave you happily agape, especially when performed in such cosy quarters. You'll probably never see a levitation act at such close range, and you may leave feeling a few feet off the ground yourself.
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.
Jocelyn Bioh follows up on the success of 2017's School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play with another comedy set in Africa. The heroine of this romcom is a young actress who aspires to break into the burgeoning Nigerian film industry, earning the attention of a notable director and a handsome leading man (to the dismay of one of Nollywood's existing leading ladies). Saheem Ali directs the world premiere for MCC Theater.
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.
Singer-songwriter Heather Christian has enchanted the downtown theater scene for years as both a concert performer and a composer for shows including the TEAM's Mission Drift. In this ambitious music-theater piece, performed immersively by a cast of 18 singers and instrumentalists, she attempts to balance personal and cosmic concerns. Lee Sunday Evans (Dance Nation) directs the premiere for Ars Nova.
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.)
The witty Richard Greenberg, whose Take Me Out is returning to Broadway this season, also has a new play to offer: a comedy about two feuding clans trying to overcome their mutual hatred for a Fifth Avenue wedding that is joining their families together. Lynne Meadow directs the world premiere, whose cast includes Margaret Colin, Patrick Breen, Frank Wood and Gregg Edelman.
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.
WP Theater's biennial fest offers advance looks at five projects in various stages of development in its WP Lab program, including plays by Bryna Turner, Charly Evon Simpson, Christina Quintana (CQ), Vanessa Garcia and Sukari Jones.
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 goo
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.
Martyna Majok, who won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Cost of Living, is drawn in her plays to the plight of the marginalized. In this new drama, she looks at a pair of teenage immigrants, one recently naturalized and the other undocumented, who hatch a plan to keep the latter in the U.S. Rebecca Frecknall directs the premiere for New York Theatre Workshop, which was originally scheduled to present it last season.
Sylvia Khoury examines the legacy of American imperialism in a thriller that focuses on a brother and sister struggling to navigate the perilous landscape of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the U.S. military withdrawal. Tyne Rafaeli directs the NYC premiere.
Theater review by Naveen Kumar The title of 72 Miles to Go… measures the distance between a mother who’s been deported to Mexico and the family forging ahead without her on this side of the border. Set in Tucson, Arizona, between 2008 and 2016, Hilary Bettis’s topical new play dramatizes a heartbreaking predicament more often reduced to headlines and politicized in Washington debates. A frequent writer for television, Bettis uses sitcom conventions to humanize the plight of undocumented immigrants and their loved ones, couching an urgent and eye-opening endeavor in a form optimized for familiarity. The action begins with a Unitarian pastor (Triney Sandoval) delivering a final sermon to the congregation he has served for 30 years. He cracks a couple of dad jokes before ripping up his prepared remarks to speak from the heart. He talks about seeing his wife for the first time and about sitting down to dinner with his kids; why don’t we realize, he asks, “how profound and beautiful and sacred these everyday moments are until they’re gone?” The play rewinds to the summer of 2008—time stamps are projected before each scene—to show us just such a moment between a father and his kids: a first day of school. The youngest (Tyler Alvarez) is an incoming freshman; his older sister (Jacqueline Guillén) is a senior. Their adult, undocumented half-brother (Bobby Moreno) lives with them too; their mom (Maria Elena Ramirez) scolds them, via speakerphone, to eat and dress properly. Time fast
In Ren Dara Santiago's debut play, set 2014 Harlem, a teenage girl and her two brothers try to make ends meet and raise each other up in the absence of their too-young parents. Jenna Worsham directs for the Rattlestick, where Santiago has a residency this year.
A depressive oenophile and his soon-to-be-married friend take a bonding tour of California wine country in Rex Pickett's stage adaptation of his own 2004 novel (which was the basis of Alexander Payne's hit film). The pricier tickets to this immersive production, directed by Peccadillo Theater Company's Dan Wackerman, include dinner and/or wine.
In this solo play by writer-director Stephen Lloyd Helper, Javier Muñoz—best known as Lin-Manuel Miranda's alternate and first replacement in the title role of Hamilton—plays a traffic controller trying to decide what road to take in his own life.
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 t
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.
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 Morr
In the 1930s, Eugene O'Neill labored over a series of plays that charted an Irish-American family from the 1800s to the present day. He only completed this one, now revived in an Irish Rep production directed by Ciarán O'Reilly. Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde) stars as a poor immigrant trying to preserve his illusions of gentility; the cast includes Kate Forbes, Belle Aykroyd and Mary McCann.
Michael Rogers and Joyce Sylvester star in Trevor Rhone's comedic two-hander, in which a married couple plots to escape the poverty and violence of Kingston, Jamaica, for a better life in the United States. Clinton Turner Davis, who directed the play's NYC premiere in 1985, helms the revival for Woody King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre.
The theater world is still reeling from the untimely 2017 death, at the age of 41, of the hugely talented composer Michael Friedman. This chamber musical, with a book by Daniel Goldstein (who also co-wrote the lyrics), is the last new Friedman work to be mounted in New York. Trip Cullman (Significant Other) directs a cast that includes Margo Seibert (Rocky) and the indefatigable 92-year-old Estelle Parsons.
Theater review by Raven Snook How do you solve a problem like Molly Brown? Meredith Willson’s 1960 follow-up to his hit The Music Man was a successful Broadway musical and the inspiration for a splashy 1964 movie with Debbie Reynolds. But this tale of real-life socialite, social activist and Titanic survivor Margaret Brown has never been revived in New York City (not even by Encores!) because of Richard Morris’s book, which flattened the title character into a plucky but lovesick woman-child. Enter Dick Scanlan with a lifeboat. Having already salvaged another Morris property, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Scanlan has now spent years rewriting The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Only three lines of Morris’s dialogue remain; characters have been invented or cut, lyrics have been changed, and songs from elsewhere in Willson’s catalog have been added. The result is a thoroughly modern Molly: a feminist-forward revisal that, though not always a pleasure cruise, is a welcome improvement on the original. The narrative still hangs on the volatile love story between Molly (a smashing Beth Malone) and her husband, JJ (stalwart baritone David Aron Damane), who strikes it rich in mining in late-19th-century Colorado. But Scanlan gives the couple a more colorful courtship and community; he also nods to many of Molly’s impressive accomplishments, which include running for political office before women had the right to vote. Directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall for the Transport Group, this
Mona Mansour, an alum of the Public's Emerging Writers Group, examines Palestinian displacement and exile in a triptych that imagines three alternate histories for a scholar visiting London when the 1967 war breaks out. Mark Wing-Davey directs a cast of six playing multiple roles.
Composer Tom Kitt and librettist Brian Yorkey, the team behind the Pulitzer Prize–winning musical Next to Normal, reunite for this adaptation of Tom McCarthy's acclaimed 2007 indie film (with the Young Vic's Kwame Kwei-Armah joining them as coauthor of the book). The highly lovable David Hyde Pierce stars as a college professor fighting on behalf of two undocumented immigrants (Alysha Deslorieux and The Band's Visit's Ari'el Stachel) who have been living in his apartment. Master helmer Daniel Sullivan directs the show's world premiere at the Public.
Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) has been on quite a creative tear lately: This collaboration with book writer and co-lyricist Kyle Jarrow is Sheik's fourth new musical in 14 months. Samantha Mathis (Pump Up the Volume) stars as the inhabitant of a spooky lighthouse off the coast of Maine during World War II; Wyatt Cirbus is the orphaned nephew who joins her there. The astute Steve Cosson directs the NYC premiere for his indispensable company, the Civilians.
In this strange new work by Korean-American playwright Hansol Jun, a young South Korean boy—depicted by a puppet and operated by an actor dressed as a wolf—is "re-homed," via the internet, into a new American family. Dustin Wills directs the world premiere for Soho Rep; the puppet design is by Amanda Villalobos.
Theater review by Raven Snook Appropriately billed as "a ghost play in a pub," Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s horror novel The Woman in Black pairs shots with hair-raising shocks. Presented as a play within a play, it begins with a haunted old man named Arthur Kipps (David Acton) imploring an actor (Ben Porter) to help him tell his terrifying real-life tale as an act of purgation. So Porter becomes a young Kipps and reenacts a gothic story of woe, set in a secluded house by the sea in early-20th-century England. Even if you’re unfamiliar with any other version of The Woman in Black—it has also inspired a TV movie, a radio play and a film starring Daniel Radcliffe—you won't need extrasensory powers to predict where it’s going next. It’s about the mood, not the mystery. Mallaratt’s play was initially mounted in a small-town pub before transferring to London, where it’s been running since 1989. This production in the McKittrick Hotel’s Club Car space, helmed by original director Robin Herford and performed by alums of the West End version, returns the play to its low-tech roots. There are moments of spellbinding stage magic, conjured by Porter and Acton’s dedicated performances, Sebastian Frost’s chilling sound design and Anshuman Bhatia’s clever lighting. But unlike other theatrical ghost stories, such as those of Conor McPherson, The Woman in Black doesn’t cut deep. It winds you up—albeit much too slowly—until you're primed to scream-laugh your head off at a
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