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 Adam Feldman “I’m what you call a schreier,” explains Bella Abzug in Harvey Fierstein’s solo show Bella Bella, a lively and deeply affectionate portrait of the hat-wearing, barrier-breaking 1970s liberal firebrand. That’s a Yiddishism—Fierstein’s script is generously schmeared with them—and it means that she’s the kind of person who yells. As a woman trying to break through the doors of American political culture, she didn’t have much choice. “The rules of the patriarchy were not invented to include us,” she says. “They were, in fact, designed to exclude us. If we wanted to be heard, we had to be loud.” As a three-term U.S. Congresswoman from New York City, she raised her voice against the war in Vietnam and for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Bella Bella finds her waiting for her entrance onto an even larger stage: It is the night of the 1976 Democratic primary for an open Senate seat, and she is sequestered in the bathroom of a fancy hotel, waiting for the votes to be tallied. (At the time, there were no women in the Senate at all.) But it was not meant to be: Abzug lost in a squeaker to the more moderate Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Shouting only gets you so far if people won’t listen. “I’ve never entered a race I didn’t win,” Abzug claims. “Eventually.” Since many of her races are still being run, their batons having been passed to the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bella Bella feels politically relevant, if always a little bit strange. Although muc
After declaring bankruptcy in 2016 to widespread lamentations, the family-friendly circus came bouncing back to life at Lincoln Center last year, and now returns for its 42nd season with an all-new show. Afro-Latina ringmaster Storm Marrero presides over a spectacle that includes aerial acrobats the Aliev Troupe, juggler Kyle Driggs, feline wranglers Savitsky Cats and a unique hand-to-hand strength act by Alan Pagnota and wheelchair user Rafael Ferreira.
The 400-year history of black identity in America is the subject of this immersive performance created and directed by Zoey Martinson. Working with a team that includes poet Kareem M. Lucas, sketch writer Jonathan Braylock, artist Brandan "B-mike" Odums and choreographer Francesca Harper, Martinson invites audiences on an interactive satirical journey through an experience that includes live theatrical performance, dance, visual arts and historical documents.
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.)
Public Theater honcho Oskar Eustis directs a revival of Tony Kushner's first play: a 1985 drama about a group of progressive Weimar Republic artists and intellectuals stymied by internal divisions as the Nazis rise to power. The play's original counterpoint with America in the Reagan years has been updated to address our own historical moment. The cast includes Michael Urie, Linda Emond, Nikki M. James, Michael Esper, Jonathan Hadary, Crystal Lucas-Perry and 91-year-old Estelle Parsons.
The Transport Group presents an original musical that follows three generations of an African-American family in the South as it grapples with questions of civil rights, economic inequality and police brutality. The music is by Ted Shen, and the libretto is by Ellen Fitzhugh and Harrison David Rivers. Jack Cummings III directs.
John Kevin Jones plays Dickens in this one-hour account of the novelist's classic holiday ghost story, adapted with director Rhonda Dodd. The Merchant's House Museum, formerly the home of a wealthy 19th-century family, provides an atmospheric candlelit setting for Jones's seventh annual engagement.
Scrooge is an uptown New York real-estate vulture in the Classical Theatre of Harlem's contemporary update of Charles Dickens's holiday novella about a miser who gets spooked into accepting the Christmas spirit. Carl Cofield directs Shawn René Graham's adaptation; modernized carols helps keep the yuletide high.
You’ll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, dazzling Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology have been introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance. Whatever faults one may find with this awesomely lavish annual pageant—it's basically a celebration of the virtues of shopping—this show has legs. And what legs! In the signature kick line that finds its way into most of the big dance numbers, the Rockettes’ 36 flawless pairs of gams rise and fall like the batting of an eyelash, their perfect unison a testament to the disciplined human form. This is precision dancing on a massive scale—a Busby Berkeley number come to glorious life—and it takes your breath away. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The mammoth Québécois neocirque troupe presents its first holiday-themed production, an extended riff on Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Writer-director James Hadley's show follows a young girl who is yanked, on Christmas Eve, into a magical world where acrobatics and elaborate spectacle take the place of those boring old dancing sugar plums.
Eric Tucker and his company, Bedlam, specialize in lean, intensely inventive renovations of classic theatrical works. Here they set their sights on Arthur Miller's 1953 drama about the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century, with any resemblance to McCarthyism entirely uncoincidental.
Theater review by Raven Snook As a platform for the swoon-worthy Peter Dinklage, the New Group’s musical take on Edmond Rostand’s classic 1897 romance, Cyrano de Bergerac, has seductive moments. But it’s hard to fall in love with this confounding production. Director-adapter Erica Schmidt mostly sticks to the story of the source material. Cyrano, a soldier equally skilled with swords and words but who believes he’s too ugly to love, attempts to quash his crush on Roxanne (a ravishing Jasmine Cephas Jones) and helps the witless pretty boy Christian (Blake Jenner) woo her in his stead. But Schmidt has excised all the poetry and much of the nasty humor; the jokes about Cyrano’s enormous nose are replaced with weak colloquial stabs at comedy (“Whaaa?”). Members of the indie-rock band the National have written atmospheric incidental music, but most of their full-fledged numbers stop the show dead in its tracks, regardless of whether they’re sung with confidence (by troopers Jones and Jenner) or hesitation (Dinklage is still figuring out how to maximize his brooding baritone). Cyrano may be trying for a Spring Awakening–style juxtaposition, with contemporary tunes revitalizing a period romantic tragedy. But the lyrics are banal and repetitive, and, aside from a few group numbers—eye-catchingly choreographed by Jeff and Rick Kuperman—the songs do little to move the narrative forward. (As two previous Broadway flops suggest, Rostand’s play seems to resist musicalization.) Yet Di
Theater review by Adam Feldman Kimie Nishikawa’s rooftop set of Dr. Ride’s American Beach House is so steeply slanted to one side that for the first few minutes of Liza Birkenmeier’s compelling new play, I actually felt a little off-balance. So, perhaps, do Harriet (Kristen Sieh) and Matilda (Erin Markey), who have met there on the eve of astronaut Sally Ride’s historic space trip in 1983. Enmeshed since high school, they have set aside their dreams of writing poetry, and now work as waitresses in St. Louis. Although they float in a tank of lesbian signifiers—they call their meeting the Two Serious Ladies Book Club, after a novel by Jane Bowles—and are unusually physically close, both of these women have male partners. The benefits of their intimate friendship are unspoken; they may flirt with queer self-knowledge, sometimes brazenly, but it’s always with an escape hatch of denial, firmly monitored by the dominant Matilda. Intensely blasé, Markey brings a burning charisma to the role of the attention-hungry Matilda; Sieh’s Harriet, sensitive and interior, is her equal and opposite, inured to being in Matilda’s shade but just beginning to find her own shine. The two have been dancing the same steps for years, but this is not to be a night like the others, thanks in part to the disruptive presence of Meg (an amiably tough Marga Gomez), a bulldyke medical worker with cropped hair and combat boots. (A fourth character—Harriet’s landlord, a bottled-up spinster played with halti
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; 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 5/3/20. Not all seats discounted. Discount code valid for stage-side, mezzanine and balcony seats only. All purchases with credi
Joanne Sydney Lessner and Joshua Rosenblum adapt Alan Lightman's best-selling 1992 novel into a musical, directed by Cara Reichel for her Prospect Theater Company. Zal Owen plays the physicist at the relatively tender age of 26, when his world-changing ideas about time and space were beginning to take full shape.
The Builders Association invites audiences over the technological rainbow via an augmented-reality app designed to complement the show's deconstruction of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Marianne Weems directs a piece written by James Gibbs and Moe Angelos; presented at 3LD in 2016, the show now returns for a brief encore at Skirball. The rainbow connections are sometimes oblique, but the show provides a lively and diverting look at the gears of artistic wizardry and the ways in which we get caught up in them. Read the full 2016 review here. Try viewing the image above with the Builders Association's special Augmented Reality app.
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.
City Center revives Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's 1978 pop opera, the tale of a local girl who makes good and weds a famous man who happens to be the quasi-fascist dictator of Argentina in the 1940s. Directed by Sammi Cannold, this version eschews the epic political bent of Harold Prince's original Broadway production to focus on Eva Perón's humanity, and divides the central role between two actors: Solea Pfeiffer as the adult Eva and Maia Reficco as her younger self. Enrique Acevedo and Jason Gotay complete the main cast as Juan Perón and Che, respectively.
The disappearance of a young girl promps a confrontation among a plumber, a college professor and a teenage boy in this drama by Matt Williams (best known as the creator of Roseanne). Tea Alagic directs the world premiere, whose cast comprises Obi Abili, Alexander Garfin and Veronica Mars dad Enrico Colantoni.
In 1977, this bizarre, Rashomon-style work by Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés seemed radical; even today, her perspective-shifting piece about a woman who plays a dangerous shooting game with her chums feels like double-barreled provocation. Lileana Blain-Cruz directs the show's first major Off Broadway revival.
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
Theater review by Raven Snook A theatrical time capsule that feels eerily timely, Anna Deavere Smith’s solo documentary play Fires in the Mirror is getting an appropriately fiery revival at the Signature. An exploration of identity and tribalism in the wake of the 1991 Crown Heights riots, a violent three-day clash in Brooklyn between members of the Jewish and black communities, the show is a collage of verbatim interviews that Smith conducted both with everyday New Yorkers and with bold-faced names like activist Al Sharpton, feminist writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin and the late playwright Ntozake Shange. The piece has been performed by the playwright herself since its premiere 27 years ago—until now. Using only his remarkable talent and a few key accessories, Michael Benjamin Washington conjures 25 individuals of various ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and viewpoints. While he doesn’t possess Smith’s uncanny abilities as a mimic (her career-making performance was filmed for PBS’s American Playhouse, and can be viewed on YouTube), he imbues each person with specificity, authenticity and soul. Director Saheem Ali deserves credit for eliciting this impressively fluid performance, and although there are minor missteps in this production—too much stage business, an excessively literal set—it is a stirring account of an urgent work of art. Smith’s structure is meticulous: She arranges the monologues to enhance and echo each other as they reveal the personal tolls of racism, anti
Theater review by Regina Robbins The cast of Zawe Ashton’s for all the women who thought they were Mad comprises six black women, a black girl and one white man, and it’s the outsized influence of that one male figure—sometimes a boss, sometimes an amorous coworker or a concerned medical professional—that drives the drama. The play revolves around the ambitious Joy (Bisserat Tseggai), an African-born woman living in a western nation. Wholly focused on her corporate career, she is beginning to crack under the pressure of innumerable daily humiliations, from backhanded compliments about her hair to people barging into her office without knocking. The other women onstage confer about how to help her if it isn’t too late. Could their collective power counteract the toxic environment in which Joy finds herself trapped? “We speak with one voice or not at all,” declares the motherly Margaret (Sharon Hope). It turns out that’s not so easy. Actor-playwright Ashton, who is currently appearing on Broadway in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, weaves her poetic text around an all-too-realistic scenario that slowly evolves into a full-on fever dream. Past, present and future converge as Joy finds memories of her mother country intruding on her thoughts—and sometimes her body—while she tries to prepare for a crucial business meeting. The other women try to throw her a lifeline, offering various forms of black female solidarity, but Joy stubbornly clings to her professional identity: sexless, ch
Theater review by Raven Snook The Great White Way has changed a lot over the past four decades, but Forbidden Broadway is still much the same. That’s both a comfort and a limitation. In Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, the first new edition since 2014 of his (mostly) affectionate satirical revue, musical parodist Gerard Alessandrini takes fresh aim at Broadway’s newcomers. But like Scott Rudin last season, he ends up with as many misses as hits. If that last reference confounds you, Forbidden Broadway may not be up your Shubert Alley: Much of its humor assumes a more-than-working knowledge of theater culture on Broadway and slightly beyond. Lampoons of Fosse/Verdon and Renée Zellweger in Judy are highlights of the evening, thanks to series vet Jenny Lee Stern, who convincingly conjures those divas along with Julie Andrews (in a clever spoof that transforms Mary Poppins Returns’s “The Place Where Lost Things Go” into a memorial for flop shows). An uproarious Oklahoma! medley pokes fun at woke cowpokes, and a zany bit about The Ferryman finds the comedy in Irish drama. Alessandrini’s mordant wit is less in evidence as he struggles to find what’s funny about some other shows; his takes on Tootsie, The Prom and Harry Potter miss the mark widely. And while Stern and the sparkling Aline Mayagoitia are crack impressionists who can sell the slighter material, the male performers (Immanuel Houston, Chris Collins-Pisano and child actor Joshua Turchin) are stronger as singer
Theater review by Naveen Kumar Atop a patinated brown floor encircled by a shuffled deck of mirrors, the Public Theater’s landmark revival of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf cracks open like a precious gem, flashes of insight cascading out as if by magic. The incantation begins with Ntozake Shange’s singular text, first performed at the Public in 1976 and described as a “choreopoem” by its creator. Shange’s ingenious fusion of language, music and movement conjures one soul-stirring revelation after the next. “Bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma/ i haven’t conquered yet,” says Lady in Yellow (Orange Is the New Black’s Adrienne C. Moore), one of seven players dressed in colors from the rainbow. Shange’s interlocking poems flow like dialogue, weaving vivid tales of longing and loss, self-discovery and deceit, everyday pleasures and injustice. Director Leah C. Gardiner creates a visceral happening: The call-and-response rhythm that begins with the performers spreads through an audience seated in the round. (Do snap your fingers when the spirit moves you.) Choreography by Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy) turns the swirling of hips, thrusting of limbs, and smacking of butts and thighs into a kind of animated hieroglyphics of black female experience. The powerhouse ensemble includes rafter-splitting vocalist Sasha Allen (Lady in Blue), superbly expressive deaf actor Alexandria Wailes (Lady in Purple) and the razo
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
Here's a rarity for you: a Christmas-season show that's actually about Christ. Ken Jennings, who originated the role of Toby in Sweeney Todd, performs the most idiosyncratic of the four gospels in a 90-minute solo show inspired by his own religious faith. John Pietrowski directs at the Sheen Center, a project of the Archdiocese of New York.
Davis McCallum directs a new drama by Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale), whose sensitive work focuses on crises of self-knowledge in rural Idaho. Two-time Tony winner Judith Ivey plays a woman who receives a visit from a stranger (Ken Narasaki) that raises troubling questions about her family's history. Among the supporting cast are Nina Hellman and Andrew Garman.
Lauren Gunderson is one of America's most-produced playwrights, but her work rarely even plays in New York City, much less premieres here. This drama, commissioned by Audible and directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, is an exception. Francesca Faridany plays Marie Curie and Kate Mulgrew plays her confidante Hertha Ayrton in a biodrama that imagines the aftershocks of a 1912 sex scandal that colored the public's opinion of the two-time Nobel Prize winner.
The Atlantic teams up with LAByrinth Theater Company for the world premiere of an ensemble piece, by conflict master Stephen Adly Guirgis (Our Lady of 121st Street), that is set at a women's halfway house in New York City. John Ortiz directs a large cast that includes Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Sean Carvajal, Elizabeth Canavan, Liza Colón-Zayas and Greg Keller.
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.
Theater review by Naveen Kumar Adapted from Édouard Louis’s autobiographical novel, History of Violence tells a painful personal narrative, revisiting the scene of a crime and parsing the trauma it caused. As directed by the visionary German theater-maker Thomas Ostermeier, it is a brutal and bracingly intimate act of reclamation. The violence in question is clear from the outset. The play’s narrator (Laurenz Laufenberg), a proxy for Louis, tells the audience, his sister and the police about the night he was raped and held at gunpoint in his Paris apartment. The cops don’t quite understand how ordinary it is for a gay man to invite a stranger home at 4am, and seize on a detail he wishes they wouldn’t stress: that the assailant (Renato Schuch) is North African. The incident also becomes a lens through which the narrator examines his ambivalence toward his provincial family. The performances by members of the Schaubühne Berlin ensemble are uniformly sharp, particularly that of Alina Stiegler as the narrator’s no-bullshit sister. Ostermeier’s confrontational and probing multimedia aesthetic brings the story so close that you can make out fingerprints, sweaty pores, tears trembling before they fall. But it also keeps the night of terror at an almost clinical distance; while the action is explicit, the mediation of a handheld microphone or live-projection camera separates us from more violent and tender moments. Though not for the faint of heart, History of Violence’s impact
Equipped with audio headsets and then plunged into total darkness, audiences feel their way through a potentially terrifying series of events in the latest Halloween-ready show by Tim Haskell, the man behind the immersive horror-theater events Nightmare and This Is Real. The plot is inspired by W.W. Jacobs's 1909 ghost story, "The Toll-House."
The team behind the two long-running Imbible shows, A Spirited History of Drinking and Day Drinking, spead their cheer to the holidays with a third alcohol-informational musical comedy, aimed at expanding your noggin and your noggin'. The show looks at the history and future of Christmas quaffs through a story that imagines Ebenezer Scrooge planning a party the day after his big epiphany. Admission includes three craft cocktails.
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.
[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
Theater review by Adam Feldman Remember Reality Winner? A 25-year-old Air Force veteran working as a translator for the National Security Agency, Winner was arrested in 2017 for leaking a classified report about Russian interference in the previous year’s presidential election, a crime for which she is currently serving a five-year prison sentence. But you can be forgiven if all you recall about the case is its subject’s striking name: Given the chaos of today’s news cycles, Winner was just one snowflake in an avalanche. Tina Satter’s highly absorbing Is This A Room, which played briefly at the Kitchen this year and has now returned at the Vineyard, is based on the verbatim transcript of the FBI’s initial interview of Winner on June 3, 2017, at her home in Augusta, Georgia. Refocusing our attention on Winner’s case, if only for an hour, it asks us to pause and take a breath of cold air. Satter’s staging presents the inquisition austerely but with a mounting sense of tragedy. With spectators seated on two sides of the minimalist-classical set, we watch as Winner (Emily Davis) is questioned by Agent Garrick (the excellent Pete Simpson) and Agent Taylor (TL Thompson); an unidentified third man (Becca Blackwell) is also present. It’s clear that they know more than they're letting on—and, in fact, more than what the transcript tells us, since parts of it have been censored. The production smartly balances vérité and stylization, offering its own interrogation of the event: The
Theater review by Helen Shaw It's possible that you think you’ve already had your fill of dick jokes. If so, the sly, digressive comedian Jacqueline Novak might be able to turn you around. In her languid one-woman stage special Get On Your Knees, Novak talks for nearly 90 minutes about blow jobs, discussing men’s strangely shy appendage (“Calling it a cock is…telling it what it wants to hear”), the vulva (which she assures us does not look like a rose) and her own winding path through high-school self-consciousness and collegiate anxiety toward full oral confidence. There’s no non-innuendo-y way to say that the show has a slow build, that Novak and director John Early delay its climax a little too long, and that the poetry-minded Novak sometimes extends her riffs to the point that they’re serving her pleasure more than ours. But Novak’s ultimately winning show does what the best comedy can do: It changes the conversation. Chevy Chase made Gerald Ford permanently seem like a bumbling yo-yo; Novak does the same for the D. The show’s most effective section is her systematic dismantling of the male-determined phallic lexicon. “Rock hard”? She rolls her eyes, then does a very good imitation of a penis flopping daintily over “the fainting couch that is the inner thigh.” This is but one example of how Novak can be absurd, real, hilarious and—though I hate to sound uncool—useful. While the show is sex-positive as hell, it’s crucially aggression-negative. The next time a guy on th
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 Adam Feldman 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’s lyrics blend masterful character comedy with carefully seeded double meanings. And Michael Mayer’s deeply satisfying reviva
Increasingly, the world seems polarized into two factions who can barely understand each other, much less find common ground: those who cherish the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually, which tracks multiple characters through the holiday season in London, and those who recognize it as the extremely terrible garbage that it is. This musical spoof—by Bob and Tobly Smith, the brothers behind pervious musical parodies of Friends, The Office, Saved by the Bell and other cultural touchstones—aims to appeal to both camps.
Theater review by Naveen Kumar Coldy lit and swathed in drab tartan, Classic Stage Company’s Macbeth resembles an especially severe fall runway show. Color, emotional and otherwise, is out. Stage blood on the hands of its doomed thane (Corey Stoll) is the first sign of life in director-designer John Doyle’s odd and funerary production. The condensed company of nine proceeds through Shakespeare’s tightest tragedy as though in a preordained ritual. The actors assume various roles, assembling into a chorus of witches as needed. The action is clear enough—prophecies are spoken, human obstacles dispatched, a crown untimely snatched—but the motivations are largely opaque. It’s as though a chic cult had been discovered and an investigative Netflix doc were still forthcoming. Stoll makes clear sense of the verse, though his Macbeth doesn’t seem to find a doomed descent into treachery too out of the ordinary. But even in a production that skims the surface, Nadia Bowers seems out of her depth as his conniving wife. As the body count mounts and real feeling is required, the result is melodrama and inadvertent humor. When the hurlyburly’s done, the battle’s far more lost than won. Classic Stage Company (Off Broadway). By William Shakespeare. Directed by John Doyle. With Corey Stoll, Nadia Bowers. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission. Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumarFollow Time Out Theater on Twitter: @TimeOutTheaterKeep up with the latest news and reviews on