Off-Off Broadway shows in NYC
Tom and Betsy Salamon’s unique adventure—part interactive theater, part scavenger hunt, part walking tour—draws participants into an amusing web of puzzles and intrigue. You can choose between the three-hour New York tour, which takes participants through various neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, or the two-hour Village tour, which travels through quirky Greenwich Village. Groups of as many as 11 are booked every half hour.
Theater review by Helen Shaw [Note: The following is a review of the production of Antigone in Ferguson at Harlem Stage in 2018. The production returns for an encore run at Brooklyn's St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church May 8–July 13, 2019. The rotating cast is scheduled to include Amy Ryan, Chris Noth, Paul Giamatti, Jumaane Williams, Kathryn Erbe, Obi Abili, Linda Powell, Josh Hamilton and David Strathairn.] Antigone in Ferguson's title is little misleading. In its first section, Bryan Doerries’s Theater of War production is not actually far different from Sophocles’ original tragedy. Its story of Thebes, torn apart by the conflicting claims of authority and conscience, still has all its ancient Greek trappings, and any association you make with certain events near St. Louis is, it seems, up to you. Doerries has given the cast—a rotating rep of fine film, theater and television actors (such as Frankie Faison, Tate Donovan, Samira Wiley and Paul Giamatti)—a trim hour-long version, and they perform it sitting at music stands, reading from scripts. Behind them a tip-top band and a choir full of gospel powerhouses sings Phil Woodmore’s wonderful settings of Sophocles’ famous choruses. No one tells us that the dead boy Polyneices could also be called Michael Brown; no one hints that Antigone—his sister, who buries his body in defiance of her uncle King Creon—could be a Black Lives Matters protestor. How, you wonder, did they get that title? RECOMMENDED: Antigone in Ferguson
April Ranger takes an irreverent look at the biblical story of Bathsheba, the bathing beauty who so stole King David's heart that he got her pregnant and then arranged to have her husband die in battle. Christina Roussos directs the world premiere.
In this comedy by Penny Jackson, a hard-drinking Queens woman squares off with her grandson over his plans to move her to an assisted-living facility in New Jersey. Kathy Gail MacGowan directs the premiere.
A Theban king goes to pieces after snubbing the Greek god Dionysus and his pack of wild groupies in this alt-rock adaptation of Euripides's ripping tragedy The Bacchae, with music by Neil Douglas Reilly and words by Austin Ruffer and Maggie Herskowitz. The weekly production unfolds immersively in an East Village bar space.
Professional actors and directors mount plays written by fourth- and fifth-graders in the ninth annual edition of this eco-conscious festival.
Fans of musical theater will get a kick out of watching improvisers shamelessly employ the genres' tropes to create a hilarious new musical at each performance. Have your smartphone charged and handy to submit suggestions; then kick back and watch these top-notch performers go to work.
In this new drama by Seminole writer-director Tara Dawn Moses, a Native American woman works to prevent the creation of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico that would split her people's lands in twain.
Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's superb 2003 portrait of a maid in 1963 Louisiana is one of the great musicals of the past 50 years. After a too-brief run on Broadway, the show has had acclaimed productions since, including in Chicago and in London just last year—but not, until now, a revival in New York. Directed by Dev Bondarin for the scrappy Astoria Performing Arts Center, this is a rare chance to see a beautiful work of art on its feet. LaDonna Burns plays the title role.
After more than 15 years at the Waldorf Astoria, Steve Cohen, billed as the Millionaires’ Magician, now conjures his high-class parlor magic in the marble-columned Madison Room at the swank Lotte New York Palace. Audiences must dress to be impressed (cocktail attire is required); tickets start at $100, with an option to pay more for meet-and-greet time and extra tricks with Cohen after the show. But if you've come to see a classic-style magic act, you get what you pay for. Sporting a tuxedo and bright rust hair, the magician delivers routines that he has buffed to a patent-leather gleam: In addition to his signature act—"Think-a-Drink," involving a kettle that pours liquids by request—highlights include a lulu of levitation trick and a card-trick finale that leaves you feeling like, well, a million bucks.
Xanthe Elbrick (Coram Boy) stars in Mêlisa Annis's dark comedy about two women on the night before their wedding. Ludovica Villar-Hauser directs for her gender-egalitarian Parity Productions.
Nick Lehane's puppet play is inspired by the true story of chimpanzees who were raised as human children, then abandoned to crueler environs as they grew up. The production, which ran to acclaim earlier this season, now returns to HERE for a brief encore engagement.
A mysterious 500-million-year-old creature travels the universe on a mission of spiritual healing in an evolving performance piece written and performed by Michael Cavadias. For the May 20 edition, Claywoman returns from the Merillion Galaxy to share wisdom on love, war and East Village apartment rental with Orange is the New Black star Taylor Schilling.
A multicultural multitude of emerging artists are featured in the 17th edition of this diversity-spreading festival, overseen by artistic director Reg. E. Gaines (Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk). Along with works by 18 playwrights at the Wild Project (Apr 24–May 11), the schedule includes an opening concert by CeCe Peniston at Joe's Pub (Apr 11), a poetry slam at Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Apr 13) and a short-film festival at the Tribeca Film Center (May 15–18).
The Night Shift hosts this inebriated monthly reading of Shakespearean monologues. Want to see if you can recite Hamlet’s soliloquy after a few brews? Step up to the mic—or just sit back and soak in the iambs. (Sign-up begins at 7:30pm for the 8pm event.)
In this 2013 play by Germany's Falk Richter, a man and woman seek connection amid a dizzying world of mass communication, professional pressure and general airport lostness. Ildiko Nemeth directs and adapts the play for New Stage Theatre Company's production, working from a translation by Marlene J. Norst.
In its nearly 50-year history, Mabou Mines has frequently had its way with classic texts, including King Lear, Peter Pan and A Doll's House. Now the experimental-theater company puts a modern political spin on Goethe's Faust, with an emphasis on the problems wrought by First World consumerism, in a production developed collaboratively over the course of five years and directed by Sharon Ann Fogarty.
What better way to celebrate New York's march toward legalization than with another trip to the magical Land of 420? While this new tale follows Larry, not Jerry, you can trust the makers of 420: The Musical to serve up zany, pot-fueled hilarity. And free snacks, of course.
This drag parody of The Golden Girls has been touring the country in various forms since 2003. An all-male cast led by Peter and John Mac pays loving tribute to everyone's favorite postmenopausal quartet: the sour one, the dumb one, the slutty one and the old one. The show's latest incarnation imagines a lost Christmas episode.
Jesus goes to Hell to save the souls of Adam, Eve and other pre-Christian figures in this brief, anonymous 13th-century work. Jeff S. Dailey directs his own translation into modern English. The piece is presented alongside two other works about the Devil: the 14th-century drama The Fall of the Angels and a 20th-century poem by Elliott Blaine, "The Soliloquy of Satan."
After more than a decade performing Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, an ever-changing collection of 30 two-minutes plays, the New York Neo-Futurists had to change course when piece's author pulled the rights abruptly in 2016. Now the troupe performs an entirely different ever-changing collection of two-minute plays called The Infinite Wrench. Click here for our full write-up.
Kairos Italy Theater and KIT Italia present this seventh annual festival of Italian and Italian-American drama, encompassing multiple shows at venues in all five boroughs. Most of the performances are in Italian with English supertitles. Consult the In Scena! website for full details.
New York Live Arts remounts Kaneza Schaal's postmodern theatrical piece, created with actor Cornell Alston and artist Christopher Myers, about reentering society after a prison term. The show was part of BAM's Next Wave festival last year; this time, it is paired with a multimedia installation called The Cotillion.
In Yilong Liu's new drama, old wounds bleed afresh when a gay Chinese man returns to his Hawaii hometown for a week. Michael Leibenluft directs the New York premiere for the Asian-oriented Yangtze Repertory Theatre.
Real-life mother and daughter Brigit Forsyth and Zoe Mills star in Mills's dark comedy about a headstrong, self-sufficient cellist who wrestles with a young social worker over the nature of life and the right to die. Antony Eden directs this Brits Off Broadway festival offering.
Twice a week, after closing time, 20 people crowd into the city’s oldest magic shop, Tannen’s, for a cozy evening of prestidigitation by the young and engaging Noah Levine. The shelves are crammed with quirky devices; there's a file cabinet behind the counter, a mock elephant in the corner and bins of individual trick instructions in plastic covers, like comic books or sheet music. The charm of Levine's show is in how well it fits the environment of this magic-geek chamber of secrets. As he maneuvers cards, eggs, cups and balls with aplomb, he talks shop, larding his patter with tributes to routines like the Stencel Aces and the Vernon Boat Trick—heirlooms of his trade that he gently polishes and displays for our amazement.
Every two years, Ensemble Studio Theatre presents a buffet of one-acts, divided into three programs. In this 37th edition, Series A (May 12–June 1) features works by Daniel Damiano, Amy Fox, Dan Giles, Lily Houghton and Jon Kern; Series B (May 28–June 28) includes pieces by Harron Atkins, Cayenne Douglas, Susan Kim, Amanda Quaid and Carole Real; and Series C (June 9–June 29) offers plays by Kate Atwell, France-Luce Benson, Stephen Brown, Julia Specht and Lloyd Suh.
Retro Productions, which specializes in revivals of unjustly obscure works, revives Jean Kerr's 1961 romantic comedy—one of the ten longest-running Broadway plays of all time—about a divorced couple forced to reunite in the face of a possible IRS audit. Shay Gines directs.
For 21 years, this proudly old-school series has offered a different lineup of professional magicians every week: opening acts, a headliner and a host, plus two or three close-up magicians to wow the audience at intermission. Housed for the past seven years at the unprepossessing Players Theatre, it is an heir to the vaudeville tradition. Many of the acts incorporate comedic elements, and audience participation is common. (If you have young children, bring them; they make especially adorable assistants.) Shows cost just $37.50 in advance and typically last well over two hours, so you get a lot of value and variety for your magic dollar. In contrast to some fancier magic shows, this one feels like comfort food: an all-you-can eat buffet to which you’re encouraged to return until you’re as stuffed as a hat full of rabbits. For a full schedule, visit the MNM website.
Caryl Churchill's modern classic looks at the dysfunctional family of the future: a man and his clones. Craig De Lorenzo directs a revival whose cast comprises Stephen D’Ambrose and Brendan Walsh.
Daniel Irizarry directs and choreographs a diptych about the loss of feeling: Sylvia Bofill's Black Water, about a postapocalyptic couple in a kitchen-cum-laboratory; and Robert Lyons's Yovo, in which Irizarry plays a person seeking meaning in an unkind world.
This year's edition of the Greek-culture festival focuses on questions of democracy, one of Ancient Greece's most enduring exports. Theatrical offerings include Tim Blake Nelson's Socrates (Public Theater, April 2–May 19), 600 Highwaymen's The Fever (La MaMa, April 11–21) and Lena Kitsopoulou's comedic Antigone—Lonely Planet (Public Theater, April 18–20). Also on the agenda are concerts and public discussions.
A creatively blocked painter falls through her canvas and into a strange underground adventure in William Donnelly and Michael Mahler's adult musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland strories. Jenn Rapp directs the production, which is staged immersively at a fine-art gallery with an Alice-themed exhibition.
From the dark camp imagination of Justin Sayre (The Meeting*) spring the latest episodes of this queer horror serial, set in rural New England in 1979. Ellie Heyman directs a cast of downtown stars that includes Jenn Harris, Jeff Hiller, Aaron Jackson, Rob Maitner and Nicole Speizio. (The April 27 edition spans the series's penultimate three episodes, and the April 28 edition covers the final trio.)
Theater review by Helen Shaw When you walk into Say Something Bunny!, you enter another time. You might not notice that at first, because the brick office space where it takes place is so determinedly ordinary-looking. The small audience sits around a doughnut-shaped conference table, and as Alison S.M. Kobayashi begins her multimedia docuplay, some spectators are already paging through the scripts that have been placed in front of each chair. The text turns out to be the full transcript of a real, unlabeled 65-year-old recording that Kobayashi found hidden in an antique wire recorder: the audio relic of a teenage boy in Woodmere, Queens, enthusiastically taping two dozen family members and neighbors. Kobayashi has listened to the recording hundreds of times and has a seemingly boundless interest in the people whose voices it preserves, including amateur recordist David, mother Juliette and neighbor Bunny. She conducts us through a pair of after-dinner conversations, the first in 1952—she deduced the date from song lyrics mentioned on the wire—and the second in 1954. Aided by coauthor Christopher Allen, she pursues hints and half-heard jokes to determine who these people were and what befell them; she shows us the census records she used to find their old houses. The play unspools unhurriedly, leaving space for Kobayashi to make jokes, play short films and highlight points of historical interest. It takes a while for it to sink in that—of course—many of these vibrant people
Shakespeare lovers gather for the ninth annual Shakespeare's Birthday Sonnet Slam, produced by Willful Pictures, in which 154 volunteers recite the Bard’s love poems. Participants this year include Kathleen Chalfant, Ako, Kate Rigg, Sam White, Loren Lester and Peter Francis James. (The event is held in the ninth-floor lounge; use the entrance at 91 Claremont Avenue.)
Tom Lenk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays Tilda Swinton in a comedy by Byron Lane, who costars as a depressed gay man whose life is turned inside out by an unexpected visit from the Oscar-winning actor and interplanetary enigma. Tom Detrinis directs.
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