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Photograph: Kevin YatarolaTaylor Mac

The 30 best Off Broadway shows to see in Spring 2022

A spring preview of the most exciting new Off Broadway musicals and plays that are set to open this season

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
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If all goes according to plan, many new Broadway shows will open this spring. But as theater continues to cautiously return from its long pandemic intermission, a lot of the most exciting new work continues to be found in the smaller Off Broadway venues. Along with returning productions like Sleep No More and the Wooster Group's The Mother, the 2022 spring Off Broadway season includes dozens of very promising new productions, including several that have been waiting two years to take the stage. We've sorted through them to select 30 that seem especially interesting. Here, in chronological order, is our 2022 Off Broadway spring preview.

RECOMMENDED: Complete Off Broadway listings  

Off Broadway shows to see this spring

  • Theater
  • Musicals

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).

  • Theater
  • Drama

Clare Barron is one of the most exciting young playwrights in America, as such past works as Dance Nation and You Got Older have shown. Her latest show—which she also directs, and in which she also stars—is a macabre look at trauma and kink. The cast of the Atlantic's world-premiere production also includes Janice Amaya, Annie Fang, Nina Grollman, Greg Keller and Constance Shulman.

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  • Theater
  • Drama

Joshua Harmon (Significant Other) climbs through the family tree of five generations of French Jews, from the 1940s through today, in a sweeping look at anti-Semitism then and now. The expert David Cromer (The Band's Visit) directs the world premiere for MTC, with a cast that comprises Betsy Aidem, Yair Ben-Dor, Francis Benhamou, Ari Brand, Pierre Epstein, Peyton Lusk, Molly Ranson, Nancy Robinette, Jeff Seymour, Kenneth Tigar and Richard Topol.

  • Theater
  • Musicals

Tariq Trotter, better known as the Roots' Black Thought, teams up with screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) for a musical adaptation of George S. Schuyler’s satirical 1931 novel about a machine that turns Black people white. Brandon Victor Dixon—the charismatic Judas of the 2018 TV Jesus Christ Superstar—leads a talent-packed cast that also includes Lillias White, Ephraim Sykes, Tamika Lawrence, Jennifer Damiano, Tracy Shayne, Howard McGillin, Gaelen Gilliland, Theo Stockman and Trotter himself; Scott Elliot directs the New Group's world premiere, which is choreographed by Bill T. Jones.

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  • Theater
  • Drama

On of the premier married acting couples of the modern stage, Elizabeth Marvel and Bill Camp, in the latest revival of Eugene O'Neill's posthumous masterpiece, which follows the guilt-ridden, drug-ravaged Tyrone clan for one summer day as secrets and resentments boil over. Robert O'Hara (Slave Play) directs this limited run for Audible Theater, which will also be recording it for audio release; Ato Blankson-Wood and Jason Bowen round out the cast. 

  • Theater
  • Comedy

W. Tré Davis and Tyler Fauntleroy play the title characters—two minstrel-show figures bent on escaping the confines of their dramatic environment—in a racially charged metatheatrical satire and "rags-to-riches hip-hop odyssey" by slam poet turned playwright Dave Harris. Taylor Reynolds directs the world premiere, whose cast also includes Brendan Dalton and Dean Linnard.

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  • Theater
  • Musicals

Taylor Mac is a Fabergé radical—beautiful, ridiculous and full of hidden tricks—who pilots audiences through fantastical journeys, guided by a compass of magnetic individuality. The latest is a jazz musical, with a libretto by Mac and music by Matt Ray, that expands the final hours of Socrates's life into a queer, transhistorical "ritual celebration" that explores questions of virtue. Mac leads a cast of nine, directed by Niegel Smith and choreographed by Chanon Judson; the explosively imaginative Machine Dazzle designs the sets and costumes. 

  • Theater
  • Musicals

Actor-musicians Van Hughes (Spring Awakeningand Nick Blaemire (Godspell) star in their own original musical two-hander about the relationship between canine Russian cosmonaut Laika and the scientist who trained her to be shot into orbit—and to her death—in 1957. The sharp-minded downtown director Ellie Heyman (Beardooversees the mission for MCC Theater.

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  • Theater
  • Musicals

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and New York City Opera present the world premiere of an opera with music by Ricky Ian Gordon (whose Intimate Apparel also premieres this monthand a libretto by Michael Korie (whose Flying Over Sunset just closed). Adapted from Giorgio Bassani’s 1962 novel—which was also the basic of a 1970 film that is considered Vittorio De Sica’s final masterwork—the piece depicts an aristocratic Jewish-Italian family in denial about the rise of anti-Semitic fascism around it in the 1930s. James Lowe conducts the production, which is directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford; the cast includes Rachel Blaustein, Brian James Myer, Mary Phillips, Stephen Powell and Victor Starsky.

  • Theater
  • Musicals

The 2022 season of City Center’s invaluable Encores! concert series begins with a fond look back at the 1983 Broadway musical The Tap Dance Kid, in which a 10-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a professional dancer encounters resistance from his family. Kenny Leon directs and Jared Grimes choreographs; the high-wattage cast includes Joshua Henry, Trevor Jackson, Shahadi Wright Joseph, DeWitt Fleming Jr., Adrienne Walker, Tracee Beazer and Alexander Bello as the kid. The music is Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger, and the book and lyrics are by Charles Blackwell and Robert Lorick, respectively. Also on deck at Encores! this season: The Life (March 16–20) and Into the Woods (May 4–15).

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  • Theater
  • Drama

Iranian-American playwright Sanaz Toossi makes her NYC debut with a show about adult students learning English in Iran. Knud Adams (Paris) directs a cast of five in the world premiere, which is coproduced by the Atlantic and Roundabout Underground. 

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  • Theater
  • Experimental

In this strange new work by Korean-American playwright Hansol Jung, 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, in cahoots with Ma-Yi Theater Company; the puppet design is by Amanda Villalobos. (Sunday tickets are available for just $0.99, on a first-come-first-served basis, on February 20, February 27 and March 6.)

  • Theater
  • Shakespeare

The estimable John Douglas Thompson plays the vengeance-bent moneylender Shylock in the latest stab at Shakespeare's troublesome Jew-baiting tragicomedy. Arin Arbus directs this coproduction of Theatre for a New Audience and Shakespeare Theatre Company, with a diverse company that includes Isabel Arraiza, Shirine Babb as Nerissa, Jeff Biehl, Danaya Esperanza, Alfredo Narciso and Sanjit De Silva.

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  • Theater
  • Comedy

Two women on a quest for meaning fall into the orbit of a celebrity wellness guru in this offbeat new comedy by Charly Evon Simpson. Rolonda Watts, Marinda Anderson,
Brittany Bellizeare and Andy Lucien form the cast of this Vineyard Theatre and WP Theatre coproduction, directed by Summer L. Williams.

  • Theater
  • Drama

The National Asian American Theatre Company teams up with the Public Theater to present a collection of five monologues by Asian-American playwrights Jaclyn Backhaus, Sam Chanse, Mia Chung, Naomi Iizuka and Anna Ouyang Moench. Les Waters (Dana H.), who also conceived the project, directs a cast that comprises Mia Katigbak, Glenn Kubota, Page Leong, Natsuko Ohama and Rita Wolf.

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  • Theater
  • Drama

Lloyd Suh's play is inspired by the real story of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to come to the United States. Only 14 years old when she arrived in 1834, she was exhibited her as a curiosity to people who wanted to see a tea ceremony or chopsticks or bound feet. Scenes leap across the years; as her known history grows more opaque, so does the play, which now returns for an encore after a successful 2018 debut. With director Ralph B. Peña, Suh has constructed the dramatic equivalent of a perfect cabinet. 

  • Theater
  • Drama

Few theater companies have as impressive a record of championing emerging talent as Page 73, which has produced the NYC debuts by writers including Michael R. Jackson, Samuel D. Hunter, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Heidi Schreck, Clare Barron, Dan LeFranc, Leah Nanako Winkler, Max Posner and Susan Soon He Stanton. Its first production in two years is John Caswell Jr.'s satirical-supernatural-political horror show, in which four Mexican-American women seek safety in the basement of a right-wing Arizona Congressman. Taylor Reynolds directs the world premiere.

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  • Theater
  • Drama

The Signature presents the New York premiere of a 2020 drama by Dominique Morisseau, whose work is also represented on Broadway this season by Skeleton Crew. Directed by Stori Ayers, the play looks at race and gender bias as experienced by two Black women separated by more than a century: a spy in the Civil War and a professor at a private university.

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  • Theater
  • Drama

Director Steve Cosson and his essential NYC company, the Civilians, join forces with EST to present Sam Chanse's investigation of trauma and memory, in which a young researcher investigates the history of her Cambodian-American family. The cast of the world premiere includes Sonnie Brown, Curran Connor, Emma Kikue, Robert Lee Leng and Pisay Pao.

  • Theater
  • Musicals

Longtime Public Theater regular Shaina Taub, whose wrote the score for the Public Works productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It, is among the large and impressive ensemble of her own new original musical: a chronicle of the women who suffered before suffrage to make the 19th Amendment a reality in 1920. Also among the cast are Phillipa Soo (Hamilton), Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Jenn Colella (Come From Away), Ally Bonino, Hannah Cruz, Aisha de Haas, Cassondra James and—as Woodrow Wilson!—Grace McLean (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812). Leigh Silverman (Well) directs.

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  • Theater
  • Musicals

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. (The show is scheduled to begin in March, but the exact dates have not yet been announced.)

  • Theater
  • Musicals

Some 25 years after its world premiere in California in 1997, Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's musical—based on the history of the Comedian Harmonists, a musical group that flourished in Weimar Germany but ran afoul of the Nazis—finally makes its NYC debut. Warren Carlyle (After Midnight) directs and choreographs the production for National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, the centenarian troupe behind the much-loved recent Yiddish-language version of Fiddler on the RoofChip Zien (Into the Woods) and Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid) lead the cast.

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Sunset Park

David Herskovits and his brainy Target Margin Theater conclude their multiyear exploration of The One Thousand and One Nights with multifarious nine-hour experience that wraps its central storytelling in food, drink and music. The show can be experienced either as a single-day marathon or divided over multiple nights; a full performance schedule will be announced later in the season. 

  • Theater
  • Classical

James McAvoy (Last King of Scotland) stars as the tragic hero of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 epic, in which a physically ill-favored soldier and poet noses into his handsomer friend's romantic courtship. This new adaptation by Martin Crimp, directed by Jamie Lloyd, Erica Schmidt for the New Group, the production also stars Evelyn Miller as Roxanne and Eben Figueiredo as Christian, and features sets and costumes by Soutra Gilmour.

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Hell's Kitchen

It's a big season for rising playwright Sanaz Toossi. Hot on the heels of her NYC debut with Englishshe has another new work at Playwrights Horizons. This one looks at suburban women in Iran in on the brink of the revolution in 1978. Gaye Taylor Upchurch directs the world premiere. 

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  • Theater
  • Drama

The rediscovery of Alice Childress, whose startlingly timely Trouble in Mind made its Broadway debut earlier this season, continues with a new production of the playwright's 1962 look at interracial love in the Deep South during the influenza epidemic at the late 1910s. Awoye Timpo directs the play's first major NYC revival for Theatre for a New Audience, where her company, Classix—which focuses on theater works by Black writers—is in residency. 

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Chelsea

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); the music is by the late Adam Schlesinger (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), who died of COVID in 2020 and who also shares credit for the lyrics. Anne Kauffman, better known for very serious plays like Mary Jane, directs for the Atlantic.

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