City Ballet welcomes the new year with a season that includes premieres of works by Pontus Lidberg and resident choreographer Justin Peck (Jan 26, Feb 1, 2, 4), as well as programs celebrating dance makers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and composers Richard Rodgers and Igor Stravinsky. The centerpiece is a two-week run of The Sleeping Beauty (Feb 8–19), a full-length work by company ballet master Peter Martins.
Having scored a grand success at CSC with 2014's The Heir Apparent, adapted from an 18th-century French farce, the witty David Ives returns to the scene of the rhyme with his version of an even earlier classic of that genre: Pierre Corneille's Le Menteur. Michael Kahn directs an ensemble that includes Heir alums Carson Elrod and Amelia Pedlow. Read the full review.
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
Lucas Hedges, who earned raves for his performance as Casey Affleck's nephew in Manchester by the Sea, makes his New York stage debut in Anna Jordan's dark play, in which an animal-loving neighbor disrupts the squalid existence of teenage boys who have been all but abandoned by their mother. Trip Cullman directs the local premiere. Read the full review.
The venerable experimentalists of the Wooster Group share a piece based on the 1979 film Town Bloody Hall, which documents a fiery panel discussion on feminism in which Norman Mailer butted heads with Germaine Greer and three other women. Elizabeth LeCompte directs a cast that includes Maura Tierney along with Wooster regulars Kate Valk, Scott Shepherd and Ari Fliakos. Read the full review.
Though Wallace Shawn may be best known for his adorable persona as a character actor, he is cherished by theater fans as the author of such smart, dark and menacing plays as The Designated Mourner and Aunt Dan and Lemon. In his latest, Matthew Broderick stars as a playwright; the supporting cast includes married couple Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, Larry Pine, Claudia Shear, John Epperson and Shawn himself, directed by Scott Elliott for his New Group. Read the full review.
Deadpan antinaturalist Richard Maxwell remounts his odd and touching 2004 show, a semimusical about an unlikely love affair at a drug rehab center. Rosemary Allen and Kevin Hurley reprise their original roles, and Stephanie Nelson re-creates her evocatively shabby production design. Read the read review.
All but one of August Wilson's Century Cycle history plays have been on Broadway—until now. Manhattan Theatre Club presents a revival of Wilson's 1970s-set drama about drivers of unlicensed cabs in Pittsburgh. The cast includes John Douglas Thompson, Michael Potts and André Holland. Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs. Read the full review.
Performer-writer-philosopher Geoff Sobelle's wistful, silly ode to stuff, directed by David Neumann, is a magic act in which your soul is the rabbit and the show is the hat. More than two years after its incandescent production at BAM, it returns for an encore at NYTW; it's a piece that you feel you might need to see every year, as a touchstone. Read the full review.
View over 100 works made by creators outside of the artistic community, including inventive self-taught sculptors in New York City and illustrators who found their passion in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Explore the inner lives of unknown artists through works made in private and often discovered after the artists' passing, with pieces like Steve Ashby's Rocking Bed Cunnilingus Whirligig and Henry Darger's watercolor At Sunbeam Creak/At Wickey Lansinia.
Hamilton: Theater review by David Cote What is left to say? After Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s prodigious quill scratched out 12 volumes of nation-building fiscal and military policy; after Lin-Manuel Miranda turned that titanic achievement (via Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography) into the greatest American musical in decades; after every critic in town (including me) praised the Public Theater world premiere to high heaven; and after seeing this language-drunk, rhyme-crazy dynamo a second time, I can only marvel: We've used up all the damn words. Wait, here are three stragglers, straight from the heart: I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right. A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda’s uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard. No wonder the show was anointed a sensation before even opening. Assuming you don’t know the basics, Hamilton is a (mostly) rapped-through biomusical about an orphan immigrant from the Caribbean who came to New York, served as secretary to General Washington, fought against the redcoats, authored most of the Federalist Papers defending the Constitution, founded the Treasury and the New York Post and even made time for an extramarital affair that he damage-controlled in a scandal-stanching pamp
[Note: The review below is for the version of The Imbible at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. A revised version now plays at New World Stages.] 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.
Dave Malloy's dazzlingly eclectic rock-pop musical, adapted from a portion of Tolstoy's War and Peace, conveys its story of high-society Muscovites in stirring and surprising ways. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, this Broadway transfer of the 2012 Off Broadway hit stars global-sensation singer Josh Groban and newcomer Denée Benton. Read the full review.
Jake Gyllenhaal, who revealed surprising musical-theater chops in Little Shop of Horrors in 2015, stars opposite Broadway It girl Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots) in a revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Pulitzer Prize–winning 1984 musical. It's a gorgeous portrait (in two halves) of artistic ambition and compromise. Read the full review.