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Things to do in New York this week: Critics' picks

Find this week's best events, activities and things to do in NYC, as chosen by Time Out's critics

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Blue Man Group
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • price 4 of 4
  • Noho

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.)

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • price 3 of 4
  • Hell's KitchenOpen run

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

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown WestOpen run

Broadway review by Adam Feldman Who doesn’t enjoy a royal wedding? The zingy Broadway musical Six celebrates, in boisterous fashion, the union of English dynastic history and modern pop music. On a mock concert stage, backed by an all-female band, the six wives of the 16th-century monarch Henry VIII air their grievances in song, and most of them have plenty to complain about: two were beheaded, two were divorced, one died soon after childbirth. In this self-described “histo-remix,” members of the long-suffering sextet spin their pain into bops; the queens sing their heads off and the audience loses its mind.  That may be for the best, because Six is not a show that bears too much thinking about. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote it when they were still students at Cambridge University, and it has the feel of a very entertaining senior showcase. Its 80 minutes are stuffed with clever turns of rhyme and catchy pastiche melodies that let mega-voiced singers toss off impressive “riffs to ruffle your ruffs.” The show's own riffs on history are educational, too, like a cheeky new British edition of Schoolhouse Rock. If all these hors d’oeuvres don’t quite add up to a meal, they are undeniably tasty. Aside from the opening number and finale and one detour into Sprockets–style German club dancing, Six is devoted to giving each of the queens—let’s call them the Slice Girls—one moment apiece in the spotlight, decked out in glittering jewel-encrusted outfits by Gabriella Slade that are Tu

  • Theater
  • Circuses & magic
  • price 2 of 4
  • Greenwich VillageOpen run

For more than two decades, this proudly old-school series has offered a different lineup of professional magicians every week. It's an heir to the vaudeville tradition: Many of the acts incorporate comedic elements, and audience participation is common. (If you have children, bring them; they make especially adorable assistants.) The show has recently moved to the private upstairs dining room at Monte's Trattoria, and the ticket package includes a three-course red-sauce Italian meal. You get a lot of value and variety for your magic dollar, and 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.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown WestOpen run

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  “I’m a sensation!” declares the title character of The Who’s Tommy when, as a 10-year-old boy, he first stands before a pinball machine. We hear this feeling through narration sung by the grown-up version of Tommy (Ali Louis Bourzgui), because the child version is mute; in a psychosomatic reaction to trauma years earlier, he has become a “deaf dumb and blind kid,” albeit one with an astonishing gift for racking up points in arcades. It may be hard for the audience to relate to Tommy, who spends most of the show in the expressionless mien of a child mannequin. The sensation we experience in the trippy nostalgia of this 1993 musical’s Broadway revival is closer to that of a pinball: batted and bounced from one flashy moment to the next in a production that buzzes and rings with activity.  Tommy is based, of course, on the 1969 concept album that Pete Townshend wrote for his band, the Who. The plot of this rock opera is not entirely clear just from listening, so the stage musical—adapted by Townshend with director Des McAnuff—reorganizes a few of the songs and fills out the story in a different way than Ken Russell’s outré 1975 film did. During the overture, we see Tommy’s father (Adam Jacobs), an officer in the Royal Air Force, get captured by the German soldiers. (Between this, Harmony, Lempicka, Cabaret and White Rose, it’s quite a year for Nazis in musicals.) When Captain Walker returns to his wife (the very fine Alison Luff), he winds up kil

  • Music
  • Cabaret and standards
  • price 0 of 4
  • East Village

He’s worked with Liza Minnelli, Kylie Minogue and just about every downtown act in NYC. Now composer, pianist and performer Lance Horne hosts his own wild night of singing, drinking and dancing, strip-teasing and bad behavior at the East Village nightlife hub Club Cumming. Expect advanced show-tune geekery and appearances by Broadway stars looking to get down by the piano. Plan to sleep in on Tuesday.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown WestOpen run

Broadway review by Adam Feldman “Keep it light, keep it tight, keep it fun, and then we’re done!” That’s the pithy advice that the indignant 16th-century housewife Anne Hathaway (Betsy Wolfe) imparts to her neglectful husband, William Shakespeare (Stark Sands), as a way to improve his play Romeo and Juliet, which she considers too much of a downer. It is also the guiding ethos of the new Broadway jukebox musical & Juliet, a quasi-Elizabethan romp through the chart-toppers of Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin. A diverting synthetic crossbreed of Moulin Rouge!, Something Rotten!, Mamma Mia! and Head Over Heels, this show delivers just what you’d expect. It is what it is: It gives you the hooks and it gets the ovations.  Martin is the preeminent pop hitmaker of the past 25 years, so & Juliet has a lot to draw from. The show’s 30 songs include multiple bops originally recorded by the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Katy Perry, as well as tunes that Martin wrote—or, in all but two cases, co-wrote—for Pink, NSYNC, Kesha, Robyn, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J, Céline Dion, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Ellie Goulding, Demi Lovato, Adam Lambert, the Weeknd and even Bon Jovi. (Notably absent are any of his collaborations with Taylor Swift.) “Roar,” “Domino,” “Since U Been Gone”: the hit list goes on and on. As a compilation disc performed live, it’s a feast for Millennials; its alternate title might well be Now That’s What I Call a Musical! & Julietl | Photograph: Matthew Murp

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown WestOpen run

If theater is your religion and the Broadway musical your sect, you've been woefully faith-challenged of late. Venturesome, boundary-pushing works such as Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Next to Normal closed too soon. American Idiot was shamefully ignored at the Tonys and will be gone in three weeks. Meanwhile, that airborne infection Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark dominates headlines and rakes in millions, without even opening. Celebrities and corporate brands sell poor material, innovation gets shown the door, and crap floats to the top. It's enough to turn you heretic, to sing along with The Book of Mormon's Ugandan villagers: "Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-a, fuck you in the eye." Such deeply penetrating lyrics offer a smidgen of the manifold scato-theological joys to be had at this viciously hilarious treat crafted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, and composer-lyricist Robert Lopez, who cowrote Avenue Q. As you laugh your head off at perky Latter-day Saints tap-dancing while fiercely repressing gay tendencies deep in the African bush, you will be transported back ten years, when The Producers and Urinetown resurrected American musical comedy, imbuing time-tested conventions with metatheatrical irreverence and a healthy dose of bad-taste humor. Brimming with cheerful obscenity, sharp satire and catchy tunes, The Book of Mormon is a sick mystic revelation, the most exuberantly entertaining Broadway musical in years. The high q

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Drama
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Broadway review by Adam Feldman  “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and as strong as certainty,” preaches the charismatic Father Flynn (Liev Schreiber) in the sermon that begins John Patrick Shanley’s gripping 2005 drama Doubt: A Parable. The forward-thinking priest teaches religion and physical education at a Bronx elementary school in 1964, and his speech may or may not reflect unspeakable personal struggles. Sister Aloysius (Amy Ryan), the school’s disciplinarian principal, is convinced that Flynn has sexually abused a 12-year-old boy named Donald, her first black student. When a younger teacher, the malleable Sister James (Zoe Kazan), waffles about his guilt, Aloysius scolds her naiveté: “Innocence could only be wisdom in a world without sin.”  But is suspicion, based largely on intuition, any better? In refusing innocence, is this nun the wiser? For Sister Aloysius, a staunchly conservative Catholic, the responsibility to protect a child from violation—even by moving from vigilant to vigilante, outside the Church’s patriarchal chain of command—is a pious calling, despite conflicting with her vows. “When you take a step to address wrongdoing, you move away from God,” she says, “but in His service.”  On its surface, Doubt is an odd kind of mystery, less a whodunit than a wasitdunnatall. More profoundly, it’s an epistemological mystery play, religious not merely in setting but in theme: an interrogation of faith itself, of choosing what to believe for reasons beyond evidence.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown WestOpen run

Theater review by Adam Feldman  Here’s my advice: Go to hell. And by hell, of course, I mean Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell’s fizzy, moody, thrilling new Broadway musical. Ostensibly, at least, the show is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy goes to the land of the dead in hopes of retrieving girl, boy loses girl again. “It’s an old song,” sings our narrator, the messenger god Hermes (André De Shields, a master of arch razzle-dazzle). “And we’re gonna sing it again.” But it’s the newness of Mitchell’s musical account—and Rachel Chavkin’s gracefully dynamic staging—that bring this old story to quivering life. In a New Orleans–style bar, hardened waif Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) falls for Orpheus (Reeve Carney), a busboy with an otherworldly high-tenor voice who is working, like Roger in Rent, toward writing one perfect song. But dreams don’t pay the bills, so the desperate Eurydice—taunted by the Fates in three-part jazz harmony—opts to sell her soul to the underworld overlord Hades (Patrick Page, intoning jaded come-ons in his unique sub-sepulchral growl, like a malevolent Leonard Cohen). Soon she is forced, by contract, into the ranks of the leather-clad grunts of Hades’s filthy factory city; if not actually dead, she is “dead to the world anyway.” This Hades is a drawling capitalist patriarch who keeps his minions loyal by giving them the minimum they need to survive. (“The enemy is poverty,” he sings to them in

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