David is the Theater editor and chief drama critic at Time Out New York and a playwright and opera librettist in his free time. And yes, he can tell you what shows you should see on or Off Broadway right now. Follow him on Twitter at @davidcote.
Off Broadway shows, reviews, tickets and listings
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 seat fewer than 100 people usually 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 Public Theater or Playwrights Horizons to revivals at the Signature Theatre and 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 reviews, prices, ticket links, curtain times and more for current and upcoming Off Broadway shows. RECOMMENDED: Full list of Broadway and Off Broadway musicals in New York
Complete A-Z listing of Broadway shows in NYC
Broadway shows are practically synonymous with New York City, and the word Broadway is often used as shorthand for theater itself. Visiting the Great White Way means attending one of 41 large theaters concentrated in the vicinity of Times Square, most of which seat more than 1,000 people. The most popular Broadway shows tend to be musicals, from long-running favorites like The Lion King and Hamilton to more recent hits like Hadestown and Moulin Rouge!—but new plays and revivals also represent an important part of the Broadway experience. There’s a wide variety of Broadway shows out there, as our complete A–Z listing attests. And for a full list of shows that are coming soon, check out our complete list of upcoming Broadway shows. RECOMMENDED: Find the best Broadway shows
The best Broadway songs of all time
There’s nothing quite like seeing a legendary show tune performed live in a great Broadway musical, but you can always satisfy your craving for emotion-filled performance by cranking up a cast recording or binge-watching clips on YouTube. But which are the very best Broadway songs—the ones that endure through the years because they not only stick in our heads but also capture some essense of the genre? It’s nearly impossible to create a list of something so subjective, but we’re here to try. With that in mind, we've come up with these 50 Broadway bangers: a mix of classic musical-theater numbers from 1927 through today. Many of these come from the best Broadway musicals the Great White Way has ever known; to narrow the field a bit, we've limited ourselves to a single song per show. (And sorry, jukebox musicals and movie adaptations: Only songs written for the stage are eigible.) You may not be familiar with all the entries on this list, but trust us: You’ll love them. Maybe they’ll introduce you to a new Broadway show to put on your list of must-sees. Maybe you’ll find one to add to your karaoke rotation. Either way, you’ll get an earful of tunes that are sure to stir your heart. RECOMMENDED: Full listing of Broadway musicals
Upcoming Broadway shows for advance booking
In the whirlwind of theatergoing for most stage addicts, it’s not easy to plan ahead for upcoming Broadway shows: It’s hard enough to stay on top of what’s running now! However, everyone likes to know what big shows are scheduled for the new season. So we created this special page that you can bookmark and check regularly to see what’s coming, when they start and how to book seats. You can also find cheap Broadway tickets to previews, so that’s worth looking out for. Given that many of the best Broadway shows have limited runs and may not stick around long enough to benefit from a Tony Awards win, you’ll want to see all you can while they’re here. Upcoming Broadway shows below are listed in order of opening date.
The 40 best musical movies of all time
No film genre is more polarising than the musical. Even if you love both music and movies, combining the two into a storytelling device can drive certain cinephiles insane. Why would you sing dialogue rather than speak it? Why the hell are all the extras suddenly dancing? One person’s heart-swelling song-and-dance number is another’s nails on a chalkboard. But the truth is, lavish musical performances have been an integral part of movie culture ever since the first major talkie, 1927’s The Jazz Singer. So if you’re going to consider yourself a true film fan, learning to love the musical is a crucial part of your education. Here are 40 great places to start. Recommended: 🔥 The 100 best movies of all-time✍️ The 100 best animated films of all-time🎶 The 30 best film-to-musical adaptations
The 25 worst Broadway musicals of the millennium
When it comes to Broadway musicals, we try to accentuate the positive. We cheer for breakthroughs such as Hamilton. We get misty-eyed when the Tony Awards hand out prizes. We curate a list of the best Broadway shows to share our enthusiasms. But anyone who loves song-and-dance spectacles has a dark side: There’s a flop vulture in each of us, keeping track of the dumbest, tackiest and most misguided musicals we’ve ever seen. Hence this list, a chronological reckoning of the worst Broadway musicals since 2000—a mix of awkward sentimentality, crimes against literature, bottom-scraping jukebox shows and deeply misconceived film-to-musical adaptations. Together, they represent more than 50 hours of agony, boredom and embarrassment in the theater. Yet today, we present them and say: Enjoy! RECOMMENDED: Find every musical on Broadway and Off Broadway right now
Ten myths about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Like most of my colleagues, I viewed the umpteenth delay of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark's opening with a mixture of concern and disgust. Would this show never open? And also: What the hell is going on over there? Some critics are breaking the code of silence to post early impressions on what would have been its previous opening: tonight. Critics, myself included, seem perfectly willing to come back around March 15 to officially review, but they want to have their say now. I saw Spider-Man twice—once with Reeve Carney as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once with his understudy, Matthew James Thomas. Both times there were technical malfunctions lasting five to 15 minutes, leaving actors hanging over the audience, waving at us like idiotic theme-park workers. The show didn't significantly change over the course of a week. I liked it slightly better the second time (February 6). However, both as a theater critic and as someone who used to collect comics, I have profound misgivings about the book, score and director Julie Taymor's overarching concept. And while its visual and flying effects look grand from center orchestra, they're much less impressive (if not confusing) from house left or right. In other words, Spider-Man may be worth $135 from the front, but only $30 from the side. After the jump, the ten myths.1. It's not a musical. It's Spider-Man.In a statement to the New York Drama Critics' Circle last month, Spider-Man's publicist informed us: "Julie Taymor has called it 'roc
The longest-running shows on Broadway and Off Broadway
There’s no science to explain why a given play or a musical becomes one of the longest-running shows in New York. Critical acclaim and Tony Awards can have something to do with it, combined with word of mouth, media exposure, canny marketing and cheap tickets. But beyond that, there is a certain point where a theater production can keep running mainly on momentum. (How else to account for Perfect Crime?) This list of major shows that have been playing for more than five years turns out to be quite diverse, with Broadway powerhouses such as The Lion King and Wicked rubbing shoulders with Off Broadway institutions like Stomp and Blue Man Group and the newfangled immersive adventure Sleep No More. Just don't assume they'll always be around: Even Cats wasn't really forever. Here are the shows in NYC that have been running for more than ten years.
The original Spring Awakening cast: Where are they now?
How young and tender they were—the lead actors of an intriguing new musical called Spring Awakening. The show was based on a sexually provocative 1906 drama by German playwright Frank Wedekind, paired with a pulse-pounding, heartbreaking pop-rock score by composer Duncan Sheik and lyricist Steven Sater. From the first preview Off Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company to opening night on Broadway, we knew we were in the presence of a thrilling generation of musical-theater stars. Like Rent 10 years before, Spring Awakening brought us face to face with the talents who would shape our city in the future. Some of them became bona fide rockers, some migrated to TV fame, and others also gigged on the small screen but also leaped to other Broadway hits, such as the juggernaut Hamilton. Here we look at Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele and other members of the cast, wondering, Where are they now?
Race and Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas’s claim to fame is still John-Boy on the ’70s TV series The Waltons, and he’s currently the voiceover guy on numerous Mercedes-Benz commercials. But the 58-year-old thespian has had a distinguished stage career, including gigs with Edward Albee and avant-god icon Robert Wilson, and plenty of Broadway credits. This fall, the gentlemanly actor marks another milestone: his first David Mamet play. In November, Thomas joins James Spader, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington in Race, Mamet’s latest work. The new swearfest is about two lawyers—one black, one white—working on a racially charged case. (We know that much only because gossip columnists leaked some hints.) TONY phoned Thomas to chat about the project, still top secret. I don’t want to make you date yourself, but I read that you just observed, um, a half century acting on the stage.That was last year, but I’ll celebrate it for another year. If you’re celebrating 50 you might as well let it go on for a while, right? I’m not celebrating with any particular ceremony, but I’m appreciative I’ve been able to do it for so long. You started as a kid. Did you learn on your feet?I was the child of ballet dancers. I grew up backstage, primarily at the New York City Ballet. When I was six, they were in upstate New York doing summer-stock productions, and they needed some children to do a scene. So I did it and loved it. I came back to school that fall and my first-grade teacher happened to be a children’s agent. She t
If there's one thing that Michael Ball has learned from playing Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White, it's the bladder capacity of your average mouse. "They haven't been so bad here, but in London the mice were incontinent," Ball says about the furry critters he pets during the show. "I found out that even a tiny mouse can produce what feels like a pint of pee. And it stinks. So, everywhere around the stage, we've hidden wet wipes to scrub down." Rodent urine, which Ball heartily laughs off, is probably the least of the hardships that he must face in this production. To become Fosco, he dons a sweat-inducing fat suit and spends close to two hours in the makeup chair getting face and neck prosthetics to fatten up. His portly Italian count is key to the plot of the musical, which was adapted from the melodramatic 1860 novel by Wilkie Collins. The Woman in White is only Ball's second appearance on Broadway—1991's Aspects of Love was the first—and any fans he won for his dreamboat turn in that vehicle will be hard-pressed to recognize him here. But that's fine with the actor, who parlayed his velvety baritone and his easygoing, laddish charisma into U.K. superstardom. His path actually resembles that of fellow heartthrob-crooner Michael Crawford, who also made a splash in a Lloyd Webber production (in his case, The Phantom of the Opera), and whose star was also short-lived stateside. Ball, who seems like he'd be equally at home draining a pint of Guinness as b
The best Shakespeare comedies from laugh riots to mild chuckles
You’d think Shakespeare comedies would be as universal as his tragedies—but across the centuries, some don’t age well. It’s been that way since the ancient Greeks: Aristophanes would slay ’em at the amphitheater, but today, you’re lucky to hear the punch line above the snores. Shakespeare comedies do have basic, relatable features. First is verbal wit (punning, insults and bawdy badinage), which has lost some zing as word usage changed. Second is clowning: hard to appreciate since we have no visual record of the slapstick routines (we’re guessing lots mugging and falling down). Third is the sweetest of his humor tactics, and that’s romantic comedy. Often very charming, his rom-com is also subject to evolving attitudes about gender, sexuality and the patriarchy. And yet for all these qualifications, Shakespeare is funny. Really! Sure, his tragedies and histories dominate our favorite Shakespeare-to-screen adaptations, but in live performance, his farces can still sparkle. We could sit all day playing Fantasy Bard, casting these plays with the funniest New Yorkers. Below find our rankings of most comical to, well, not so much. Thanks to Theatre for a New Audience, Shakespeare’s Globe in London and the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park for lending us images of their side-splitting productions.
Listings and reviews (124)
Waitress: Theater review by David Cote [Note: After closing in early 2020, Waitress is returning for a limited run through January 9. ]One’s sorely tempted to praise the delightful new musical Waitress using lots of bakery metaphors. After all, its hero is a pastry genius with relationship woes named Jenna (Jessie Mueller). She’s a perky Southern gal who can confect a mouthwatering Mermaid Marshmallow Pie but can’t measure the right ingredients for happiness. So, unable to resist, here I go: Fresh and delicious, Waitress has an excellent ratio of sweet to tart; supporting characters who provide crustiness (Dakin Matthews’s grumbly store owner) and flakiness (Christopher Fitzgerald’s loony admirer of another waitress); and cooked-to-perfection staging by Diane Paulus. The whole dish is—please forgive me—love at first bite.Based on the 2007 indie film by the late writer-director Adrienne Shelly, Waitress has been whipped (I’ll stop now) into an expertly constructed and emotionally satisfying tale of self-liberation in the face of limited options. Jessie Nelson’s broadly comic yet brooding book meshes wonderfully with a frisky, bright score by pop star Sara Bareilles, a seasoned songwriter who lets the Beatles and other Britpop influences shine through. Bareilles’s custom-built earworms address workplace pluck (“Opening Up”), first-date jitters (“When He Sees Me”), quirky, obsessive love (“Never Ever Getting Rid of Me”) and an eleventh-hour ballad of loss and regret (“She Used t
Theater review by David CoteI’ve just learned what it takes to create an absolutely splendid revival of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter: Step 1: Cast Kevin Kline; Step 2: Hire a director whose name sounds like a punch line Coward might have considered—Moritz von Stuelpnagel. But not any Moritz will do. Find the one who helmed the equally hilarious but tonally rather different demon-possessed–sock-puppet satire Hand to God. There are further details (inviting design, surrounding Kline with a smashing cast), but the simple act of handing America’s greatest exemplar of comic suavity a role he was born to play is half the battle.Not that Kline merely swans about in smoking jackets dispensing Coward’s lemony bon mots; he’s working up there, maintaining the patter’s merciless pace, reclining lengthwise over divans or tearing up and down the stairs in designer David Zinn’s elegant yet cozy living-room set. Kline just makes it look easy. And although he portrays stage egomaniac Garry Essendine, Kline is the very model of a star who lets his brilliance illuminate everyone around him.And what a gorgeous constellation they form: empress of daffy confusion Kristine Nielsen as Garry’s put-upon secretary; archly amused Kate Burton as his not-quite-ex-wife; Reg Rogers in rolling bluster as a neurotic director; and Bhavesh Patel being genuinely creepy as the unhinged young playwright Roland Maule. I could go on, doling praise to Peter Francis James’s dapper cuckold of a producer and Tedra Mil
Theater review by David CoteYou’ve heard Hemingway’s blunt formula for writing: “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Annie Baker’s characters more or less follow that advice in The Antipodes, her latest intensely vivid hypnotizing act disguised as a play. A TV staff writer (Danny Mastrogiorgio) recalls an extramarital affair that ended with (deep breath) gory ejaculate in a shower. Later, assistant Brian (Brian Miskell) hacks up a bloody knot of…thread? before shamefully making his exit. Besides these visible exsanguinations, the rest of Baker’s scribes seem to shrivel up over the course of several months, their vital fluids sucked out by intimidating, inscrutable showrunner Sandy (Will Patton).The milieu is behind the scenes of series TV, but Baker (The Flick, John), one of America’s most exacting and exciting voices, does not supplement her income in Hollywood (unlike many playrights). The Antipodes happens to be set in the writers’ room of a supernatural-themed show ruled by Sandy, who demands his ink-stained wretches dredge up their deepest memories or fantasies to fuel the creative bonfire. That means lots of embarrassing or painful recollections of sex and death—and elliptical theory-spinning. It takes place in two unbroken hours (not real time, but linear), and we never leave the corporate conference room.This hermetic premise—executed with gimlet-eyed flair by director Lila Neugebauer—gives Baker (and the audience) permission to view narrative in all it
Theater review by David CoteThe meta way to review Groundhog Day would be to repeat the same sarcastic, nit-picking paragraph three or four times before softening up and saying aw, heckfire, it’s great!—thus breaking the spell of grouchy repetition. And while there are likeable, inspired elements in this musical adaptation of the great Bill Murray movie, time crawls as you wait for boorish weatherman Phil Connors to surrender to human kindness and true romance.First, let’s salute the heroic Andy Karl as Connors, trapped in a spiritual-temporal loop, reliving February 2 over and over again in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As he did in Rocky, Karl carries the show with inexhaustible physical and vocal energy, bounding over and around Rob Howell’s whirling set pieces without breaking his fine-honed douche-bag stride. As everyone knows, such comic gusto takes its toll: Four days before opening night, Karl injured his knee—but was deemed well enough to perform on opening night. May he soon bounce back to 100 percent.On to the show itself, whose manic, morphing surface partly hides a deeply conflicted interior. To musicalize an essentially cinematic tale (enabled by montages and quick cuts not achievable on stage), director Matthew Warchus and his design team use a range of theatrical tricks: model cars and houses, body doubles and actors repeating scenes. Unfortunately, the tone throughout is gratingly cartoonish, replacing the dry whimsy of the movie with overwrought clownishness.
Six Degrees of Separation
Theater review by David CoteYes, John Guare’s 1990 hit feels dated. Two Upper East Side culture vultures are swindled by an African-American youth pretending to be Sidney Poitier’s son and their child’s Harvard classmate: In 2017, such a plot would quickly unravel with a few Google clicks and a text to the kids. And yet, while technology nails this period as pre–World Wide Web, it swings both ways. Guare’s elegant and elegiac social dramedy actually seems startlingly prophetic in the age of data mining, catfishing and avatars.Take Paul (Corey Hawkins), a young man with limited prospects who (we learn in the latter part of the play) absorbs an improbably large volume of personal detail about various well-heeled New Yorkers—right down to the prize Kandinsky. Paul may be a writerly invention (based on real-life con man David Hampton), but in a funny way, he symbolizes the internet: a place where information is dumped and reconfigured for gain.Of course, Paul’s really a confused, possibly bisexual petty criminal, and Hawkins endows him with just the right balance of vulnerability and class resentment. Paul’s long, heady speech on Catcher in the Rye—Guare at his stem-winding best—comes through with striking clarity and urgency, serving as a key to the work: Imagination is the root of our being, but what if our being is nothing but a tissue of fabulation?Allison Janney is a perfect Ouisa Kittredge: martini-dry and quick with a quip, almost undone by maternal instinct. John Benjamin
The Little Foxes
Theater review by David CoteIn Manhattan Theatre Club’s latest offering, a lawless family schemes and backstabs in the ruthless pursuit of wealth and power. Surprisingly, the setting is not the White House: It’s Lillian Hellman’s 1939 potboiler, in which Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon alternate performances as sisters-in-law Regina Giddens (lusty and rapacious) and Birdie Hubbard (cowed and kindly).Daniel Sullivan directs Hellman’s Alabama tale with a crisp vigor that smooths over its melodramatic bumps. The prime mover is Regina, who plots with brothers Ben and Oscar (malevolently perfect Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein) to close a deal on a cotton mill in order to make them all filthy rich. The cast is uniformly strong, and outstanding work comes from the leading ladies. Linney is fire and ice: regal yet ready to spit venom. And Nixon, in the configuration I saw, is delicately touching as the meek, damaged Birdie. The Little Foxes may not command as high a prospect in the pantheon of American drama as more poetic work by Tennessee Williams or Eugene O’Neill, but it’s cunningly built and packs a punch; it’s the August: Osage County of the interwar years.Critics were invited to see Linney and Nixon in both roles to comment on their range, but I only had time to see Linney’s Regina. This is such a richly satisfying revival, I’m going back for seconds.Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. By Lillian Hellman. Directed by Daniel Sullivan. With Laura Linney, Cynthia Nixon. Running time:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Theater review by David CoteStrangers with candy should be avoided, our parents warn. Roald Dahl urges us to grab the sugary goods—but be prepared for the consequences. Families who accept the treats currently proferred at the Lunt-Fontanne, though, are in for a rough time on Broadway. Joyless, shapeless and grating, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a stale Necco wafer of a musical.Where did such promising material—gut-renovated after its 2013 London debut—go wrong? Let’s start at the top: Eccentric sweets manufacturer Willy Wonka (Christian Borle in fey bully mode) saunters on at the very beginning and tells us he’s on a mission to find his replacement. Farewell, dramatic tension! In the movie, the Wonka legend is built up so that when Gene Wilder appears, it’s a genuine thrill. Here Borle encourages us to loathe Wonka at our earliest convenience; and we know he’s going to favor plucky poor-kid Charlie (Ryan Foust, alternating with two other boys).Wonka then disguises himself as a store proprietor and warbles “The Candy Man,” Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s dreamy ditty from the 1971 film. That number and the rapturous “Pure Imagination” are little oases in the desert of cheap, cynical pastiche that Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman crank out all night.The limping first act is riddled with countless missteps and badly placed songs, sludgy narrative movement and jokes that go splat.Act Two at least has the benefit of seeing the nasty children who’ve won a guided tour of
Theater review by David CoteRichard Maxwell’s new work takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You could say the same about most his plays, even the early, more “realistic” deadpan studies such as House, Boxing 2000 and Good Samaritans. They ostensibly depict family life, amateur fighters and charity workers, respectively, but Maxwell universes always seem blasted, cracked in the wake of an unspecified disaster. With 2007’s Western fantasia, Ode to the Man Who Kneels, the auteur’s writing—previously uninflected and spare to the point of comic absurdity—began to take an epic, mystical turn. His recent output (Isolde or The Evening) tacks between oblique lyricism and semi-literal settings. And now with Samara? Let’s just say Maxwell’s moral fable, directed by Soho Rep head Sarah Benson, goes full Cormac McCarthy Beyond Thunderdome.We are in a brutal frontier land, and our protagonist is the Messenger (Jasper Newell) a dead-eyed teen who murders with flippant ease, but in private moments gazes longingly on a photograph—of his mother? Seeking to cash in on a debt, the Messenger tracks down a Drunk (Paul Lazar) and his lover, the barkeep Manan (Becca Blackwell). The youth demands they pay the exorbitant cost of his journey. They stall, all the time fretting about how to rid themselves of this pest.One murder and many miles later, the Drunk and Manan come across the aged Agnes (Vinie Burrows) and her two “sons”—Cowboy (Modesto Flako Jimenéz) and Beast (Matthew Korahais). Will
Theater review by David Cote“Times are hard for dreamers” sings Amélie Poulain (Phillipa Soo) in the new musical that bears her name, but the lyrics aren’t strictly true. During the intermission-free hour and 45 minutes of this promising but never delivering musical fantasy, you can easily (and frequently) dream up ways the creative team might have better turned the 2001 film into a stage event that didn’t cloy and harden into static quirk halfway through.Adaptation is an ancient and noble art, but some things simply work better on film. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s swoony-cartoony movie, with its saturated reds and greens, manic angles and surreal flourishes (lovelorn Amélie deliquesces in a literal rain of tears!) has an exuberance that makes the baroque whimsy go down like a fine bordeaux.But what’s the theatrical equivalent of a perfectly framed close-up? A three-minute ballad from the heart? Not exactly. So book writer Craig Lucas and songwriters Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen are at pains to articulate a singable emotional center of the source while staying true to its careening, cinematic narrative. The two duties ultimately cancel each other out.Diligently tracing the Roald Dahl–ish screenplay by Jeunet and Guillaume Laurant, Amélie first introduces a French girl trapped between emotionally stunted parents, a cold-fish father (Manoel Felciano) and a neurotic mother (Alison Cimmet). Mom takes Amélie to Notre Dame, where she’s tragically squashed by a Belgian tourist committing
Theater review by David CoteThe core message of Lynn Nottage’s wake-up social tragedy Sweat is clarion clear and to share it does not spoil the show: We must help each other or we’re dead. Whether that means the rich pay more, the poor get health care or trans people enjoy greater legal protections, we have to unite these states. Nottage’s passionate and necessary drama, which transferred to Broadway after a run last year at the Public Theater, is a masterful depiction of the forces that divide and conquer us. Those agents shattering friendships and unions range from alcohol—used and abused nightly at the bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, where most of the scenes are set—to inhumane negotiating tactics used by the local factory to drive down workers’ wages. Drug addiction and anti-immigrant bigotry work like acid, destroying marriages and turning a convivial refuge into a hate-crime scene.Director Kate Whoriskey’s fluid and propulsive staging benefits from an excellent cast led by the fearless triad of Johanna Day, Michelle Wilson and Alison Wright, who play plant drones and tight friends destabilized when one of them moves into management. James Colby adds sensible notes as a kindhearted but ineffectual bartender, and the vibrant Khris Davis and Will Pullen are young buddies whose hope curdles into anger and violence. Sweat communicates its points with minimal fuss and maximum grit. Along with the rage, despair and violence, there's humor and abundant humanity. Prophetic before
How to Transcend a Happy Marriage
Theater review by David CoteSarah Ruhl (Stage Kiss) has written an amiable hour about monogamy and its discontents, enacted by two good-looking couples over prosecco and cheese. If there’s an oppressive fug of bourgeois self-satisfaction, that just seems part of a satirical plan. Then, unfortunately, Ruhl inserts an intermission, spins out 35 more minutes of chatty whimsy and calls the sum How to Transcend a Happy Marriage. A feathery, frolicsome one-act mutates into a mediocre marriage play.The high point of the show is a spontaneous orgy described in a lovely monologue by married Latin teacher George (Marisa Tomei). Said activity is initiated by a trio that’s younger than our married, middle-aged protagonists; let’s call them Magical Millennials. A waifish Lena Hall, Austin Smith and David McElwee make up the scruffy thruple. The rest of the plot is angsty, life-altering fallout from the torrid “sevensome.”Ruhl adds surreal touches and more poetic digressions, but the action resolves in a slight and predictable message: It can be hard to square sexual freedom with being domestic and raising kids. If How to Transcend were a tryst, it would be two hours of light foreplay followed by your partner drifting abstractedly into the next room to browse books on Eastern philosophy. Eventually, you get up and leave, quite unsatisfied.Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater (at Lincoln Center). By Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Rebecca Taichman. With Lena Hall, Brian Hutchison, David McElwee, Omar Metwally
The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams's oft-revived family drama (last seen on Broadway in 2014) returns starring Sally Field as Amanda Wingfield. She plays opposite Joe Mantello as Tom, remembering days gone by, and Madison Ferris as delicate, damaged Laura. The ingenious Sam Gold directs. Read the full review.
James Corden and Lin-Manuel Miranda earn standing ovation for Carpool Karaoke
Theater folks kinda expected the Tony Awards to cold open on June 12 with Time Out cover boy James Corden, Liza Minelli and Barbra Streisand singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business” in a Prius going up Broadway to the Beacon Theatre. But we were pleasantly surprised in the wee hours this morning. For his latest edition of "Carpool Karaoke," Corden got behind the wheel in NYC with none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda to harmonize on excerpts from Hamilton. After that, they stopped to pick up (wait for it) Broadway luminaries Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowksi. This ended the only way it can: With a group bellow of “One Day More” from Les Misérables. How can Corden possibly top that for the actual ceremony?
Video: A surprise Rent reunion at the Nederlander Theatre!
In comedy as in life, it’s all in the timing. And last night some lucky audience members at the spoofy Broadway musical Disaster!, starring original Rent cast member Adam Pascal, had what you might call the best timing ever. (Superfans have probably already noted that Disaster!’s theater, the Nederlander, is also where Rent ran for 12 years.) According to an eyewitness, “After the show, [star and co-writer] Seth Rudetsky was giving his spiel about raising money for Broadway CARES/Equity Fights AIDS—while he was talking, someone carried out a keyboard—and in addition to all the signed merch they were peddling, they were also offering a very-special concert for a high-bidder. (Disaster's fundraising goal: Beat The Book of Mormon.) They talked about how Rent had been at the Nederlander and that Daphne Rubin-Vega was there and would be coming onstage to perform a song with Adam Pascal. A woman in the audience asked, "Do you take credit?" and when Rudetsky said yes, she shouted, "$1,000." A few $500 bidders followed and then the original Mimi and Roger sang 'Will You Light My Candle' and I BASICALLY DIED."UPDATE: The good folks at Disaster! sent us video of the event:
Will Oscar Isaac or Keegan-Michael Key be the true star of Hamlet at The Public?
Keegan-Michael Key will play Horatio to Oscar Isaac's Hamlet at the Public Theater this June. Let us see, forsooth, how they doth compare. CHARACTER’S BEST LINE:Isaac: Musing on his recent depression, Hamlet exclaims: “What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! / How infinite in faculty!”Key: Horatio cradles the dying Hamlet in his arms at the end of the tragedy and tells his dear friend: “Good night, sweet prince: / And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!” CLOSEST HE’S COME TO WEARING TIGHTS:Isaac: For Shakespeare in the Park in 2007, Isaac was a dreamy, guitar-strumming Romeo. No tights, just rumpled khakis. Key: The classically trained actor lampooned the racist side of Elizabethan theater in a Key & Peele skit. The pair woreth legit hose and ruff, verily! CHANCE OF BECOMING A ROCK STAR:Isaac: For the past 12 years, the singer-songwriter has performed in ska-punk and indie-rock bands. Search for “The NightLab” on YouTube.Key: Key appeared (with Jordan Peele) in Weird Al Yankovic’s music video for “White & Nerdy” as a gangsta freaked out by Yankovic’s whiteness. HOTNESS QUOTIENT:Isaac: Isaac was hailed as “the internet’s boyfriend” by Rolling Stone. Key: Key made People’s Sexiest Men Alive list in 2016. THE WINNER:Isaac: He’s heroic, soulful…and those eyes! But this smackdown requires a ruthless improviser like Key.Key: Key has the range, the comedy and the pipes. Plus, he actually, you know, survives the play. Hamlet plays at the Public Theater June 20–Sept
What shows on Broadway and Off made David Cote's best (and worst) theater of 2016?
End-of-the-year lists are dropping faster than the temperature, so I've been sorting through my 2016 clips to see which shows deserve extra laurels and a few more adjectives. The picture that emerges is encouraging: After the raging success of Hamilton, Broadway musicals are still capable of surprising us. New American drama is alive and well and engaging politics. And it was a good year for Shakespeare—both by the book and with a contemporary frame. Scroll down to find the best, the worst and 10 honorable mentions. For Deputy Theater Editor's Adam Feldman's personalized list, click here, and for our combined, slightly different list, click here. THE BEST OF 2016 1. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812Intimate yet epic, ironic yet deeply felt, cosmic yet down to earth, Dave Malloy’s eclectic and electrifying Tolstoy-based musical lights up the sky and our hearts. Josh Groban also wowed us with a deeply felt Pierre. 2. A LifeAdam Bock’s weird and quietly shocking look at mortality, destiny and the human impulse to map the unmappable evoked Thornton Wilder, but went to even stranger places, with a dryly brilliant David Hyde Pierce in the (vanishing) lead.3. SweatOpening five days before the 2016 Presidential election, Lynn Nottage’s gritty, big-hearted portrait of factory workers in rural Pennsylvania was a wake-up call about class, poverty and rage. It explained so much about where we are now.4. The Front PagePrint journalism may be waning, but this sharp-elbowed, fast-t
Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry and Renée Fleming headline Carousel on Broadway next year
When Broadway darling Jessie Mueller left the lead role of Waitress last month (a void filled by the show's composer-lyricist Sara Bareilles), everyone wondered the same thing: What's she in next? We didn't have to wait long. This morning producers announced a revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's 1945 classic Carousel, set to open next March. Mueller will star as mill-worker Julie Jordan alongside the equally marvelous Joshua Henry (Shuffle Along) as her abusive husband, carnival barker Billy Bigelow. As if that casting news weren't exciting enough, opera superstar Renée Fleming will make her debut in a Broadway musical as Nettie Fowler. For those of you not familiar with the show, Nettie is Julie's sensible cousin and gets to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone." We trust that Fleming—currently giving her operatic swan song at the Met in Der Rosenkavalier—will do justice to that classic Broadway anthem.A dark story of love, violence and redemption with mystical overtones, Carousel hasn't been seen on Broadway since 1995, with the Tony-winning revival by Nicholas Hytner. This version will be directed by the dependable Jack O'Brien (currently helming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). The lead producers are Scott Rudin and Roy Furman, who are getting ready to open another musical chestnut, Hello, Dolly!, on Thursday.Mueller did appear in Carousel in 2013—a concert version with the New York Philharmonic that starred Kelli O'Hara as Julie and Nathan Gunn as Billy. She played Carrie Pip
Theater review: Sweeney Todd in its site-specific, pie-shop staging is bloody brilliant
★★★★★ Sweeney Todd set in a (working) replica of a London pie shop, with actors jumping on tables, inches from audience members’ faces? Sounds like a terrible idea. Know what else sounded terrible on paper? A Broadway musical about a vengeful barber who slits customers’ throats and whose accomplice bakes the corpses into meat pies. But Sweeney Todd (1979) is Stephen Sondheim’s grisly masterpiece (with book writer Hugh Wheeler), the most melodically complex and theatrically bold of his works. Just as Sweeney defied expectations, this high-concept staging is—to borrow Sweeney’s encomium of Mrs. Lovett—a bloody wonder, eminently practical yet appropriate.True, the “practical” part must be qualified in the second act (the close quarters can’t accommodate a trick barber’s chair), but for the most part, director Bill Buckhurst and a hugely talented cast make this site-specific Sweeney seem as natural as pie and mash. Before the show, spectators roll up to a functional pop-up eatery and order a savory dish of crusted goodness in sauce (you must order in advance). After plates are cleared, the scary music starts, and you may find your nosh lurching in your guts as the cast proceeds to terrify you.An ambitious goulash of melodrama, satire and horror movie, the operetta-ish Sweeney fuses Sondheim’s most beautiful music to his most extreme nihilism. Sweeney (Jeremy Secomb) seeks revenge against Judge Turpin (Duncan Smith) for raping Sweeney’s wife and planning to deflower his daughter,
Amazing stage chameleon Sarah Jones unveils a must-listen podcast
When I reviewed Sarah Jones’s solo show Sell/Buy/Date this past October, I was reminded all over again what a genius chameleon she is (it had been a decade since her Broadway outing, Bridge & Tunnel, for which she nabbed a Tony). With subtle physical adjustments and invisible vocal re-calibrations, Jones morphs across gender, age and ethnic barriers to become a dizzying range of people: a stoop-occupying b-boy, a spunky Jewish grandmother, a theory-spouting millennial feminist and a dour “Euro-American rights” spokesman. In the show, she used a sprawling cast of characters to tell a sci-fi fable about how evolving social attitudes towards sex and sex workers might lead to greater liberation, but also new crises.Now her prodigious talents are not confined to theater. Public Radio International has just announced a podcast called Playdate with Sarah Jones. In it, Jones “transforms into a cast of characters to connect with her guests and reveal their values and beliefs, explore their passions, and celebrate their unique journeys.” Upcoming guests include Grammy-winner India Arie, authors Baratunde Thurston (How to Be Black), Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and the great Lily Tomlin (maybe they’ll swap characters). Part performance art, part talk show, part radio drama, Playdate sounds like a great use of the medium, conjuring voices out of thin air to challenge our assumptions about authenticity and identity. Isn't that what art is supposed to do? Here's a trailer:
Broadway review: The Glass Menagerie gets a modern, minimalist look with Sally Field
★★★★☆“The play is memory,” Tom Wingfield (Joe Mantello) explains at the start of The Glass Menagerie. “Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic.” What if someone took Tennessee Williams at his word and pushed it to extremes? You would have Sam Gold’s starkly compelling, bravely executed revival at the Belasco Theatre. By the standards of our downtown avant-garde—long influenced by Euro regietheater and the deconstructive antics of the Wooster Group—Gold’s approach is familiar. It’s the 3M Plan: minimal, metatheatrical, modern dress. Still, it’s rare for a Broadway audience to face an iconic stage classic so radically and brutally “interrogated.” For that reason alone, it is imperative that you see it.Indeed, forcing us to look seems to be part of Gold’s tactic. As Laura, Tom’s painfully shy and dreamy sister whom their overbearing Southern matron Amanda (Sally Field) is desperate to marry off, Gold has cast Madison Ferris, an actor with muscular dystrophy. Ferris gets around in a wheelchair or, impressively, crab-walks on all fours, spine and hips alarmingly cantilevered. Watching her locomote from floor to chair, one feels awed by Ferris’s nonchalant endurance but also vaguely guilty for staring. Gold complicates the characterization of Laura by having Ferris speak with a contemporary vocal fry that betrays little trace of self-pity or mooniness. This magnifies Laura’s physical challenge (in the text, she has a slight limp) and de-emph
We need Nathan Lane and Angels in America on Broadway today
The next six weeks will bring a blizzard of Broadway openings, as a whopping 16 shows open in order to be eligible for Tony nominations. There will be plenty of new musicals, naturally, including one that pairs the formidable Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, as well as two substantial issue plays: the factory-worker drama Sweat and Oslo, a heated and info-packed paean to international diplomacy. So this spring we’re getting nourishment in addition to mountains of dessert. But you know what I’d really like to see on Broadway? Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Not just because it’s, yes, a masterpiece worth revisiting any time; if you saw it on Broadway more than 20 years ago, or caught the Signature Theatre Company’s 2010 revival or the outstanding HBO adaptation, you already know. It's more than that. We desperately need an intellectually demanding, politically rousing, visionary drama in our lives. We can sit around waiting for someone to write a play that dramatizes how our current President got elected and what that says about us, or we can just go back to Tony Kushner. He has this habit of being prophetic. Kushner's meditation on globalism, terrorism and the toxic relationship between the West and the Middle East, Homebody/Kabul, opened at New York Theatre Workshop three months after September 11. Angels in America may be set in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis and the Reagan revolution, but the piece remains evergreen. It's about having the moral courage to
You have to see these five Off Broadway shows before they close
While there are plenty of Broadway shows you can catch in April or even in June, Off Broadway’s best offerings often play limited runs. Case in point: Here’s a handful of shows we highly recommend that you might consider getting to in the next three weeks. After that, they’re history.The Object LessonWhat is it? Master performer Geoff Sobelle navigates a roomed crammed top to bottom with boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff in this immersive delight.When does it close? Mar 19What did our reviewer say? “[T]he droll and deft Sobelle…digs through wreckage and pulls out surprising items from boxes, monologuing on meaning and provenance. If you didn’t catch this startlingly original show when it premiered at BAM three years ago…treat yourself to this limited run.”Frontiéres sans FrontièresWhat is it? Three kids in an unidentified refugee camp learn survival tips in this darkly satirical piece at the Bushwick Starr.When does it close? Mar 25What did our reviewer say? “Phillip Howze's exciting piece is actually a savage burlesque, a clear-eyed bouffon treatment of war…Dustin Wills directs an incredible cast. Rachel Leslie, Mitchell Winter and Ceci Fernandez are crackerjack commedia performers, and Emma Ramos should win a prize for this.”VillaWhat is it? Three women on a committee debate the specifics of a memorial dedicated to the site of a horrific torture facility.When does it close? Apr 1What did our reviewer say? “A masterful realist with a talent for scene selection, Calderón has
Stella sputters and all the Broadway shows will go on tonight
Like an 11th-hour showstopper that turns out to be a off-key dud, Winter Storm STELLA! (sorry, can't help ourselves) has turned out to be a fairly average snowfall—four to eight inches. That's a pain, but nowhere near enough to stop the surging spirits of hoofers, troupers, divas and ingenues from putting on a show. The Broadway League just announced that tonight, all Broadway shows will perform evening performances tonight as scheduled. Charlotte St. Martin, head of the League, notes, “For visitors who are staying in hotels and can’t get home, it’s a great time to see a show. Locals can see a hot show in a warm theater! As always, the safety and security of theatergoers is everyone's primary concern, so those who can’t get in to the city should contact their point of purchase for questions about exchange policies.” What that means is: You may be able to get into that show—tonight—that you thought was impossible or kept putting off. First off, check out our amazing guide about how to score cheap tickets to five of Broadway hottest shows. Now hop to our main page, five steps to get discount Broadway tickets. This should get you up to speed on the basics. The first most obvious place to shop is TKTS, which reports it will be staffed and ready to go today.CANCELLATIONS: Of course, Off Broadway venues are affected as well, and unfortunately, 59E59 has announced that all shows will be canceled tonight. Same for The Public Theater, Joe's Pub and tonight's performance of The Moors.
Theater review: The Light Years shines a bright light on old, weird Americana
★★★★☆“Tomorrow,” that homely nickname for the future, has inspired Broadway anthems and Shakespearean speeches, and it traces a melancholy arc across The Light Years, a theatrical cabinet of wonders at Playwrights Horizons. Split between 1893 and 1933 in Chicago, this wistful, cockeyed period play celebrates American dreamers and strivers, and the inventor’s willingness to fail—even to the point of electrocution.It’s the most ambitious contraption assembled to date by the 10-year-old Debate Society (Jacuzzi), which consists of writer-actors Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen and director Oliver Butler. Bos and Thureen don’t appear in the show, but their sweetly off-kilter sensibilities inform the performances, which are carefully executed between ironic distance and child-like innocence. Aya Cash plays two spunky, high-spirited women on tragic life paths; Eric Lochtefeld bustles adorably as an engineer at the 1893 World’s Fair; and Ken Barnett maintains a chipper facade as a plucky jingle writer. Basso-voiced Rocco Sisto anchors both decades as the grandly ridiculous Steele MacKaye, theatrical impresario.Driven not so much by plot as by coincidence and fate, the story follows the doomed construction of the 12,000-seat Spectatorium, MacKaye’s mad dream of a megatheater, which Lochtefeld’s Hillary is laboring doggedly to realize—amid thousand-volt shocks and showers of sparks. Hillary’s wife, Adeline (Cash) is crazy for those new-fangled bicycles. The sweetly idealistic scenes of 1893