Off-Broadway Fall 2013 Guide

Killers and Other Family, one of the five plays by Lucy Thurber presented simultaneously in five Off-Broadway theaters in the Village.
Killers and Other Family, one of the five plays by Lucy Thurber presented simultaneously in five Off-Broadway theaters in the Village.

New plays by both August Wilson and Horton Foote, both of whom have been dead for years? The return of Sarah Jessica Parker and Betty Buckley — and Mandy Patinkin — to the stage? The first full-length play by filmmaker Ethan Coen? ” The true stories of a Supreme Court case brought by exotic dancers, and the friendship between Muhammad Ali and Stepin Fetchit?

All of this is happening Off-Broadway. And more.

Much more:

How will we behave after the Apocalypse? Will we sit around the campfire recalling episodes of “The Simpsons” or will we sing and dance a la vaudeville? There is a new play this season Off-Broadway for each of these visions.

Five plays by the same playwright being presented in five different theaters simultaneously.

Twenty-nine new plays in twenty-nine nights by the same performer.

Too much more. It’s impossible to get a firm handle on Off-Broadway. This is its glory and its frustration.

Once again, I found the best way to preview the offerings is to focus on my favorite producing theaters. They  have a track record that recommends any future work, and they all offer season subscriptions or memberships. Of course, there is never a guarantee, and some terrific shows pop up in unlikely places.

PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS playwrights horizons logo

416 W. 42nd St. Twitter: @PHNYC

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play
MrBurnsAugust 23 – October 6, 2013
What will endure after the fall of Civilization? Perhaps “The Simpsons.” Anne Washburn’s animated exploration of how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another

The Patron Saints of Sea Monsters 
October 18 – December 1
In Marlene Meyer’s play, Aubrey, a very determined romantic, believes she’s met her soul-mate in Calvin, a boozing womanizer.

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence
November 17 – December 29
Madeleine George’s time-jumping play is dedicated to the people and machines on which we all depend. Watson: trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes; loyal engineer who built Bell’s first telephone; unstoppable super-computer that became reigning Jeopardy! champ; amiable techno-dweeb who, in the present day, is just looking for love.

In Spring 2014:

Stage Kiss (Feb 7 to March 23) by Sarah Ruhl

Your Mother’s Copy of the Kama Sutra (March 28 – May 11, 2013) by Kirk Lynn

Fly By Night A New Musical, (May 16 – June 29)


480 West 42nd Street. Twitter: @signaturetheatr

The Old Friends
TheOldFriendsAugust 20 – October 6, 2013
A world premiere of a play by Horton Foote (who died four years ago,) The Old Friends features some of my favorite stage performers, including Betty Buckley, Hallie Foote, Lois Smith, and Veanne Cox.   Two Texas farming families hear alarming news, forcing old friends on opposing sides to confront the issues surrounding legacy, loyalty, and the meaning of happiness that have hounded them for generations

Stop. Reset.
August 20  – September 29
Written and directed by Regina Taylor, the play focuses on the owner of Chicago’s oldest African American book publishing company who is forced to consider just how far he will go to keep his business alive.

How I Learned What I Learned
A one-man play by August Wilson performed by his frequent interpreter, Ruben Santiago-Hudson,  the playwright shares stories about his first few jobs, a stint in jail, an early relationship, his first kiss, his foray into cinema, and the friends he has had his entire life

Inspired by Colette’s novella about tragic forbidden love between a young man and an older woman, this work conceived, directed and choreographed by Martha Clark with a text by Tina Howe combines theater, music and dance.

Spring 2014:

Kung Fu by David Henry Hwang (Feb – March 2014)

 Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Feb-March 2014)

publictheaterlogoTHE PUBLIC THEATER

425 Lafayette Street. Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

fall2013_facesofthemoon_330x400_4All The Faces of the Moon
September 5 – October 3, 2013
Mike Daisey presents a new monologue every night for 29 nights, in 29 unique consecutive performances, based on the theme: the secret history of New York City.

September 10 – October 6, 2013
Created and performed by the theater company Elevator Repair Service (Gatz), the play uses verbatim transcripts to re-create the the 1991 Supreme Court case Barnes v. Glen Theatre, in which a group of exotic dancers, citing the First Amendment, challenged a ban on public nudity.

Fun Home
September 30 – November 3, 2013
Based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, directed by Sam Gold, this new musical with music by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change), presents a graphic novelist’s attempt to tell the story of her volatile father after his unexpected death.

Grasses of a Thousand Colors
October 7 – November 10, 2013
This play written by (and featuring) Wallace Shawn and directed by Andre Gregory tells the story of a doctor who believes he has solved world hunger when he figures out how to rejigger the metabolisms of animals to tolerate eating their own kind.

The Foundry Theatre’s Good Person of Szechuan
October 18 – November 24, 2013
This revival of Bertolt Brecht’s play stars Taylor Mac

The Apple Family 
Scenes From Life In The Country

October 22 – December 15, 2013
The three previous plays about the Apple family written and directed by Richard Nelson will be performed in repertory, and new one, Regular Singing, will open on November 22, 2013, the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

Spring 2014

 Under the Radar Festival January 7 – 19, 2014 
Antony and Cleoptra edited and directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney (February 18 – March 23, 2014)
Father Comes Home from the Wars by Suzan-Lori Parks (March 11 – March 30, 2014)
A Second Chance, book, music and lyrics by Ted Shen (March 18 – April 13)
The Civilians’ The Great Immensity (April 8 – 27, 2014)


79 East 4th Street. Twitter: @NYTW79

Fetch Clay, Make Man

FetchClaypicAugust 23 – October 13, 2013

Will Power’s play about the unlikely friendship between the heavyweight boxing champion Cassius Clay (as Muhammad Ali was originally named)  and the controversial Hollywood star Stepin Fetchit

What’s it All About? Bacharach Reimagined

November 19, 2013 – January 5, 2014

Kyle Riabko (Spring Awakening, Hair), 25, performs his unique, soulful arrangements of the Bacharach songbook backed by an eclectic group of young performers.

In Spring 2014

Love and Information February 4 – April 6, 2014 by Caryl Churchill

Cinderella/Cendrillion by Joel Pommerat


108 East 15th Street Twitter: @VineyardTheatre

The Landing

PierceandKanderOctober 3 – November 10

Legendary theater composer John Kander (Chicago, Cabaret) and gifted playwright Greg Pierce’s (Slowgirl) collaborate in a musical about three thematically-connected tales of desire, love and loss.  David Hyde Pierce, Julia Murney  and Paul Anthony Stewart star. Walter Bobbie directs.

Spring 2014

Arlington (Feb-March 2014)

Too Much Sun by Nicky Silver (May-June 2014)


136 East 13th Street Twitter: @ClassicStage

New Romeo Julian Cihi
New Romeo Julian Cihi

Romeo and Juliet

The Shakespearean tragedy has shifted its casting, and now stars newcomer Julian Cihi, with Elizabeth Olsen, as well as T.R. Knight and Daphne Rubin-Vega.

September 27 – November 3, 2013

The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville

December 14 –

Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac star as two end-of-the-world survivors communicate through song-and-dance.

Spring 2014

A Man’s A Man by Bertolt Brecht

The Heir Apparent by David Ives


305 West 43rd Street. Twitter: @2STNYC

LittleMissSunshineLittle Miss Sunshine

October 15 – ?

A musical adaptation by James Lapine and William Finn of the 2006 film about the cross-country trip of a quirky family, including a father who is unsuccessful in selling his motivational success program and a young daughter who wants to win a beauty contest.

In Spring 2014:

The Happiest Song Plays Last  by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Sex With Strangers


Address: 224 Waverly Place (though frequenly also at the Cherry Lane)

Twitter: @rpt224 also: @RattlestickNY


Scarcity1The Hill Town Plays 
August 14-September 28

Five plays by Lucy Thurber about the life of one woman, presented in five different theaters in the West Village, as the first annual Theater: Village Festival.

One Night…
October 16 – December 7

Charles Fuller (A Soldiers Play) takes an unflinching look at what has happened to women in the US Armed Forces.

How to Make Friends and then Kill Them

October 23-December 14, 2013

A play by Halley Feiffer about three long-time friends faced with change because of a horrible accident.

Spring 2014

The Correspondent by Ken Urban (February 5 – March 23)

Ode to Joy, written and directed by Craig Lucas (February 12 – April 12)

The Few by Samuel D. Hunter (April 16 – May 31)


Here are shows that sound promising, in theaters I do not attend regularly enough to list as my favorites.

Women or Nothing: Filmmaker Ethan Coen’s first full-length play, directed by David Cromer, follows two women who are so desperate to have a child, one of them is willing to sleep with a man, August 28 – October 6, Atlantic Theater Company @AtlanticTheater

The Jacksonians:  The dark comedy by Beth Henley (“Crimes of the Heart”) is set in 1964 in her hometown, Jackson, Miss. Directed by Robert Falls, the production will feature Ed Harris, Glenne Headly, Amy Madigan and Bill Pullman, Oct. 25 – Dec. 15 , The New Group  @TheNewGroupNYC

The Commons of Pensacola: Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker star as a mother whose husband’s Wall Street scam became headline news, and the daughter who visits her in her straitened circumstances in Pensacola, Florida, in this playwriting debut for actress Amanda Peet. October 22 – January 12, Manhattan Theatre Club @MTC_NYC


The Bronx BombersEric Simonson‘s new play about the New York Yankees, September 17 – October 19, Primary Stages @PrimaryStages

And Away We Go.  A world premiere play by Terrence McNally (I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more attention) that brings us  backstage in ancient Athens;  at the Globe during Shakespeare’s time; at the first reading of a new play by Chekhov; at the American premiere of Waiting for Godot, and several other important moments in theatrical history along the way. November 12 – December 15  The Pearl Theatre Company @PearlTheatreCo

NWF_2013_Water_613x463Always worth checking out: Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival which focuses on avant-garde experimental and European works that are sometimes hard to categorize. One of the nearly dozen New Wave Festival entries this year is entitled Water, and described as a “theatrical reverie,” intertwining two personal dramas cast in the shadow of the struggle against climate change: “how we can reach beyond ourselves and bond, like water, with those around us?”

Several of the resident theaters offer shows in both Broadway and Off-Broadway houses –  Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre  Club (MTC), and the Roundabout Theater Company. Their Broadway offerings are listed in my Broadway Fall 2013 guide

For a more comprehensive list of current Off-Broadway fare, check out the websites of the Off-Broadway League and the Off-Broadway Alliance

Off-Broadway theaters, by definition, have anywhere from 99 to 499 seats. If a theater has more seats than that, it’s a Broadway house. If it has fewer, it’s Off-Off Broadway.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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