Off Broadway Fall 2014 Preview Guide

Lin-Manuel Miranda in front of quick summary of Public Theater's 2014-2015 season, including his "Hamilton"
Lin-Manuel Miranda in front of quick summary of Public Theater’s 2014-2015 season, including his “Hamilton”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, eating a banana, posed in front of a succinct summary of the 2014-2015 season at the Public Theater – including (fifth from the top) “Hamilton,” an original hip-hop musical created by and starring Miranda, who will portray the American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

It’s one of the most anticipated Off Broadway shows –  along with…

Taylor Schilling and Peter Dinklage (CSC)
Taylor Schilling and Peter Dinklage (CSC)

– Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh” directed by Robert Falls at the Brooklyn Academy of Music starting in February.

– “Scenes From a Marriage,” starting in September at the New York Theatre Workshop, based on Ingmar Bergman’s compelling TV series.

– Stage adaptations of Jonathan Lethem’s “The Fortress of Solitude” (The Public Theater) and James Dickey’s “Deliverance” (59E59), and a comic behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film noir classic “Double Indemnity” (Vineyard.)

– New plays by Ayad Akhtar, Katori Hall, Samuel Hunter, Suzan Lori-Parks, Bruce Norris, Sam Shepard

And yes, some familiar faces from movies and television as well as the stage.

If only the entire Off-Broadway season could be summed up as simply as that poster for the Public Theater. Broadway is much easier – 40 theaters, about 40 new shows a year. Off-Broadway is more chaotic,

Richard Chamberlain (New Group)
Richard Chamberlain (New Group)

more spread out, more numerous (some 200 theaters/theater companies, depending on how you count) less publicized. As most serious theatergoers will tell you,  Off Broadway also has far richer, more adventurous and more diverse offerings, at a lower price. (Dozens of shows from September 9th to 28th will charge just $20 if you get tickets 20 minutes before the show begins as part of the 20at20 promotion.

Once again, I find the best way to preview what’s coming up Off-Broadway is to group the shows within the producing theaters that are presenting them, ranked roughly in order starting with my favorite theaters (determined by such factors as their recent track record, the promise of the new season, and by the overall experience I’ve had with the theater.) All offer season subscriptions or memberships. Of course, there is never a guarantee, and some terrific shows pop up in unlikely places.


Jesse Eisenberg , Billy Porter, Cynthia Nixon - actors turned playwrights, director.
Jesse Eisenberg , Billy Porter, Cynthia Nixon – actors turned playwrights, director.

PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS playwrights horizons logo

416 W. 42nd St. Twitter: @PHNYC

One of the plays from last year’s season, Annie Baker’s “The Flick,” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but this theater consistently over the past few years has had some of the most original and most satisfying works of theater.


Booty Candy

August 22 – October 12

Writer and director Robert O’Hara presents “a kaleidoscope of sketches that interconnect to portray growing up gay and black”

Grand Concourse

October 17 – November 30

“Called to a life of religious service, Shelley is the devoted manager of a Bronx soup kitchen, but lately her heart’s not quite in it. Enter Emma: an idealistic but confused young volunteer, whose recklessness pushes Shelley to the breaking point.”

Written by Heidi Schreck and directed by Kim Fagan, the play features a four-member cast that includes Bobby Moreno, who was so amazing in The Year of the Rooster.


November 21 – January 4

“Eddie manages an Italian chain restaurant in Pocatello—a small, unexceptional American city that is slowly being paved over with strip malls and franchises.”

Written by Samuel Hunter, whose past efforts (e.g. The Whale) I have loved, this play features a nine-member cast including T.R. Knight.

In 2015:

Placebo by Melissa James Gibson

Iowa, a musical by Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond

The Qualms by Bruce Norris


publictheaterlogoTHE PUBLIC THEATER

425 Lafayette Street. Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY



Public Works’ The Winter’s Tale

September 5 – 7, 2014

With music and lyrics by Todd Almond, conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, this Shakespeare in Central Park is presented as a happening, with a blend of professional performers like Lindsay Mendez and some 200 regular New Yorkers up on the stage.

Rock Bottom 

September 9 – October 11, 2014

Created and starring Bridget Everett, who “barrels through life tip-toeing toward disaster, wine bottle by wine bottle and man by man.” It features original songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (the team that brought us Hairspray and Smash), as well as Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Matt Ray


The Fortress Of Solitude 

September 30 – November 2, 2014

Jonathan Lethem’s coming-of-age novel about 1970s Brooklyn is adapted by songwriter  Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and bookwriter Itamar Moses, and features an 18-member cast that includes  Kyle Beltran, Adam Chanler-Berat, and André De Shields.

Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3)

October 14 – November 16, 2014

Suzan-Lori Parks (Top Dog/Underdog) has written three plays set during the Civil War presented in a single performance. In Part 1, “A Measure of Man,” Hero, a slave who is accustomed to his master’s lies, must now decide whether to join him on the Confederate battlefield in exchange for a promise of freedom. Part 2, “The Battle in the Wilderness” follows Hero and the Colonel as they lead a captured Union solider toward the Confederate lines as the cannons approach. Finally, in Part 3, “The Union of My Confederate Parts,” the loved ones Hero left behind question whether to escape or wait for his return.


Straight White Men

November 7 – December 7, 2014

Young Jean Lee, an innovative downtown playwrights, “defies expectations with a conventionally structured take on the classic American father-son drama….When Ed (Austin Pendleton) and his three adult sons come together to celebrate Christmas, they enjoy cheerful trash-talking, pranks, and takeout Chinese. Then they confront a problem that even being a happy family can’t solve….what is the value of being a straight white man?”

In  2015



January 20 – March 22

Written and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, and directed by Thomas Kail — the same team that brought us “In The Heights” —  this new musical uses hip-hop to tell the story of the “political mastermind” who began life as a “bastard orphan.”

 Stew And Heidi Rodewald’s The Total Bent

Toast By Lemon Andersen




79 East 4th Street. Twitter: @NYTW79

Scenes from a Marriage
Scenes from a Marriage

Scenes From A Marriage

September 12 – October 26

Innovative Flemish director Ivo van Hove (who is also directing “Angels in America” in BAM this season) directs McCarter Theater artistic director Emily Mann’s adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s popular 1974 TV mini-series that traces a complicated (which is to say, normal) marriage. “Audience members will move from room to room to experience an intimate look into the marriage of Johan and Marianne.”

The Invisible Hand

November 19 – January 4

Ayad Akhtar, whose play Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize and is opening on Broadway this season, pens a play about an American stockbroker who is kidnapped and tortured in a remote area of Pakistan, and negotiates to save his life.


The Events




108 East 15th Street Twitter: @VineyardTheatre


Billy and Ray

October 1 – November 9

That’s film director Billy Wilder and novelist Raymond Chandler: The play, written by Mike Bencivenga and directed by Garry Marshall (Happy Days, etc.),  is about their contentious collaboration on the noir film based on Chandler’s novel, “Double Indemnity”

The four-member cast includes Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell in “Mad Men”) as Wilder and Larry Pine as Chandler.



January – February

This musical directed by Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Hedwig) is about a hardware store clerk who meets “Brooklyn’s most celebrated superhero” and together they try to save Brooklyn

Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkin



136 East 13th Street Twitter: @ClassicStage




November 1

This revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s least known musical, written after their success with Oklahoma and Carousel, follows the life of a physician named Joe Taylor, Jr.



A Month in the Country

January 9 –

Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling star in Turgenev’s play about unrequited love.


Dr. Faustus



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

Twitter:  @RattlestickNY

Rattlestick’s 20th anniversary season began in the summer with The Long Shrift, James Franco’s debut as a stage director, and Phoenix, co-starring Julia Stiles. 



September 4 – October 5

As part of the second annual Theater: Village Festival – whose theme this year is “E Pluribus” –  this play conceived by Theater Mitu’s Artistic Director Rubén Polendo (a native of Juarez) is  based on hundreds of interviews, is meant to “an artistic and emotional map” of the Northern Mexican city.

Pit Bulls

November 6 – December 13

Keith Josef Adkins, a playwright best-known as the founding artistic director of New Black Fest, writes about a pariah named Mary in a small black community in rural Appalachia — pitbull country – who is viewed suspiciously when a pitbull is killed on the Fourth of July.

In 2015

Shesh Yak Written by Laith Nakli; Directed by Bruce McCarty

Everything You Touch Written by Sheila Callaghan; Directed by Jessica Kubzansky

The Undeniable Sound of Right Now Written by Laura Eason; Directed by Kirsten Kelly

Hamlet in Bed Written by Michael Laurence; Directed by Lisa Peterson

Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, America, Kuwait Written and Directed by Daniel Talbott


The New Group

at The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street

Twitter: @TheNewGroupNYC

Sticks and Bones

October 21 – December 14

Richard Chamberlain, Holly Hunter and Bill Pullman star in this revival of David Rabe’s “savagely comic” look at a family torn apart by the Vietnam War.

In 2015

Rasheeda Speaking

Cynthia Nixon makes her directorial debut with this tense workplace thriller starring Dianne Wiest and Tonya Pinkins as co-workers. Written by Joel Drake Johnson, the playexamines the realities of so-called “post-racial” America.

The Spoils

By Jesse Eisenberg.

MCC Theater

Address: The Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street. Twitter: @mcctheater


The Money Shot

September 4–October 12, 2014

Neil LaBute’s play about “Karen and Steve, glamorous movie stars with one thing in common: desperation.”

Punk Rock

October 29 – December 7

Simon Stephens (who adapted The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) writes about 
a group of highly-articulate 17-year-old British private school students preparing for their A-Level mock exams, while hormones rage.

In 2015

The Nether


Lincoln Center Theater*

The shows at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway venues are inexpensive (especially at the Claire Tow theater, where initial-run tickets cost $20) and often rewarding: Disgraced, the Pulitzer Prize winning play that is opening on Broadway October 23, began here.

brownsville song (b-side for tray)

October 4 – November 16

The play by Kimber Lee “moves fluidly through time as the family of Tray, a spirited 18 year-old whose life is cut short, navigate their grief and find hope together.”

The Oldest Boy

October 9 – December 28

In this new play by Sarah Ruhl, Celia Keenan-Bolger (The Glass Menagerie)  portrays an American mother who lives with her Tibetan husband and their three-year-old son, whom Tibetan monks suddenly tell her is the reincarnation of an important Lama — and want to take him away for training.



The Mystery of Love and Sex



Indian Ink

September 4 – November 30

Rosemary Harris stars in a revival of Tom Stoppard’s play about a free-spirited English poet in India, and her sister 50 years later.


In 2015

Into The Woods


MTC THEATER* At City Center

131 West 55th Street

Twitter: @MTC_NYC

They seem to have a water theme this season.

Lost Lake

Opens November 11

Written by David Auburn and directed by Daniel Sullivan (the team that brought us Proof and The Columnist), this play focuses on two strangers who meet at a rundown lakeside rental.

By The Sea

Opens November 18

In Sharon Rothstein’s play, Hurricane Sandy has just ravaged the lifelong home in Staten Island of Marty and Mary Murphy, who are determined to rebuild; then their sons return home.

In 2015

The World of Extreme Happiness by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig

The Swing of the Sea by Richard Greenberg




480 West 42nd Street. Twitter: @signaturetheatr

As the first New York theater to win the Regional Tony Award this year, the Signature now has some solid proof of what has been clear to its patrons for years.  What has distinguished this theater is not only its track record, but its commitment to keep the price of all tickets for initial runs to $25.  This used to be my favorite theater, and I’m hoping it will become so again, but despite the new recognition, the offerings have been uneven recently, and my interaction with the theater has not been positive.

This season’s “Residency One” playwrights are A.R. Gurney and Naomi Wallace


And I And Silence by Naomi Wallace

August 5 to September 14

Two women who met as teenagers in prison struggle to make ends meet in 1959.


The Wayside Motor Inn by A.R. Gurney

August 12, 2014 – September 28, 2014

Five stories told simultaneously in a motel room outside Boston.


A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations) by Sam Shepard

A “dark, fragmented, modern-day take on Oedipus Rex” starring Stephen Rhea

Our Lady of Kibeho by Katori Hall

ln 1981, a village girl in Rwanda claims to see the Virgin Mary. Ostracized by her schoolmates and labeled disturbed, everyone refuses to believe, until the impossible starts happening again and aga

In 2015:

Big Love by Charles Mee

The Liquid Plain by Naomi Wallace

What I Did Last Summer by A.R. Gurney


the iceman cometh

The Iceman Cometh, the production with Nathan Lane and Bryan Dennehy that originally appeared to extreme acclaim at the Goodman in Chicago, will be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music February 5 to March 15, 2015 (which means I really should just put it in my Spring 2015 Preview Guide, but by then it will be sold out.)

Angels in America at BAM

Always 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.

This year the 17 theater pieces include Ivan van Hove’s reimagining of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Samuel Beckett’s radio play Embers and Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of An Author.



There are worthwhile theaters I do not attend regularly enough to list as my favorites, with at least one production each this season that sound promising, or at least intriguing:

Barrow Street Theater – Waiting for Godot in Yiddish (with English subtitles)

Irish Repertory Theater – Port Authority by Conor McPherson

Primary StagesWhile I Yet Live by Billy Porter (Kinky Boots star turned playwright)

Second Stage Theatre – revival of Terence McNally’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart; stage adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho

59E59 –  James Dickey’s Deliverance, based on his acclaimed novel, adapted by Sean Tyler, October 10 – November 9

Lift, novelist Walter Mosley‘s first full length play, about two workers stuck in a skyscraper elevator. October 17-November 30

Then there are theaters that actively discourage my coverage:

The Atlantic – Found

There are also commercial shows put together by independent producers that appear in theaters for rent, such as:

Cherry Lane Theatre
Daryl Roth Theatre
Gym at Judson
Lucille Lortel Theatre
New World Stages
Orpheum Theater
The Players Theatre
Snapple Theater Center
Theatre Row – The Acorn
Union Square Theater
Westside Theatre


*THE ASTERISK: Off-Broadway AND Broadway

*Just to complicate matters, several of the resident theaters also present shows on Broadway –  Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Company (MTC), and the Roundabout Theater Company. Their Broadway offerings are listed in my Broadway Fall 2014 Preview Guide

What Is Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway?

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.

There are some terrific Off-Off Broadway theaters, sometimes confused for Off-Broadway. These include (but are not limited to) The Flea, Labyrinth Theater, and LaMaMa ETC.

Because there are so many shows Off-Off Broadway, and their runs are so limited, I will include them in my monthly theater preview posted near the beginning of each month.


New York Theater Opening Night Calendar


For more information about Off-Broadway, go to  The League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers (aka The Off-Broadway League).  This should not be confused with the Off-Broadway Alliance, which is a separate organization (though they should probably merge, no?)

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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