December 2015 Theater Openings Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway

Four shows are opening on Broadway in December:  “School of Rock” is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first new musical on Broadway since 2005.  Jennifer Hudson makes her Broadway debut in a first revival of The Color Purple; the original opened in 2005. The sixth production of Fiddler on the Roof comes (you guessed it) a decade after the fifth. Al Pacino and David Mamet are pairing up once again for Mamet’s new play China Doll, which was originally scheduled to open in November.

The hottest-selling opening in December, however, is Off-Broadway – “Lazarus.” And then there are the Christmas plays up the wazoo — too numerous to include them all.

Below is a selection of the plays, musicals and less easily categorized theater pieces opening in December, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the Fall season as a whole, check out Broadway Fall 2015 Preview and Off-Broadway Fall 2015 Preview.

December 1

A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Irish Rep)

The peculiar habits of people during the season of feasting and merriment as seen through the eyes of a little boy

December 2

Griffin Matthews
Griffin Matthews and cast

Invisible Thread (Second Stage)

Griffin Matthews co-wrote and stars in this musical directed by Diane Paulus and inspired by the true story of this black, gay New Yorker’s experience volunteering for an aid project in Uganda.

December 3


Gigantic (Vineyard Theatre at Theatre Row)

A musical comedy about a group of outcast teens who have been sent to a weight-loss camp in Pennsylvania.

That Physics Show (Playroom Theater)

David Maiullo brings his physics experiments to the  stage, demonstrating such concepts as motion, momentum, vacuum, friction, energy,and sound vibration.

C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce (The Pearl Theatre)

Three actors portray a dozen characters taking a day trip from Hell to Paradise—a trip that leaves no one unchanged — in this morality tale adapted from Lewis’s book.

How to Get Into Buildings (The Brick)

A play that chronicles an ‘exploded view’ of love, featuring two couples, a famous author, and a telethon.

December 4

Al Pacino in China Doll
Al Pacino in China Doll

China Doll

Al Pacino stars in David Mamet’s new two-character play about a billionaire, Mickey Ross (Pacino), who has just bought a new airplane for his young fiancée as he prepares to go into semiretirement; on his way he suddenly gets a phone call.

December 6

Alex Brightman and cast in School of Rock

School of Rock – The Musical (Winter Garden)

An adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber of the 2003 Jack Black movie about a really bad substitute teacher who enlists his fifth-grade class to form a rock group to compete in the Battle of the Bands.

Pylade (La MaMa ETC)

Written by the late, provocative film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Pylade” is a contemporary reinterpretation of the relationship between Pylades and Orestes from Greek mythology


December 7


Lazarus (New York Theater Workshop)

Based on the’1963 science fiction novel The Man Who Fell to Earth’ by Walter Tevis, Lazarus is written by David Bowie (including both familiar and original songs) and Enda Walsh (Once) and directed by Ivo van Hove (the experimental director who made his Broadway debut last month with Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.) The musical, which stars Michael C. Hall and Sophia Anne Caruso, is about a human-looking alien who comes to Earth seeking a way to bring water back to his home planet. Tickets sold out to the original run of this musical in a few hours (before it was extended), which must be a record for Off-Broadway.

December 8

OurFriendstheenemy for calendar

Our Friends The Enemy (Theater Row’s Lion Theatre)

A play inspired by the true event of Christmas 1914, when British and German soldiers stopped their fighting, emerged from their trenches and met between the firing line


A Wilder Christmas (Theatre at St. Clement’s)

The Long Christmas Dinner and Pullman Car Hiawatha, two one-act plays by Thornton Wilder (Our Town),  directed by Dan Wackerman. The first “traverses 90 years in the life of a single American family as they gather around the dining room table for a holiday celebration.” The second a disparate collection of characters bound for Chicago during the holiday season. No ordinary train, this Pullman car allows us to eavesdrop on the thoughts and feelings of its many passengers

December 9

The Golden Bride (The Museum of Jewish Heritage)

National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene presents one of the most-popular operettas of the Roaring Twenties about a beautiful young woman named Goldele, abandoned by her parents in the shetl, who makes her way to America.  Presented in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles.

December 10

The Color Purple (Bernard B. Jacobs Theater)

Color Purple 3_Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson photo by Matthew Murphy

Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alice Walker, this musical follows the life of a young black girl named Celie (Cynthia Ervio.)


Oh, Hello (Cherry Lane Theater)

Nick Kroll (Comedy Central’s Kroll Show) pairs up with Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney to portray two oddball characters, Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, “a pair of Alan Alda-obsessed, Upper West Side, middle-aged divorcees who love tuna.”

December 13

Once Upon A Mattress (Transport Group at Abrons Arts Center)

A revival of Mary Rodgers’ wacky musical adaptation of ‘The Princess and the Pea,’ featuring Jackie Hoffman as Princess Winnifred and John “Lypsinka” Epperson as Queen Aggravain.


Plaid Tidings (York Theatre Company)

A kind of spin-off from the musical Forever Plaid, this revue features the 1950s boy band, the Heavenly Plaids singing seasonal holiday music, plus a three-minute version of “The Ed Sullivan Show.

December 14


Marjorie Prime (Playwrights Horizons)

A play by Jordan Harrison in which Lois Smith portrays an 85-year-old woman in decline whose family enlists a “prime:”a handsome new companion who’s programmed to feed the story of her life back to her.

December 15


These Paper Bullets (Atlantic Theater Company)

This play with music by Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day, American Idiot) mashes up a story of a Fab Four rock band with the plot of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

December 16

A Christmas Carol (Theater Row)

A new look at Scrooge from MOD theater company.

Annie (Kings Theater)

Annie the Musical Issie Swickle Annie

Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin (for the 19th time), with a 25-member company, this production of “Annie,” about the orphan girl who advises the president, marks the first major theatrical event in the history of glorious Kings Theater, a former movie palace that re-opened earlier this year after a $95 million restoration.

December 20

Fiddler on the Roof (Broadway Theater)

The fifth Broadway revival of the hugely and justly popular 1964 musical about a Jewish milkman and his three daughters in hostile 19th century Russia.


December 24

The Greatest Pirate Holiday Spectacularrr! (Theatre 54)

‘A Christmas Carol’ with a pirate twist and audience suggestions.



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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