May may be seen as the month when theater people are awaiting the Tony Awards in June, but there are also nearly two dozen plays, musicals and “unique theatrical experiences” opening on New York stages this month, including one on Broadway. Some look exciting.
AND there are a half dozen major New York theater awards announcing their winners in May. (See my 2016 NYC Theater Award Guide)
Below is a schedule of May theater organized chronologically by opening date. Each show title is linked to a relevant website.
Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.
A hit when it played at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage, this original musical tells the story of a high school student who is mistakenly thought to be best friends with a classmate who had committed suicide. Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal and Grey Gardens) directs, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, Dogfight) and a book by Steven Levenson (Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”).
This Young Vic production of Tennessee Williams’ play is directed by Benedict Andrews, features a transparent, revolving set, and stars Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, Corey Johnson and Vanessa Kirby.
When a catastrophic environmental accident threatens to derail Kurtz Petroleum, it’s up to documentarian turned big oil public relations flak Jaime Kurtz (Nico Tortorella) with the help of his commercial making pal Aaron (W. Tre Davis) and Aaron’s drug dealer Manny (Jose Joaquin Perez) to come up with the perfect pitch to save the company.
In this musical, Henry, a newly arrived immigrant to 1910 New York, finds himself at the center of this story involving a Bowery theater facing eviction.
The Encores concert series presents this 1965 musical, the only collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim. Melissa Errico stars as Leona Samish, a middle-class American woman who uses her meager savings for a long-dreamed-of trip to Venice
A one-woman show by Cheryl Stern, playing two dozen characters, “about the passion, obsession and overwhelming drive to purchase and possess beautiful things.”
Daphne’s Dive (Signature)
Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton), this play is the first of several at the Signature to be written by Pulitzer winner Quiara Alegría Hudes (who collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda in writing In The Heights). “Daphne’s Dive is a cheap corner bar in North Philly where Daphne and her vibrant, eclectic regulars drink to art, politics, and life.”
A new comedy by Wendy Beckett about a couple transfixed by and jealous of their neighbors, whom they know only by spying them through the window.
In the same season that Shuffle Along presents the backstage story to a famous Broadway musical from the 1920’s, Paula Vogel’s new play looks at the events surrounding the 1923 Broadway debut of Yiddish-theater playwright Sholem Asch’s controversial drama God of Vengeance, which dealt with prostitution and lesbianism and whose cast was successfully prosecuted for obscenity.
The Ruins of Civilization (MTC)
A couple open their home to a stranger in need sometime in the future, with unexpected results. Written by Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike)
In Dominique Morisseau’s third play in her Detroit trilogy, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. I reviewed Skeleton Crew positively when it was in the Atlantic’s smaller theater.
Joe Morton stars Dick Gregory in this new play about the trailblazing comic who became an activist.
Edward Albee’s The Sandbox
María Irene Fornés’ Drowning
Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro
This trio of famous one-act plays is directed by Lila Neugebauer
Hadestown (New York Theatre Workshop)
Inspired by Orpheus’ mythical quest to overcome Hades and regain the favor of his one true love, this musical developed and directed by Rachel Chavkin (a name you’ll keep on hearing), with folk and jazz music by Anaïs Mitchell, takes place in an “industrialized world of mindless labor and full stomachs.”
Damon Daunno as Orpheus, Nabiyah Be as Eurydice
Written by Nick Payne (Constellations) and directed by Doug Hughes (Doubt.) “A pathologist steals the brain of Albert Einstein; a neuropsychologist embarks on her first romance with another woman; a seizure patient forgets everything but how much he loves his girlfriend.”
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The first Cirque du Soleil show to debut on Broadway, it features the company’s usual acrobatics and circus acts but also promises a plot — the backstage story about a young actress “forced to choose between love and art in the glamorous world of Golden Age Hollywood,” with a cast of 38 led by Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis and Ryan Vona.
Director John Doyle (Passion, Allegro)adapted Ibsen’s tale of the misadventures of young Peer from childhood renegade to outcast, adventurer, industrialist…
British record producer courts a Southern black composer in this musical written by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the team behind Passing Strange.
“In this comedy we’re confronted with what it means to support the art and decisions your friends make, regardless of what it does to your friendships.” The cast includes Constantine Maroulis.