October 2017 New York Theater Openings


Bruce Springsteen makes his Broadway debut in a show that combines memoir with rock n roll, and that relatively few of his fans will be able to see. It is one of three shows opening on Broadway in the month of October. Off-Broadway Joe Papp is making a debut of sorts — as a character.

There are new plays opening in October about life under a dictatorship; under siege; in a world of total environmental disaster; and in prison (there are two prison plays opening Off-Broadway); as well as plays about life as an addict, and on the autism spectrum. There are also comedies about widowhood and overeating. Popular shows by Harvey Fierstein, David Henry Hwang and Stephen Adly Guirgis are getting new productions.

Below is a selection of openings in October, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black. Off Off Broadway: Green.

For more information about the season in general, check out Broadway 2017-2018 Preview Guide, and Fall 2017 Off-Broadway Guide

October 1

Discord (Primary Stages at Cherry Lane)

The full title is “The Gospel according to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord.” Three historical figures who wrote their own version of the Gospels debate religion, literature and marriage.

Desperate Measures (York)

A new musical loosely based on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure that takes place in the lawless West of the 1890s.

October 2

Tiny Beautiful Things (The Public)

Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist in a Vardalos’ stage adaptation of the book of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton.) This an encore presentation. My review of the play when it was presented last year.

October 5

Too Heavy for Your Pocket  (Roundabout)

Jiréh Breon Holder’s play takes place in Nashville in 1961, when 20-year-old Bowzie Brandon gives up a college scholarship to join the Freedom Riders.

October 8

Syncing Ink (The Flea)

Based on a true story, NSangou Njikam writes and stars in this play about the lyrical journey Gordon takes to become a rapper.

October 10

Time and the Conways (Roundabout)

A revival of a play by J.B. Priestley that was last on Broadway in 1938. Elizabeth McGovern plays Mrs. Conway, who in 1919 Britain, is full of hope at her daughter’s lavish 21st birthday celebration. Jump 19 years ahead, and the Conways’ lives have transformed unimaginably. Directed by Rebecca Taichman (Indecent)

The Home Place  (Irish Rep)

A play by the late Brian Friel. In the Donegal of 1878, father and son are in love with the same woman, and one Dr. Richard Gore “arrives with the intention of pursuing a Darwin-inspired scientific theory by measuring the craniums of the indigenous Irish”

Measure for Measure (The Public)

The Elevator Repair Service takes on Shakespeare’s comedy “with athletic theatrical and Marx-Brothers-inspired slapstick,” bringing ” new life to this story of impossible moral choices in 17th-century Vienna.”

October 12

Springsteen on Broadway  (Walter Kerr)

Bruce Springsteen makes his Broadway debut with five concerts a week in a show that most of us won’t get to see. “My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music. Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work.” He will read from his recently published autobiography, “Born to Run.”

The Siege (Skirball)

“A passionate retelling of the story of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, during the height of the second intifada. Drawn from interviews with survivors, it is told from the point of view of some of the armed Palestinian fighters who found refuge in the church.”

Pop Punk High (Parkside Lounge)

Loser Derek wants to become king of Pop Punk High and win Amanda Bunkface – seemingly impossible goals until he finds a bong in his attic containing the genie of Avril Lavigne.

October 16

Burning Doors  (La MaMa)

Belarus Free Theater, in collaboration with Maria Alyokhina from Pussy Riot: “Through the prism of persecuted artists who will not be silenced, Burning Doors reveals how artists living under dictatorship illuminate the knife-edge of complacency in democratic societies reminding us of the true cost of freedom and dangers of inertia.”

October 19


Torch Song (Second Stage)

Michael Urie stars in the play that made its author and first star Harvey Fierstein famous, in a production directed by Moisés Kaufman. “It’s 1979 in New York City and Arnold Beckoff is on a quest for love, purpose and family.”

October 23

Jesus Hopped the A Train  (Signature)

The first of this season’s plays at the Signature by Stephen Adly Guirgis: “Angel Cruz is a 30-year-old bicycle messenger awaiting trial for the death of the leader of a religious cult. Inside Rikers Island, a terrified Angel is befriended by a charismatic serial killer named Lucius Jenkins. Lucius has found God.” Directed by Mark Brokaw.

After the Blast  (Lincoln Center)

A play by Zoe Kazan “set in the wake of total environmental disaster, when the human population has retreated underground”

Ferguson (Theatre Verite Collective at 30th St Theater)

The show uses the actual grand jury testimony from the Michael Brown/ Darren Wilson case, making the audience the grand jury.

October 24

The Last Match (Roundabout)

A new play by Anna Ziegler about two tennis greats who are facing off in the match of their lives

The Portuguese Kid  (MTC)

John Patrick Shanley directs his new romantic comedy about a habitually widowed woman (Sherie Rene Scott) who pays a visit to her second-rate lawyer (Jason Alexander), intending to settle her latest husband’s affairs.

Oedipus El Rey  (Public)

Playwright Luis Alfaro has set this Greek tragedy in South Central LA and recast the hero as “a troubled Latino whose dreams of controlling his own destiny soar above the barbed wire of the prison where he’s spent his life.”

October 25

People, Places & Things (St Anne’s Warehouse)

Duncan Macmillan’s play focuses on Emma (Denise Gough) “an actress whose life has spun recklessly out of control because of her addiction to alcohol and drugs.”

October 26

M Butterfly  (Cort)

Clive Owen will play a married French diplomat in China who carries on a 20-year affair with a mysterious Chinese opera singer—all without realizing that the singer is a man. Producers said the author will introduce “new material inspired by the real-life love affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Chinese opera singer Shi Pei Pu that has come to light since the play’s 1988 premiere.” Directed by Julie Taymor


October 30

Joe Papp
Joe Papp, subject of Illyria

Illyria (The Public)

Richard Nelson (the Apple Family plays and the Gabriels) directs his play about the 1958 fight by Public Theater founder Joseph Papp over free Shakespeare productions in Central Park.

October 31


Stuffed  (Westside)

In her theatrical debut as writer and actress, comic Lisa Lampanelli explores the complicated world of our relationships with food.


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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