June 2018 New York Theater Openings: Off-Broadway Busting Out All Over

Broadway’s focus is on the Tonys – no Broadway shows are opening this month – but Off-Broadway is bursting.

It’s not just all the familiar faces that lure. As the list below makes clear, it’s the  unfamiliar (and sometimes outright weird) that intrigue as well.
Some (potential) highlights: Anika Noni Rose stars in CSC’s revival of Carmen Jones, one of a number of shows this month about the African-American experience.  Idina Menzel stars in Skintight, one of the strikingly diverse new plays with LGBT characters and/or themes this month. (June is Pride Month, after all.)  Melissa Errico is taking on another Golden Age musical for the Irish Rep. Eve Ensler has written three new plays, all on the same bill for Abingdon.

There are new works about white privilege, segregation, black oppression, slavery, immigration and genocide.  A play about class warfare was written by an eighteenth century German playwright, and has been adapted…in Russian.  The avant-garde company Elevator Repair Service is spoofing the absurdist Edward Albee.

This list is organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website. (Keep in mind that, with rare exception, the official opening date is not the same thing as the first performance. Opening means the night it’s reviewed — which these shows have not been yet.)

Color key: Off Broadway: Black/purple/blue.. Off Off Broadway: Green.

June 4

The Great Leap (Atlantic)

Written by Lauren Yee. Directed by Taibi Mgar. San Franciscan sidewalk basketball star Manford Lum, talks his way onto a college team as they travel to Beijing in the era after the Cultural Revolution, forcing him to juggle international politics and his own personal history.

June 6

Dan Cody’s Yacht (MTC at City Center)

Written by Anthony Giardina and directed by Dough Hughes
In a small Boston suburb, a single schoolteacher is struggling to get by when the wealthy father of one of her students surprises her with a financial proposal that could change her daughter’s life, creating a disturbing dilemma.


She Calls Me Firefly (Soho Playhouse) 

Written by Teresa Lotz, directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser. Ken has come to drown his sorrows at Freddie’s Place, a dive in Kentucky, but no amount of alcohol can wash away the pain of his broken relationship with Levi, nor the secrets of his past

Love and Intrigue (BAM)

Directed and adapted by Lev Dodin, for Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia. Two young lovers meet their fate in German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller’s tragedy of class warfare and courtly intrigue, first produced in 1787.

June 7

The Let Go (Park Avenue Armory)

Interdisciplinary artist Nick Cave creates a dance-based town hall, inviting the community to let go and speak their minds through movement.

Fruit Trilogy (Abingdon at Lucille Lortel)

Three short plays by (but not starring) Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues and The Good Body) that give a voice to defiant, ordinary women:   Directed by Mark Rosenblatt.

June 12


Everything’s Fine with Virginia Woolf (ERS at Abrons)

A spoof of Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf written by Kate Scelsa, directed by John Collins, and featuring a cast from the Elevator Repair Service theater company.

 Fairview (Soho Rep)

Written by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Sarah Benson, a play about a family birthday party gone awry

June 13

Desperate Measures (New World Stages)

An award-winning new musical by Peter Kellogg and David Friedman set in the Old West and based on Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure.’ A hit at York Theatre, it’s transferring for an open-ended run.

Red Hills (En Garde Arts)

A play about the Rwandan genocide by Asiimwe Deborah Kawe and Sean Christopher Lewis, directed by Katie Pearl for En Garde Arts.
Inside 20,000 square feet of vacant downtown office space, audiences travel from a presentation by David Zosia, American author and self-proclaimed expert on Rwandan history, to the fields of Rwanda to meet God’s Blessing, a Rwandan tour guide — two men from vastly different cultures reliving the events of 1994.

June 14

Little Rock (Sheen Center)

This new drama written and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj focuses on the true story of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to attend their city’s formerly segregated central high school.

June 18

Othello (Public Theater at Delacorte)

Shakespeare’s tragedy, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson


Pass Over (Lincoln Center)

A play by Antoinette Nwandu, which made a splash in Chicago, mashes up Waiting for Godot with the Exodus myth, focusing on two black men standing on a corner waiting for a miracle. Directed by Danya Taymor

June 19

Lonesome Blues (York)

Alan Govenar and Akin Babatundi, who previously created Blind Lemon Blues, delve deeper in this musical into the true story of the legendary bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson

Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC at City Center)

A new play by Donja R. Love about a slave named James (Sheldon Best) on a plantation during the Civil War who takes in a brooding stranger, and falls in love with him.

June 21

Skintight (Roundabout)

Written by Joshua Harmon. Idina Menzel stars in a play by Joshua Harmon as a woman who discovers her fashion-designer father is wrapped up in his West Village townhouse with a 20-year-old who may or not be gay, but is the same age as his gay grandson.

 Laura Bush Killed A Guy (Klunch at The Flea)

This surreal comedy by Ian Allen
looks to shine light on the intersection of fact and fiction about George W. Bush’s wife (who was involved in a car crash at age 17 that claimed the life of a high school friend.)

June 25

Log Cabin (Playwrights Horizons)

Written by Jordan Harrison, directed by Pam McKinnon. When a tight-knit circle of comfortable married gays and lesbians see themselves through the eyes of their rakish transgender pal, it’s clear that the march toward progress is anything but unified

 Cyprus Avenue (Public Theater)

This comedy written by David Ireland was a hit in both Ireland and the UK. Stephen Rea portrays a British man who worries he might be Irish when he detects a likeness between his new-born granddaughter and the Irish republican leader Gerry Adams.

June 27

Carmen Jones (CSC)

Oscar Hammerstein II took on a new partner for this musical — Georges Bizet’s opera, the nineteenth century French opera composer Georges Bizet. Hammerstein’s adaptation of Carmen was  an all African-American cast. It is the first major New York revival since its debut on Broadway 75 years ago. Anika Noni Rose portrays
parachute maker Carmen Jones who during World War II wages her own quarrel involving an airman and a boxer.

June 28

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (Irish Rep)

A “new adaptation” of Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner’s musical about a woman (Melissa Eric) whose therapist unearths her past life…and falls in love with it.


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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