July 2018 New York Theater Openings

Two shows are opening on Broadway in July — Young Jean Lee’s “Straight White Men,” which marks the Broadway debuts of Armie Hammer and Josh Charles, among others; and “Head Over Heels,” a new musical using the music of the Go-Gos with a plot from the 16th century.

Some dozen Off-Broadway offerings this month include a new play by Tracy Letts, a new musical by Stephen Trask, the composer of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and two intriguingly edgy adaptations of difficult films —  Nazi-besotted “The Damned,” adapted by Ivo van Hove, and heroin besotted “Trainspotting,” adapted by a Scottish immersive theater company aptly named In Your Face.

Since it’s summer, there are also the summer theater festivals such as the New York Musical Festival, and such FREE theatrical concerts as the weekly Broadway in Bryant Park

The shows described below are organized chronologically by opening night, except the festivals, which are presented by their first day (most of them on July 9th.) Each title is linked to a relevant website for more information


Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green. Theater festival: Orange

July 2

Neptune, written and performed by Timothy DuWhite, is one of the offerings of the Hot Festival

Hot Festival (Dixon Place) 

Billed as the longest-running LGBTQ festival in the world,  it is now in its 27th year celebrating queer culture


July 5

 Borders (Next Door at NYTW)

This play by Henry Naylor, inspired by encounters with refugees,focuses on a British press photographer and a Syrian graffiti artist, whose paths cross in tragic circumstances.

Between the Colored Lines and Other Black Girl Tales by Tiffany Dean, one of the plays in She NYC


In its third year, the festival presents eight shows, all written by women, i

July 9

Shinka, by the Japanese theater artist Yokko, is one of the plays in 2018 Planet Connection

Planet Connections 

New York’s eco-friendly/socially conscious not-for-profit arts festival, for its tenth anniversary, offers some 50 plays, musicals and staged readings.

Emojiland by Keith Harrisonand Laura Nicole Harrison is one of the 10 full productions in the 2018 NY Musical Festival

New York Musical Festival 

Some 300 new musicals have premiered at this festival (originally named the New York Musical Theater Festival) since 2004, including “Next to Normal,” “Altar Boyz” and “title of show”

Corkscrew Festival 

In its second year, the festival will present five productions and four readings by “early-career artists”

Helps to Hate You A Little by Ella Boureau is one of the plays in the Fresh Fruit Festival

Fresh Fruit Festival 

The 16thseason of New York’s celebration of LGBTQ Arts and Culture

July 11

A previous production of Gone Missing

Gone Missing (City Center)

For ‘Gone Missing,” in 2003, The Civilians theater troupe interviewed people about the physical objects they’d lost—keys, a sapphire ring, a Gucci pump. They then set the responses to music.

This brief engagement at Off-Center Encores honors the work of its composer Michael Friedman, the Off-Center artistic director who died last summer at age 41.

For context, my piece in HowlRound from 2016 In Praise of The Civilians at Fifteen

July 12

Mary Page Marlowe (Second Stage )

Written by Tracy Letts (August: Osage County). Directed by Lila Neugebauer (The WolvesSignature Plays). A seemingly ordinary accountant from Ohio has experienced pain and joy, success and failure — forgotten moments adding up to a memorable life. Six actresses, including Tatiana Maslany and Blair Brown, portray the title character at different stages of her life.

The Saintliness of Margery Kempe (Duke on 42nd ) 

A revival of the comedy by John Wulp based on the first English-language autobiography, The Book of Margery Kempe, written in the 15th century by a woman who recounts her buying a brewery, but then deciding she wants to become a saint. Directed by Austin Pendleton

July 15

Fiddler on the Roof (Folksbiene at Museum of Jewish Heritage)

The musical translated (back) into Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles. Joel Grey directs. The cast includes Jackie Hoffman.

Trainspotting Live (Roy Arias Stages)

Based on the novel and the 1996 film, ‘Trainspotting Live’ offers an immersive theatrical take on the story of Mark Renton and his friends, living through the Edinburgh heroin scene of the 80s. “The audience are literally part of the show, including the notorious “Worst Toilet in Scotland” scene.” A production of the Scottish company In Your Face Theatre

July 16

Fire in Dreamland (Public Theater)

Written by Rinne Groff. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, a disillusioned do-gooder named Kate, meets Jaap, a charismatic European making a film about the 1911 fire that burned Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park to ashes. Featuring Kyle Beltran, Enver Gjokaj, and Rebecca Naomi Jones

July 17

The Damned (Park Avenue Armory)

Ivo van Hove in collaboration with Comédie-Française adapts Luchino Visconti’s film about the disintegration of the wealthy Essenbeck family and their steel dynasty during the seizure of power of the Nazis in 1933 in Germany. In French with English supertitles.

July 20

The Pattern at Pendarvis (HERE)

A fictionalized look at a life in the closet: Edgar Hellum, a closeted man in his nineties, did pioneering work in historic preservation in a small, mid-western town.

July 22

Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Stage 42)

A revival of the 1995 musical revue featuring the songs of  Leiber and Stoller — “Stand by Me,” “I’m a Woman,” “Hound Dog,” “Fools Fall In Love,” “On Broadway,” “Yakety Yak,” etc. Directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.

July 23

Straight White Men (Helen Hayes Theatre)

In this play by Young Jean Lee, the first play on Broadway by an Asian American woman, Ed and his three adult sons are forced on Christmas Eve to confront their own identities. The cast features Denis Arndt, Kate Bornstein, Josh Charles, Ty Defoe, Armie Hammer, Paul Schneider

My review of it Off Broadway

July 24

This Ain’t No Disco (Atlantic)

Music and lyrics by Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and Peter Yanowitz. Directed by Trip Cullman. The story of drifters and dreamers in the night world in 1979 New York of Studio 54 and Mudd Club

July 25

My Life On A Diet (Theatre at St. Clement’s)

Actress and writer Renee Taylor (Sylvia Fine in The Nanny) stars in a one-woman show based on her 1986 autobiography, including anecdotes about – and dieting advice from — such Hollywood legends as Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Cary Grant

July 26


Head Over Heels (Hudson Theater) 

Set to the music of the Go-Gos – “an unpredictable Elizabethan romp about a royal family that must prevent an oracle’s prophecy of doom” Jeff Whitty, the book writer for Avenue Q, adapted the plot from a 16th century prose work “The Arcadia” by Sir Philip Sidney. (Gives a new meaning to classic rock.)

July 27

Comfort Women (Playwrights Horizons)

A new production of the 2015 musical about Korean comfort women who were sold as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII.

July 30

The House that Will Not Stand (NYTW)

By Marcus Gardley (X), directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz (Pipeline). In the heat of summer in 1813, Louisiana passed from France to the United States. On the eve of the transfer, in a house in mourning, freedom hangs in the balance for a steely widow and her three eligible daughters, all free women of color. Inspired by Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba.

July 31

The Beyoncé (Adjusted Realists at ART/NY)

By Eliza Bent, based on The Fiancée, a short story by Anton Chekhov. “With her wedding around the corner, Nadia is terrified to discover that her heart doesn’t want what it obviously should want: a decent husband and a stable, small town family life. She instead fantasizes about running off to the bright lights of the big city, immersing in counterculture, and leaving her family to fend for their own little existences.”

Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park) 

A musical adaptation Conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Taub, directed by Oscar Eustis and Kewi-Armah, starring Nikki M. James as Viola

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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