September 2018 New York Theater Openings: Women Center Stage, plus snooker

Sarah Bernhardt returns to Broadway, in the person of Janet McTeer, in a new play by Theresa Rebeck about the actress’s pursuit in 1899 of the role of Hamlet.

Bernhardt/Hamlet” is one of two shows opening on Broadway this month — the other is about snooker (which is what the British call pool) entitled “The Nap” — and one of several that put women center stage. Among these are “Intractable Woman,” about the assassinated journalist Anna Politkovskaya; “The True,” by Sharr White, in which Edie Falco portrays an Albany politico; “Intrusion,” a one-woman, eight-character show in which Qurrat Ann Kadwani examines how we all perpetuate rape culture. And then there’s “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties,” a play by Jen Silverman featuring five characters named Betty, played by, among others, Lea Delaria and Ana Villafañe, late of On Your Feet; and La Femme’s revival of Tennessee Williams’ play about four women, ‘A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur’ (featuring Kristine Nielsen and Annette O’Toole.)

Also of note: “Private Peaceful,” one-man show about World War I, and  “I Was Most Alive With You,” with its all-deaf “shadow cast.”

Below is a selection of openings in September, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.

September 4

The Gospel at Colonus (Delacorte)

Set in the context of a black Pentecostal service, an exuberant re-telling of Sophocles’ classic Oedipus at Colonus. Book, original lyrics and direction by Lee Breuer. Original music, adapted lyrics and music direction by Bob Telson. FREE

September 5

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin  (59e59)

Singing, playing piano, and telling stories impersonating the composer of such great American songs as Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and “White Christmas.”

September 6

Private Peaceful (TBG)

Fifteen-year-old Tommo Peaceful signs up for World War I when his older brother does, in this solo play adapted by Simon Reade from the children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo (“War Horse”) Shane O’Regan plays more than 40 characters in the one-man play. Timed for the centenary of the end of World War I, Armistice Day (which became Veterans Day)

September 7

Unraveled (Theater Row)

Joy, a professor of philosophy and physics, has spent her life pursuing ways to explain space and time. But her theories haven’t prepared her for a heart-rending reality: illness has transformed her glamorous, quick-witted mother, George, into a woman she doesn’t recognize

September 8

Intrusion (St. Luke’s)

Through her portrayal of eight characters 20 years from now, Qurrat Ann Kadwani examines how we all perpetuate rape culture

September 9

Heartbreak House (Gingold at Theatre Row)

In this new adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, it’s the first days of the London Blitz. With the performance interrupted, the cast and audience have joined together to seek shelter in the theatre’s basement.
To entertain the crowd, the cast performs Shaw’s most vital paean to resistance and perseverance against tyranny


Ferdinand Boylesque Bullfight (Theater XIV)

A sultry striptease inspired by the Story of Ferdinand the Bull

September 11

Hurricane Party (Cherry Lane)

Set in a southern coastal community in the advent of a major storm, two couples gather for debauchery that threatens them just as much as the impending hurricane

September 12

Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties (MCC)

Meet five different women named Betty: one rich, one lonely, one charismatic, one lovelorn, and one who keeps working on her truck. Oh, and one has decided to stage a production of a play. The cast features Dana Delany, Lea DeLaria, Adina Verson, Ana Villafañe, Chaunté Wayans

September 13

Showtime: The First 100 Years of the American Musical (York)

This “live-action documentary traces the evolution of the musical from the mid-1800s thru 1999, with more than two dozen songs. Created, written, and performed by Ben West.

The Arts (LaMaMa)

interdisciplinary theatre that deconstructs the history of public funding for the arts in the United States. At once documentary and interactive, this production uses choreography, live cameras, music, and text to contrast the precarious realities of arts funding today with the 1960s Congress hearings that created the National Endowment of the Arts.
Written and directed by Kevin Doyle

September 16

The Emperor (Theatre for a New Audience)

Based on Ryszard Kapuscinski’s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same name about the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, The Emperor gets inside of ten different male servants of Selassie, including his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer and dog-urine wiper, to explore political power and create complex human portraits.

September 19

The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d (Playwrights Realm at Duke)

Part social satire, part detective story, the new play follows Karma, a black teenage girl searching for her foster brother in the Oblong—a fictional inner city isolated by poverty. Playwright Jonathan Payne makes his New York debut with this story based on his experiences as a social worker,

September 20

The True (The New Group at Signature Center)

Edie Falco stars as Dorothea “Polly” Noonan, the blunt, profane, decades-long defender of Albany’s Democratic Party machine in Sharr White’s play. Co-starring Michael McKean as Albany’s embattled “mayor for life.”

September 23

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (LaFemme at St. Clement’s)

In this play by Tennessee Williams, directed by Austin Pendeton, Dotty, a hopeless romantic schoolteacher, anxiously awaits a suitor’s phone call. Kristine Nielsen and Annette O’Toole star in this tale of four women in Depression-era St. Louis living and working together

Intractable Woman (Playco at 122CC)

A theatrical portrait of the journalist and activist Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated in her Moscow apartment building in 2006 after exposing details of Russia’s war in Chechnya.

September 24

I Was Most Alive With You (Playwrights Horizons)

Craig Lucas’s play, performed simultaneously in English and ASL by two casts, focuses on
Ash, who Is thankful for the gifts of his family, his addiction, and his son’s Deafness. But on one fateful day, everything’s taken from him

September 25

Bernhardt/Hamlet (RTC’s American Airlines Theater)

A new play by Theresa Rebeck starring Janet McTeer as Sarah Bernhardt, the international stage celebrity, who in 1899 sets out to tackle her most ambitious role yet: Hamlet.

Wild Abandon (Irish Repertory Theatre)

In this solo play with music, actress and singer/songwriter Leenya Rideout explores a complicated mother-daughter relationship

Uncle Romeo Vanya Juliet (Bedlam at ART/NY)

Bedlam pairs William Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy of two star-crossed lovers with Anton Chekov’s legendary play about a celebrated professor and his new wife’s return to their family estate.

September 27

The Nap (MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman)

From the One Man, Two Guvnors playwright Richard Bean comes a comic look at the world of snooker, the British version of pool. Dylan Spokes, a fast-rising young star, arrives for a championship tournament only to be confronted by the authorities warning him of the repercussions of match fixing. Before he knows it, Dylan is forced into underhanded dealings with a cast of wildly colorful character

Rated Black: An American Requiem (Next Door at NYTW)

Written and performed by Kareem M. Lucas, this solo show weaves together original poetry and song to navigate the thoughts, feelings, and issues of a young Black man from Brooklyn during a time of “daily digital lynchings. “

Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson (ERC at Signature)

The Ensemble for the Romantic Century presents a pairing of the poet’s words with the music of composer Amy Beach. Starring Angelica Page

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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