December 2018 New York Theater Openings

Three shows opening this month on Broadway bring to the stage  adaptations of three landmarks of American culture: “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Network,” and “The Cher Show.”

The three Chers in the Cher musical are not the only Chers in a musical. Off Broadway, Disney star Dove Cameron is playing Cher Horowitz in The New Group’s adaptation of “Clueless.”

Clueless might be a good description of the audience before it attends “Nassim,” the first production of Barrow Street Theatricals after leaving its home on Barrow Street after 15 years. We’re given very few clues as to what “Nassim” is about. I

It’s one of the several new plays Off-Broadway  that promise a novel experience, at venues that often fulfill that promise  — “The Head and the Load” at Park Avenue Armory, “The Jungle” at St. Ann’s Warehouse, “Slave

from The Jungle

Play” at New York Theatre Workshop, and much of the work at BAM’s Next Wave Festival and Soho Rep’s Fringe Encores series.

In “Noura” at Playwrights Horizons, a family that fled Iraq eight years ago plans the perfect Christmas dinner. But “Noura” is in no way a “Christmas show.” There are plenty of those, some included below in my selection of openings in December, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website for more information.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green. Theater Festival: Orange.  Christmas Show: Gold (A post later in the month will offer a fuller list of holiday shows)

For more information about the season in general, check out Broadway 2018-2019 Season Guideand Off Broadway Fall 2018 Preview Guide

December 2

The Emperor’s Nightingale (Pan Asian Rep @ Theatre Row)

Damon Chua’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Nightingale,” set in 18th-century China, employing traditional lion dance, puppetry, 18th century Chinese songs. The future Qianlong Emperor befriends a magical bird who helps him learn what he must do to be King.

December 3

The Cher Show (Neil Simon)

The musical traces the career of pop star Cher, who is played by three performers at different ages of her life.


Wars of the Roses: Henry VI & Richard III (Theater for the New City)

For just three performances, Austin Pendleton directs and adapts the story of Richard III, combining Shakespeare’s text from ‘Henry VI, Part 3’ and ‘Richard III.’

A Child’s Christmas In Wales (Irish Rep)

The annual adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s short story, with new and old songs.


December 4

The Head and the Load (Park Ave Armory)

The title is a play on the Ghanaian proverb, “the head and the load are the troubles of the neck.” William Kentridge’s collaborative combination musical piece, performance art and art installation is about the nearly two million African porters and carriers used by the British, French, and Germans who bore the brunt of the casualties during the First World War in Africa.

Wounded (Soho Rep)

Print of Fringe Encores Festival: A woman struggles to find a balance between her own needs and being a full-time caregiver to her husband, a veteran severely mentally and physically injured in the Iraq war.

December 5

Greek (BAM)

Part of the Next Wave Festival: An “in-your-face operatic retelling of the Oedipus tale,” set in 1980s London.

December 6

Network (Belasco)

Directed by Ivo Van Hove, Bryan Cranston stars as Howard Beale the network anchor who’s mad as hell and can’t take it anymore, in the stage adaptation of the 1976 film.

December 9

Slave Play (New York Theatre Workshop)

The old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation in this antebellum fever-dream written by Jeremy O. Harris and directed by Robert O’Hara.

The Jungle (St Ann’s Warehouse)

Meet the hopeful, resilient residents of the Jungle – a sprawling refugee camp in Calais, France. Take a seat inside the bustling Afghan Café to experience how, with minimal resources in a cold, inhospitable environment, refugees and volunteers built a warm, self-governing society out of nothing

December 10

Noura (Playwrights Horizons)

A play written by and starring Heather Raffo as Noura, who eight years ago, fled her home in Iraq along with her husband and family. Today, she plans the perfect Christmas dinner to celebrate their new life in New York. But the arrival of a visitor stirs up long-buried memories. Inspired by the Nora in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House.”

Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (Signature)

A revival of a satire by Lynn Nottage: After her husband steals her fortune, successful African-American publicist Undine must move back into her childhood home in the Brooklyn projects

December 11

Clueless The Musical (The New Group at Signature)

Amy Heckerling adapts her 1995 movie into a musical, directed by Kristin Hanggi(Rock of Ages), choreographed by Kelly Devine(Come from Away) and starring Dove Cameron (he star of the Disney Channel teen sitcom Liv and Maddie) as Cher Horowitz, a girl “so psychotically optimistic she can’t see that her bungling attempts at playing Cupid disguise her own fashion-plated isolation.”


Ruben & Clay’s Christmas Show (Imperial)

Officially called Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show,Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken
reunite on Broadway 15 years after their run on the second season of “American Idol.”

December 12


Nassim (Barrow St at City Center)

“Nassim” marks the return of Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour (White Rabbit Red Rabbit)  — and of Barrow Street Theater, now renamed Barrow Street Theatricals, since it lost its theater on Barrow Street after a stellar 15-year run. (Our Town, Tribes, Every Brilliant Thing, Sweeney Todd,etc.) Now at New York City Center, the theater presents a show that we’re told has played in 10 countries, but aren’t told what it’s about: “No rehearsals. A different guest actor at every performance. A sealed envelope. And some surprises.” We do now the guest actors will include Michael Shannon, Cush Jumbo and Michael Urie.

Nervous/System (BAM)

Part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival: The latest tech-heavy work by Andrew Schneider, “a high-tech bird’s-eye view of everyday life.”

Strange Window: Turn of the Screw (BAM)

Part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival: The Builder Association’s adaptation of Henry James’s gothic tale.

The Net Will Appear (Mile Square at 59e59)

A comedy of an unlikely friendship between the feisty 9-year-old Rory and her septuagenarian neighbor Bernard (Richard Masur.)

December 13

To Kill A Mockingbird (Shubert)

A play written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Bartlett Sher, based on Harper Lee’s beloved novel about virtuous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch (portrayed by Jeff Daniels) at a time of racial bigotry

Christmas In Hell (York)

On Christmas Eve, little 8-year-old Davin is mistakenly taken down to Hell. When he returns, not only has he missed Christmas, but he is devilishly changed.

December 18

Chaos Theory (HERE Arts)

Through a series of participatory experiments guided by chaos scientist Dr. Genevieve Saoch (writer and performer Jessica Ellen Creane), audience members are invited to embrace their inner chaos agent as they embody facets of chaos theory

Can’t get tickets that you want at the box office? Try Ticket Liquidator for tickets to..

The Cher Show

Bryan Cranston



To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

Leave a Reply