February 2019 New York Theater Openings

This month there are no Broadway openings, but ample glamour Off-Broadway. Freestyle Love Supreme, the improvisational hip-hop group that Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail conceived  in collaboration with Anthony Veneziale while they were working on “In The Heights,” had its debut at Ars Nova in midtown in 2004. Fifteen years later, the group inaugurates Ars Nova’s new Greenwich House home in the Village..

Meanwhile, MCC launches its newly constructed theater on West 52nd Street this month with two new shows, including a musical by the creative team behind Spring Awakening.

Another new musical, at Second Stage, comes from the Next to Normal composer, starring Kate Baldwin.

Also this month, a much-defended Sondheim musical is being revived. (See a video of Sondheim below.)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge appear on the same bill in a pair of new plays, by Nick Payne and Simon Stephen respectively.

A new play at the Public Theter by Suzan-Lori Parks that features Daveed Diggs doesn’t start until March, so Diggs has time to appear as one of the “special and spontaneous guests” at Freestyle Love Supreme –  and he’s not the only Hamilton alum who’s promised. (See February 21st)

Below is a selective list of (no Broadway), Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and festival offerings in February, organized chronologically by opening date, with each title linked to a relevant website.
Color key of theaters: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black, Blue, or Purple... Off Off Broadway: Green. Theater festival: Orange
To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Off Broadway Spring 2019 preview guide and my Broadway 2018-2019 season guide

February 2

Queen (APAC) 

In this play by Madhuri Shekar, Sanam and Ariel are about to publish a career-defining paper about bees, after seven years of research, when Sanam stumbles upon an error that could cause catastrophic damage to their reputations, careers, and friendship. Now, both women are confronted with an impossible choice: look the other way and save the bees – or tell the truth and face the consequences?

The Glen (Theatre 54 at Shetler Studios)

Peter Hodges writes about the life of one Dale Olsen, from a private falsely accused of insubordination by an underhanded army major, through his affair with a possible spy in 1950s Berlin and back to his ultimate confrontation with his unforgiving mother and the secret she has hidden from him all his life. ”

February 6

The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Transport at Abrons) 

Created from the actual court transcripts of the 1968 trial of nine Catholic activists who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War, this “radically re-imagined” production presented in partnership with the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) features an Asian-American cast.

February 8

Chinese Fringe Festival (La MaMa) 

Three plays presented in Chinese with English subtitles: The Dictionary of Soul by the Physical Guerillas; Two Dogs  by Meng Theatre Studio; and The Story of Xiaoyi Shanghai Huidiji Public Psychological Care Center

February 10

 

Mies Julie and The Dance of Death (Classic Stage Company)

Two Strindberg plays are presented in repertory. Mies Julie adapted by Yael Farber resets Strindberg’s “Miss Julie,” to a farmhouse in the Karoo of South Africa on the evening of the annual Freedom Day celebration. The Dance of Death, offered in a new version by Conor McPherson, is Strindberg’s bleak examination of marriage and the social institutions governing it.

The Light (MCC Theater) 

A two-character play by Loy A. Webb about Rashad and Genesis on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives, but their joy quickly unravels when ground-shifting accusations from the past resurface

February 12

Neurology of the Soul (A.R.T./New York) 

Untitled Theater Company No. 61 (UTC61) presents a new play by Edward Einhorn examining the nexus between neuroscience, marketing, art, and love. Set at a neuromarketing firm, it follows a neuroscientist who is trying to scientifically define love for advertising purposes and his wife, an artist who is using her brain scans as the basis of video self-portraits.

The Shadow of a Gunman (Irish Rep) 

A new staging of Irish playwright Sean O’Casey’s 1923 drama about a young poet who gets pulled into the chaos of Irish War of Independence after a rumor spreads that he is an IRA assassin.

February 13

City of No Illusions (La MaMa) 

A dark comedy set inside a funeral home that has become a refuge for two asylum seekers. The newest work from seminal theater company Talking Band. written and directed by Obie winner Paul Zimet,

February 14

Sea Wall/A Life (Public Theater)

Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal appear separately in a pair of plays, Sturridge in Simon Stephen’s “Sea Wall,” a monologue about love and the human need to know the unknowable, and Gyllenhaal in “A Life,” and Gyllenhaal in Nick Payne’s A Life, a meditation on how we say goodbye to those we love most.

Spaceman (Loading Dock at Wild Project)

A woman’s solo journey to Mars explores the depths of mankind’s last true frontiers: outer space and a grieving heart.

February 19

Merrily We Roll Along (Roundabout’s Laura Pels) 

Fiasco Theater reimagines Stephen Sondheim’s musical about a trio of showbiz friends who fall apart and come together over 20 years, going backwards in time.

By The Way Meet Vera Stark (Signature)

A revival of Lynn Nottage’s 2011 comedy about an African-American maid to an aging Hollywood who becomes a star herself – followed decades later by a panel discussing the impact that race had on her controversial career.

February 20

The Play That Goes Wrong (New World Stages)

The slapstick comedy that stars the set moves from Broadway to Off-Broadway

The Price of Thomas Scott (Mint on Theatre Row)

Elizabeth Baker’s 1913 comic drama about a businessman who is reluctant to sell his shop for conversion into a dance hall because of his objection to dancing.

February 21

Freestyle Love Supreme (Ars Nova at Greenwich House) 

Conceived by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Anthony Veneziale, this high-energy show is a blend of hip-hop, improvisational theater, music, and vocal stylings, all backed by live music from keyboards and beats. There will be “special and spontaneous guests” – including Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Monroe Iglehart, Christopher Jackson,  Daveed Diggs.

Steven Skybell as Tevya and Ensemble sing “Tradition” (“Traditsye” טראַדיציע)

Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (Folksbiene at Stage 42)

This luscious production directed by Joel Grey moves Off-Broadway.

February 24

Hurricane Diane (New York Theatre Workshop)

In this play by Madeleine George directed by Leigh Silverman, Diane is a gardener who is actually the Greek god Dionysus, returning to the modern world to gather mortal followers and restore the Earth to its natural state.

February 25

Good Friday (The Flea) 

In this play by Kristiana Rae Colón, a ricochet of bullets disrupts a fierce and funny feminist debate. Assaulted at every turn, a group of millennial women must decide whether they are ready to put their bodies on the line for each other.

Boesman and Lena (Signature) 

In this revival of Athol Fugard’s 1969 play, the human need for kindness, hope and compassion is on display in the struggles of abusive Boesman and his long-suffering wife Lena, who encounter a stranger while wandering the South African wastelands. Stars
Zainab Jah and Sahr Ngaujah

February 26

Alice By Heart (MCC Theater)

The creative team Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) co-written and directed by Jessie Nelson (Waitress) presents a new take on Alice in Wonderland: In the rubble of the London Blitz of World War II, Alice Spencer’s budding teen life is turned upside down, and she and her dear friend Alfred are forced to take shelter in an underground tube station. When the ailing Alfred is quarantined, Alice encourages him to escape with her into their cherished book and journey down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.

February 28

Superhero (Second Stage) 

A musical, with music and lyrics by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and a book by John Logan (Red), about “a fractured family, the mysterious stranger in apartment 4-B, and an unexpected hero… Starring Kate Baldwin and Bryce Pinkham

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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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