The ten shows opening on Broadway in April include six plays and four musicals. Several are familiar titles presented in unfamiliar ways: Glenda Jackson as King Lear; an avant-garde, diverse Oklahoma; two much-anticipated movie adaptations — Tootsie and Beetlejuice. But the show that garnered the most votes in a Broadway Spring poll is Hadestown, which marks the Broadway debut of Anaïs Mitchell, who created it first as a concept album, turning into a sing-through musical that took fire Off-Broadway. Another artist making his Broadway debut is downtown darling and MacArthur “Genius” Taylor Mac, who has written Gary, a startling comedy billed as a sequel to Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy.
Star power is lighting up the Great White Way: Broadway favorites like Nathan Lane, John Lithgow and Laurie Metcalf, screen stars Annette Bening and Adam Driver, British theater royalty like Glenda Jackson and Jonny Lee Miller. And let’s not forget the playwrights, directors and composers, some of whom are better known than any performer. Like Shakespeare.
But even in a month when so many shows crowd the calendar to open by the deadline for Tony Awards eligibility, there is exciting theater opening outside Broadway as well — some of it way outside. The Shed, a $500 million + arts center in Hudson Yards, opens this month with a series of productions, including a play at the new 500-seat Griffin Theater. Ars Nova launches its new programming at Greenwich House Theater with a new devised work by the Mad Ones. Ivo van Hove directs an opera at BAM. There is innovative immersive theater in a downtown park (for free!) and in a Chelsea brownstone.
Below is a selective list of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and other New York theater offerings opening in March, 2019, 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. Puppetry: Brown. Immersive: Magenta.
For ten minutes twice a day, five performers unexpectedly find themselves swept into a mirage, unite and create their own sanctuary. After a two-week series of these daily lunchtime vignettes at Winter Garden at Brookfield Place (near the World Trade Center site), the full-length, culminating performance will take place in the evening on Friday, April 12. These performances are free. (This is not an April Fool’s Day joke)
Do You Feel Anger? (Vineyard)
In this play by Mara Nelson-Greenberg , Sophia is hired as an empathy coach at a debt collection agency
new production of Marc Blitzstein’s 1937 play in music, which is most famous for having been shut down by the authorities before opening night. In Steeltown, USA, laborer Larry Foreman struggles to unionize fellow steel workers against mounting attacks from a greedy industrialist
Closing: Jul 07, 2019
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Glenda Jackson, Jayne Houdyshell, Elizabeth Marvel, Aisling O’Sullivan,John Douglas Thompson, Ruth Wilson, Sean Carvajal, Russell Harvard, Matthew Maher
In 1917, Czech composer Leoš Janáček became obsessed with a married woman 40 years his junior. In the throes of despair, he penned more than 700 love letters and a haunting 22-part song cycle called Diary of One Who Disappeared, about a village boy who falls in love with a Romany girl. Director Ivo van Hove, in collaboration with Flemish opera company Muziektheater Transparant, brings his trademark physicality and stripped-down aesthetic to bear on Janáček’s opera.
Circle in the Square
Closing: Sep 01, 2019
Authors: Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; Music by Richard Rodgers
Director: Daniel Fish
The sixth revival of the groundbreaking Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about love and conflict in the territory just after the turn of the century. This one one the hip production transferring from St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, where the golden haze is a bit dark and the corn not as high. (My review of the show at St. Ann’s)
The latest devised theater piece by the Mad Ones: The creators of a 1970s children’s television program have commissioned a focus group to probe the parents of the show’s target audience. Over stale coffee and donuts, a group of strangers navigates the murky waters of American belief and perception.
In 1964, an office manager has hired one of his stenographers to type out his translation of Euripides’s Helen but his obsession with the recently dead Marilyn Monroe kidnaps the translation. Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming star in this spoken and sung performance piece by poet, essayist, and scholar Anne Carson, directed by Katie Mitche
With a chair, table, and bar of lights, Thaddeus Phillips conjures barricaded Venezuelan bridges, a rusty Croatian ferry, perilous international flights, etc. — all based on his actual adventures.
Author: Lanford Wilson
Director: Michael Mayer
Cast: Adam Driver, Keri Russell, Brandon Uranowitz
A revival of Wilson’s 1987 play about four New Yorkers who are brought together after the accidental death of their friend, a young dancer.
A new drama about the Greek philosopher written by Tim Blake Nelson and directed by Doug Hughes. Michael Stuhlbarg portrays Socrates.
Author: Anais Mitchell
Director: Rachel Chavkin
Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s musical, widely acclaimed at New York Theatre Workshop (my review), follows two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of king Hades and his wife Persephone — as it invites audiences on an epic journey to the underworld and back.
John Golden Theater
Author: Lucas Hnath
Cast: Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow.
Behind closed doors in the state of New Hampshire during the early days of 2008, a former first lady named Hillary (Metcalf) is in a desperate bid to save her troubled campaign for President of the United States. Her husband, Bill (Lithgow), sees things one way; her campaign manager, Mark, sees things another
Writer: Taylor Mac
Director: George C. Wolfe
Cast: Nathan Lane, Kristine Nielsen, Julie White
Marking the Broadway debut of acclaimed theater artist Taylor Mac (A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, Hir.), “Gary” is set just after the blood-soaked conclusion of William Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus. Civil war has ended and the country is in the hands of madmen. Casualties are everywhere; Lane and Nielsen portray servants charged with cleaning up the corpses
Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater
Author: Arthur Miller
Director: Jack O’Brian
Cast: Annette Bening, Tracy Letts
A revival of Miller’s first hit. In the aftermath of WWII, the Keller family struggles to stay intact and to fight for their future when a long-hidden secret threatens to emerge, forcing them to reckon with greed and post-war disenchantment.
The Pain of My Belligerence (Playwrights Horizons)
Halley Feiffer’s play about an eight year relationship between journalist Cat and devilishly charming Guy, which charts a rapidly changing America.
Music and lyrics: David Yazbek
Director: Scott Ellis
Cast: Santino Fontana, John Behlman, Julie Halston, Lilli Cooper
A musical adaptation of the 1982 film about an out-of-work actor who assumes the role of a woman on a soap opera, and pretends to be a female actress.
MTC’s Samuel Friedman
Writer: James Graham
Director: Rupert Goold
The rise of a brash, young Rupert Murdoch and the U.K.’s most influential newspaper starring Bertie Carvel (Matilda) as Murdoch and Jonny Lee Miller as his rogue editor.
Winter Garden Theater
Book by Scott Brown and Anthony King
Music and lyrics by Eddie Perfect
Director: Alex Timbers
Based on the Tim Burton movie, which ells the story of Lydia Deetz, a teenager obsessed with the whole “being dead thing.” Lucky for Lydia, her new house is haunted by a recently deceased couple and a degenerate demon who happens to have a thing for stripes.
In a Chelsea brownstone, playwright Claire Kiechel resurrects the famous salons held by her great-great uncle Paul Swan, a dancer who was once billed as the most beautiful man in the world. She reimagines his salon as an “electrically charged theatrical space where the forces of life, death and art do battle.”
The final play of the Rep’s O’Casey Cycle, plays written by Irish playwright Sean O’Casey in the 1920s. “Pretty young newlywed Nora Clitheroe is the talk of her tenement as she tirelessly works to lift her family out of their impoverished circumstances. She tries to keep her husband Jack from the revolutionary fervor sweeping through Dublin. But Jack becomes a Commandant in the Irish Citizen Army, and when the Easter Rising of 1916 begins, he leaves a pregnant Nora to help lead the fight…”