August 2019 New York Theater Openings

Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge deliver back-to-back monologues in the only show opening on Broadway in August.

After a promised Broadway run was scrapped, “Bat Out of Hell” is finally opening in New York, but Off-Broadway. And Off-Off Broadway, The Flea launches a festival of plays by Mac Wellman, the much admired and often abstruse downtown theater artist. The dog days of summer are in fact a traditional time for untraditional theater, witness the wealth of summer theater festivals, one of them brand new, as well as an immersive adventure on Governors Island.

The shows described below are organized chronologically by opening night, except the festivals and those shows that don’t have official opening nights.  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. Puppetry: BrownImmersive: Magenta.

August 1

Love, Noël (Irish Repertory Theatre)

Noel Coward’s songs, stories, and personal letters delivered cabaret style by Steve Ross and KT Sullivan

2071: The World We Will Leave Our Children (Episcopal Actors Guild)

A look at climate change through personal and scientific accounts.

August 2

Those Before Us (Governors Island)

“An audio immersive dance experience.” FREE. Through August 11th.

August 3

No Brainer (Theatre for the New City)

A heroic social worker accepts the challenge of helping to save the world from a grandiose charlatan.  Subtitled “the Solution to Parasites,” this is the latest of Theatre for the New City’s annual wacky, political summer offering performed through September 15 in parks, playgrounds and closed-off streets throughout the five boroughs.

August 5


Daniel Sullivan directs a modern-day version of Shakespeare’s epic of democracy and demagoguery for The Public’s free outdoor season.

August 7

Down to Eartha (Gene Frankel)

This solo play written and performed by Dierdra McDowell explores the life of actor and activist Eartha Kitt.

August 8

Sea Wall/A Life (Hudson)

A double bill of monologues that originally ran at the Public Theater. In “Sea Wall” by Simon Stephens, Tom Sturridge talks about love and the human need to know the unknowable. In “A Life” by Nick Payne, Jake Gyllenhaal meditates on how we say goodbye to those we love most

Bat Out of Hell (City Center)

Using the rock anthems of Jim Steinman (who wrote the songs for singer Meat Loaf’s best-selling albums),the musical tells the story of  Strat, the forever young leader of rebellious gang ‘The Lost’, as he falls in love with Raven, the beautiful daughter of the tyrannical ruler of post-apocalyptic Obsidian.

LadyFest (The Tank)

The third annual festival, which runs through August 28th, features new work by “lady or gender non-conforming artists” It debuts with “Tornkid,” which uses Southeastern mythology and puppets to tell the story of a kid who “tear themselves in two. Tricky thing is, Tornkid’s other half runs away with their voice, into a mythical land both achingly familiar and unfamiliar.”


August 9

Rave Theater Festival (Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center)

This new festival by producer Ken Davenport features 20 new plays and musicals (each offering five performances) through August 25

Opening night features four shows:  Big Shot, Fancy Maids, Noirtownand Training Wheels

August 15

Make Believe (2nd Stage)

A new play by Bess Wohl. For the four Conlee kids, ages 5 to 10, playing house is no longer a game when their parents inexplicably disappear. Thirty-two years later, their search for answers continues.

August 23

HOUSE (Theater Mitu)

Subtitled “or how to lose an orchard in 90 minutes or less,” the pieceupends Anton Chekhov’s 1903 text The Cherry Orchard to explore how families across the globe must again and again find ways to redefine the idea of home. Interjecting Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 cult horror film HOUSE, text from company-conducted interviews, and live music…”

 August 24

Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes (The Flea)

A “festival” of five plays by the avant-garde playwright running through November. Two begin on August 24: “Sincerity Forever,” a group of teens hang out in fictional southern town of Hillsbottom, a place with a prominent community of Ku Klux Klan members, and “Bad Penny,” described thusly: “A man and a woman sit in a park. They appear to be a couple, but aren’t. The man is clutching a car tire. The woman has a penny in her pocket. The mythical Boatman of Bow Bridge is coming. He is coming to take away the person who is in possession of the penny. How do we make choices in the face of the end of the world as we know it?” (My money’s on “Bad Penny”)

August 25

Dream Up Festival (Theatre for the New City

The tenth annual festival offers ten shows in all — two musicals, four plays on the African-American experience, two plays on pregnancy and motherhood, four plays of political content set in the dystopian future, two solo shows and two two-handers.”  Also a new translation  of Strindberg’s  “The Father” (pictured)

August 26

The Museum of Future Experiences

“a high-end immersive VR experiences at brick and mortar locations.”

August 29

Dust (New York Theatre Workshop)

Milly Thomas’s solo play about a woman who is forced to watch the aftermath of her own suicide

August 31

Hercules (Public Works at Delacorte)

Disney’s animated musical comes to life in this new participatory staging by Public Works. The free, outdoor production features a cast of professional actors and community groups from across the city.

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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