Below is a selection of New York theater openings in February, organized chronologically by opening date. There’s just one show opening on Broadway this month, but it’s a doozy: The fifth revival of “West Side Story,” directed by the Belgian avant-garde artist Ivo Van Hoven, has generated oodles of attention, some of it unwanted. (It’s not the only show inspired by “Romeo and Juliet” that’s opening this month; see February 2)
As if to offer a counterweight to that male-heavy musical (as underscored by the photo of The Sharks above), Off-Broadway is offering a wide range of women-centered theater this month — to name just a few, Beth Malone as the Unsinkable Molly Brown; Alice Birch’s award-winning “Anatomy of a Suicide” about three generations of women; Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ one-woman play “Where We Stand”; an evening by and about Lady Gregory, the grand dame of Irish Theatre; Kate Hamill’s feminist take on ‘Dracula’; and even “She Persisted The Musical.”
One show I’m especially looking forward to: Lauren Yee’s “Cambodian Rock Band.”
Each title below is linked to a relevant website. Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black or Blue.. Off Off Broadway: Green. Theater festival: Orange. Immersive: Magenta. Puppetry-Brown
Tensions simmer with three generations of Tucker women under one roof, but things come to a boil as the violence hovering around the periphery of their lives begins to intrude upon the sanctity of Mama’s kitchen.
Beyond Babel (The Gym at Judson)
A new dance-theater piece inspired by Romeo and Juliet.
Border People (A.R.T./NY)
A one-man show by Dan Hoyle based on conversations with immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and border crossers of all kinds at both the Northern and Southern borders. In March, he’ll be taking this play to the boroughs.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (The New Group at Signature)
A musical by Jonathan Marc Sherman (Book), Duncan Sheik (Music, Lyrics) and Amanda Green (Lyrics) based on the 1969 movie about two married couples who decide to join the sexual revolution
Whisperlodge (“secret location” in Boerum Hill)
The return of this unusual mix of immersive therapy and therapy (aka “live ASMR“) in which “six guides lead 6 guests through one-on-one treatments designed to relax the body and mind, expand awareness, and heighten the senses.The show will run in a private home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn and features a brand new one-on-one scene, inspired by the family that lived there.””
Riddle of the Trilobites (New Victory)
In this live, original musical, set 500 million years ago, all life dwells in one sea and trilobites rule the ocean floor. When young Aphra discovers that the fate of the entire trilobite kingdom rests on her shelled shoulders, she and her arthropod pals must solve the a riddle before a sea change of epic proportions destroys their home.
Darling Grenadine (Roundabout’s Black Box)
A musical in which charismatic songwriter Harry falls for clever chorus girl Louise, But what happens when the sparkling fantasy begins to dissolve?
Fandango for Butterflies and Coyotes (EnGarde at La MaMa)
Inspired by interviews with undocumented immigrants from Latin America living in New York, the piece will take the form of a fandango, a community celebration
Where We Stand (WP Theater at McGinn/Cazale)
In a town running low on compassion, an exile seeks forgiveness, forcing the community to decide between mercy or justice. A solo play written by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, who also stars in it, alternating with David Ryan Smith
Kate Hamill’s new, feminist adaptation of the classic horror tale about an elegant vampire performed in repertory with Tristan Bernays’ athletic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel using only two actors.
Anatomy of a Suicide (Atlantic)
Winner of the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize given annually to a woman playwright, this play by Alice Birch (Revolt, She Said, Revolt Again) explores three generations of women whose stories unfold simultaneously onstage. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz (“Marys Seacole“).
Lady G Plays and Whisperings (Irish Rep)
A showcase of the personal writings and rarely seen plays of Lady Gregory, the grand dame of Irish Theatre, remembered today as co-founder of The Abbey Theatre in Dublin
Mack and Mabel (Encores at City Center)
The weekend concert series presentation of the late Jerry Herman’s musical about one of silent film’s first great pioneers, Mack Sennett, starring Douglas Sills (“War Paint”) and Alexandra Socha (“Head Over Heels”).
This annual festival begins today with the opening of eight shows.
West Side Story (Broadway Theater)
The fifth Broadway production of the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, transposed to warring street gangs in 1950s New York. Belgium avant-garde theater artist van Hove has cut the intermission and the song “I Feel Pretty” and added many videos. Thirty-three members of the cast are making their Broadway debuts.
The first musical theater piece in a three-part series entitled Pestilence, conceived, written and directed by Jack Waters
Mother Leeds (Under St. Marks)
Set in the early 1900’s Pine Barrens, we are in the shoes of a curious & fearful child of a religious single mother. Part of Frigid Festival
She Persisted The Musical (Atlantic)
In this musical based on Chelsea Clinton’s children’s book, Naomi’s field trip to a Women’s History Museum turns into a time travel adventure, where she meets great women from history who…persisted.
Cambodian Rock Band (Signature)
This play by Lauren Yee that won the 2019 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award (for which I served on the jury) tells the story of the survivor of the Khmer Rouge bloodbath by toggling back and forth in time between his youth as a member of a rock band in Cambodia, and the present day when his grown daughter has traveled back to Cambodia from America to help prosecute one of Cambodia’s most infamous war criminals. A live band plays contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies.
All The Natalie Portmans (MCC)
In this play by C.A. Johnson, lonely, 16-year-old misfit Keyonna escapes into a world of rom coms, red carpets and all the iconic characters played by her muse, Natalie Portman. But then they start talking back to her.
The Headlands (Lincoln Center)
In this contemporary noir by Christopher Chen (the terrific trickster playwright of “Caught”), Henry (Aaron Yoo) is an amateur sleuth and true crime aficionado who sets out to solve the ultimate case: the unsolved murder of his father.
Artisanal Intelligence (Kraine’s)
A comedy about a hipster customer service robot named Barry. Part of Frigid Festival.
We’re Gonna Die (2nd Stage)
Written by Young Jean Lee (Straight White Men) and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly, the show stars Janelle McDermoth in a kind of existential cabaret that hopes to demonstrate that “being alive is about more than just awaiting the inevitable.”
An unusual work of documentary theater by Lucas Hnath in collaboration with Steven Cosson of The Civilians about a chaplain of a psych ward who was captured and held captive by one of the patients for five months.The victim was Hnath’s mother, Dana Higginbotham, and Hnath had Cosson tape-record an interview with his mother. Hnath edited the tape, and now Deirdre O’Connor lip-syncs the words while the actual tape plays.
Unsinkable Molly Brown (Transport Group at Abrons)
Beth Malone (Fun Home) stars in this “revitalized” version of the Broadway musical playing Molly “as she really was: vibrant, progressive, and ready to fight for the underdog as a champion of women’s rights, labor rights, and immigration reform.”
In this play by Azure D. Osborne-Lee, 17-year-old Alma Jean finds her mother dead, and must pack up her life and move in with her mother’s ex-lover, a woman she doesn’t know who is the town pariah of the tiny town of Etheridge, Mississippi in 1960.
One Green Bottle (La MaMa)
Bo, Boo and Pickle all have plans, but someone must stay home to care for their pregnant dog, Princess. Trivial disputes and slapstick mischief quickly morph into family feuds and also, possibly, to the end of the world.
Playwright Hideki Noda is one of the most celebrated theater artists of japan.