February 2021 Theater Openings Week 2: Love, Justice and Ann Harada

Valentine’s Day and Black History Month each influence several works of theater opening this week, February 8-14, 2021, listed day by day below.  

The Valentine-oriented shows this week range in title (and mood) from “Harmony” and “On Love” to “Revenge Porn” and “Mortified Doomed Valentine’s Day” — and that doesn’t include any of the ones on Valentine’s Day itself.

The Black history plays feature Sojourner Truth, and Malcolm X — a role original performed by Denzel Washington for the New Federal Theater, ow offering a free reading as part of its 50th anniversary season. The Metropolitan Opera continues honoring black divas, from legendary artists Leona Mitchell, Jessye Norman, and Kathleen Battle to two of today’s biggest stars, Eric Owens and J’Nai Bridges.”

Monday, February 8

The 24th Annual Fillet of Solo Festival
Lifeline Theater
Through February 28
15 storytelling collectives and 17 solo performers from all over the country gather in Chicago (virtually) for this three-week festival.

Village Song: Episode 2
4 p.m. Available through March 6
Second-year students of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts explore Greenwich Village through song, spoken word, poetry, and imagery, in three episodes unfolding in the first three Mondays in February. (I loved Episode 1, which is still available) Among the five segments of Episode 2 are a song about McSorley’s Old Ale House, and an “electroacoustic composition” created entirely from sounds recorded in the Village.

Wagner’s Das Rheingold
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours
 This first installment of the epic four-part series Der Ring des Nibelungen introduces the cycle’s main antagonist, Alberich—powerfully portrayed in this 2010 performance by bass-baritone Eric Owens—who steals a hunk of gold from the Rhinemaidens, forging from it an all-powerful ring and setting into motion a series of events that will leave the world and its roster of gods, goddesses, demigods, giants, and mortals forever changed.Starring Wendy Bryn Harmer, Stephanie Blythe, Patricia Bardon, Richard Croft, Gerhard Siegel, Dwayne Croft, Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens, Franz-Josef Selig, and Hans-Peter König, conducted by James Levine. Production by Robert Lepage. From October 9, 2010. 

Theatre Forward 2021 Regional Gala
8 p.m.
A pay-what-you-can starry fundraiser for this organization that supports a network of 19 regional theaters, from MTC in New York to ACT in San Francisco, from the Guthrie in Minnesota to the Alley in Houston. Musial performances by Jason Robert Brown, Kate Baldwin, George Salazar, Anika Noni Rose, Shaina Taub, Taylor Iman Jones, The Bengsons, Ada Westfall, Jo Lamport and Branden Noel Thomas; appearances by Annette Bening, Kathleen Chalfant, Larissa FastHorse, David Henry Hwang, Ashley Park, Will Power,Taylor Louderman, Richard Thomas, Regina Taylor.

Solo Train
Primary Stages
8 p.m.
New work by solo performers Heidi Armbruster, Laurie Braun, Beth Broun, Amy Crossman, Sam Given, Nan Hoffman, John Mudd, Gail Payne, and Nicole Soul. Free with registration.

Haley at Therapy
Broadway Cares
8 p.m.
A virtual concert of a new musical comedy about a woman’s first therapy session, written by Josh Canfield, and starring  Lilli Cooper, Denée Benton e Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Grace McLean and James Scully.

Oedipus Rex
San Francisco Playhouse
10 pm ET
Sophocles’ play about the man fated to kill his father and marry his mother, directed by Carey Perloff, featuring Steven Anthony Jones and John Douglas Thompson, part of the theater’s free “Zoomlet” series — table readings with discussions between creative team and cast before and afterwards.

Tuesday, February 9

West Berkeley, West Indian
Berkeley Rep
One of the ten weekly audio plays in Place/Settings: Berkeley about specific places in Berkeley, California. This one is by Aya de Leon: How do you find your people in middle school—especially when you don’t quite fit the mold? A girl experiments, assimilates, adapts, and journeys towards self-love and community.

Cybertank Variety Show
4 p.m.
The Tank’s free virtual gathering place for dozens of artists every other Tuesday, this week with host Leslie Guyton

Enchanted Origins
La MaMa
7 p.m. Live
A “multi dimensional science-fiction fairytale puppetry musical” written and directed by Charlotte Lily Gaspard

My Funny World with Rodgers and Hart
Two River Theater
7 p.m.
Ten-time Broadway veteran Barbara Andres her experience in the 1975 Broadway musical revue, Rodgers and Hart, in this virtual performance excerpting her forthcoming memoir

Verdi’s Ernani
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours
This opera, which has a complicated plot, based on a Hugo drama, about a young woman and the three men vying for her affections, is “best appreciated as a feast of beautiful and dramatic Italianate singing.” Starring Leona Mitchell, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, and Ruggero Raimondi, conducted by James Levine. Production by Pier Luigi Samaritani. From December 17, 1983.

Wednesday, February 10

Café America
Ballet Hispanico
As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the company dips into its archives for this “bittersweet envisioning of the American Dream. Three immigrants make their way to a new life dawned in brilliant-colored suits with a sense of determination evoked by George Faison’s expansive, jazzy choreography.”

Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours
An irreverent farce about a feisty young noblewoman with a mind of her own,, portrayed in this 1988 telecast by dazzling American soprano Kathleen Battle. Starring Kathleen Battle, Rockwell Blake, Leo Nucci, Enzo Dara, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, conducted by Ralf Weikert. Production by John Cox. From December 3, 1988.

Thursday, February 11

Clippy and Ms. U
Ma-Yi Theater
(Delayed) Through April 30
This Asian-American theater company is participating in an international event to mark the 10 year anniversary of Japan’s Triple Disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown) with this play by Ohnobu Pelican about three strangers looking for a woman who discover a reality they’d rather not face. Featuring Ann Harada, Jennifer Ikeda, Thom Sesma, and Olivia Oguma. (It will be streamed here when it becomes available.)

Ordinary Days
Cardinal Theater
12 a.m. Available through February 21
This Indiana company puts on Adam Gwon’s musical about lives that collide in fairy-tale ways amid the chaos of New York City.

On Love
6:30 p.m. available through Feb 13
Part of MCC LiveLabs, a series of original one-act plays, Mfoniso Udofia’s new play presents seven short vignettes, poems and songs that showcase the eight different types of love.

Delejos (from afar)
7 p.m. Repeated on two subsequent Thursdays
Writer and performer Julie Piñero describes her play on Zoom as weaving together “standup comedy, live music and a virtual reality experience.” What she doesn’t clearly explain on the website is that the play is inspired by the life of Jose Zambrano, an immigrant video game designer who was murdered on the streets of Brooklyn in 2019 at the age of 26.

Sin Eaters
Theatre Exile
7 p.m. Available through Feb 28
A play by Anna Moench about a content moderator who finds a graphic video “that makes her question her relationship, her sanity, and her own capacity for violence.”

Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours
There is a plot to murder King Gustavo III of Sweden, who also happens to be in love with his best friend and counselor’s wife. Starring Aprile Millo, Harolyn Blackwell, Florence Quivar, Luciano Pavarotti, and Leo Nucci, conducted by James Levine. Production by Piero Faggioni. From January 26, 1991.

ABC Daytime Back on Broadway
Broadway Cares
A concert by dozens of soap opera stars from All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital, including Susan Lucci, Tonya Pinkins, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jason Tam. 

Reasons to Be Pretty
The Reading Series
8 p.m.
A live reading of Neil LaBute’s 2008 play which is set into motion when Greg (Andrew Kober) calls his girlfriend Steph (Jessica Vosk) “regular,” which she takes to mean unattractive, and the four characters of the play are eventually forced to confront infidelity, betrayal and deceit.

This Bud of Love
Fiasco Theater
8 p.m.
A Valentine from the company offering “songs, verse, scenes, poems and gratitude.”

Dirty Laundry Theatre at The Tank
9 p.m.Live. Available through Feb 27.
Nimrod Danishman’s play about two gay men, one in Israel the other in Lebanon (portrayed by Eli M. Shoenfeld and Adrian Rifat) who meet on Grindr and develop a virtual relationship.

Friday, February 12

Prime Stage Theater
Available through Feb 19
$5 to $40
TheDelana Flowers stars in this play by Richard LaMonte Pierce about Sojourner Truth, who escaped slavery in the early 19th century and became an outspoken abolitionist and women’s rights activist

Wilma Theater
The Philadelphia theater continues its weekly Hothouse Shorts in February, with these intertwining audio tales of one everyday object.

A Very Menasa Valentine’s
Ars Nova
7 p.m. live, available for 21 hours
New plays about dating in the time of COVID by Ida Esmaeili, Ryan J. Haddad, Vishaal Reddy and Nandita Shenoy, four writers from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia region (that’s what Menasa means) The host is “everyone’s favorite cocktail artist, Sherz Aletaha.” (the website includes the ingredients you’ll need for the cocktail that will be mixed during the show.)

Hotel Good Luck
New Ohio Theater
7:30 p.m. Live. Repeated through Feb 20
In this play by Alejandro Ricaño streamed live from State Theater in Ithaca NY, a late-night radio DJ plunges down a rabbit hole of parallel universes in search of what he has lost.

Philip Glass’s Akhnaten
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours
The pharaoh Kdhnaten’s attempt to convert his society to the monotheistic worship of the sun leads to his overthrow. Mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as Akhnaten’s regal queen, Nefertiti, the role of her Met debut in this production full of jugglers and acrobats. Starring Dísella Lárusdóttir, J’Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Aaron Blake, Will Liverman, Richard Bernstein, and Zachary James, conducted by Karen Kamensek. Production by Phelim McDermott. From November 23, 2019.

New Plays for A New Year
Victory Garden
8 p.m. EST
Three new plays by McKenzie China, Preston Choi, and York Walker.

Yorick, La Historia de Hamlet
8 p.m. ET, Available through Feb 14
A one-man puppet play by Francisco Reyes tells “Hamlet” from the point of view of that person who exists only as a skull in the original. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Judy Collins: A Return to Her Legendary 1964 Concert
Town Hall
8 p.m. Available until Sunday
Collins, now 81, re-creates her concert hall debut virtually, performing songs by Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, and Billy Ed Wheeler,

Saturday, February 13

Spy Academy & The Lost Treasure of Atlantis
Imagination Stage
11 a.m. Available through May 23
Each live virtual event takes a small number of families through a series of puzzles, codes, and challenges on a quest to recover the stolen Heart of the Dragon. Part online escape room, part interactive game, it’s geared to theatergoers aged 5 to 10.

Coffeehouse Chronicles Revisited: Mabou Mines
La MaMa
3 p.m.
In honor of the late Lee Breuer, the theater is streaming its “coffeehouse” (a combination of panels and performance) of January 30, 2016.

When the Chickens Come Home To Roost
New Federal Theater
7 p.m. Available until Feb 15
A free online reading of the 1981 play by Laurence Holdeabout the relationship between Malcolm X and Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. The original starred Denzel Washington. The reading features Allie Woods as Elijah Muhammad and Lawrence Winslow as Malcolm X.

Revenge Porn
7 p.m. Live, On demand through February 17
In this play by Carla Ching, Kat Chan has a decision to make when her ex-husband posts explicit photos of her online and tags everyone she knows:  Be humane to someone she used to love?  Or take him out in a very public way? The production, benefitting Ma-Yi Theater, features Tina Haung, Amy Hill, Kahn Kim, Christopher Larkin, Ken Leung, and Roland Ruiz

Mortified Doomed Valentine’s Day
7 p.m.
“a comic excavation of teen angst artifacts (journals, poems, letters, lyrics, home movies, schoolwork) as shared by their original authors”

Berlioz’s Les Troyens
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours
Jessye Norman stars as the prophetess Cassandre, whose unheeded warnings spell doom for the titular Trojans this ambitious opera about the aftermath of the Trojan War. Starring Tatiana Troyanos, Jessye Norman, Plácido Domingo, and Allan Monk, conducted by James Levine. Production by Fabrizio Melano. From October 8, 1983.

The Studios of Key West
8 p.m. available through Feb 27
In this play by Drew Larimore starring Michael Urie, Ann Harada, Colby Lewis and Constance Shulman, a single text message overturns life in a small Midwestern university town, a riff on the effects of social media.

Big Apple Performing Arts
8 p.m.
The free virtual valentine and starry annual gala benefiting New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Youth Pride Chorus, and Tonewall. Hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley. Ann Harada of course is performing.

Metropolitan Playhouse
8 p.m. through February 17
A 1916 comedy that expounds on the philosophies of its male and female characters on love and marriage in the modern world, written by Provincetown Player co-founders Neith Boyce and her husband Hutchins Hapgood.

Sunday, February 14

Playing on Air
A deliberately timed audio play by Naveen Bahar Choudhury. Nobody comes to the campus health clinic looking for love. But as he waits for the nurse to call him in, Robby (Vandit Bhatt) finds himself drawn to Angie (Nitya Vidyasagar), a disenchanted Bengali writer with problems of her own.

The Gin Game
Laguna Playhouse
Video on demand available through Feb 16
The Pulitzer Prize winning drama by D.L. Coburn about two nursing home residents who engage with one another over a card game, turning from cordial to flirtatious to a battle of wills. Starring Jo Spano and JoBeth Williams

Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom
Irish Rep
2 p.m.
Aedin Moloney performs her and Colum McCann’s adaptation of the last chapter of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. This is not the first showing of this monologue about love and desire…but how could I not list its Valentine’s Day stream?

Wagner’s Die Walküre
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. Available for 23 hours

The second installment of the Ring cycle, Die Walküre is the most popular, combining the machinations of the gods with the deeply human love story of the brave hero Siegmund and the dignified Sieglinde, portrayed here by commanding soprano Jessye Norman.. Starring Hildegard Behrens, Jessye Norman, Christa Ludwig, Gary Lakes, James Morris, and Kurt Moll, conducted by James Levine. Production by Otto Schenk. From April 8, 1989.

A Kern Valentine
7:30 p.m. ET
The annual Valentine’s Day concert by chanteuse Andrea Marcovicci, and pianist Brad Ellis, is for the first time this year free on YouTube.

A Night In With Josh Groban
8 p.m.
A concert of the singer’s most romantic songs, and other stuff.

The Gardener
Stacy Keach Zoom Theater
8 p.m. ET Live
A world-premiere play written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Stacy Keach about impressionist painter Claude Monet (Ed Harris) and his relationship with Prime Minister of France, Clemenceau (Stacy Keach), and Monet’s stepdaughter, Blanche (Amy Madigan).

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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