Below is a day-by-day selection of New York theater that is scheduled to open in December, organized by opening date.* That includes the gender-bending revival of “Company,” by Stephen Sondheim, who died the day after Thanksgiving, as well as three other shows on Broadway: “Mrs. Doubtfire” (which is opening at the Stephen Sondheim Theater), “Flying Over Sunset,” and the return of “Dear Evan Hansen,” starring Jordan Fisher. Tovah Feldshuh returns to the Off-Broadway stage as sex therapist Dr. Ruth. There’s a new musical based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire and a new play by Sylvia Khoury about Afghanistan.
This month includes several shows that are completely digital, and others that are hybrid, as well as a live broadcast of a TV musical I couldn’t leave out.
This is the month for holiday shows, many of them annual, some of them decidedly NOT for children (like Taylor Mac’s.) I’ll soon be adding details on many of those Nutcrackers and Christmas Carols and Christmas Spectaculars.
Sonnets for An Old Century (Bard at the Gate)
The second season of playwright Paula Vogel’s digital theater reviving worthy, undervalued plays launches with this play by Jose Rivera, whose seven-member cast includes Paula Vogel. In the play, which Rivera directs, 18 recently deceased people give their statements and tell their side of the story.
Write It Out: Final Sharing
A virtual reading of new works from writers living with HIV, on World AIDS Day.
Can We Talk (Infinite Variety Productions at The Kraine Theatre and online)
Two roommates, Kaitlyn and Frances, stuck inside their NYC apartment, avoid talking about coronavirus, BLM, unemployment, and Frances’ move by reenacting the ture story of Carla Horowitz, a WWII Women Airforce Service pilot.
Annie Live (NBC)
The 1977 Tony winning musical by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip will be broadcast live with a cast featuring newcomer Celina Smith in the title role, Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, and Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty.
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
Cast: Rob McClure
A new musical based on the Robin Williams 1993 movie. When out-of-work actor Daniel Hillard loses custody of his kids in a divorce, he disguises himself as Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives
Selling Kabul (Playwrights Horizons)
In this play by Sylvia Khoury, Taroon once served as an interpreter for the US military in Afghanistan. Now the Americans — and their promises of safety — have withdrawn, and he spends his days in hiding, a target of the increasingly powerful Taliban
Tinsel: A Global Holiday Celebration (Lucille Lortel)
This new holiday performance series, which runs through December 31 features different performers throughout the month, including Jelani Remy, Telly Leung, Jared Grimes, Jaime Lozano and The Familia, Everett Bradley’s Holidelic, Latrice Royale, Ronny Dutra, Ilene Reid, Brinda Guha, Cumbé Dance and Pastorela: A Very Merry Immigrant Christmas. It begins with “Reed Luplau’s Crikey…It’s Christmas” which celebrates all things Australian, directed, choreographed and conceived by Luplau, a Broadway veteran currently performing in Moulin Rouge.
Kimberly Akimbo (Atlantic Theater)
Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
music by Jeanine Tesori
based on the play by David Lindsay-Abaire
choreographed by Danny Mefford
directed by Jessica Stone
Kim (Victoria Clark) is a bright and funny Jersey teen, who happens to look like a 72-year-old lady. And yet her aging disease may be the least of her problems. Forced to maneuver family secrets, borderline personalities, and possible felony charges, Kim is determined to find happiness in a world where not even time is on her side.
Just for Us (Cherry Lane)
Alex Edelman’s solo show largely focuses on his experience, after being bombarded with anti-Semitic online, attending a gathering of white nationalists.
Bernard B. Jacobs Theater
First Preview: November 15, 2021
Opening: December 9, 2021
Music by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth
Cast: Patti LuPone, Katrina Lenk
The fifth production of the musical about a single 35-year-old with married friends, this one is “re-gendered” so that the protagonist is now a woman, Bobbie.
Family and The Imaginary Cuckold (Moliere in the Park at Prospect House)
Free staged readings of two one-act plays. In Family by Gael Octavia, a trapped wife, a closeted queer husband, and their young children unravel under the weight of “maintaining the facade.” In Moliere’s farce “The Imaginary Cuckold,” a tiny innocuous event gives birth to a virus called paranoia that contaminates all the characters. . Two days only. The cast for both plays features Samira Wiley.
The Lanford Wilson Project (Open Circle Play Factory at Theatre Row)
A new theater company presents two plays by the late Lanford Wilson, performed in repertory over a four week run. Admissions are separate, but the company considers them two parts of the whole. In “The Mound Builders,” a party of university scientist unearth vestiges of a lost Indian civilization at an archeological dig in the Midwest. In “Sympathetic Magic” a group of intense and clever San Franciscans, artists, scientists, spiritual searchers and lost souls struggle with artistic failure and scientific uncertainty
Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce…Booster!,
The latest edition of Mac’s annual variety show is, like last year, a “virtual vaudeville,” although adventurous theatergoers can be part of the live studio audience on December 8 during its filming at White Eagle Music Hall in Jersey City.
Dear Evan Hansen
Theater: Music Box
Authors: Score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, book by Steven Levenson
Director: Michael Greif
Opened: December 4, 2016
Reopening: December 11, 2021
Tweeter feed: @DearEvanHansen
A high school student pretends to have been best friends with a classmate who committed suicide in this musical by the songwriters of A Christmas Story: The Musical. This was nearly a cult favorite Off-Broaway. My review of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway
Flying Over Sunset
Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont
First preview: November 11
Opening: December 13, 2021
Book by James Lapine, music by Tom Kitt, and lyrics by Michael Korie
Director: James Lapine
Cast:Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton and Tony Yazbeck
Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce and Aldous Huxley all revealed during their lifetimes that they had taken LSD. This new musical imagines their gathering together to get high.
The Streets of New York (Irish Rep)
A holiday musical that the Irish Rep first performed in 2002 that is artistic director Charlotte Moore’s adaptation of the 19th century melodrama by Irish playwright Dion Boucicault, which was also sometimes titled “The Poor of New York.”
Becoming Dr. Ruth (Museum of Jewish Heritage)
Tovah Feldshuh stars as the diminutive sex therapist
Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (New Victory)
Based on 1977 Muppet movie, this show centers on the poor but loving Emmet Otter and his mother, who both decide to enter a talent contest in the hope of winning prize money to buy each other Christmas gift
*Opening night is usually not the same as first performance (there is usually a preview period, where the creative team tries out the show before an audience, and opening night is when the reviews appear), but the term is increasingly meaningless (most critics these days don’t even get invited until after “opening night”), and it’s especially meaningless this year, when the shows reopening have no preview period. Still, I am trying to uphold tradition here, before it disappears entirely.