Below is a day-by-day selection of theater openings scheduled for March organized by opening date*, featuring a single Broadway show (“Plaza Suite”) at the end of the month – a sparser March than in pre-pandemic years. Of special interest are Billy Porter’s adaptation of “The Life,” a new play by Dominique Morisseau, the return of “The Chinese Lady”, “Coal Country”, and “Help” (the last two had runs cut short by the pandemic) and two intriguing new works of interactive digital theater.
We must consider this calendar tentative, certainly with the in-person theater offerings, because while the havoc wreaked by the Omicron variant has diminished in New York, and all theaters require proof of vaccination and the wearing of masks (and some are now requiring proof of booster shots and negative COVID tests), the pandemic is ongoing and unpredictable.
Five disparate monologues written by Asian-American playwrights featuring characters (and actors) over the age of 60. (My review.)
The play by Lloyd Suh is inspired by the true story of the first Chinese woman to step foot in America, in 1834, who was put on display in a museum. (My review of the 2018 production by Ma-Yi at Theatre Row with the same two-member cast, Shannon Tyo and Daniel Isaac)
Eugene O’Neill’s posthumously produced play aobut a drunk saddled with a run-down tavern outside Boston, who fancies himself a European war hero born in an Irish castle. (My review of the Irish Rep’s 2020 digital theater production of the play, with about half the cast the same.)
This Space Between Us (Keen Company at Theatre Row)
In this play by Peter Gil-Sheridan, nobody understands why Jamie wants to leave his cushy law office to work for a non-profit. His best friend is confused, his boyfriend is concerned, and his conservative Cuban-American family are sure they know what’s best.
A return of the musical (which the pandemic cut short) by
Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen (The Exonerated) offer first-person accounts from survivors and family members in the aftermath of the West Virginia mine explosion of 2010. With music by Steve Earle.
Glass Town (The Tank)
A rock requiem starring the Brontë siblings
Tiananmen Requiem (Players Theater)
Written by a Chinese national who feels forced to remain anonymous, the play tells the love story of a gay People’s Liberation Army soldier and a protesting student against the backdrop of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Moliere Turns 400 (FIAF Florence Gould Hall)
A selection of staged excerpts from “The Misanthrope,” “The School for Wives,” and “Tartuffe,” translated into English by Richard Wilbur
Hart Island (The Gym at Judson)
A multimedia theatrical meditation on New York City’s potter’s field and the humans connected to it, living and dead. First preview March 8
Little Girl Blue (New World Stages)
The Life of singer Nina Simone
The Life (NY City Center)
For the Encores! Concert series, Billy Porter adapts and directs this 1997 Tony-nominated musical, with music by Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, Will Rogers Follies, etc.), “to bring forth the gritty, dangerous, and exciting decadence of 1980s New York City and an authenticity to the lives of sex workers.” With choreography by Camille A. Brown
Inspired by Sidney Lumet’s classic film, 12 Angry Men, Emmy Award winning writer/director William Electric Black (aka Ian Ellis James) becomes all 12 jurors
MicroTheater New York (Teatro Sea at the Clemente)
A series of short productions over the three-day weekend, including the premiere of “César Chávez and the Migrants (The César Chávez Story),” a 15-minute puppet play that celebrates the life and legacy of the Mexican-American labor activist.
Digital theater: A hypertext fiction game that takes you on an interactive journey through a strange, near-future landscape as you search for your best friend
Poet and playwright Claudia Rankine examines the nature of white male privilege starring April Mathis (“Toni Stone”) as a woman who recounts Rankine’s real-life conversations with white people that take place in transitional spaces like airports.This show was in previews when it was shut down by the pandemic in March 2020.
Digital theater: live-streaming for 12 performances. The interactive online event is being created with a community of Amazon “microworkers” whose assignments are repetitive, boring, maddening, and sometimes disturbing. In this 30-minute online encounter, broadcast from MITU580, audiences will enter the Builders Marketplace, train with actual microworkers and compete for paying jobs, connecting with the invisible online labor force that shapes our everyday virtual lives.
In this play by Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew), Sara, an enslaved rebel turned Union spy, and Sandra, a tenured professor in a modern-day private university, are having parallel experiences of institutional racism, though they live over a century apart.Previews begin March 8.
Closing: June 12
Written by Neil Simon
Directed by John Benjamin Hickey
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker
In this first revival of Simon’s 1968 comedy, Broderick and Parker (married in real life) perform as three couples in three one-act plays all taking place in the same suite in the Plaza Hotel.
Oratorio for Living Things (Ars Nova at Greenwich House)
A large scale musical work by Heather Christian, staged by director Lee Sunday Evans and featuring eighteen virtuosic singers and instrumentalists. The classical oratorio, infused with blues, gospel, jazz and soul, was originally scheduled for March, 2020.
Gong Lum’s Legacy (New Federal at Theater at St. Clements)
The play, written by Charles White, takes place in 1925 in the Mississippi Delta and tells the story of an unexpected romance that blooms between Joe Ting, a Chinese Immigrant and Lucy Sims, a Black school teacher. First preview March 24.
*Opening night is usually not the same as first performance on Broadway and frequently Off-Broadway. 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. (Off-Off Broadway shows often have no official opening night; they just start.) I organize this calendar by opening night (when such exists), rather than first preview, as an act of resistance against the effort by producers and publicists to make theater reviews irrelevant. Check out my essay: Broadway Opening Night. What It Means. How It’s Changed. 7 Facts to Clear Up The Confusion and Crystallize the Outrage.