Below is a day-by-day calendar of a selection of shows opening in May, a month that gives Off-Broadway and indie theater their time in the sun after the end of the 2020-2021 Broadway season. Among the most anticipated: a starry Encores! concert of Sondheim’s “Into The Woods,” another revival of a long-ignored Alice Childress play, and a musical based on Sarah Silverman’s memoir about bedwetting, as well as several festivals (two of them new) and one nine-hour spectacle.
This calendar is organized chronologically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates tentative, because the pandemic is ongoing and unpredictable.
Americano! (New World Stages)
With songs by Carrie Rodriguez, the musical is based on the true story of Tony Valdovinos, a DREAMer who discovered after September 11th that he was undocumented at age 18 when he tried to enlist in the US Marines Corps. (The opening is rescheduled from last month.)
2022 INK’D Festival of New Plays (The Playwrights Realm at Theaterlab)
Free in-person readings, from May 2 to May 5, of four new plays by the theater company’s 2021-2022 Writing Fellows. Audley Puglisi’s the salt women, directed by abigail jean-baptiste (May 2), Will Brumley’s Pulling Leather: A Queer Rodeo Fantasia, directed by Carlos Armesto (May 3), Emma Horwitz’s MARY GETS HERS, directed by Josiah Davis (May 4), and Jeesun Choi’s Lost Coast, directed by Nana Dakin (May 5).
A Case for the Existence of God (Signature)
In this play by Samuel Hunter directed by David Cromer, two men inside a cubicle in a small office in southern Idaho struggle to meet the confounding terms on a loan. The play is said to be a meditation on human resilience
Wish You Were Here (Playwrights Horizons)
Sanaz Toossi’s play chronicles 13 years of everyday life through the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War, as best friends forever become friends long lost, scattered and searching for home.
Into The Woods (Encores at New York City Center)
Stephen Sondheim’s musical that intertwines the plots of classic fairy tales features a starry cast including Neil Patrick Harris as the Baker, Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife, Denée Benton as Cinderella, Gavin Creel as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince. Rather than the usual long weekend, this Encores! Concert version will run for two weeks.
Our Brother’s Son (at Signature)
In this play by Charles Gluck, a retired gastroenterologist and sometime standup comic, a family’s hostilities and resentments come out in the open when one of its members learns he has a potentially fatal condition that will require an organ donation.
A Walk on the Moon (George Street Playhouse, N.J.)
A musical adaptation of the 1999 movie of the same name. Welcome to a Jewish bungalow colony in the Catskills during the tie-dyed, moon-landing summer of 1969. Housewife Pearl Kantrowitz must sort feelings for both her lover and her family, Described as a pre-Broadway run.
Wedding Band (TFANA)
A play by Alice Childress, whose “Trouble in Mind” marked her Broadway playwriting debut, 27 years after her death. Set in 1918, in Charleston, South Carolina, in a small, protective micro-community of Black women, a newcomer reveals a long-term relationship with a white man. The play traces the devoted couple’s caustic confrontations with anti-miscegenation laws, vicious family racism, community disapproval, and, finally, deadly disease and their own long-buried feelings.
Alison Leiby’s solo show about “the surprising perspective that comes with exercising your reproductive rights.”
One Night (Target Margin Theater)
a nine-hour theatrical event that concludes the company’s five-year exploration of The One Thousand and One Nights. “Marking Target Margin’s 30th anniversary, this extravagant performance surrounds storytelling with food, drink, and musical diversions.”
Two weeks of new puppet theater
Try This On For Me (NYNF at Playwrights Downtown)
an immersive play that takes its roaming audience on a journey through the many emotions of trying to dress ourselves.’
Forward Festival of the Arts (Queens Theater)
A new festival highlighting the artistry of Deaf/Disabled performers, occurring over two weekends.
Will You Come With Me? (Playco at MITU580)
This play by Ebru Nihan Celkan explores during an uprising., Umut and Janina meet and fall in love in 2013 in Istanbul, where rebellion simmers amongst the queer and displaced youth.
Golden Shield (MTC)
In this play by Anchuli Felicia King, an American lawyer enlists her strongminded sister as her Chinese-language translator for a class-action lawsuit involving a multinational technology corporation and the Chinese government. Can they put aside their past differences?
Exception to the Rule (Roundabout)
In this new play by Dave Harris, six Black students are stuck in Room 111 in the worst high school in the city. They flirt. They fight. They tease.
Snow in Midsummer (Classic Stage Company)
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig adapts a murder mystery from the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing. (My review of a previous production.)
California (Clubbed Thumb at The Wild Project)
Part of Summerworks 2022, Clubbed Thumb’s twice-delayed 25th mini-season of new plays. Trish Harnetiaux’s play is about a family road trip that takes an unexpected turn on the plains of eastern Oregon.
Jews, God and History (Not Necessarily in That Order) (at The Flea)
This solo show written and performed by Michael Takiff explores “the big questions” reverently and irreverently
The Bedwetter (Atlantic)Based on the bestselling memoir by comedian Sarah Silverman. Meet Sarah. She’s funny. She’s dirty. She’s 10. And she’s got a secret that you’ll never guess (unless you read the title). The show is written by Silverman and Joshua Harmon (“Bad Jews”) with a score by the late Adam Schlesinger. The cast features such luminaries as Bebe Neuwirth and Caissie Levy– Silverman not be among them. The character of Sarah will be played by Zoe Glick. Update: Due to positive COVID cases among the cast and crew Opening night is now June 7.
Fat Ham (Public Theater)
Playwright James Ijames reinvents Shakespeare’s tragedy. Juicy is a queer, Southern college kid, already grappling with some serious questions of identity, when the ghost of his father shows up in their backyard, demanding that Juicy avenge his murder
*Opening night is usually not the same as the 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 preview period or 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 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.