Below is a selection of theater opening in New York in September, when Elmo won’t just be on the streets of Times Square, but on an Off-Broadway stage, while the twelve-foot tall puppet Little Amal will be parading in New York streets after logging 5,000 miles in Europe. There is also a new play about a strike at Walt Disney.
Intriguing solo shows this month include David Strathairn in a true story of a Holocaust witness, and David Greenspan playing 66 roles in a Gertrude Stein opera (minus the opera.)
There is a site specific audio tour, and a play based on an old album, as well as a fable in both English and American Sign Language. Tonya Pinkins stars in a revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” and Ping Chong revisits the piece that marked his New York theater debut fifty years ago, and marks the end of his tenure at Ping Chong and Company.
This day-by-day calendar is organized chronologically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates tentative, because COVID-19 is ongoing and unpredictable. (Update: Several openings of the shows below are now in October, as noted.)
The Detour Series (Playwrights Horizons)
A free theatrical experiment in which listeners on their own mobile devices are guided through points in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, during two audio plays: “The Mayor of Hell’s Kitchen Presents: A Time Traveling Journey Through NYC’s Wild West,” written by Christin Eve Cato, and “West Side Quest,” written by Opalanietet
Burbank (Thirdwing at The Wild Project)
The largely unknown story of the 1941 Disney animator’s strike.
Also available from Thirdwing: Disney Girls, a six episode streaming series: The overworked women painting Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can’t seem to make meaningful friendships with each other.
Marie It’s Time (Minor Theater at HERE)
A three-person adaptation with songs of the George Buchner play, Woyzeck, in which the Woyzeck, in which Woyzeck fatally stabs Marie, the mother of his child.
My Onliness (New Ohio Theater)
A fable/cabaret/circus entertainment about a mad king’s desperate attempt to impress a mysterious petitioner. In English with fully integrated American Sign Language
This and That (The Chocolate Factory Theater)
From the Institute of Useless Activity: “THAT imagines the creation of the universe, THIS is about the people in it – their romantic sense of longing, loss, alienation and near miss… a cowboy sleeps under the stars, a family puts their child to sleep for the night, a crooner serenades his lover, a jazz pianist fantasizes while he plays. The vignettes morph from one scene to another— hand shadows inspired by the sculptures of Henry Moore dissolve into each scene.”
Strings Attached (Theatre Row)
A story of physics, a love triangle and a magical train ride loosely based on a real train ride in 1999, in which thre scientists boarded a train from Cambridge to London to attend a performance of Michael Frayn’s new play, Copenhagen, and en route, discovered a theory of the Big Bang
Serials (Flea Theater)
The long-running late night competition of over-the-top short new plays at the Flea is now run by The Fled Collective. This is the first night of Cycle 3, taking place September 8-10, and September 15-17 at 9:00 pm
The Fire This Time Festival reading series (Frigid at Kraine)
Staged readings of works by playwrights Niccolo Aeed, Cyrus Aaron, Jay Mazyck, and a special community archival event conceived by Deneen Reynolds-Knott in which participants will have the opportunity to celebrate and remember their kin through objects that reflect their personal style.
American (Tele)visions (New York Theatre Workshop)
In a secluded Walmart in the 90s, Erica rolls a shopping cart through a series of fractured memories
Little Amal Walks NYC (St Ann’s Warehouse and…)
The launch of the 17-day, 55-event sojourn in all five boroughs of New York City of Little Amal, the 12-foot-tall puppet of a Syrian refugee girl that’s already traveled over 5,000 miles across Europe.
Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski (TFANA at Polonsky Shakespeare Center)
David Strathairn stars in this solo show about World War II hero and Holocaust witness Jan Karski, who risked his life to carry his report of the Warsaw ghetto from war-torn Poland to the Allied Nations and the Oval Office only to be disbelieved. (Begins performances September 10)
Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me (Performing Garage)
This latest collaboration between the Wooster Group and Eric Berryman explores a distinctive genre of Black American storytelling called Toasts, via a 1976 record album of the same name recorded and edited by folklorist Bruce Jackson. Toasts are witty, virtuosic poems that tell fantastical and obscene stories about legendary street heroes.
Sesame Street The Musical (Theatre Row)
Two decades after a parody/homage of Sesame Street made it big on the New York stage (I’m talking Avenue Q), a new stage musical will feature some the original characters — Elmer, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch — “in their original puppet form.” (I don’t see Miss Piggy in the cast list; perhaps she’s holding out for a one-pig show. ) The production promises to mix new songs with familiar ones from the long running children’s television series. It’s unclear what the plot will be (or if there will be one.)
Four Saints in Three Acts (Lortel at Target Margin)
David Greenspan plays 66 roles in this solo show adapting Gertrude Stein’s libretto of this avant-garde (but without Virgil Thomson’s score)
Cheek to Cheek (York)
The return of this musical evening featuring an variety of Irving Berlin songs from his classic collection of films.
Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge (Public Theater)
A re-creation of the 1965 debate between virtuosic writer James Baldwin and father of American conservatism William F. Buckley, Jr. Official opening October 2
A Raisin in the Sun (Public Theater)
A revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking drama about a Black family moving into a white neighborhood. Directed by Robert O’Hara, starring Tonya Pinkins as Lena Younger, Francois Battiste as Walter Younger, Mandi Maiden as Ruth Younger, and Paige Gilbert as Beneath Younger. Official opening October 19.
I’m Revolting (Atlantic)
In Gracie Gardner’s play, patients at a skin cancer clinic in NYC wait to find out how much of themselves they’re about to lose. Opening pushed to October 5.
Ping Chong’s Lazarus 1972–2022 (LaMaMa)
An interdisciplinary meditation on the resurrected man, transplanted from its Biblical setting to the urban purgatory of New York City. Fifty years after his first version of this work, Ping Chong is presenting it as the last as artistic director of Ping Chong and Company. Official opening October 2.
*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 1. the show is “frozen” (no more changes), and 2. the reviews are published/posted/broadcast. (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, or I know when it is), rather than first preview, as a statement in support of the continuing relevance of theater reviewing. 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.