December 2022 New York Theater Openings

Below is a day-by-day calendar of theater opening* in December, a month that features six new Broadway shows, including two by Black playwrights making their Broadway debuts — one at age 27, the other at age 91; as well as the Broadway transfer of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, the Broadway premiere of the London art world drama about Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and two new musicals – a stage adaptation of an old Marilyn Monroe comedy, and a jukebox bio of singer-songwriter Neil Diamond. 

 Off Broadway openings on offer this month include Sarah Ruhl’s new play about old witches, a starry Sondheim revival, and two new shows about long journeys a century ago — a musical about the Puerto Rican mass migration to Hawaii, and a play about a Chinese family’s travels through the Wild West.

This is also the month for holiday shows, many of them annual,  some of them decidedly not for children, but most for the whole family. Check out: Holiday Shows in New York 2022: From 80 Rockettes, 15 Nutcrackers and 6 Christmas Carols to a Wolf, a Flute and a Lady Bunny

The calendar is organized chronologically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates subject to change, because COVID-19 is ongoing and unpredictable. It’s also in the nature of New York theater these days that some new shows pop up at the last minute.

Each title below is linked to a relevant website. 

Color key: Broadway: Red 🟥. Off Broadway: Blue 🟦. Off Off Broadway: Green 🟩.

Digital or Hybrid Theater: Yellow 🟨 Theater festival: Orange 🟧. Immersive: Silver ⬜️ .

Puppetry: Brown 🟫 Opera: Purple🟪

December 1

🟥Ain’t No Mo (Belasco)
Twenty-seven year old playwright Jordan E. Cooper, director Stevie Walker-Webb and producer Lee Daniels are all making their Broadway debuts in this play based on the premise: What if the U.S. government offered Black Americans one-way plane tickets to Africa? In my review of this comedy at the Public Theater in 2019, I wrote that the play “does not offer a direct flight. We make stops at a funeral parlor, an abortion clinic, a TV studio, a mansion, and a prison, and veer from comic and chaotic to pointed and unsettling”

🟦Stardust Road (York at Theater at St. Jean’s)
The story of seven friends’ relationships is told throughout the decades, using the music of Hoagy Carmichael.

🟦Aloha Boricua (Pregones/PRTT)
The musical dramatizes the migration to Hawaii of poor sugarcane workers and their families who were lured from Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane  whose lives were upended by hurricanes and the U.S. military invasion of Puerto Rico in 1917.

🟦Afghanistan is Not Funny (Soho Playhouse)
British comedian Henry Naylor reflects on his time visiting Afghanistan.

December 2

🟩The Very Last Dance of Homeless Joe (Theater for the New City)
A budding journalist interviews nine people who are homeless and they all tell her they have to talk to a man named Charlie.

🟪Aida (Met Opera)
Latonia Moore stars as the Ethiopian princess torn between love and country, sharing the role with rising soprano Michelle Bradley. Mezzo-sopranos Anita Rachvelishvili and Olesya Petrova alternate as Aida’s implacable Egyptian counterpart Amneris, with tenors Brian Jagde and Marcelo Álvarez as the warrior Radamès, the object of both of their affections.

December 4

 🟥A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical (Broadhurst)
The life of singer-songwriter Neil Diamond, told by the older Neil (Mark Jacoby) looking back in therapy at his young self (Will Sweson), a poor Jewish kid from Brooklyn who began by pitching songs to the publishing houses in Tin Pan Alley, enduring many rejections until…. “I Am…I Said,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue” and “Sweet Caroline.”

🟦Becky Nurse of Salem (Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse)
In this play by Sarah Ruhl, Deirdre O’Connell (Tony winner for Dana H) plays a modern-day descendant of the accused witch from The Crucible, Rebecca Nurse, in Massachusetts that still has witches. Directed by Rebecca Taichman. 

December 5

🟦The Far Country (Atlantic)
An unlikely family’s journey from rural Taishan to the wild west of California in the wake of the Chinese Exclusion Act. 

🟦La Race (Working Theater at McGinn/Cazale Theater)
While Maxine is grappling with personal and professional setbacks, her best friend is scheming to have her run for local office in Far Rockaway. She begins to face the systemic issues that are affecting her community. A play by Bleu Beckford-Burrell that’s part of The End of the Line Anthology of works, dramatizing intersecting lives in Far Rockaway where Beckford-Burrell grew up. 

🟩Your Own Personal Exegesis (Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater)
The halls of a liberal parish are faced with countless crises in this play by Julia May Jonas

🟩Events (The Brick)
The description of this play by Bailey Williams begins: “The other day, something happened to Itchy at work. She started itching…”

December 8

🟥Ohio State Murders (James Earl Jones Theater, formerly the Cort)
Playwright Adrienne Kennedy makes her Broadway debut at age 91 in this 1992 one-act play starring Audra McDonald as a writer who returns to Ohio State University her alma mater (which is also Kennedy’s) as a guest speaker. As she explores the violence in her work, a dark time full or racism and a dark mystery full of murder unravel. My review of a previous production of Ohio State Murders. This one is directed by Kenny Leon.

🟩The Weak and the Strong (La MaMa)
A contemporary look at the mysterious compulsions that lead us to do what we wouldn’t and avoid what we would, inspired by Paul’s letter to the Romans and the Hebrews. A rodeo rider, too old to be riding, rides, as his mind and body slip, and his family struggles with the right ways to care.

🟫Ophelia (Bread + Puppet Theater at TNC)
The mysterious Ophelia is not an attachment to Hamlet, but the center around which all other elements spin, all of them puppets. Only Ophelia is real, played by director Peter Schumann’s grandson and frequent collaborator, 13-year-old Ira Karp.

🟨Tape (Theater of War Productions online)
Dramatic reading of Stephen Belber’s three-character play from 1999 as a catalyst for guided discussions about sexual assault, power dynamics, and consent.  co-presented by NYC Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence

🟩Serials Cycle 5 (The Fled Collective at The Flea)
 The theater collective resumes its late night short play competition, December 8th-10th, and December 15th-17th at 9:00 pm

🟪⬜️Amahl and the Night Visitors (On Site Opera)
The Gian Carlo Menotti opera about the shepherd Amahl who offers up his crutch is presented at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, in partnership with Breaking Ground, New York City’s largest provider of permanent supportive housing 

December 9

🟩Meat (The Tank)
This diet-culture comedy by Robert Leverett takes place at a luxury health facility in the woods of New Hampshire, where patients offer themselves up as host to the Lone Star Tick, a tiny parasite whose bite induces a meat allergy.

🟩Big Shot (The Chase Brock Experience at Theatre Row)
The company’s latest dance theater work is inspired by Brock’s own family’s drive-in restaurant, Brock’s of Hendersonville, North Carolina, which was around from 1949 to 1972. 

🟧Science in Theatre Festival (The Tank)
A three-day festival “that pairs playwrights with Scientists, combining theater with new technologies

⬜️Third Law (What The Neighbors Will Say at MITU580)

A thirty-minute, pay-what-you-can theatrical experience in which the audience members shape the world of the play, collaborating with the artists and with each other .

December 11

🟥Some Like It Hot (The Shubert)
A musical adaptation of the 1959 Billy Wilder film comedy, which starred Marilyn Monroe, and Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon as two musicians who disguise themselves by dressing as women to escape from gangsters whom they witnessed committing a crime. They then join an all-female band. This is the third Broadway musical comedy in three years that adapts a movie about straight men who disguise themselves as women as part of a con, albeit a well-intentioned one. (The others were Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire.) The creative team has dealt with drag before: songwriters Mac Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray), book writer Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride) co-written with Amber Ruffin, Directed by Casey Nicholaw (Victor/Victoria)
The trio of musicians are portrayed by Christian Borle, J. Harrison Ghee, and Adrianna Hicks.

December 12

🟦Merrily We Roll Along (New York Theatre Workshop)
In this revival of the Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical, Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez play the three friends whose lives and relationships have soured and goes back in time three decades to when they were young idealistic artists. 

December 14

🟫The Apocalypse Defiance Circus (Bread and Puppet at TNC)
A rollicking 60-minute protest and celebration 

🟨The Nurse Antigone (Theater of War Productions online)
A dramatic reading of Sophocles’ Antigone to help frame powerful, guided discussions about challenges faced by nurses.

December 16

🟪The Magic Flute Holiday Presentation (Met Opera)
An abridged, family-friendly version of Mozart’s musical fairy tale

🟦Des Moines (Theatre for a New Audience)
A play by Denis Johnson, a novelist who died in 2017 and was best known for Jesus’ Son and Tree of Smoke. Chance events, including a plane crash, a rescued wedding ring, and a frightening diagnosis, bring five characters together for a debauch of karaoke, liquor, and sex that becomes an unlikely communion.

December 17

🟩Abortion Weekend (Soho Playhouse)
A comedy written, directed by and starring Jairis Carter and Mareshah Dupree about a preacher’s daughter who gets pregnant, and her best friend who takes her on an “abortion weekend.”

December 19

🟥Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage’s Hayes Theater)
Seven years after it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the play by Stephen Adly Guirgis makes its Broadway debut with the same director and most of the same cast members as the Off-Broadway production (pictured above).(The one new cast member: Common. For ex-cop and recent widower Walter “Pops” Washington (Stephen McKinley Henderson) and his recently paroled son Junior (Common), the struggle to hold on to one of the last great rent stabilized apartments on Riverside Drive collides with old wounds, sketchy new houseguests, and a final ultimatum

December 20

🟥The Collaboration (MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre) 
In this play written by Anthony McCarten and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope star as longtime international superstar Andy Warhol and the art scene’s newest wunderking Jean-Michel Basquiat, who in the summer of 1984 agree to work together.

*Opening Night

Opening night is usually not the same as the first performance on Broadway and frequently Off-Broadway as well. There is usually a preview period, where the creative team tries out the show before an audience (although in New York, the ticket prices are the same), and opening night is when 1. the show is “frozen” (no more changes), and 2. the reviews are published/posted/broadcast; professional reviews are forbidden, indeed, from being published before then in what’s called an embargo. (Off-Off Broadway shows often have no preview period or official opening night; they just start.) It can be hard to find the date of the opening night; productions rarely state it clearly on their websites. But I organize this calendar by opening night (when it exists and when I can find it) rather than first performance, as a way to support 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.

What Is Broadway🟥, Off-Broadway🟦, Off-Off Broadway🟩?

Off-Broadway theaters, by definition, have anywhere from 100 to 499 seats. If a theater has more seats than that, it’s a Broadway house. If it has fewer, it’s Off-Off Broadway. (There is a more sophisticated definition, having to do with contracts, and more elaborate distinctions, having to do with ticket prices, number and location of theaters, length of runs, willingness to take artistic risks, etc.)
(Several performing arts venues in New York City, such as The Shed, Little Island and NYU Skirball, technically exist outside these classifications; I list them as Off-Broadway, even though they have more than 500 seats.)

What is Immersive Theater? ⬜️
The six elements that define immersive theater at its best

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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