Below is a calendar of theater opening* in February 2023 in New York, including one play on Broadway, starring Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein and Zoe Wanamaker, and much exciting Off-Broadway fare, such as Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan (above) in a rare revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s second Broadway play (after “A Raisin in the Sun”), as well as a new play marking the return of Katie Holmes to the New York stage, a Shakespearean production starring Kara Young, and a new musical starring Norbert Leo Butz. There are new productions of seminal plays by Vaclav Havel and Samuel Hunter, new plays by Sarah Ruhl and Eric Bogosian, and an old play, never before produced, written by the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
There are also several theater festivals, two of them virtual or hybrid, and numerous puppets!
The calendar is organized chronologically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates subject to change, because COVID-19 is ongoing and unpredictable.
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🟪
🟩🟨Untitled Ukraine Project (New Ohio and online)
Sara Farrington’s stage adaptation of stories by Ukrainian writer, diarist and photographer Yevgenia Belorusets. Often bleakly comic, the stories begin and end abruptly, depicting the haunting effects of the 2014 Russian invasion on the lives of civilian women
🟩🟫 Audience (La MaMa)
Vaclav Havel’s dark comedy that uses both people and puppets to tell this semi-autobiographical story of spying in a brewery. The playwright was made to work in a brewery as penance for writing critically of the Czechoslovak Communist government. He later became president of the Czech Republic.
Three friends pledging a fraternity go through Hell Night. The play by Zachary Harris Martin and directed by Steven Cotts purports to show the dark side of fraternity life.
🟦🟨 Lucy (Audible at Minetta Lane Theatre)
In this play by Erica Schmidt, Ashling is every busy parent’s dream: a professional nanny with experience and a warm, sunny attitude. But from the moment Mary hires her to look after her young children, things start to feel just a little…off. (This stage play will eventually be available as an Audible audiobook.)
🟨The Frederick Douglass Project (Theater of War Productions)
A dramatic reading by actor Keith David of speeches by Frederick Douglass as a catalyst for dialogue about racialized violence and structural inequality. Free.
🟥Pictures from Home (Studio 54)
Written by Sharr White, directed by Bartlett Sher, starring Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein and Zoë Wanamaker, in a stage adaptation of the photographic memoir by the late photographer Larry Sultan, who photographed and interviewed his parents.
🟦🟨Hip Hop Cinderella (New Victory Theater)
A 50-minute musical version of the fairy tale teleported to Outer Space, complete with a sassy robot sidekick. Also available in a 35-minute digital theater version.
🟦Twelfth Night (Classical Theatre of Harlem at Skirball).
An indoor version of this much-lauded outdoor production of Shakespeare’s comedy starring Kara Young (The Cost of Living, Clyde) as Viola.
🟦 Cornelia Street (Atlantic)
In this musical with a book by Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), and music and lyrics by Mark Eitzel, Norbert Leo Butz stars as a New Yorker who tries to save his restaurant in a back street in the West Village.
🟧FRIGID Fringe Festival (Kraine and Under St. Marks)
Twenty-five plays through March 5. The ones launching today: @make_us_scream, Cold Feet: A Comedy Extravaganza, Harmony Hall, I Am My Own MILF, Kingfish
🟦The Wanderers (Roundabout’s Laura Pels)
Katie Holmes returns to the stage in Anna Ziegler’s play about two Jewish couples: Orthodox newlyweds in an arranged marriage, and a secular couple in which the husband has a flirtatious extramarital correspondence with a movie star (guess who plays her)
🟦Amani (National Black Theatre at Rattlestick)
In this play by a.k. payne, Amani grows up building a rocket ship with her father, who vows to make it to outer space, where there are no gangs nor prisons to take Black boys’ best years. As Amani moves into adulthood, she seeks her voice and her own dreams.
🟦Beyond Doomsday Scrolling (HERE Arts)
Performed by 12 women and 1 man, from 10 countries, this original work of epic drama, music, and personal testimony unfolds in
an imagined theater sheltering women in flight from wars across time.
🟫Puppet Slam 2023 (La MaMa)
10 brief original works of puppet theater
🟦A Bright New Boise (Signature)
The revival of a play by Samuel D. Hunter, whose A Case for the Existence of God knocked me out last year, and whose “The Whale” (another Hunter play I loved) has been adapted into a movie that hasn’t gotten as much love. This 2010 play, directed by Oliver Butler,is set in an Idaho Hobby Lobby, where the staff’s equilibrium is disrupted by a new employee and his troubled past
🟦The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
In this rare revival of the second Broadway play written by Lorraine Hansberry, best known for “A Raisin in the Sun,” Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan star as Sidney and Iris Brustein, fighting to see if their marriage—with all its crackling wit, passion, and petty cruelty—will be the final sacrifice to Sidney’s ideals, amid a diverse group of friends whose loudly proclaimed progressive dreams can’t quite match up with reality.
🟧🟨Virtual Festival or Short Plays (Abingdon Theater Company’s YouTube Channel)
The third annual festival presents stories by BIPOC playwrights: Soup Kitchen Saintz by Cris Eli Blak, The Reverend Dr. Paul(i) Murray by Ada A., Miles to Go by Alexis Krysten Morgan, and Threat Assessment by Maximillian Gill.
🟩La Machine de Turing (La MaMa)
French actor and writer Benoit Soles’s take on Alan Turing, the pioneering British computer scientist who broke the German code that helped win World War II, and was legally persecuted because of his homosexuality
🟩Fall River Fishing (Bedlam at Connelly Theater)
Zuzanna Szadkowski and Deborah Knox’s kaleidoscopic contemporary take on the story of Lizzie Borden, who “took an axe” and was acquitted of the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892
🟦Black odyssey (CSC)
Playwright Marcus Gardley (The House That Will Not Stand) sets the classic myth of Odysseus n present-day Harlem. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb (Ain’t No Mo’)
🟦Becomes A Woman (Mint at City Center)
An unpublished, never-before produced play written by Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, tells the story of Francie, a 19-year-old living with her family in Brooklyn and working at a five and dime store as a singer at the sheet music counter. Her co-workers describe her as “afraid of her family, afraid of the boss, afraid to make a date.” But as Francie becomes a woman, she discovers a hidden reserve of courage that surprises everyone, even herself.
🟦Eric Bogosian’s 1+1 (Soho Playhouse)
In this three-character play by Bogosian, an unsuspecting aspiring actress in Los Angeles makes a seemingly innocent choice that lures her into the lucrative world of Internet porn.
🟦Letters from Max (Signature)
Sarah Ruhl’s stage adaptation of the epistolary book about her friendship with her former student, the late poet Max Ritvo.
🟩Public Obscenities (Soho Rep)
In this play by Shayok Misha Chowdhury, Choton, a Bengali American PhD student, and Raheem, his Black American cinematographer boyfriend, travel on an extended visit to Choton’s family home in Kolkata, where they discover an undeveloped film roll in Choton’s grandfather’s camera,surfacing some family secrets.
🟦The Seagull/Woodstock (New Group at Signature)
Playwright provocateur Thomas Bradshaw (Intimacy, Fulfillment) has adapted Chekhov’s 1895 play, Now, a group of New York theater people retreat to a house in the Hudson Valley hoping to get away from it all. Except they can’t seem to escape the ambitions, rivalries and fragile egos that follow them everywhere. The cast features David Cale, Ato Essandoh, Patrick Foley, Hari Nef, Daniel Oreskes, Parker Posey, Bill Sage, Aleyse Shannon, Amy Stiller and Nat Wolff.
🟦⬜️Love (Park Avenue Armory)
Writer and director Alexander Zeldin reproduces a shelter for families leading up to Christmas, with the house lights up and audience members seated amongst the company.
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, of anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (sometimes a few months), where the creative team tries out the show before an audience. (Ticket prices are the same during this try-out period in New York, although in other theater cities ticket prices are often cheaper before opening night.) Opening night is when 1. the producers throw a party for cast, crew and investors. 2. the show is “frozen” (no more changes), and 3. the reviews are published/posted/broadcast. Professional reviews are forbidden, indeed, from being published before then in what’s called an embargo. But theater festival offerings and 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 for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, 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, Park Avenue Armory and NYU Skirball, technically exist outside these classifications; I list them as Off-Broadway, even though they have more than 500 seats.)