Below is a calendar of theater opening* in May 2023 in New York, including a new, scary Broadway show, an unusually early kickoff for the new Broadway season, at a time when attention is on theater awards for last season.
Among the offerings Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway: a new play by Rajiv Joseph about LeBron James idolators featuring one of the stars of the TV series “Abbott Elementary”returning home to the New York stage; a musical adaptation of a beloved movie by Mira Nair; a never-beforec produced musical by the late Elizabeth Swedos; a modern English-language version of a 17th century classic Spanish play, and a half-Spanish musical adaptation of a classic Shakespearean comedy; a series of staged readings of plays by Asian American and Pacific Islander playwrights, and an in-person version of an audio drama about one catastrophe (Katrina) originally presented during another (the pandemic shutdown.)
This calendar is organized chronol returning home ogically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates subject to change.
Each title below is linked to a relevant website.
Key: Broadway: Red 🟥. Off Broadway: Blue 🟦. Off Off Broadway: Green 🟩.
Digital or Hybrid Theater: Yellow 🟨 Theater festival: Orange 🟧. Immersive and/or site-specific: Silver ⬜️ .
Puppetry: Brown 🟫 Opera: Purple🟪. Concert 🎶 Staged Reading 📖 Out of town 🚍
Julissa Contreras’ new play about a Dominican family adjusting to new life in a changing American in 2002.
🟦Comedy of Errors (Public Theater Mobile Unit)
Rebecca Martínez and Julián Mesri’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy about two sets of twins separated by stormy seas as they overcome a baffling case of mistaken identity. The songs are in Spanish and English. The musical will tour the five boroughs May 2-21 and returns to The Public May 25-June 11.
Belgium’s Cie Focus & Cie Chaliwaté weave together low-fi effects, video, puppetry, and clowning in a work of physical theater about our precarious existence. A family attempts to come together for dinner amidst chaos and natural disaster.
🎶 Oliver (New York City Center)
Encores! concert version of the 1960 musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, which hasn’t been seen on a New York City stage since its Broadway revival nearly 40 years ago. through May 14
🟩The Cotillion (ART/NY)
An examination of Black debutante ball culture told through the story of six debutantes.Through May 27
🟩Race The Movie The Play (Soho Playhouse)
A parody of “tone-deaf Hollywood race movies.”
🟦 Shadow/land (Public Theater)
A live staged version of Erika Dickerson-Dispenza’s playset in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, which was originally an audio drama.
⬜️ Midair for Some Time (HERE)
Up Until Now Collective’s 20-minute experience for up to six people at a time, which “contains loud sound, bright lights and wearable haptics technology.” (A video at the link explains what that means.)
⬜️ Support (ART/NY)
In this play by Elizabeth Irwin, five women who are abuse survivors meet weekly to contemplate what healing really looks like. through May 20
🟩The Beautiful Lady (La MaMa)
An unconventional musical written and composed by Elizabeth Swados (Runaways) produced for the first time seven years after her death. May 5-28
🟦Sorry for Your Loss (Minetta Lane Theater)
After tweeting about his grief, comedian Michael Cruz Kayne gets such an enormous response from people from around the globe that he learns new ways to connect. Through June 4.
🟦King James (MTC at NY City Center)
In this new play by Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) directed by Kenny Leon, two unlikely friends bond over their idol, NBA player King LeBron James. Starring Glenn Davis (co-artistic director of Steppenwolf Theater) and Chris Perfetti (now best known for Abbott Elementary).
🟦 The Fears (Signature Center)
In this play by Emma Sheanshang, each week at a Buddhist center in New York City, a diverse group of splintered souls share a commitment to strange yet restorative teachings providing solace from their inner turmoil. When their newest member shows up without knowing the rules, it sets off tense confrontations. May 2 – July 9
🟩Gas (Theatre Row)
Four characters navigate a wasteland of distorted memories and chaotic dreams.
🟦Monsoon Wedding The Musical (St Ann’s Warehouse)
A musical based on Mira Nair’s 2002 movie about two families who meet in Delhi for an arranged marriage and what promises to be a spectacular union, but doesn’t go as planned. May 6- June 25.
📖Refocus Project Season Three: Ola Na Iwi(Roundabout)
The first free reading of the third season this season, which will apotlighs Asian American Pacific Islander playwrights. This first one, translated as “The Bones Live,” tell the story of Kawehi who on a visit to Germany discovers the bones of Hawaiians in a museum, and steals them, planning to bring them home for burial.
🟦Bernarda’s Daughters (The New Group and NBT at Signature)
Inspired by Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, playwright Diane Exavier tells the story of five sisters take refuge in their Flatbush home amid gentrifying construction, street protests and a sweltering summer, and clash over the legacy of their Haitian parents. May 2 – June 4
🟦Fuente Ovejuna (TFANA at Polonsky Shakespeare Center)
Lope de Vega’s classic 17th century play about a woman’s revolt against a corrupt society. Through May 28
🟦Primary Trust (Roundabout’s Laura Pell)
In this play by Eboni Booth, William Jackson Harper stars as a 38-year-old bookstore worker who is suddenly laid off, and finally begins to face a world he’s long avoided – with transformative and even comical results.
🟥 The Grey House (Lyceum)
In Levi Holloway’s scary play, a couple whose car crashes on a mountain and subsequently seek shelter in an isolated cabin with somewhat unusual inhabitants. As the blizzard outside continues, the couple becomes less and less sure of what’s true and why a sound in the walls keeps getting louder. Directed by Joe Mantello, the play features a cast led by Laurie Metcalf, Tatiana Maslany, Paul Sparks, Sophia Anne Caruso.
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 🟦 and 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.)