August 2023 New York Theater Openings. Back to the Shark, and Goodbye Shakespeare.

Below is a selection of theater opening in New York in August, including three on Broadway: a big musical based on a blockbuster movie, a behind-the-scenes play about a blockbuster movie, the week-long Broadway debut of an illusionist from Spain. This being the summer there is some adventurous work, including a site-specific play in a Brooklyn supermarket, and a couple of festivals, one of them free, as well as Renée Elise Goldsberry starring in the final production of free Shakespeare in the Park before the Delacorte is shut down for renovations, not scheduled to reopen until 2025.

This calendar is organized chronologically by opening date*, but we must consider the dates subject to change, thanks to the vagaries of COVID-19. (Some public health officials are worried about another summer wave of the virus.)

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  🟧. 
Puppetry: Brown 🟫.
Staged Reading 📖
Immersive and/or site-specific: Silver ⬜️ 

August 1

🟦Toros (2nd Stage’s McGinn/Cazale Theater)
In this play by Danny Tejera, three people in their twenties and one dying golden retriever hang out in a garage in Madrid, smoking pitis, getting drunk, arguing about the music, and figuring out what version of reality to believe in. Through August 13

August 2

🟨 🟧.How I Disappeared (Ice Factory Festival at New Ohio)

Six female Asian immigrant artists conjure an ever-changing cityscape, evoking memories and desires built from their unique experiences and personal perspectives, with original live music, AR puppetry, and interactive installations. In person: August 2 – 5, livestreamed August 3

August 3

🟥BACK TO THE FUTURE (Winter Garden Theater)
Roger Bart and Casey Likes star in this musical based on the 1985 movie adapted by the movie’s co-creators, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis.

August 4

🟩The Nobodies Who Were Everybody (Theater in Asylum at Jalopy Theater)
The play centers on six actors employed by the Federal Theatre Project from its inception to its demise in the 1930s, and examines why it is still so difficult to give artists and audiences the support we all deserve. Aug 3 – 20

🟩The Sitayana (or “How to Make an Exit”) (The Tank)
An adaptation of the Hindu epic, The Ramayana, from the perspective of Ram’s wife, Sita. One actor portrays twelve characters. Through Aug 26.

August 5

🟩Tia Talk (The Tank)
Two Latinas explore their identity, with the help of the audience. through Aug 27

August 7

🟧📖(Writ)ual Mix: Traditions of the Diaspora (Atlantic)
A free reading series play festival, through August 16.  Readings of full-length plays by Diane Exavier, Daaimah Mubashshir, NSangou Njikam, and a.k. payne, plus an evening of readings of short plays by  Dennis A. Allen II, Keelay Gipson, Amina Henry, Goldie E. Patrick, and Liza Jessie Peterson. The series is free, but requires an RSVP and often gets sold out.

August 9

🟧🟫International Puppet Fringe Festival (The Clemente Cultural Center)
Through August 13. This third annual festival on the Lower East Side offers five day of exhibitions, workshops, panels, film screenings, and over 40 performances by puppet companies from ten countries on four continents.

🟨🟧🟩Ultra Left Violence (Ice Factory Festival at New Ohio Theater)
Playwright Robert Lyons and director/performer Daniel Irizarry reunite (after last year’s weird My Onliness) for a hard-to-describe riff on books (you’re ask to bring one.) Live streamed August 10. The show is most notable for the chilling fact that the end of its three-day run, on August 12th, features a “closing night” party that marks the end of Off-Off Broadway’s New Ohio Theater after thirty years.

August 10

🟥THE SHARK IS BROKEN (John Golden Theater)
This play is a comedic exploration of the behind-the-scenes drama that took place during the filming of the 1975 Steven Spielberg film “Jaws,” co-written and co-starring Ian Shaw (the son of Robert Shaw, who portrayed the shark-obsessed fisherman Quint), with Alex Brightman as Richard Dreyfus and Colin Donnell as Roy Scheider.

August 15

🟩What Else Is True (Egg & Spoon Theatre Collective at ART/NY Theatres)
A comedy about the ecstasy and impermanence of friendship in college: Six classmates form an improv team. Through Aug 26

August 17

⬜️Joan of Arc in a Supermarket in California : (E & S Wholesome Foods in Brooklyn Heights)
“An epic supermarket daydream” written by Chloe Xtina in which “the supermarket undergoes a monstrous transformation.: Through September 2. All tickets include a $5 voucher to E & S Wholesome Foods.

August 20

🟥EL MAGO POP (Ethel Barrymore Theatre)
Antonio Diaz, an illusionist from Spain, works his magic on Broadway August 17-27

August 21

🟦Pay The Writer (Signature Center)

In this play by Tawni O’DellBruston Fischer (Bryan Batt) is a young gay man suffering from social persecution while trying to make it in publishing when he first meets Cyrus Holt (Ron Canada) a gifted Black writer trying to get his talent noticed in a world that wants to ignore his existence. During their long unusual friendship, missteps occur and regrets follow. August 13 – September 30

August 27

The Delacorte in Central Park

🟦The Tempest (New York Shakespeare Festival’s Delacorte Theater)
Tony-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry (“Hamilton”) plays Prospero, in this Public Works production of Shakespeare’s comedy, co-starring dozens of community members from across New York, that examines what it means to be isolated and how we find our way back to one another, with music and lyrics by Benjamin Velez. Through Sept 3

 🟦How to Steal an Election: A Dirty Politics Musical (York at  The Theater at St. Jean)
As part of the York Theater’s Musical in Mufti series, the first New York revival of this 1968 musical with music and lyrics by Oscar Brand (the “Dean of American Folk Music”) and book by William F. Brown (The Wiz). In it, Jazz Age President Calvin Coolidge materializing in 1968 to teach a history lesson, with vignettes and songs depicting cynical power grabs of yore, to some disillusioned young protesters, just back from the skull-cracking Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Aug 26-Sept 3

August 28

🟩9/10 (Gene Frankel Theater)
This play by Richard Willett presents four interwoven stories set in the World Trade Center on the night before September 11, 2001. 

*Opening Night

I organize this list by opening night, but include the dates when a show’s run starts and ends (when available.)
Opening night is usually not the same as the first performance on Broadway and Off-Broadway as well. There is usually a “preview period” that can last days or weeks, sometimes months. But professional reviews are forbidden from being published until opening night, which is why 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.)
(Lincoln Center has separate Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway theaters. Several of the city’s performing arts centers, such as The Shed, Little Island, Park Avenue Armory and NYU Skirball, technically exist outside Broadway/Off-Broadway/Off-Off Broadway classifications; I list them as Off-Broadway, even though they have more than 500 seats.)

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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