It’s been a week of what Broadway-goers might consider alternative theater — above all, the announcement that “Sleep No More” and “Here Lies Love” are closing, which prompted my look at immersive theater. But there was also the opening of a hybrid dance-theater opera at the new PAC NYC, puppet shows in the La MaMa Puppet Festival, musical theater concerts, some of them one-offs, some in non-traditional venues, as well as the latest digital theater offerings, including simulcasts and “stage captures” of live theater. Taken together, these works of theater – by sheer number and popularity, and because they are relatively accessible and affordable — are not the fringe but the heart of New York theater, helping make New York not just the cultural capital of the country, but a more livable city.
The Week in New York Theater Reviews
This response to the mass shootings by white supremacists of nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 and of eleven Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018 is not a straightforward account of the two massacres or their aftermath, not documentary theater. It’s a gorgeously sung-through opera and stunningly staged dance theater piece that presents a series of confrontations and debates between fictionalized characters. These are lyrical expressions of harsh thoughts and unreconciled emotions. This first theater piece commissioned by the PAC NYC could not feel more appropriate for its location at the World Trade Center. Full Review
The Week in New York Theater News
“Sleep No More,” the show by the British theater company Punchdrunk that launched New Yorkers’ enthusiasm for immersive theater, will be closing on January 28, 2024 — nearly 13 years, 5,000 performances and two million attendees after its first preview there on March 7, 2011…“Here Lies Love,” a show that is probably the closest Broadway will probably ever get to immersive theater, announced it will be closing at the Broadway Theater on November 26 after a much shorter run, just four months…
“Yes, new ways can work,” the producers of “Here Lies Love” said in a statement. But it requires “creating the audience for it. And how much time it takes to find and grow new audiences is out of sync with the tight timeframes for audience-building and awareness.”
The creators of “Sleep No More” didn’t (couldn’t) offer such an explanation, citing instead the increasing expense of running such an elaborate operation that involves some hundred cast members and other employees
”It is the end of an era,” Punchdrunk’s Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle said in their statement.
But is it?
Erin Mee, artistic director of immersive This Is Not A Theater Company: “The genre itself is very powerful, and remains very popular.”..Each of the New York City-based immersive theater companies that made the biggest splash pre-pandemic are still in business. Read more
NYU Skirball’s Spring 2024 season will open on January 12 withthe American premiere ofWilliam Shakespeare’s As You Like It: A Radical Retelling by Cliff Cardinal from Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre, co-presented with the Under the Radar Festival. The season continues with world premieres from choreographers Doug Varone and Raja Feather Kelly;North American premieres from Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Mette Ingvartsen, Catapult Opera, the Queer New York International Festival, and Chile’s Teatro La Re-Sentida;a NYC premiere from New York-based choreographer Beth Gill; and two artist lectures by Suzanne Bocanegra, featuring actors Lili Taylor and Ruth Negga.
Boy George, the pop star who made his Broadway debut twenty years ago in “Taboo,” returns to take over the role of Harold Zidler in “Moulin Rouge!” Feb 16-May 12.
Bebe Neuwirth and Steven Skybell join cast of Broadway’s ‘Cabaret’ revival” as Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz, The show opens April 21
Newly announced cast members for The Outsiders, opening April 11 at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theater: Joshua Boone as Dallas Winston, Emma Pittman as Cherry Valance and Daryl Tofa as Two-Bit Matthews, with Kevin William Paul making his Broadway debut as Bob Sheldon
This Week’s Theater Video
The first four minutes of the live stage recording of Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson’s 2015 Broadway musical, “Waitress,” coming to cinemas in December.
Alicia Keys on her new musical at the Public Theater, “Hell’s Kitchen”
Dozens of Broadway performers recorded the song “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables” with a slightly altered title (“Bring Them Home”) on behalf of the more than two hundred people who were kidnapped in Israel on October 7th.