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June 2018 New York Theater Openings: Off-Broadway Busting Out All Over

Broadway’s focus is on the Tonys – no Broadway shows are opening this month – but Off-Broadway is bursting.

It’s not just all the familiar faces that lure. As the list below makes clear, it’s the  unfamiliar (and sometimes outright weird) that intrigue as well.
Some (potential) highlights: Anika Noni Rose stars in CSC’s revival of Carmen Jones, one of a number of shows this month about the African-American experience.  Idina Menzel stars in Skintight, one of the strikingly diverse new plays with LGBT characters and/or themes this month. (June is Pride Month, after all.)  Melissa Errico Read more of this post

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2018 Obie Award Winners

Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night won the award for Best New American Play, and $1,000, at the 63rd Annual Obie Awards, celebrating Off and Off-Broadway Theater, which spread the love around. Obies went to three directors, four playwrights and a dozen actors.

Complete list:

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Maple and Vine review: Make America 1955 Again

In the original 2011 production of Jordan Harrison’s prescient play, a married couple overwhelmed with the stresses and complications of their lives in the city, leave their high-powered jobs behind, as well as their lattes and laptops, for a simpler world – the one that existed in 1955. A cult has re-created the world of 1955 in a gated community in the Midwest.
In the 2018 revival of “Maple and Vine” at the Flea, the actors and the audience enter another world as well – the world of the deaf.
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Bump Review: Pregnancy as Playful and Painful, Childbirth as Inventive

Bump, a play by Chiara Atik that is as entertaining as it is informative, intertwines three different threads about pregnancy and childbirth – the most surprising of which turns out to be based on a true story.

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Dutch Masters Review: Black Meets White on Subway

In “Dutch Masters,” a new play written by Greg Keller and directed by Andre Holland, a young black man meets a young white man on the subway, with unexpected results. In “Dutchman,” the 1964 play by LeRoi Jones (soon to change his name to Amiri Baraka), a young black man meets a white woman on the subway, with unexpected results.
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April 2018 New York Theater Openings

The nine shows opening on Broadway in the month of April include four musicals and five plays – the old ones among the most beloved (Carousel, My Fair Lady) or respected (by Eugene O’Neill, George Bernard Shaw, Tom Stoppard), the new nes among the most anticipated (Harry Potter, Mean Girls.).

But Off-Broadway is generating excitement this month too — with, for example, a one-two punch at the Public, of a new musical by Quiara Alegria Hudes (In The Heights) and a new play by Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat.) and the debut of new plays at Playwrights Horizons by up-and-comers Lindsey Ferrentino and Clare Barron

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
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Bedlam’s Pygmalion: Pics and Review

Has My Fair Lady turned its source material, Pygmalion, into an outdated curiosity?

Bedlam dares you to compare, deliberately mounting its production of George Bernard Shaw’s century-old play Off-Off Broadway at the same time as the fourth Broadway revival of the 60-year-old Lerner and Lowe musical adaptation is in previews at Lincoln Center.

With its usual verve, the acclaimed downtown company puts on a good show, in the process demonstrating that, if Pygmalion is not as mellifluous as My Fair Lady, it retains the sharp social satire that the musical largely drops. And Bedlam adds an extra layer that is pointed.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Is God Is Review: Relentless Afropunk Revenge

In “Is God Is,” when twin sisters Racine and Anaia hear from their mother for the first time in 18 years, it is to urge them to find and kill their father – as revenge for the fire he set that scarred all three of them. “Make your daddy dead, dead. And everything around him you can destroy, too.” The sisters obey, traveling cross-country and going on a killing spree.

That’s more or less the plot, but it doesn’t explain what’s beneath the carnage. This play by Aleshea Harris, running at the newly renovated Soho Rep through March 31 in a well-acted world premiere production, is an intriguing if sometimes disconcerting mix of genres and allusions and tones that marks a noteworthy Off-Broadway debut of a playwright we’ll be hearing from.
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Terminus Review: Haunted by a Past of Racism and Stifled Love

Eller (Deirdre O’Connell) is losing her mind, and thus lives in two worlds on stage in “Terminus,” a lyrical, Southern Gothic stew of a play by Gabriel Jason Dean running through March 10 at Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop. In one of her worlds, it is 1994, and Eller, 65, resides in a soon-to-be-condemned shack by the railroad tracks in rural Attapulugus, Georgia with her biracial grandson Jaybo (Reynaldo Piniella), 17, who takes care of her as best he can. The other world is in Eller’s head, populated by family long gone — people whom she abandoned or who abandoned her – a ghastly past full of racism, stifled love, hidden homicide, chanting ghosts, a train-flattened nail in the shape of a cross, a gold-leafed Bible opened to a prophetic page, and a noose.

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The Jester and the Dragon Review: Weird Finger Puppet Show That Turns Surprising

I went to The Tank for a show that wasn’t playing until the next night; I’d gotten the dates mixed up. So, since I’d made the trip, I asked if there was anything else playing in the theater. That’s how I wound up watching what looked like a children’s show told with finger puppets, worn by an oddly distracted performer who seemed to have carpal tunnel syndrome. Her hands would shake uncontrollably, she’d take off the puppets, and retreat to a basin of water in which she placed her arms to relax them.  What, I thought, have I gotten myself into?

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