Off Broadway Fall 2016 Guide

SmithNottageParksDuring the Fall 2016 season, three of the most celebrated playwrights in America are offering some acclaimed plays: Anna Deavere Smith, Lynn Nottage and Suzan-Lori Parks. That the three are black women tells the savvy New York theatergoer that their shows are all Off-Broadway.


David Oyelowo, Daniel Craig, Sutton Foster, Judith Light, Rachel Weisz, Jason Sudeikis, Tony shalhoub

Yes, Off-Broadway can be as starry as Broadway – this season’s shows Off-Broadway will feature David Oyelowo, Daniel Craig and his wife Rachel Weisz (in separate shows), Sutton Foster,, Tony Shalhoub, Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis.

But it’s instructive to realize that the work of Lynn Nottage, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Ruined,” has never been on Broadway.  Her award-winning play, “Sweat,”  is set to run this season at the Public Theater.

Similarly, MacArthur “genius” Anna Deavere Smith has been on Broadway only once, for two months, 22 years ago. Smith, who has made her mark in American theater by exhaustively researching one urgent issue after another, putting together solo shows in which she portrays the characters on all sides, has done it again.  Her “Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education” will be performed at Second Stage.

Suzan-Lori Parks, who won the Pulitzer for Top Dog/Underdog is the artist-in-resident this season at the Signature.


Taylor Mac

There are exciting offerings this season that one cannot imagine fitting on Broadway — Taylor Mac’s “24-Decade History of Popular Music “at St. Ann’s Warehouse; “The Gabriel’s,” Richard Nelson’s three-part series on the effect of the 2016 Presidential election on a single family, at the Public  — and some that one can — the New Group’s revival of “Sweet Charity” and the Irish Rep’s of “Finian’s Rainbow.”

But it’s short-sighted to treat Off-Broadway in the same way as Broadway — as a collection of individual potential hits or misses. (See my Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide.)   As most serious theatergoers will tell you,  Off Broadway has far richer, more adventurous and more diverse offerings, at a lower price.  Off-Broadway is also harder to get a handle on —  more spread out,  less publicized, and more numerous; there are  some 200 theaters/theater companies, more than five times the number of Broadway theaters. What’s more, most of the Off-Broadway theaters present entire seasons of (mostly) rewarding shows. These theaters generally offer subscriptions and/or memberships for the season.

That is why I organize my Off-Broadway preview below largely by the theaters in which they are being produced, in order of my preference for these theaters (determined by such factors as their recent track record, the promise of the new season, and by the overall experience I’ve had with the theater.)

Still, I’ve put a red check mark —  — besides a handful of shows opening in the Fall about which I’m especially excited, or intrigued, or at least notably hopeful. This can’t count as a recommendation, because I haven’t seen them yet. A few less promising-looking shows are sure to wind up more satisfying.  Expect to be surprised.

(The asterisk *, explained more fully at the bottom, indicates those theatrical empires that are both on and Off Broadway.)

PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS playwrights horizons logo

416 W. 42nd St. Twitter: @PHNYC

Annie Baker’s “The Flick” is one of six plays that originated at Playwrights Horizons that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The theater offers new plays and musicals that are consistently worthwhile, in an environment that feels dedicated both to the theater artists and the theatergoers.



August 20 – October 2. Opens September 12.

Julia Cho’s new play focuses on food. A man who shares a bowl of berries, a young woman who falls in love; a mother who prepares a bowl of soup to keep her son from leaving home; and a son who cooks a meal for his dying father.

A Life

September 30 – November 13. Opens October 24.

After another breakup, Nate resorts to astrology. In this new play by Adam Bock,  “the answer he receives, when it comes, is shockingly obvious — and totally unpredictable.”

Rancho Viejo

November 11 – December 23. Opens December 6.

In Dan LeFranc’s comedy of anxiety and awkward neighbors, the residents of Rancho Viejo drift from one gathering to the next, wrestling life’s grandest themes while fending off existential despair — set against the lustful, yearning strains of a distant bolero.

Spring, 2017

The Light Years by the Debate Society

The Profane by Zayd Dohrn

Bella: An American Tall Tale, Book, Music, and Lyrics by Kirsten Childs


publictheaterlogo425 Lafayette Street. Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

Having originated both Hamilton and Fun Home, the Public is on a roll, the latest of many in the successful downtown empire that Joe Papp created half a century ago. The Public is so popular these days that members have been complaining that their membership doesn’t guarantee tickets to the Public shows they want to see.

Public Works’ Twelfth Night
September 2-5

Twelfth Night Public Works

Twelfth Night
Public Works

Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage, and songwriter Shaina Taub team up to present this Shakespeare comedy with professional actors such as Jose Lana and Nikki James and some 200 community members.

What Did You Expect?

September 10-October 9

What did you expect gabriels

The second in the three play cycle by Richard Nelson, “The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family.” The first play in the cycle, Hungry, opened March 4, which is the date in which it is set.


October 4 – November 6

Rachel Weisz and Corey Stoll star in a revival of David Hare’s play about  Susan Traherne, a fiercely intelligent British secret agent flown into France during the second world war, who has trouble adjusting in the years after the war.


October 18 – November 27

Scene from a previous production of Sweat

Scene from a previous production of Sweat

The much-praised play by Lynn Nottage, getting its New York premiere, about a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat. “Sweat,”  winner of this year’s prestigious  Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for a play by a woman, is the result of two years of research in Reading, Pennsylvania, which the U.S. Census Bureau proclaimed the poorest city in America.

√ Women of a Certain Age

November 4 – December 4


The third play, and culmination of, “The Gabriels” trilogy, which will be both set and open – and which the playwright will finish writing – on Election Day, November 8, 2016.

Party People

November 1 – December 4


The complicated legacies of the original Black Panther Party and the Young Lords are explored in a play developed and directed by Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed), and starring the ensemble known as Universes (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and William Ruiz aka Ninja), in their Public Theater debut.

Tiny Beautiful Things

November 15 – December 31



Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Sugar, an anonymous online advice columnist in a Vardalos’ stage adaptation of the book of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton.)

Under the Radar Festival, 13th edition

January 4-15, 2017

Cutting-edge theater from around the U.S. and the world.

Spring 2017:

Joan of Arc: Into the Fire by David Byrne, directed by Alex Timbers

The Outer Space by Ethan Lipton

Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo

 Gently Down The Stream by Martin Sherman starring Harvey Fierstein


79 East 4th Street. Twitter: @NYTW79

NYTW got much attention last year for presenting David Bowie’s musical “Lazarus.” Its fare ranged from the innovative and tuneful — “Hadestown” — to the cutting edge and incomprehensible — “Fondly, Collette Richland”

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

September 7 – October 16

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

In August 1831, Nat Turner led a slave uprising that shook the conscience of the nation. Turner’s startling account of his prophecy and the insurrection was recorded and published by attorney Thomas R. Gray. NYTW 2050 Fellow Nathan Alan Davis makes his New York debut with a timely new play that imagines Turner’s final night in a jail cell in Jerusalem, Virginia, as he is revisited by Gray and they reckon with what has passed and what the dawn will bring.


November 22 – January 18, 2017

Sam Gold directs David Oyelowo (Selma) in the title role and Daniel Craig (Betrayal, Spectre) as Iago in Shakespeare’s tragedy.


Spring 2017:

The Object Lesson

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau




480 West 42nd Street. Twitter: @signaturetheatr

As the first New York theater to win the Regional Tony Award, the Signature now has some solid proof of what has been clear to its patrons for years.  What has distinguished this theater is not only its track record, but its commitment to keep the price of all tickets for initial runs to $25.

With the recent expansion of both their facilities and their mission, some longtime subscribers have had to adjust to the introduction of work by more untested playwrights. This is the first season under new artistic director Paige Evans, who headed Lincoln Center’s LCT3   Signature’s founding artistic director James Houghton died in August.

 Master Harold….and the Boys

October 18 – November 27. Opens November 7.

A revival of Athol Fugard’s play, directed by the playwright, about  two black men and a young white boy who joke and dance together, “defying the brutalities of apartheid through their joyous love. But festering issues of family, race, and power are not so easy to ignore…”

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World

Opens November 14.

Suzan-Lori Parks begins her Signature residency with a play that “explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy.”

Spring 2017

Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

A new play by Will Eno

The Antipodes by Annie Baker

Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks


AtlanticTheaterlogoATLANTIC THEATER

Marie and Rosetta

August 24 – October 2. Opens September 14.

Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis Marie star in this play by George Brant inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the “queen of race records” who influenced everybody from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix, but died forgotten. The play takes place during her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, preparing for a tour.

 The Band’s Visit

November 11 – December 23. Opens December 18.

This musical with a book by Itamar Moses (Fortress of Solitude) and music by David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and directed by David Cromer (Our Town), is an adaptation the 2007 film about an Egyptian Police Band that arrives in Israel to play a concert but is sent by mistake to a remote village in the middle of the desert.




The shows at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway venues are inexpensive (especially at the Claire Tow theater, where initial-run tickets cost $20) and often rewarding.

The Harvest

October 8 – November 20. Opens October 24.

A new play by Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale) about a Mormon missionary who has bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East, but is confronted by his sister, who doesn’t want him to leave.

The Babylon Line

November 10 – January 22. Opens December 5.

A play by Richard Greenberg about a writer from bohemian Greenwich Village who commutes to Levittown to teach a creative writing class that includes one student that reawakens his own artistic impulses.


The empire that is now Roundabout includes three Broadway theaters, and that’s where most of the attention is focused, mostly on star-studded revivals, especially musicals.  But its fourth building houses two Off-Broadway theaters (one of them a tiny “Black Box” theater.) It is in its Off-Broadway facility that Stephen Karam’s The Humans originated, now transferred to Broadway, and (as of this writing) the only non-musical there.

Love, Love, Love

September 22 – December 18, 2016. Opens October 19.

A new play from Mike Bartlett (King Charles III, Cock.)  “London, 1967. Beatlemania is in full effect, the “Me” generation is in its prime and Kenneth and Sandra are in a world of  sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll….But what happens when they have babies of their own.”

Kingdom Come

October 7 – December 18. Opens November 2.

Jenny Rachel Weiner’s comedy about two people who meet from an online dating site, who are both pretending to be somebody else.


Address: The Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street. Twitter: @mcctheater

All The Ways to Say I Love You

September 6 – October 9

Judith Light stars in an hour-long solo play by Neil LaBute, portraying Mrs. Johnson, a high school English teacher and guidance counselor in a loving marriage. “As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life.”

Ride the Cyclone

November 9 – December 18

“The Saint Cassian High School Chamber Choir will board the Cyclone roller coaster at 8:17pm. At 8:19 the front axle will break, sending them to their tragic demise. A mechanical fortune teller invites each to tell the story of a life interrupted”


136 East 13th Street Twitter: @ClassicStage


Dead Poets Society

October 27-December 11, 2016


Academy Award-winner Tom Schulman adapts his own screenplay for this play about an inspiring boarding school teacher, starring Jason Sudeikis.



131 West 55th Street Twitter: @MTC_NYC

This theater was publicly criticized for the lack of diversity in its season last year, criticism they seem to have taken to heart, judging from its Off-Broadway fare this time around.


Opens October 18

Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel) portrays multiple characters in a new show inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry.


Opens October 25

The award-winning play by Qui Nguyen is a love story about a boy and girl who are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America.


√ Notes From The Field (Second Stage)

October 15 – December 11. Opens November 2.

Drawn from interviews with more than 200 people, Anna Deavere Smith explores the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline, which pushes minors from poor communities out of the classroom and into incarceration,

 The 24-Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse)

September 15 – October 8.


Taylor Mac’s concerts chart a history of popular music and activism in America from the nation’s founding in 1776 to the present day. I’ve seen several installments. This is the first time he is putting it all together, including for one marathon 24-hour session.

Sweet Charity (The New Group)

November 2 – December 23, Opens November 20.

A revival on its 50th anniversary of the musical by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, starring Sutton Foster as Charity Hope Valentine, the dancehall hostess, a role famously associated with Gwen Vernon and Shirley MacLaine.

This Day Forward (Vineyard Theatre)

November 3 – December 18. Opens November 21.

A comedy by Nicky Silver (The Lyons) about a woman who made a surprising confession on her honeymoon, causing all plans to fall apart. “Nearly 50 years later, her children wrestle with their past and a mother whose secrets are quickly fading along with her memory.”

Finian’s Rainbow (Irish Rep)

October 26 – December 18. Opens November 6.

Melissa Errico stars in a reprised revival (translation: the Irish Rep has done it before) of this 1947 musical by Burton Lane and Yip Harburg about an Irishman who steals a leprechaun’s pot of gold and escapes with his daughter to the Jim Crow South.  The creative team intended this musical to be politically on the left, but its message feels nowadays something of an outdated muddle. The tunes, however, are terrific.

Always worth checking out: Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival which focuses on avant-garde experimental and European works.

Other companies worth checking out:

Ars Nova

Rattlesticks Playwright Theater

Mint Theater

Mayi Theater Company

Primary Stages

Pearl Theater


There are also commercial shows put together by independent producers that appear in theaters for rent, such as:

Cherry Lane Theatre
Daryl Roth Theatre
Gym at Judson
Lucille Lortel Theatre
New World Stages
Orpheum Theater
The Players Theatre
Snapple Theater Center
Theatre Row – The Acorn
Union Square Theater
Westside Theatre

*THE ASTERISK: Off-Broadway AND Broadway

*Just to complicate matters, several of the resident theaters also present shows on Broadway –  Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theater Company (MTC), the Roundabout Theater Company., and starting this season, Second Stage Theatre, which has bought the Helen Hayes. Their Broadway offerings are listed in my Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide.

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 are some terrific Off-Off Broadway theaters, sometimes confused for Off-Broadway. These include (but are not limited to) The FleaLabyrinth Theater, and LaMaMa ETC.

Monthly Calendar of Openings

Because there are so many shows Off-Off Broadway, and their runs are so limited, I include them in my monthly theater preview calendar (along with Broadway and Off Broadway openings) posted near the beginning of each month.



For more information about Off-Broadway, go to  The League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers (aka The Off-Broadway League).  This should not be confused with the Off-Broadway Alliance, which is a separate organization (though they should probably merge, no?)

September 2016 New York Theater Openings

Politics is in the air,  and it inevitably lands on the New York stage, with some half-dozen shows opening in September that one could call political theater, including an American president put on trial, and the next installment of the in-real-time Gabriel series at the Public Theater.



This also includes Lewis Black’s stand-up routine, one of two solo shows opening on Broadway this month. The other, a hit in the UK, tells the true story of a wild adventure in the Amazon (the jungle, not the website.) Off-Broadway, Judith Light is starring in a solo play by Neil LaBute. There are also biographical shows about actor Edwin Booth, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, “Queen of Race Records” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 19th century insurrectionist Nat Turner, and one of the first women police detectives in New York. Salsa singer Tito Nieves makes his musical theater debut. And then there’s something called “Wild Women of Planet Wongo,” which sounds like an escapee from the Fringe.

Below is a selection of the plays, musicals and difficult-to-label theater pieces opening in September, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.


September 2

Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park)

This Public Theater Public Works production that features some 200 performers from all five boroughs runs for just four performances.

September 8

Edwin (Great Circle Prods at Theatre at St. Clement’s)

Edwin Booth poster

The story of Edwin Booth, the most celebrated American actor of the 19th century, on the night of his return to the stage after his brother assassinated President Lincoln–braving death threats, public outrage, and his own scarred past.

Bliss (Black Moon Theatre Company at The Flea) 

Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead; “a visual and poetic dance/theatre odyssey within the mind of an individual striving to awaken to a Higher Consciousness.”

September 11

 The Wolves (Playwrights Realm at the Duke)

The Wolves at Playwrights Realm

A play by Sarah DeLappe, making her professional debut, featuring an all-female ten-member cast as a suburban girls’ soccer team coming to terms with the world and their own changing adolescent bodies.


 Maestro (59 E 59)


A solo show about Leonard Bernstein. “Conductor, composer, pianist, author, teacher, librettist, television star, and composer ofWest Side Story, Candide, and On the Town, Bernstein pushed all boundaries to become the world’s first serious musical superstar. In Maestro, Hershey Felder combines narrative with Leonard Bernstein’s composition and the music of Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler, Copland, and others, to bring to life the man the entire world knew as “Lenny.””


September 12

Aubergine (Playwrights Horizons)


A new play by Julia Cho. “A man shares a bowl of berries, and a young woman falls in love. A world away, a mother prepares a bowl of soup to keep her son from leaving home. And a son cooks a meal for his dying father to say everything that words can’t. In Julia Cho’s poignant and lyrical new play, the making of a perfect meal is an expression more precise than language, and the medium through which life gradually reveals itself.”


Black to the Future (Marquis)


(four Mondays Sept 12 – Oct 24)

Lewis Black’s political stand-up on six Monday nights when On Your Feet isn’t playing.


September 14

Marie and Rosetta (Atlantic Theater)

Marie and Rosetta poster

A drama about the “Queen of Race Records” Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who influenced Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix


September 15

Missed Connections: A Craigslist Musical (New Ohio Theater)


Based on real Craigslist Ads – “Your Personal Ads Set To Music” A hit in Canada

Dead Shot Mary (Bridge Theatre at Shetler Studios)


“A pioneer for females in law enforcement, Mary Shanley joined the NYPD in 1931, quickly becoming a Gotham all-star and tabloid sensation. Making a staggering 1,000 career arrests, she became the 4th woman in history to make detective 1st grade, and then nearly lost it all.”


Occupation: Dragonslayer (The Robert Moss Theatre)

A musical tale of 9/11 “retold for the 15th anniversary…In Christmas Eve in 2002, a mysterious stranger in fire deparmtnet garb pays a visit to a doomed diner at Ground Zero and changes the lives of all within. The musical was originally commissioned by the Public Theater


 September 16


What Did You Expect (Public Theater)

What did you expect gabriels

The latest in the three play cycle by Richard Nelson, “The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family.” The first play in the cycle, Hungry, opened March 4, which is the date in which it is set.  The cycle will culminate with the third play, Women of a Certain Age, which will be both set and open – and which the playwright will finish writing – on Election Day, November 8, 2016.


September 18


 On The Rails (777 Theatre)

Three tales of different couples, set on board “a mystical, timeless locomotive”

How To Be An American (York Theatre Company)

HowToBeAnAmerican poster

Based on Plunkitt of Tammany Hall — A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (a notorious book among students of American political history that introduced the concept of  “honest graft.” ) “The year is 1905. One week before the next election. New York City. Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt has gathered a group of new immigrants for the purpose of educating them on the subtleties of the American political system.” Only ten performances.


September 19

 Where Did We Sit on the Bus? (Ensemble Studio Theatre)


During a third grade lesson on the Civil Rights movement and Rosa Parks, a Latino boy raises his hand to ask, “Where did we sit on the bus?” and his teacher can’t answer the question. This autobiographical solo show, written and performed by Brian Quijada, examines what it means to be Latino through the eyes of a child, turned teenager, turned adult.


September 22

 I Like It Like That (Puerto Rican Traveling Theater)


Salsa star Tito Nieves stars in the first musical theater role of his career, in the story of the Rodriguez family living in New York City’s East Harlem in the early 1970s, when music was the lifeline and proudest expression of El Barrio.


September 26

 Nat Turner in Jerusalem (New York Theatre Workshop)

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

In August 1831, Nat Turner led a slave uprising that shook the conscience of the nation. Turner’s startling account of his prophecy and the insurrection was recorded and published by attorney Thomas R. Gray. NYTW 2050 Fellow Nathan Alan Davis makes his New York debut with a timely new play that imagines Turner’s final night in a jail cell in Jerusalem, Virginia, as he is revisited by Gray and they reckon with what has passed and what the dawn will bring.


Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova)


Good morning, America! Welcome to Hanover Middle School, where a pair of teachers are getting down and dirty with today’s lesson. The nimble duo goes round after round on the mat of our nation’s history, tackling race, sex and power in this R-rated, kaleidoscopic and fearless comedy.


September 28


 All The Ways To Say I Love You (MCC @ The Lucille Lortel)


Judith Light stars in this hour-long solo show by Neil LaBute about a high school English teacher and guidance counselor in a loving marriage. “As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life.”


 Verso (New World Stages)


An evening of illusion with one of the world’s premier close-up magic artists, Helder Guimarães.


Wild Women of Planet Wongo (Parkside Lounge)


An immersive, outer space comedy about two astronauts who land on a planet of beautiful warrior women who have never seen men. The show will be performed “party-style” meaning they expect audience to drink, dance and otherwise be part of the show.



September 29


 The Encounter (John Golden Theater)

The Encounter photo by Stavros Petropoulos

The Encounter is a solo show written and performed by Simon McBurney: Twenty years ago Simon McBurney was given a book written by a Romanian who escaped the Ceaușescu regime to reinvent himself as a Los Angeles screenwriter. Amazon Beaming tells the story of photographer Loren McIntyre, who in 1969 found himself lost amongst the remote people of the Javari Valley, on the border between Brazil and Peru. It was an encounter that changed his life: bringing the limits of human consciousness into startling focus.”


The Trial of an American President (Theatre Row)

The Trial of an American President

Will President George W. Bush be found guilty of launching an illegal war that caused civilian deaths and spawned the growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS and the use of brutal torture? Members of the audience are selected as the jury for this trial.

2016 Fringe Encore Series, for NYC AND Edinburgh Fringe Shows You Missed

Below are the shows at the 11th anniversary of the Fringe Encore Series, from September 9h to October 29th, 2016 at the SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street), selected from both the New York International Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, listed chronologically by opening date.


From the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival


Mother Emanuel

Mother Emanuel

Winner of  Fringe NYC Overall Excellence for a Musical

A celebration of the lives of the nine gunned down at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina on June 17, 2015.

September 9-17, 2016


Winner of Fringe NYC Overall Excellence for a Play

David, a young actor with only children’s theatre credits, is making his Broadway debut in a play by New York’s “most inflammatory” playwright—but it means nudity and performing a lewd sex act. What’s more important? Dignity or career?

September 11- October 16



One man’s dealings with the dirty secrets of apt dwellers in NYC. A wild ride with original musical numbers that give you a voyeuristic view of what lies behind their doors.

September 16-29

DementiaAmericana16-4398DEMENTIA AMERICANA

Sex! Murder! Insanity! John Philip Sousa! All this and more in a darkly comic and appallingly relevant play that explores the upsetting and true events surrounding Evelyn Nesbit, Harry K Thaw, and the 1906 murder of famed architect Stanford White.

September 8 – 27


Two oddball acquaintances meet once a month over a ping pong table. But this night is different. This night there is something else in the room

September 19 – October 1

Rent Control

Rent Control


Winner of  Fringe NYC Overall Excellence for a solo show

Evan Zes portrays 30 characters, including himself, a struggling actor turns an NYC rent-controlled apartment into a lucrative AIRBNB scheme in this wild-but-TRUE one-man show

September 24 – October 8





Acrobatically brilliant sequel to The Little Prince. Note: This is the only show in the Fringe Encore Series being performed at a different theater, Barrow Street Theater.

September 24-30


When you teach third grade, you can’t tell your students everything. A two-time Moth GrandSLAM champion comes clean about classroom disasters, falling in love and forging letters from an imaginary Queen.

October 1 – 14



Jamie has resurfaced the ice rink for decades – frozen in isolation, unnoticed by the world around him. On the brink of his mother’s death, he begins a high-stakes journey of self-discovery through darkly funny and morally risky encounters.

October 3 – 15


Ten years have gone by since 9/11, but life without Dad has not gotten any easier. In this memory play-meets-docudrama, six young women search for identity, understanding, and redemption in the wake of a national—and very personal—tragedy.

October 5 – 18

HomoSapiensInterruptus16-4370_2HOMOS INTERRUPTUS

Carlos Dengler he talks about heavy metal, human origins, and his road from pizza delivery to rockstardom with the band Interpol.

October 15 – 29


Oct 19-29

Glimpse underneath the Big Top with our a capella musical circus sideshow! In the dusty desert, Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged curiosity, meets her match. Can this veteran performer make a life outside the tent?


Winner of Fringe Overall Excellence for a solo show.

One woman. 25 characters. All inside a cupboard! The doors open to reveal: a drunken couple in Vegas, a lonely Giantess, the entire Greek Army inside the Trojan Horse, & more!

Oct 20-22



The Radicalization of Rolfe

The Radicalization of Rolfe

Winner of Fringe Overall Excellence for a Play

A look at The Sound of Music from the point of view of Rolfe (“I am 17 going on 18”), a Nazi who is also gay.

Oct 23- 29

From the Edinburgh Fringe Festival



We Live By The Sea Logo

September 3 – September 17, 2016
When Ryan moves from the city to Katie’s coastal town, they make a connection that will shake their worlds forever. Playful visual storytelling with a live electronic score about autism, friendship and a very big wave.

All Quiet


Sep 13-24, 2016

Eric Maria Remarque’s classic vision of the First World War from the German viewpoint receives a first rate production and performance from Incognito Theatre

5 guys chillin

Award-winning graphic, gripping, funny and frank verbatim drama exposing the gay chemsex chill-out scene. From surgeons to students, couples to kink; guys that love it and lost guys longing to be loved. Made from interviews with guys found on Grindr, 5 Guys Chillin’ is an original look into a drug-fuelled, hedonistic, highly secret world of chemsex, Grindr and the search for intimacy and instant gratification. (“Chemsex” is defined as men using specific drugs to have sex with other men.)
September 27 – October 9

Piaf and Brel

Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel: Two French musical icons. They sang songs of romance, heartbreak, hope and love. They lived lives of drama and passion. This impossible concert, featuring internationally acclaimed vocalist Melanie Gall, relives the adventure and inspiration of their lives and music. With Amsterdam, Milord, La Vie en Rose and other French classics.

October 4 – 14

Yokes Night

Dublin, 11th March 2015. A slip-up loophole in the law declares all drugs legal for 24 hours. On this night of rebellion, Harry finds himself under the influence of Saoirse. Bound by the ecstasy of their union, secrets are shared, and the stench of bloodshed is looming. Stay Up Late and Bear Trap Theatre fuse cut-throat dialect with stylized movement, forging a fresh, progressive theatre experience.

October 13-23

Opera Mouse

And for the Children
Tilly Mouse lives under an opera house, and she just loves to sing! Her dream is to perform on stage. But whenever anybody sees her, they scream and run away. With determination, imagination, and help from her friends, Tilly proves that even a mouse can be a star! Featuring songs and arias from several operas, including Gianni Schicchi, Carmen and The Magic Flute.

Oct 1-9

The Fringe Begins: How To Fringe In 5 Easy Steps

How do you choose from 200 shows in two weeks (this year, August 12 to 28)? Practice.

True, it can feel overwhelming to be one of 75,000 theatergoers attending the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival, all looking for shows worth seeing. Here are the logos of just 60 of the shows in this 20th anniversary year, arranged more or less alphabetically:

Fringe2016 logos

I’ve written about the Fringe every year since it began in 1997; many years, this has included preview guides or general advice about how to Fringe.
One thing that’s changed: For the past dozen years, some of the pressure is off of each of us to avoid missing the shows that wind up being the biggest hits. Each year, some two dozen of the most popular Fringe shows have been presented again a few weeks later at the Fringe Encore Series.

Besides, Fringing is not necessarily about finding the next “Urinetown” (the only Fringe show ever to transfer to Broadway.) One of the shows I remember most vividly is a play that could not possibly have moved to another venue, even though it took place in an automobile: “Roger and Dave” was a ten-minute, two-character play, in which the audience sat (two at a time) in the back seat while the actors in the front played out a scripted and hilarious confrontation. It was delightful, in part because it could only occur in a festival like the Fringe.

What the Fringe offers is a place not just for theater makers but also for theatergoers to experiment. This is largely possible because of the relatively cheap ticket prices. (and, this year, I’m offering a contest – which ends today! – for a FREE pass to ALL the shows.)

With that in mind:

1. Get a Free Sample

One good way this year to get a taste of the Fringe is to attend the East 4th Street block fair  on Saturday, August 13th, and check out the FringeNYTeasers – short excerpts of many of the shows. I did this last year on the roof of a building on the Lower East Side, and the smorgasbord felt as satisfying in its way as any of the full meals.

2. Ask On Line

While you are waiting on line for a show, it is always a good idea to ask the people around you what they have seen. (And you will always be waiting on line for a how: the Fringe people insist you show up at least 15 minutes before the performance.) This year, there is more opportunity for such conversations, because each show will be followed by something they are calling FringePlus Meetup, which is a chance to talk to the artists and so-called Fringe Ambassadors as well. Talking about the theater with fellow Fringers is one of the pleasures of the festival.

3. Ask Online

Use the Slice-o-matic on the FringeNYC website. You can choose by venue, time, ethnicity, genre. One year, I picked only shows having to do with food; another year, just shows in theaters closest to where I live. (Neither wound up my favorite years.)

Time Out NY and newcomer Show Score both commit to covering every show – Show Score is allowing theatergoers themselves to weigh in. I will write some reviews too on this blog.

A word about recommendations in advance: Show-Score has aggregated “best bets” from six publications, and added their own definitive-sounding two cents to shows nobody has seen at the Fringe yet. These previews are most useful when pointing to shows that have a track record elsewhere. But keep in mind that audiences in the theater capital of the nation may not respond in the same way as audiences have in other cities.

There’s no adequate substitute for plowing through the whole catalogue (online or on paper) yourself. In this way, you can pick up on interesting themes not necessarily evident through the Slice-o-matic or the “must-see” previews. I notice that this year, for example, there are several biographies of black men – Stokely CarmichaelRichard PryorW.E.B. DuBois

4. Follow Your Bliss

The best bet is to go with your interests and curiosities. As I noted in a HowlRound piece on the Fringe in 2014, Fringe shows tend to fall into one (or more) of seven genres:
1. “Urinetown”-Inspired (campy parodies. This is how people tend to view the entire Fringe, although the organizers like to point out this genre makes up only about a third of the offerings.)
2. Non-Traditional Venues (such as that automobile.)
3. Solo Ventures (These tend to be the most polished, since it’s the most competitive category.)
4. Serious Drama (This was the category in which you were most likely to be burned in the past, but, as I noticed last year,the serious has stepped up and this is even more true this year.)
5. Fresh out of college (University student groups have offered some of the best shows I’ve seen at the Fringe.)
6. New takes on classics
7. Performance Art and the International Avant-Garde. (These are not as numerous as in other festivals, such as the Public Theater’s Under theRadar; ten Fringe shows list themselves in this genre this year.)

5.  Follow Your Favorites; Support Your Friends.

Beth Lincks writes under the pseudonym Arlene Hutton. Her very first full-length play, Last Train to Nibroc, was produced in the second year of the Fringe – and around the world ever since. “I owe my career to the Fringe,” she said at this year’s press preview, in introducing the show she co-wrote this year, The Gorges Motel.

“I really study the booklet,” Lincks told me in 2010. “I narrow it down to people I know, shows and companies I’ve heard good things about, and, more often than not, a date, time and venue location that fits in between, with, or after other shows I’m already seeing.”

Notice what criterion she puts first. The truth is, most times when I’ve asked somebody on line why they’ve chosen this particular show, it was because they knew somebody who worked on it. (That’s one of the advantages of living in New York.) Now, this doesn’t mean the shows will be any good, but it does render their quality a little less important.


Watch: 2016 New York Fringe Previews

The 20th annual New York International Fringe Festival runs Friday, August 12h through Sunday, August 28th, 2016, with some 75,000 theatergoers expected for nearly 200 shows.

(Enter the contest to get a pass to see all the shows for FREE)

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.


Below are videos of a handful of the shows presented at a press preview this week. Check out times and the location of venues in the Fringe guide

Peregrinus, a performance piece from The KTO theater company from Poland. It is part of the Fringe Al Fresco, meaning a free outdoor show.

Homo Sapiens Interruptus — read my article, From Rock Star to the Fringe,  on Carlos Dengler’s true story about becoming a rock star with the band Interpol….and leave it for the theater.


Mother Emanuel is a musical about the shooting at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015

In “Walken on Sunshine,” an anxiety-ridden filmmaker accidentally lies to investors about having Christopher Walken in his movie and embarks on a ridiculous quest to get Walken.

In “The Gorges Motel,” a new play written by established playwrights Gretchen Cryer, Lynne Halliday, James Hindman, Isaac Himmelman, Arlene Hutton, and Craig Pospisil, “lves intersect in comic and dramatic fashion in a motel that has seen better days in Watkins Glen, New York.  Breakups, make-ups, dinosaurs and a drone attack…”

In “Hysterical,” “it’s the Bandits’ Best Year EVER! Until…one by one, the girls succumb to a mysterious illness. As the traditional pecking order is upended, the girls’ relationships are tested…”

Just for fun, since it’s the 20th anniversary of the Fringe, here are my previews from 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 — and my article in the New York Times in 2001 about the first five years of the Fringe.


Here is my 47-second elevator ride/interview with Chris Lowell in 2012 when he was performing in a Fringe play entitled “I Heart Revolution” — which feels a bit like a Fringe play itself.

July 2016 New York Theater Openings: Daniel Radcliffe, Motown, CATS Return

The list below includes two Broadway shows but only a handful Off-Broadway.

If July looks sparser than most months, that’s because the list below doesn’t the summer theater festivals, the FREE theatrical concerts like the weekly Broadway in Bryant Park, and the countless Shakespeares in the parks.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.

July 4

Liberty: A Monumental Musical (42West)

Details the story of Lady Liberty’s arrival in America

July 6

Runaways (New York City Center)

The Encores! concert version of the 1978 musical by Elizabeth Swados based on her interviews with child runaways.

July 11

Oslo (Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E Newhouse)

A play by J.T. Rogers based on the true story of how two Norwegian diplomats had covertly organized the back-channel talks between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords

July 12

Pillars of New York (St. Luke’s Theater)

A therapist deals with four couples’ personal struggles with the events surrounding 9-11.

July 13

small_mouth_sounds for Calendar

Small Mouth Sounds (Signature Theater Center)

A commercial production of the acclaimed play by Beth Wohl, directed by Rachel Chavkin, that originally opened at Ars Nova. “In the overwhelming quiet of the woods, six runaways from city life embark on a silent retreat. As these strangers confront internal demons both profound and absurd, their vows of silence collide with the achingly human need to connect.”

July 18

Privacy The Public Theater

Privacy (The Public Theater)

Daniel Radcliffe stars in this play by James Graham  about a “lonely guy arriving in the city to figure out how to like, tag and share his life without giving it all away. Inspired by the revelations of Edward Snowden, and drawing on dozens of exclusive interviews with the country’s top journalists, politicians and academics, Privacy explores our complicated relationship with technology and data.”


iLuminate for calendar

iLuminate (Theater 80)

“a company based on the fusion of technology and dance”

July 21

Motown 6

Michael Jackson  and the Jackson 5

Motown the Musical (Nederlander)

A return of the surprise hit jukebox musical using the music of the 1960s record label Motown, featuring performances by persuasive impersonators of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and a whole slew of their artists. The book is by Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, who paints himself as a hero. My review of the original production. (There is a new cast.)

July 25

A Class Act (New World Stages)

A major chemical company pours cancer causing waste into the water supply… A high power law firm brings a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of “the little people” – who might die from the poisonous water

July 27

Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

The Encores! concert version of the 1979 musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, their first. “Millionaire Eliot Rosewater (Santino Fontana) drunkenly decides to blow his fortune on an impoverished town after being inspired by the utopian vision of novelist Kilgore Trout (James Earl Jones). But there are forces who want to put the kibosh on Eliot’s philanthropy—like Norman Mushari (Skylar Astin), a lawyer plotting to have Eliot declared insane. ”

July 28


Quietly (Irish Rep)

The Abbey Theatre production of a play by Owen McCafferty: “Tonight, in a small back-street bar, while Northern Ireland plays Poland on the TV, Jimmy and Ian will meet for the first time. They share a violent past and this is a conversation that’s been brewing for more than 20 years…a story about what happened in a particular bar in 1974, but also what happened in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the late 90s.”

July 31



CATS (Neil Simon Theater)

The first Broadway revival of the long-running musical, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by t.s. eliot, with new choreography by Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler.

Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide

We peek at the new Broadway season, which promises Cate Blanchett’s Broadway debut;  the last remaining play from August Wilson’s celebrated American Century Cycle to make it to Broadway;  the return of some fan-favorite musicals; and a couple of groundbreaking Off-Broadway hits transferring to the Great White Way.

(Also check out my Off-Broadway Fall 2016 Guide.)

Below is a list of Broadway shows that have nailed down their opening dates and theaters in the 2016-2017 season. This list, which is organized chronologically by opening date, will be updated periodically, because the schedule is sure to change – shows will be added, especialy in the Spring; some will drop out; opening dates will be delayed or moved up. If theater is evanescent, this list is even more so.

Check out last season: Broadway 2015-2016 Season Guide



Paramour logoTheater: Lyric
Authors: “creative guide” Jean-François Bouchard, music by “Bob and Bill”
Director: Philippe Decouflé
Opened: May 25, 2016
Cast: Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, Ryan Vona and dozens of aerialists, acrobats and jugglers.
Tweeter feed: @ParamourBway

Cirque du Soleil grafts their signature high-flying circus acts onto a conventional Broadway musical about a Hollywood triangle.

My review


anactofgod-sean logoAn Act of God

Theater: Booth
Playwright: David Javerbaum
Director: Joe Mantello
Opened: June 6, 2016
Closing: September 4, 2016
Cast: Sean Hayes
Tweeter feed:@ActofGodBway

God in the person of Sean Hayes has rewritten the Ten Commandments in a joke-filled comedy begat by the author of the Twitter feed @TweetofGod. This is a return of the musical that opened last year starring Jim Parsons. My review of the original production.


Motown the Musical

motownlogoTheater: Nederlander
Author: Book by Berry Gordy, score by Motown recording artists
Director: Charles Randolph-Wright
First preview: July 12, 2016
Opening: July 21, 2016
Closing: November 13, 2016
Cast: Chester Gregory, Allison Semmes, Jesse Nager, Jarran Muse, J.J Batteast, Leon Outlaw Jr. leading a 33-member ensemble cast.
Tweeter feed: @Motownmusical

A return of the surprise hit jukebox musical using the music of the 1960s record label Motown, featuring performances by persuasive impersonators of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and a whole slew of their artists. The book is by Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, who paints himself as a hero.

Update: “Motown” closed ten days after it opened. My review


CATS logoTheater: Neil Simon
Authors: Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by T.S. Eliot
Director: Trevor Nunn
First preview: July 14, 2016
Opening: July 31, 2016
Cast: Leona Lewis and some three dozen others
Tweeter feed: @CatsBroadway

First Broadway revival of the long-running musical, with new choreography by Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler.

My review


Black to the Future

Lewis Black logoTheater: Marquis
Written and performed by Lewis Black
Four Mondays September 12 – October 10
The political comic will do a stand-up routine Monday nights when On Your Feet is dark.
Twitter: @TheLewisBlack


The Encounter

TheEncounter logoTheater: John Golden
Playwright: Simon McBurney
Director: Simon McBurney
First preview: September 20, 2016
Opening: September 29, 2016
Closing: January 8, 2017
Cast: Simon McBurney
Tweeter feed: @EncounterBway

The Encounter is a solo show written and performed by Simon McBurney: Twenty years ago Simon McBurney was given a book written by a Romanian who escaped the Ceaușescu regime to reinvent himself as a Los Angeles screenwriter. Amazon Beaming tells the story of photographer Loren McIntyre, who in 1969 found himself lost amongst the remote people of the Javari Valley, on the border between Brazil and Peru. It was an encounter that changed his life: bringing the limits of human consciousness into startling focus.”


Oh Hello logoOh, Hello

Theater: Lyceum

Authors: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney
Director: Alex Timbers
First preview: September  23, 2016
Opening: October 10, 2016
Closing: January 8, 2017
Cast:  Nick Kroll and John Mulaney
Twitter: @ohhelloshow

The comedy duo portray their alter egos  Gil Faizonand George St. Geegland, “outrageously opinionated, 70-something,  bachelors born and bred in New York.”

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn logoTheater: Roundabout’s Studio 54
Authors: Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge
Director: Gordon Greenberg
First preview: September 1, 2016
Opening: October 13, 2016
Cast: Bryce Pinkham, Corbin Bleu, Lora Lee Gayer
Twitter feed: @RTC_NYC

A stage adaptation of the 1942 film that introduced White Christmas and other Irving Berlin hits.


Theater: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman
Playwright: Simon Stephens
Director: Mark Brokaw
First preview: September 20, 2016
Opening: October 13, 2016
Cast: Denis Arndt, Mary-Louise Parker

Tweeter feed: @MTC_NYC

The playwright of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time penned this play, which debuted Off Broadway last year.  “Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station, Georgie spots Alex, a much older man, and plants a kiss on his neck. This electric encounter thrusts these two strangers into a fascinating and life-changing game.”

The Cherry Orchard

The Cherry Orchard logoTheater: Roundabout’s American Airlines
Playwright: Anton Chekhov, adapted by Stephen Karam
Director: Simon Godwin
First preview: September 15, 2016
Opening: October 16, 2016
Closing: November 27, 2016
Cast: Diane Lane
Tweeter feed: @RTC_NYC

“A family on the edge of ruin—and a country on the brink of revolution.”

The Front Page

the-front-page-logoTheater: Broadhurst
Playwright: Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
Director: Jack O’Brien
First preview: September 20, 2016
Opening: October 20, 2016

Closing: February 5, 2017
Cast: Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, Jefferson Mays, Rosemary Harris, Sherie Rene Scott
Tweeter feed:

The fifth Broadway revival of the 1928 comedy about old-time reporters who would do anything for a scoop.


Falsettos logoTheater: Walter Kerr
Authors: Music and lyrics by William Finn, book by James Lapine
Director: James Lapine
First preview: September 29, 2016
Opening: tentatively October 27, 2016
Cast: Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz
Tweeter feed:

A revival of the 1992 Tony-winning musical about a middle-aged man named Marvin and his decision to leave his wife, Trina, for a man, Whizzer. “Falsettos” combined two early Off-Broadway musicals, the 1981 “March of the Falsettos,”  and the 1990 “Falsettoland.”

Les Liaisons Dangereuses 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses logoTheater: Booth
Playwright: Christopher Hampton
Director: Josie Rourke
First preview: October 8, 2016
Opening: October 30, 2016
Closing: January 22, 2017
Cast: Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber
Tweeter feed: @LiaisonsBway

A production from the Donmar Warehouse of the 1985 plays about sexual intrigue in 18th century France.



Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

GreatComet logoTheater: Imperial
Author: Music, lyrics and book by Dave Malloy
Director: Rachel Chavkin
First preview: October 18, 2016
Opening: November 14, 2016
Cast: Josh Groban, Denee Benton
Tweeter feed: @GreatCometBway

Broadway transfer of a much-praised musical adapting a sliver of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. My review when it was in its own home in the hip Meatpacking District.

The Illusionists – Turn of the Century

illusioniststurnofthecentury14jun2016w350h250Theater: Lunt-Fontanne
First preview: November 25, 2016
Opening: Unclear
Closing: January 1, 2017
Cast: Dana Daniels (The Charlatan), Charlie Frye (The Eccentric), Mark Kalin (The Showman), Jinger Leigh (The Conjuress), Thommy Ten and Amélie van Tass (The Clairvoyants), Justo Thaus Jin (The Grand Carlini), Rick Thomas (The Immortal) and Jonathan Goodwin (The Daredevil).
Tweeter feed:@Illusionists7

On Broadway for the third holiday season in a row, The Illusionists will present magic from the early 20th century, at the Lunt-Fontanne November 25, 2016 to January 1, 2017.


A Bronx Tale

A Bronx Tale logoTheater: Longacre
Authors: Music by Alan Menken, book and lyrics by Chazz Palminteri and Glenn Slater
Director: Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks
First preview: November 3, 2016
Opening: December 1, 2016
Tweeter feed: @BXTaleMusical

The Bronx Tale, about a youth in the Bronx who against the wishes of his father gets involved in organized crime,  began life as a one-man show written and performed by Chazz Palminteri. It was then made into 1993 directed by and co-starring Robert De Niro. De Niro is co-directing the musical with Jerry Zaks, marking De Niro’s Broadway directorial debut.

In TransitInTransitmusical

Theater: Circle in the Square
First Preview: November 10, 2016
Opening: December 11, 2016
Written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“Frozen”), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth
Director: Kathleen Marshall

Broadway’s first a capella musical — no orchestra — chronicles the intertwining lives of 11 subway riders. It was a  hit Off-Broadway in 2010


Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen logoTheater: Belasco
Authors: Score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, book by Steven Levenson
Director: Michael Greif
First preview:
Opening: No official opening
Cast: Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Mike Faist, Will Roland, Kristolyn Lloyd and Michael Park.
Tweeter feed: @DearEvanHansen

A high school student pretends to have been best friends with a classmate who committed suicide in this musical by the songwriters of A Christmas Story: The Musical. This was nearly a cult favorite Off-Broaway.  My review when it was Off-Broadway.



Theater: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman
Playwright: August Wilson
Director: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
First preview: December 28, 2016
Opening: January 19, 2017
Tweeter feed: @MTC_NYC

Broadway premiere of Wilson’s first play, the only work from his The American Century Cycle never previously seen on Broadway. Set in the early 1970’s, the story follows a group of men who drive unlicensed cabs or jitneys.


Significant Other

Significant Other logoTheater: Booth

Previews: February 14, 2017
Opens: March 2, 2017
Playwright: Joshua Harmon
Director: Trip Cullman
Cast: Gideon Glick, Barbara Barrie and Lindsay Mendez
Transfer of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2015 Off-Broadway hit about a gay bachelor looking for love in the big city.

The Price

Theater: Roundabout’s American Airlines
Playwright: Arthur Miller
Director: Terry Kinney
First preview: February 16, 2017
Opening: March 16, 2017
Tweeter feed: @RTC_NYC

A revival of the 1968 drama about two estranged brothers who reunite to sell their the remainder of their parents’ estate.

The Glass Menagerie

Theater: John Golden
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Director: Sam Gold
First preview: February 14, 2017
Opening March 23, 2017
Cast: Sally Field, Joe Mantello, Finn Witrock, Madison Ferris
The eighth production of Tennessee Williams play on Broadway.

Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon logoTheater: Broadway
Previews: March 1, 2017
Opens: March 23, 2017
Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (lyrics), Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (book)
Director: Laurence Connor
Cast: Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada
An American soldier named Chris marries Kim in Vietnam before departing for the US. Three years later, he returns to find Kim still alive and raising Tam, a boy he fathered. With the Viet Cong closing in on the city and two women wanting the only place in his heart, Chris has big decisions to make.



Theater: Vivian Beaumont
Previews: March 23, 2017
Opens: April 13, 2017
Playwright: J.T. Rogers
Director: Bartlett Sher
Cast: Jennifer Ehle, Daniel Jenkins, Jefferson Mays and Daniel Oreskes
Transfer of Lincoln Center Theater’s Off-Broadway production of the play about the top-secret, high-level meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that culminated in the signing of the historic 1993 Oslo Accords.

My review of “Oslo” Off-Broadway

The Little Foxes

Theater: MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman
Playwright: Lillian Hellman
Director: Daniel Sullivan
First preview: March 29, 2017
Opening: April 19, 2017
Cast: Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

The fifth Broadway production of the 1930 drama about a ruthless Southern belle.

Hello, Dolly

Hello Dolly logoTheater: Shubert
Authors: Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, book by Michael Stewart
Director: Jerry Zaks, choreographer Warren Carlyle
First preview: March 13, 2017
Opening: April 20, 2017
Cast: Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
Tweeter feed: @HelloDollyBway

The fifth Broadway production of the 1964 musical about a matchmaker who sets out to find a match for herself at the turn of the 20th century.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory logoTheater: Lunt-Fontanne
First Preview: March 28, 2017
Opening: April 23, 2017
Written by David Greig (book), Marc Shaiman (music & lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics), Roald Dahl (novel)
Director: Jack O’Brien
Cast: Christian Borle as Willy Wonka
When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.



The following plan to open during the season, but have either no theater or no opening date, or neither. This is in roughly (planned) chronological order.

The Master Builder, written by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation by David Hare, with a cast including Ralph Fiennes, Linda Emond and Sarah Snook.

Gotta Dance, with music by Matthew Sklar and Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Nell Benjamin and a book by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin, based on the documentary about a group of expert dancers who mentored a senior citizen dance troupe. This is to be directed by Jerry Mitchell, and feature a cast including Lillias White, Andre De Shields, Georgia Engel, Haven Burton, Lori Tan Chinn and Stefanie Powers

The Present, written by Andrew Upton, directed by John Crowley, starring Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh: A new play based on Anton Chekhov’s Platonov, with the action transposed to the 1990s.

Singin In The Rain, directed by Robert Carsen and featuring Derek Hough who will play song-and-dance man Don Lockwood in a new stage adaptation of the MGM film musical.

Anastasia, with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally, inspired by the 1997 movie about a young woman who may be the last surviving member of the Russian royal family.

Amelie, with music by Dan Messe, lyrics by Nathan Tyson, a book by Craig Lucas, directed by Pam MacKinnon and starring Phillipa Soo (of Great Comet and Hamilton fame). A stage adaptation of the 2001 movie.

What Broadway Show(s) Should You See? Top Suggestions


This is the time of year when people turn their attention to Broadway, for two reasons — it’s the summer, a good time to visit New York; and their interest is piqued thanks to the annual three-hour TV commercial known as the Tony Awards broadcast.

Below are some suggestions, listed alphabetically under several categories, starting with long-time hits.

Out-of-town friends frequently ask me what show they should see, since they know I see all of them. I say it depends on their taste, and ask them what they’ve seen before that they’ve liked. This is an answer that doesn’t seem to satisfy anybody, so here are 10 recommendations based largely on my taste.


The Eugene O’Neill Theater
Opened: March 24, 2011
Director: Jason Moore and Trey Parker
Twitter feed: @BookofMormonBWY
This musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (book), the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez, one of the composer-lyricists for “Avenue Q” (music and lyrics) is about both the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and modern disciples. It is outrageous, irreverent in one way, but also deeply reverent to (even while parodying) the best traditions of the Broadway musical.

My review of The Book of Mormon: Ridiculing Religion, Worshiping The Great White Way
August Wilson Theater (245 West 52nd Street)
Opened: November 6, 2006
Twitter: @JerseyBoysInfo
The story of the 1950′s-60′s singing group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, whose hits include “December 1963 [Oh, What A Night]” (my favorite) as well as “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” etc.
Here is what I wrote about the show in an article entitled Jersey Boys vs. Jersey Shore: Although the music is better known than the musicians, and yes there are almost three dozen songs in the show, the story of the group is better than most of those ‘Behind The Music’ documentaries.

Minskoff Theater (200 West 45th Street)
Opened: November 13, 1997
Twitter: @TheLionKing
Based on the 1994 Disney animated film about the coming-of-age of a young lion in the African jungle, this musical offers African-inflected music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and the visual magic of Julie Taymor. Taymor is the director, a composer and lyricist for some of the songs. But above all, she is the designer of the costumes, masks, and puppets — and it is these visuals that make this show a good first theatrical experience.
Shubert Theater, 225 West 44th Street,
Opened: April 11, 2013
Twitter: @MatildaBroadway
The quirky musical, about a neglected little girl with extraordinary powers, is based on a cartoonishly dark, oddball 1988 novel aimed at children by Roald Dahl. There is much to like this musical (although it was neglected at Tony time.) “Matilda” offers dazzling stagecraft overseen by director Matthew Warchus, a faithful and intelligent book by David Kelly, and Tim Minchin’s clever lyrics. The production also, however, sometimes feels in need of a translator. My review of Matilda was not an unmitigated rave. I list this one mostly because it’s closing January 1, 2017.
Majestic Theater (247 West 44th Street)
Opened: January 26, 1988
Twitter: @PhantomBway
The Phantom of the Opera, based on a 1911 French novel by Gaston Leroux, is about a disfigured genius named Erik who lives in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House and falls in love with Christine, an aspiring singer whom he helps…until an old flame of Christine’s named Raoul steps back into the picture.
However, the story in the musical, written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber — with more than its share of 1980′s heavy power ballads — is starting to take second place to the story of the musical, which is the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, and the most profitable. It’s a tourist favorite, which is why I list it (an exception to recommendations based on “my taste.”)

Gershwin Theater (222 West 51st Street)
Opened: October 30, 2003
Twitter: @WICKED_Musical
The musical tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” from the witches’ perspective, more specifically from the Wicked Witch of the West, who was not, as a child, wicked at all, but just green-tinted, taunted, and misunderstood. There is so much to like about this musical, the clever twists on the familiar tale, the spectacular set, and music that is a lot more appealing in context (such as the song “Defying Gravity”) that I will forgive the contortions necessary to tack on a happy ending.



Broadway is full of “straight” (non-musical) plays, which don’t tend to have long runs and aren’t publicized as much, but can be both more substantive and more satisfying.

Ethel Barrymore Theater (243 West 47th Street)
Opened: April 5, 2014
Twitter: @CuriousBroadway

Like the unusual character at its center, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time,’ a stage adaptation of a beloved book, overcomes a couple of daunting challenges to become…extraordinary…Marianne Elliott, the British director who last brought to Broadway the spectacular National Theatre production of ‘War Horse,’ works her magic again. The stagecraft of ‘Curious Incident’ is breathtaking.  It is scheduled to close September 4, 2016.

John Golden Theater (252 West 45th Street)
Opened: March 6, 2016
Twitter: @EclipsedBway
I probably shouldn’t even list this because it’s closing June 19, 2016. But “Eclipsed,” by TV star Danai Gurira featuring movie star Lupita Nyong’o is worth catching in the short time it has left. A play about the captive wives of a rebel officer during the Liberian Civil War, this could easily have been a noble, grim and largely unwatchable testament to man’s inhumanity towards woman in wartime. But it turns out to be a well-acted ensemble piece and a thought-provoking drama that is surprisingly vibrant, and sometimes even whimsical.

Helen Hayes (240 West 44th Street)
Opened: February 18, 2016
Twitter: @TheHumansPlay

The Humans tells the deceptively simple story of a family who meets for Thanksgiving.  A hit Off-Broadway, its transfer to Broadway is timely, given its expression of middle class anxieties, but remains most noteworthy for the exquisite performances by some of New York’s finest stage actors, including Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell. For all the problems the characters face, the actors are superb in communicating an affection and good humor that feels genuine and that draws us in. They do justice to the work of playwright Stephen Karam.



Circle in the Square Theater (235 West 50th Street)
Opened: April 19, 2015
Twitter: @FunHomeMusical

Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, is, yes, a musical about a lesbian cartoonist whose closeted father killed himself, but it is also about how we try to figure out the puzzle of our parents; about how we reassemble our childhood; about memory itself. It remains the inventive, entertaining, in places exhilarating, and almost inexpressibly heartbreaking show I saw Off-Broadway at the Public Theater a couple of years ago. And it is now one of those rare Off-Broadway musicals that actually improves when it transfers to Broadway. This is not despite the theater-in-the-round layout of the Circle in the Square, but in some measure because of it.

Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street, New York, NY, 10019)
Opened: March 17, 2016

I’ll admit to prejudice towards this show, having played one of the leads in my junior high school. But even somebody who has never heard of this romantic musical comedy could easily fall in love with “She Loves Me.” Yes, the 1963 musical occasionally offers some dated views towards women. But, as with the plot of the show — about two bickering co-workers who don’t realize they are Lonelyhearts Club correspondents and potential lovebirds —  all rights itself by the end. This is thanks to the gorgeously melodic score, David Rockwell’s jewel box of a set, and the stand-out performances by Laura Benanti and Jane Krakowski as two lovelorn shopgirls in an elegant European parfumerie. This show is scheduled to close July 10.

Bernard B. Jacobs Theater (242 West 45th Street)
Opened: December 10, 2015
Twitter: @BwayColorPurple

The scaled-down and wised-up revival of this musical based on Alice Walker’s sad and inspiring novel offers 18 tuneful, toe-tapping melodies in a variety of styles – gospel, blues, ragtime, jazz and some beautiful ballads. The main reason to see the show is the star, Cynthia Erivo, who sings in a crystal-clear voice that is capable of both exquisite nuance and shattering power.



Check out An American in Paris, On Your Feet, and Shuffle Along.


I loved Hamilton, both Off-Broadway and on Broadway, finding it ground-breaking and breathtaking. But it’s not worth spending the kind of money that it would take to get a ticket this summer — and not just from the resellers, but from the show itself, which is selling 200 “premium” tickets per performance for $849 — which is very much a record  (nearly twice as much as any other show on Broadway.)

There IS a daily lottery online (and in person for Wednesday matinees), where you can try your luck at snagging one of the 21 tickets for $10.


Check out my preferences (not predictions) for the 2016 Tony Awards

June 2016 New York Theater Openings

Below is a schedule of June theater organized chronologically by opening date. Each show title is linked to a relevant website.

Keep in mind that some of the hottest theater this month is at the summer theater festivals (which I’m not listing below.)

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.

June 1

A Persistent Memory (Theatre Row)

“David Huntington is losing his grip on reality.  In pursuit of answers, David suddenly finds himself preoccupied with a mysterious phenomenon that’s plaguing the world’s elephant population. “

June 2

Matt Walters, Noah Diamond, Melody Jane, Seth Shelden, and Matt Roper - Photo by Mark X Hopkins

I’ll Say She Is (Connelly Theater)

The first-ever revival of “I’ll Say She Is,” the Marx Brothers’ first-ever Broadway musical — the only one not made into a movie. My review of it at the Fringe two years ago.

June 6


Himself and Nora (Minetta Lane Theater)

— a musical about James Joyce and his wife.


An Act of God (Booth Theater)

Sean Hayes replaces Jim Parsons in this reprise of a joke-filled show about the Almight, inspired by an irreverent Twitter account

War (Lincoln Center LCT3)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ drama about family forced to deal with the ghosts of its past. “Tensions escalate between Tate and Joanne after their mother has a stroke. As they attack each other in their mother’s hospital room, they are ambushed by two strangers who make a shocking claim about their grandfather during WWII.”

June 7

Funny Thing for Calendar.Beth_Behrs_and_Lisa_Emery

A Funny Thing Happend on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City (MCC at Lucille Lortel Theatre)

Halley Feiffer’s play about a foul-mouthed twenty-something comedian and a middle-aged man embroiled in a nasty divorce who are brought together unexpectedly when their cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital.

June 8

Indian Summer (Playwrights Horizons)

In this romantic comedy by Gregory S. Moss,  two 16-year-olds forge an unlikely friendship amidst the class warfare in a small Rhode Island town.

June 9

Shining City (Irish Repertory Theater)

In this revival of Conor McPherson’s thriller, which ran on Broadway in 2006, Matthew Broderick portrays John, who is seeks counseling after  the unexpected death of his wife. “Though shaken by the loss, John is troubled by more than just grief; he has begun to see his wife’s ghost in their home.”


June 11

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (Theatre Row)

An encore run of an hour-long family show based on four of Eric Carle’s children’s tales: ‘The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse,’ ‘Mister Seahorse,’ ‘The Very Lonely Firefly,’ and ‘The Very Hungry Caterpilla

June 12

Tony Awards broadcast

June 14

Taming of the Shrew (Delacorte)

All-female cast, starring Janet McTeer as Petruchio, and Cush Jumbo as Katherina.

June 19

Out of the Mouths of Babes (Cherry Lane Theatre)

A new comedy by Israel Horovitz about four women and the 100-year-old man who loved them. Starring Judith Ivey and Estelle Parsons.

June 23

Stet (Abingdon Theatre Company at June Havoc Theater)

A young journalist is assigned to write about sexual assault on college campuses and must find a unique angle that will sell the article. During her investigation, she encounters a student with a horrific story to tell. Determined to bring the events to light, this ambitious reporter refuses to let anything stop her— including the truth.


June 28

Phoenix Rising: Girls and the Secrets We Keep (Theatre Row)

Based on true stories, Living Lotus Project’s new play explores the lives of teenage girls and their triumphs over adversity.

13 Summer Theater Festivals in New York City 2016

summerfestivals2016There are so many theater festivals in New York during the summer  that there is arguably more theater to see during the “off season” than during the regular theater season, and it is often cheaper (even free), and frequently cutting-edge.

Not all of it is worth seeing, of course, and among the bigger festivals it can be intimidating to choose, although that’s also part of the fun. (Tip: Talk to people on the lines.)

This is the fifth year I’m offering a run-down on New York’s most reliable summer theater festivals (2012,  20132014 and 2015). Below is a list arranged more or less chronologically by the month in which the festival begins. (Several continue through the summer.)  Click on the festival titles below to be taken to their websites. It’s a good idea to check out their Twitter feeds as well.


The New York Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park


Free Shakespeare in the Park was begun by Joseph Papp in 1962 in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater which was built for that purpose. This usually has two plays by Shakespeare, but occasionally there will be a Sondheim or other modern classic.

Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

The Taming of the Shrew,  directed by Phyllida Lloyd with an all-female cast featuring LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Cush Jumbo, and Janet Mcteer, May 24 to June 26.

Troilus and Cressida,  directed by Daniel Sullivan. July 19 to August 14

Clubbed Thumb

kingtotBegun in 1996, this festival has consistently offered three new quality, cutting-edge plays each summer. This is the 21st annual Summerworks. @ClubbedThumb

Julia Jarcho’s dark spy thriller Every Angel Is Brutal, May 27 – June 6

Eric Dufault’s comic-strip–themed The Tomb of King Tot , June 11 – June 21

A Western musical comedy from Ethan Lipton called Tumacho, June 27 to July 9.


Ant Fest

Started by Ars Nova (most celebrated recently for originating Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Ant Fest is a grab-bag of delights.  June 6 to 30. Twitter: @arsnova

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

New York’s premiere eco-friendly/socially conscious not-for-profit arts festival. Twitter: @PCTFNYC. This year’s festival runs from June 15 to July 10.

Most of the shows benefit specific charities. For example, The Chaplin Plays by Don Nigro benefit The Trevor Project.


River to River Festival

Held in the downtown business district, this festival has only a handful of what can be called strictly theater pieces, but the hybrids are worth exploring, and all events are free. Twitter: @R2RFestival. This year’s festival runs from June 16 to June 26.

Ice Factory Festival

Twitter: @newohiotheatre This year it’s June 29 to August 13. Among the seven offerings are The Annotated History of the American Muskrat, and Our Voices Project, by Charles Mee, an investigation of James Castle, who never learned to read, write, speak or sign (he was deaf), but created 20,000 works of art.


Hot Festival 

The festival marks its 25th anniversary celebrating NYC queer culture. At Dixon Place, July 7 to August 5.  @HotFestNYC. The centerpiece of this year’s festival is HYPERBOLIC! (The Last Spectacle) by Monstah Black, which uses music, dance, theater & fashion to imagine the last party on earth.

Lincoln Center Festival 

TakarazukaChicagoThis is not exclusively a theater festival, but always includes a couple of theater pieces, most often from overseas.

July 13 to July 31. Twitter: @LincolnCenter 

Among the theater offerings this summer:

Kanze Noh Theater –  “five different Noh dramas selected from the repertoire of approximately 240, as well as two Kyogen, the customary comic interlude in a Noh program.”

Chicago, the Kander and Ebb musical, performed in Japanese by the all-female Takarazuka Revue

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Moliere, performed by Paris’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord

The Merchant of Venice,  the Shakespeare’s Globe production, with Jonathan Pryce as Shylock


Golem, by the British theater company called 1927

FringenycpostersNew York Musical Theater Festival

Some 300 new musicals have premiered at this festival since 2004, including “Next to Normal,” “Altar Boyz” and “title of show” Twitter: @nymf This year’s festival runs July 11 to August 7

 Fresh Fruit Festival

celebrates LGBT culture. Twitter: @FreshFruitFest July 11-24

Midtown International Theater Festival

Twitter: @NYMITF


New York International Fringe Festival

The New York International Fringe Festival offers some 200 plays, musicals and experimental works, half of which seem to be trying to repeat the success of Urinetown, which became a hit on Broadway.

August 12 to 28. Twitter: @FringeNYC  This summer marks the 20th anniversary of the festival

Dream Up Festival

Twitter: @TNCinNYCAugust 28 – September 18 at Theater for a New Audience.