February 2017 NY Theater Openings

Broadway this month will see the opening of two starry musical  revivals by two of the reigning composers of musical theater — Stephen Sondheim (86) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (68) — while Off-Broadway pays tribute to Jerry Herman (85) and Kurt Weill (1900-1950), and presents a new musical by John Kander (89.)

Meanwhile, Off-Off Broadway is showcasing the work of one of New York’s hottest musical composers, Dave Malloy (41), best-known for the hit Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812., which also started Off-Off-Broadway.

The month will also see the opening of new plays by (among others) Brandon Jacob-Jenkins, David Mamet,  Tanya Saracho,and  Will Eno, and new productions of plays by Tracy Letts and Wallace Shawn.

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide

February 1

georgie-for-calendar

Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose (Davenport)

Ed Dixon recounts how he came to know and admire character actor George Rose, who acted with such luminaries as Katherine Hepburn and Noel Coward.

February 8

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Jonah and Otto (Lost Tribe at Theater Row)

Over the course of a single day, two men  – one 26, the other 62; different in every way – share their solitude and unfold their secrets.

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Fade (Primary Stages at Cherry Lane)

A comedy by Tanya Saracho about the burgeoning friendship between Lucia and Abel, two Latinos of Mexican descent working at a ruthless Hollywood studio

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Big River (Encores at City Center)

The Encores concert version of the Tony-winning musical based on Mark Twain’s novel “Huck Finn.”

February 9

The Mother of Invention (Abingdon at June Havoc)

James Lecesne’s unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Sunset Boulevard (Palace Theatre)

Glenn Close stars in a revival of the 1994 musical based on the 1950 Billy Wilder movie about a faded Hollywood silent film goddess who tries to make one last comeback. This production was seen in a spring 2016 revival in London.

object-lesson-for-calendar

The Object Lesson (New York Theatre Workshop)

In what’s becoming its signature activity, NYTW has physically transformed their theater once again, this time turning it into a giant storage facility.  allowing audiences to roam and poke through the clutter.

February 10

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Crackskull Row ( Irish Rep)

Rasher Moorigan has a secret that only his mother knows. Tonight  – for the first time in over thirty years – mother and son spend May Eve together in a wreck of a house down the backlanes of Dublin

February 12

kurt-weill

Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: (York)

Kurt Weill’s theater songs are presented in the York’s “Musical in Muftis” series (a short run), in a blend of music and story, spanning twenty years, from Von Hindenburg and Hitler in Germany to Roosevelt and Truman in the U.S.

beardoscream

Beardo (Pipeline)

Beardo, which takes place in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Greenpoint,  is a “Russian indie rock musical” with music by Dave Malloy ( Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.) “This New York premiere explodes the mad inner workings of Rasputin, the infamous mystic who sexed his way to the fall of the Russian monarchy.”

Ring Twice For Miranda (NY City Center Stage II)

A man known only as Sir rules with a vengeance, but it’s Miranda, a chambermaid, who adds intrigue to his life. When Elliot, the butler, is fired, she flees with him in defiance onto the frightening streets. All must soon make critical decisions with imperfect facts to guide them, since little in their world is as it appears.

February 15

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Man From Nebraska (Second Stage)

A revival of the play by Tracey Letts, directed by David Cromer, starring Reed Birney (The Humans) as Ken, a middle aged man from Nebraska, who suddenly finds he’s lost his faith, along with his sense of purpose. He goes on a wild adventure to find it. Along the way he encounters a world vastly different from his own, filled with chance meetings and romantic encounters that shake him to the core.

February 16

Wallace Shawn, from the National Theater production.

Wallace Shawn, from the National Theater production.

Evening at the Talk House (New Group at  Signature)

The New Group at Signature) by Wallace Shawn with Matthew Broderick, Jill Eikenberry, John Epperson, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, Claudia Shear, Annapurna Sriram, Michael Tucker.  Shawn takes on theater itself with this acerbic and stealth political comedy about theater artists who  have a reunion at their old hangout, the Talk House, to reminisce about the show they made a decade ago — except most are no longer theater artists. There’s been “a decline in the theatergoing impulse.”

February 19

On The Exhale (Roundabout)

A play by Martin Zimmerman (Netflix’s Narcos) starring Marin Ireland as a liberal college professor inexplicably drawn to a weapon used in a senseless act of violence.

February 21

everybody-for-calendar

Everybody (Signature)

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s new play is a modern version of Everyman, a famous morality play about Christian salvation from the 15th century. I have no idea what he’s doing with it, but he was very clever in a play called Octoroon, which was his take on an 19th century melodrama, and both provocative and thoughtful in his play Gloria

February 22

If I Forget (Roundabout)

A new play by Steven Levenson (“The Language of Trees,” “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin”) that tells the story of the bickering reunion of liberal Jewish studies professor Michael Fischer with his two sisters to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday shortly before 9/11.

DC production of Kid Victory

DC production of Kid Victory

Kid Victory (Vineyard)

The latest collaboration between John Kander and Greg Pierce. “Seventeen-year-old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance.”

February 23

City Center

Sunday in the Park with George (Hudson Theater)

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford star in this
transfer of the New York City Center‘s fall 2016 concert version of the Pulitzer-winning Sondheim and Lapine 1984 musical about pointillist painter George Seurat. It marks the re-launching of the Hudson Theater (built in 1903) as the 41st Broadway house.

Linda (MTC at City Center)

Penelope Skinner’s play is about a successful woman whose pitch to change the way the world looks at women of a certain age winds up making her fight for her own relevance.

February 24

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The View UpStairs (Lynn Redgrave Theater)

A young fashion designer from 2017 buys the abandoned space that was the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant ’70s gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

February 26

Dear World (York)

Tyne Daly stars in the York’s “Musical in Mufti” (short run) of Jerry Herman’s musical based on the Madwoman of Chaillot.

February 27

Wakey, Wakey (Signature)

Will Eno’s play “challenges the notion of what really matters and recognizes the importance of life’s simple pleasures.” The downtown playwright  who made his Broadway debut recently with the abstruse The Realistic Joneses has his admirers; I’m not yet one of them.

The Penitent (Atlantic)

A new play by David Mamet. “A renowned psychiatrist is asked to testify on behalf of a young patient. When he refuses, his career, ethics and faith are thrown into question.”

Nibbler (The Amoralists at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre)

A play by Ken Urban that takes place in the summer of 1992 in Medford, New Jersey, when Adam and his gang of friends face life after high school.  But then the fivesome encounter a mysterious visitor from another world, and their lives are forever changed

bull_in-a-china-shop

Bull In A China Shop (LCT)

A comedy by Bryna Turner that follows Mary Woolley and her partner Jeannette Marks through 40 years in a New England seminary as they reform and revolutionize women’s education at the height of the suffrage movement.

February 28

A Gravediggger’s Lullaby (TACT at Theatre Row)

A new play by Jeff Talbott about the life of Baylen, an honest, hard-working gravedigger who sweats and bleeds to support his small family

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January 2017 Theater Openings Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway

Two Broadway shows are opening this month, and fewer than a half dozen Off-Broadway, but January is as usual one of the most robust months for theater in New York.

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Billboards outside the Public Theater advertising Under the Radar, one of the winter theater festivals

That’s because there are more than 100 works of theater at some dozen winter theater festivals, although the shows, largely experimental, each run for only a handful of performances. (Check out my separate preview guide for Winter Theater Festivals in New York 2017)

This month also marks the debut of  the new theater complex at 53rd Street and Tenth Avenue run by the Alliance of Resident Theaters (A.R.T.), now home to a dozen acclaimed New York theater companies without buildings of their own. (See January 22 below for the theaters’ first two openings.)

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with each title linked to a relevant website. Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.

To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide.

January 8

Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh

Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh

The Present (Ethel Barrymore)

Cate Blanchett makes her Broadway debut as (once) wealthy widow Anna Petrovna celebrating her 40th birthday in this new play based on Anton Chekhov’s first play Platonov, with the action transposed to the 1990s.

Mark Felt, Superstar (York)

mark-felt-at-yorkA jazzy musical about Mark Felt Deputy Director of the FBI, who revealed himself as Deep Throat, the secret source about Watergate who helped Woodward and Bernstein bring down President Richard Nixon.

 

January 14

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Mope (Ensemble Studio Theater) 

An examination of a country poisoned by toxic masculinity, hiding inside a comedy about guys who do porn.

January 15

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Made in China (59E59)

A topical puppet musical inspired by true events (!): “An isolated woman finds solace in shopping. After one of her big-box sprees, she finds a cry-for-help note, written by a woman in a Chinese labor camp, stuffed in a box of Halloween lights. Inspired into activism, she embarks on an odyssey of global proportions.”

January 17

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The Dork Knight (Abingdon at Dorothy Strelsin Theatre)

Jason O’Connell’s solo show tracing the ups and downs of his life through the prism of his love/hate relationship with the ‘Batman’ movies.

 

January 18

The Tempest

The Tempest (St. Ann’s Warehouse)

Donmar Warehouse’s all female staging of Shakespeare’s play, set in a woman’s prison, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Harriet Walter. This is the last production of a splendidly theatrical trilogy by the same team, starting with Julius Caesar in 2013 and then Henry IV in 2015.

January 19

jitney-cast

Jitney (Samuel J. Friedman)

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.

 

Born to Rise (Medicine Show Theater) 

A revival of the 1984 musical based on four 19th century novels by Horatio Alger, in which four poor but hopeful young New Yorkers make their way up the social ladder

 

January 22

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Peer Gynt & the Norwegian Hapa Band (Ma-Yi at ART/NY Mezzanine Theater)

A rock ‘n’ roll remake of Ibsen’s classic verse drama

 

 

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The Great American Drama (New York Neofuturists at A.R.T./NY Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre)

An ever-changing theatrical experiment to test the validity of the American Dream. Through interviews & surveys, you’ll tell us how you like your theater and what would make you buy a ticket, and four Neo-Futurists will strive to deliver everything demanded of them.

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The Oregon Trail (Fault Line Theatre)

Jane and her family navigate the deadly perils of 1850s frontier life in a covered wagon as part of a game, while present day Jane navigates the different but all-too-real dangers of high school, college, and adulthood

January 23

Selenis Leyva and Dascha Polanco Tell Hector I Miss Him,

Selenis Leyva and Dascha Polanco Tell Hector I Miss Him,

Tell Hector I Miss Him (Atlantic)

The new play by Paolo Lazaro takes place in Puerto Rico,  and “unmasks a community built on the law of respect that keeps getting washed away but refuses to drown.” The cast includes Dascha Polanco and Selenis Leyva, who play Dayanara Diaz and Gloria Mendoza, respectively, in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

 

January 26

the-liar-banner

The Liar (CSC)

David Ives adapts  Pierre Corneille’s 17th Century farce of mistaken identities and secrets, Le Menteur, directed by Michael Kahn. The charming Dorante cannot tell the truth and the manservant Cliton cannot tell a lie

January 31

yen-stars

Yen (MCC) 

In Anna Jordan’s play,  Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), and Justice Smith (The Get Down) portray two brothers ignored by their mother, who are drawn into a world beyond what they know when their animal-loving neighbor Jenny takes an interest in their dog Taliban.

Off Broadway Spring 2017 Guide

The Spring 2017 season Off-Broadway offers new plays by Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, David Mamet, Wallace Shawn, Sarah Ruhl; a new one-man show by John Leguizamo, “Latin History for Morons”; a Sondheim revival starring George Takei; an O’Neill revival starring Bobby Cannavale;  a new musical about Joan of Arc by the team that brought us “Here Lies Love” about Imelda Marcos; and an all-female The Tempest.  Matthew Perry is making his New York playwriting debut Off-Broadway.

Unlike Broadway,  however, Off-Broadway is more than a collection of individual potential hits or misses. (See my Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide.)  It’s marked by theaters/theater companies that present whole seasons of original or originally interpreted work.  That’s why the Off-Broadway preview below largely groups shows according to the theaters that are producing them. I list those theaters in order of my preference for them (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.)

Clink on the theater’s name for more information about the theater, and on the show title for more about the individual production.

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

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.

playwrightshorizonsspring2017

The Light Years 

February 17 – April 02

From the theater company The Debate Society: “Behold The Spectatorium: an audacious, visionary 12,000-seat theater designed for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 by Steele MacKaye, the now-forgotten theatrical impresario around whom this haunted, 40-year love story spins.”

The Profane 

March 17 – April 30

In Zayd Dohrn’s play, two families are forced to face the limits of their religious beliefs, cultural traditions, and prejudices, when Raif’s daughter falls for the son of a conservative Muslim family

Bella: An American Tall Tale,

May 19 – July 2

A musical written by Kirsten Childs and directed by Robert O’Hara about a young black woman in the late 19th century escaping her scandalous past and taking a train out West to meet her Buffalo Soldier. “On her journey, Bella will encounter the most colorful and lively characters ever to roam the Western plains.”

THE PUBLIC THEATER

publictheaterlogo425 Lafayette Street. Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

Having originated HamiltonFun Home, and the recent Sweat (which is moving to Broadway in March), 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.

publicspring2017a

 

Under the Radar Festival,

13th edition, January 4-15.  Cutting-edge theater from around the U.S. and the world. Part of the Winter Theater Festivals of 2017

Joan of Arc: Into the Fire

Feb 14 – April 2

A rock concert version of the French heroine by David Byrne, directed by Alex Timbers, the team that put together Here Lies Love.

The Outer Space

Feb 23- April 2

At Joe’s Pub. Ethan Lipton tells the musical story of two human beings who buy an old spaceship, leaving the noise, pollution and overpriced rents of Earth for the vast beauty and treacherous terrain of the final frontier.

 Latin History for Morons

Feb 24 – April 9

Inspired by the near total absence of Latinos in his son’s American history class, John Leguizamo embarks on a frenzied search through 3,000 years of history  to find a Latin hero for his son’s school project

 Gently Down The Stream

March 24 – April 3

Martin Sherman’s new play stars Harvey Fierstein as Beau, a pianist expat living in London, who meets Rufus, an eccentric young lawyer, at the dawn of the internet dating revolution.

new_york_01NEW YORK THEATER WORKSHOP

79 East 4th Street. Twitter: @NYTW79

NYTW got much attention last year for presenting David Bowie’s musical “Lazarus.” and this Fall for its “Othello” with David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig. Its fare has ranged from the innovative and tuneful — “Hadestown” — to the cutting edge and incomprehensible — “Fondly, Collette Richland”

The Object Lesson

Jan 31 – March 5

In what’s becoming its signature activity, NYTW has physically transformed their theater once again, this time turning it into a giant storage facility.  allowing audiences to roam and poke through the clutter.

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Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

Dates unspecified

Performed in repertory, these two chapters of Mfoniso Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle, chronicle the triumphs and losses of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family. Directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. Here’s my review of Soujourners when it was produced by Playwrights Realms, in which I write “Given the promise of such an ambitious and potentially exciting project, one makes allowances for some of the awkwardness of this first production, which would have been more effective with a clearer and more streamlined unfolding of the essential story…”

SIGNATURE

signature_01

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 relatively low —  $30 now (up from $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 last August.

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Everybody

January 31 – March 12

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s new play is a modern version of Everyman, a famous morality play about Christian salvation from the 15th century. I have no idea what he’s doing with it, but he was very clever in a play called Octoroon, which was his take on an 19th century melodrama, and both provocative and thoughtful in his play Gloria

Wakey, Wakey 

Feb 7 – March 19

Will Eno’s play “challenges the notion of what really matters and recognizes the importance of life’s simple pleasures.” The downtown playwright  who made his Broadway debut recently with the abstruse The Realistic Joneses has his admirers; I’m not yet one of them.

The Antipodes

April 4 – ?

No description is yet available for this latest play by Annie Baker, the Pulitzer winning author of Circle Mirror Transformation,The Flick,  and John.

Venus

April 25 – ?

A revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ play based on the true story of Saartjie Baartman, who left her home in southern Africa for a better life, and became a star on the 19th century London freak show circuit for the size of her posterior.

St. Ann’s Warehouse

Although it primarily presents avant-garde European exports,  this Brooklyn theater climbs up in my preference thanks to Taylor Mac’s homegrown   24-Decade History of Popular Music  late last year.

The Tempest

The Tempest

Jan 13- Feb 19

Donmar Warehouse’s all female staging of Shakespeare’s play, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Harriet Walter. This is the last production of a splendidly theatrical trilogy by the same team, starting with Julius Caesar in 2013 and then Henry IV in 2015.

946-for-calendar

 

946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

March 16 – April 9

“Kneehigh bring their full arsenal of live music, puppetry, dance and visual hi jinx to this brand new adaptation of the original novel by Michael Morpurgo (War Horse). Directed by Emma Rice, (now the Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe) 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips is the true story of British townsfolk and the African American soldiers sent to rehearse the Normandy invasion from their shores. Seen through the eyes of a little girl and her beloved cat, 946overturns everything we thought we knew about the D-Day landings.”

C

Arlington

May 3-28

A “strange and tender love story” written and directed by Enda Walsh (best-known in New York for Once and Lazarus.)

 

(This is a good place to sing the praises of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which offers an eclectic mix of the arts, often cutting edge)

AtlanticTheaterlogoATLANTIC THEATER

atlanticspring2017collage

Tell Hector I Miss Him,

Jan 11 – Feb 12

The new play by Paolo Lazaro takes place in Puerto Rico,  and “unmasks a community built on the law of respect that keeps getting washed away but refuses to drown.” The cast includes Dascha Polanco and Selenis Leyva, who play Dayanara Diaz and Gloria Mendoza, respectively, in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

The Penitent

Feb 8-March 26

A new play by David Mamet. “A renowned psychiatrist is asked to testify on behalf of a young patient. When he refuses, his career, ethics and faith are thrown into question.”

Animal

May 24 – June 18

Clare Lizzimore’s dark comedy about a woman who has a good life, on the outside, but has a creepy feeling, and starts to have visions.

LincolnCenterlogo

LINCOLN CENTER THEATER*

@LCTheater

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.

How to Transcend a Happy Marriage

Feb 23- May 7

A new play by Sarah Ruhl, author of  “Two married couples discuss a younger acquaintance–a polyamorous woman who also hunts her own meat. Fascinated, they invite this mysterious woman and her two live-in boyfriends to a New Year’s Eve party, which alters the course of their lives.

 Bull in a China Shop

Feb 11 – March 26

A comedy by Bryna Turner that follows Mary Woolley and her partner Jeannette Marks through 40 years in a New England seminary as they reform and revolutionize women’s education at the height of the suffrage movement.

ROUNDABOUT* LAURA PELS

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.

 If I Forget

Feb 2 – April 30

A new play by Steven Levenson (“The Language of Trees,” “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin”) that tells the story of the bickering reunion of liberal Jewish studies professor Michael Fischer with his two sisters to celebrate their father’s 75th birthday shortly before 9/11.

On The Exhale

Feb 7 – April 2

A play by Martin Zimmerman (Netflix’s Narcos) starring Marin Ireland as a liberal college professor inexplicably drawn to a weapon used in a senseless act of violence.

Napoli, Brooklyn

Meghan Kennedy’s play about an Italian immigrant family in 1960’s Brooklyn: “The Muscolinos have raised three proud and passionate daughters. But as the girls come of age in a rapidly changing world, their paths diverge—in drastic and devastating ways—from their parents’ deeply traditional values” — exacerbated by a plane crash.

MCC THEATER

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

Yen

Jan 12 – Feb 19

In Anna Jordan’s play,  Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), and Justice Smith (The Get Down) portray two brothers ignored by their mother, who are drawn into a world beyond what they know when their animal-loving neighbor Jenny takes an interest in their dog Taliban.

End of Longing, West End production

End of Longing, West End production

The End of Longing

A play written by and starring Matthew Perry (Friends): “An alcoholic, an escort, a self-diagnosed neurotic and a well-intentioned simpleton walk into a bar… Broken and deeply flawed, they find their lives irreversibly entwined no matter how hard they try to break free of one another.” When this play debuted on the West End last year, in the words of Variety, “London critics weren’t kind.”

CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY

136 East 13th Street Twitter: @ClassicStage

The Liar

January 11 – Feb 26

David Ives adapts  Pierre Corneille’s 17th Century farce of mistaken identities and secrets, Le Menteur, directed by Michael Kahn.

The Comedy of Errors

March 6-24

Pacific Overtures

April 6 –

George Takei stars in a revival of the musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman about a samurai and a fisherman who are caught up in the westernization of the East, at a time when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed to Japan on a U.S. mission to open trade relations at any cost.

 

OTHER  HIGHLIGHTS

Wallace Shawn, from the National Theater production.

Wallace Shawn, from the National Theater production.

Evening at the Talk House

January 31 – March 12

(The New Group at Signature) by Wallace Shawn with Matthew Broderick, Jill Eikenberry, John Epperson, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, Claudia Shear, Annapurna Sriram, Michael Tucker.  Shawn takes on theater itself with this acerbic and stealth political comedy about theater artists who  have a reunion at their old hangout, the Talk House, to reminisce about the show they made a decade ago — except most are no longer theater artists. There’s been “a decline in the theatergoing impulse.”

The Hairy Ape

(Park Avenue Armory) Bobby Cannavale stars as Yank in this 1921 play written by Eugene O’Neill.

PierceandKander

King Victory

Feb 2 – March 19

(Vineyard) The latest collaboration between John Kander and Greg Pierce. “Seventeen-year-old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance.”

A Parallelogram

“summer 2017”

(2nd Stage Theater*) The latest play by Bruce Norris: “If you knew in advance exactly what was going to happen in your life, and how everything was going to turn out, and if you knew you couldn’t do anything to change it, would you still want to go on with your life? That is the question facing Bee who, much to Jay’s confusion, can click through different moments in her life with the touch of a remote control.

Linda

Feb 7 – April 2

(MTC at City Center*) Penelope Skinner’s play is about a successful woman whose pitch to change the way the world looks at women of a certain age winds up making her fight for her own relevance.

And this is surely Off-Off Broadway, but I can’t resist:

beardo_poster_web

Beardo

Feb 3 – 26

(Pipeline Theatre Company) Beardo, which takes place inSt. John’s Lutheran Church in Greenpoint,  is a “Russian indie rock musical” with music by Dave Malloy ( Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.) “This New York premiere explodes the mad inner workings of Rasputin, the infamous mystic who sexed his way to the fall of the Russian monarchy.”

 —

Other companies and theaters 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

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?)

Winter Theater Festivals in New York 2017

Broadway-style musicals commissioned during World War II by the U.S. Army and staged with current Broadway stars on an old aircraft carrier in the Hudson;  and a do-it-yourself spy thriller at the Brooklyn Museum.

An opera about Mata Hari; and a Latin disco multimedia dance piece about Medea.

An actual exercise class; and a Virtual Reality journey in which the theatergoer becomes the star on stage.

A play celebrating real-life heroines in a repressive European society, and several works signaling warning and resistance to the new U.S. president.

These are some of the theater pieces being presented at the New York theater festivals this month.

chicken2January became the month for theater festivals in the city — more than at any time other than the summer – because of the presence of thousands of members of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters here each year for their convention. But with some of the festivals going back a dozen years, and new ones springing up all the time, they are now welcomed each year anew by local theatergoers, who are more than fine with the experimental, mixed-genre, multimedia approach and international flavor of much of the work. The cheaper ticket prices are nice too: Most are $25 or under; some are free.
Below are a selection of shows from each festival. The festivals are listed chronologically by the date that they start. Click on festival titles and each individual show title for more information.

COIL
January 3 to 22

Twitter feed: @PS122

coil-2017-logo

Here is a pdf of the Coil brochure, which includes a calendar of performance times.

Now in its 12th year, the Performance Space 122 festival is offering 12 productions from Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, but mostly New York City. Only four of the pieces are labeled theater, three of these hybrids with dance or film. But even the theater artists at this festival largely prefer the term performance art

cvrtain_web-feature-by-maria-baranova-640x295

Cvrtain
Though not considered theater, this ten-minute “interactive experience” may be a glimpse into the future of theater (or one of its futures, anyway.) Theatergoers put on Virtual Reality headset which place them center stage in a theater before an audience of thousands: “Every action produces a different reaction in your audience: thunderous applause…maybe booing.”

real-magic-hugo-glendinning

Real Magic
To the sound of looped applause and canned laughter, a group of performers take part in an impossible illusion — part mind-reading feat, part cabaret act, part chaotic game show — in which they are endlessly replaying the moment of defeat and the moment of hope.

ghettoblaster

Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster

Australian Nicola Gunn’s story of a man, a woman, a duck and a moral dilemma presents text, rhythmic soundscape and intense physical choreography.

La Medea

La Medea is a musical re-imagining of Euripides’ violent tragedy into a dance-theater performance and feature film á la Latin-disco-pop variety show. Directed, performed, filmed, edited and streamed in real time, the dark comedy comes to life not only as a live performance in Brooklyn but also as a feature film for audiences watching and interacting remotely around the world

UNDER THE RADAR
January 4 to 15

Twitter feed: @UTRFestival

under-the-radar-2017-logo

The 13th annual festival features 21 shows by artists from Belarus, France, Germany, Indonesia, Lebanon, and the UK, but mostly (16) from the U.S.
Five of these are works-in-progress that are part of the third annual “Incoming” festival-within-the-festival by the Public’s Devised Theater Working Group. Most of the shows take place at the Public Theater, the festival’s organizers, but a few are at NYU and the Brooklyn Museum.

timeofwomen

Time of Women
Jan 12-15
Belarus Free Theatre, acclaimed equally for their resistance to the authoritarian regime in their country and for stagecraft that is both cutting-edge and engrossing, presents the story of three women activists of Belarus who were all imprisoned at the time of the fraudulent presidential elections of 2010, celebrating their refusal to be silenced.

Blueprint Specials

Jan 6-11

Laura Osnes and Will Swenson will star in short musicals by the likes of composer Frank Loesser and choreographer José Limón that will be seen for the first time since World War II, when they were commissioned by the U.S. Army to boost morale. They will be presented on the hangar of the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, a former aircraft carrier.

marga_gomez-latin-standards

Latin Standards
Jan 11-15
Marga Gomez’s new solo piece revisiting the triumphs and demons of her father Willy Chevalier: comedian, producer, songwriter, Cafe El Pico spokesperson, and prominent figure in the golden era of New York’s Latino variety shows. (Marga Gomez will also be performing in La MaMa’s Squirts; see below.)

thefever-utr

The Fever 

Performed in complete collaboration with the audience, this world-premiere production examines how we assemble, organize and care for the bodies around us

Lula Del Rey
Jan 4-14
Combining puppetry, cinematic techniques, and live country music, Manual Cinema tells the story of lonely adolescent girl living on the outskirts of a vast satellite field who runs away from home and into a world of danger, deception, and disappointment.

topsecret_

Top Secret International (State 1)
“an immersive installation piece where audiences will explore the Brooklyn Museum’s Egyptian wing”

THE EXPONENTIAL FESTIVAL
January 4 to 31

Twitter feed: @exponentialfest

exponential-festival-logo

The second year of this festival has grown…exponentially. Last year, there were seven shows in four venues in Brooklyn. This year, they are 25 shows in eight Brooklyn venues.

The Last Class: A Jazzercise Play

“Jazzercize is out. Zumba is in. But instructor Kelsea Wiggan is not going down without a fight.” An actual exercise class, but only a select few members of the audience get to exercise, if they want. The rest get to sit in seats (a treat in experimental theater these days.) Written and starring Megan Hill at Chez Bushwick.

[Porto]

A newcomer shakes things up at a neighborhood bar facing gentrification. A new play by Kate Benson (“A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes”) at Bushwick Starr

germany-1933

Germany 1933
Inspired by the campaign season, the company named Saints of an Unnamed Country, the play “takes place inside a VR world where men chat endlessly with computer programs. These testers reveal their deepest desires to a naive chatbot eager to please. But once a bug at a virtual pizza party reveals the political affiliations of the testers, their digital haven succumbs to the noise of the outside world.” (I didn’t understand this description either.) Performance at The Glove.

 

The Loon

Witness Relocation’s “all new, evening length, knock-down-drag-out, dance/theatre show based in part on “Voices of the Loon” (an educational record released by the Audubon Society in 1980); the work of sociologist Erving Goffman; “At Home” – Bill Bryson’s study of the history of domestic life; party games; and what happens when the festivities go very late into the night/next morning.” Performances at Jack.

Blankland

Boom Bat Gesture performance group presents a mashup of kiddie shows and horror films,  “an immersive environment for an intimate audience of 15” at Vital Joint.

AMERICAN REALNESS
January 5 to 12

Twitter feed: @AmericanRealnes

american-realness-logo
Fifteen works, primarily dance, although many are more accurately described as performance art. (Most are more productively sampled via video than described with words.)

Ghost Rings

 

The Planet Eaters: Seconds

This is a Musical

Adult Documentary

Five performers share their real and imagined histories.

 

 

carrying-capacity-wendellcooper_photo-by-stan-pierson-bodypaint-by-charly-joaquin-dominguez_carrying_0-1140x544

Carrying Capacity

Mx. Oops / Wendell Cooper performs a multimedia ritual using sound meditation, urban dance, video projection, and rap, within an installation by sculptor Jasmine Murrell;

PROTOTYPE FESTIVAL
January 5 to 15

Twitter feed: @PROTOTYPEfest

prototype-logo

The fifth annual festival presents seven new musicals/indie chamber opera, plus “Out of Bounds,” free performances of three short works in public spaces.

anatomy-theater

anatomy theater

“Inspired by actual medical texts from the 17th and 18th century, anatomy theater follows the progression of a convicted murderess from her confession to execution, to denouncement, and finally to dissection, including an anatomy lesson for curious onlookers”

Breaking the Waves

“Based on the film by Lars Von Trier, Breaking the Waves tells the story of Bess, a religious young woman deeply in love with her husband Jan. Bess’s marital vows are tested when Jan is paralyzed in an off-shore oil rig accident.”

matahari

Mata Hari

“an exploration of love and survival of the famous woman whose exploits in espionage took her back and forth across WWI Europe and ultimately made her a scapegoat.”

Silent Voices

Brooklyn Youth Chorus has commissioned a diverse group of artists to create new music that “explores race and identity, inequity and social disparity.”

Funeral Doom Spiritual

Taking place a century in the future, this multimedia concert explores “apocalypse, end times, and rapture found in Negro Spirituals” as well as “futuristic longings for destruction of the white supremacist world order.”

Rev 23

the (newly created) last chapter of the Book of Revelation

Secondary Dominance

In 13 micro-movements in this multimedia concert, Sarah Small “synthesizes genres from Balkan folk to contemporary chamber, industrial, renaissance, rock, rap, and punk, while interweaving live and recorded electronics, Chinese sheng, strings, winds, and densely packed vocals.”

LA MAMA’S SQUIRTS

January 6 to 15

@LaMaMaETC

la-mamas-squirts-logo

Each night of La MaMa’s Squirts features a different inter-generational pairing–six nights of duets. January 6th, for example is Marga Gomez and Patti Harrison.

SPECIAL EFFECTS
January 6 to 8

@pformart

special-effects-festival-logo

Four productions (one of them an evening of new plays) by artists who are members of the Contemporary Performance Network and presented at The Wild Project

lisa_clair_whats-your-problem__by_baranova-0680-e1481764030858

What’s Your Problem/A Deep Space Lounge Act

 

I’m Very Into You

A free staged reading of a new play by Sara Lyons about the brief love affair and subsequent (e-mail) correspondence between punk feminist author Kathy Acker met Australian media theorist McKenzie Wark.

THE FIRE THIS TIME FESTIVAL
January 16-31

@firethistimenyc

fire-this-time-festival-logo

Now in its eighth year, this festival is a a platform for new work by rising playwrights of African and African American descent.

You Mine
January 17
Written and directed by Nia Witherspoon.

Set during a water crisis in the final year of Trump’s second term as president, Sayida, a black caregiver accused of murdering a white Alzheimer’s patient is thrust between the nursing home, a South Carolina plantation, and the Haitian Revolution, as she struggles to keep her child alive and her partner out of the custody of the state.

Sister to Sister reading

January 26

Kia and Kara Corthron, sisters who are both acclaimed playwrights, read from their debut novels “The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter,” and “The Truth of Right Now.” A moderated talkback follows.

FRIGID FESTIVAL
February 13 – March 5

Twitter: @FrigidNewYork

frigid-festival-logo

The shows are not yet selected. (The artists are chosen by lottery.)

New Year’s Eve in New York City 2017 Last Minute Plans

My annual New Year’s Eve guide features the Broadway show schedule for New Year’s week, and other shows, parties, concerts, intimate dinners, cruises, outdoor events and quiet alternatives you can still do on New Year’s Eve 2017 (when 2016 turns into 2017) in New York City. Also free events — and TV listings.

Only eight percent of Americans reportedly say they plan to go out on New Year’s Eve. For those who haven’t made those plans yet, here are some ideas:

TIMES SQUARE

The New Year’s Eve tradition in Times Square began in 1904 with a rooftop celebration to greet the New Year. Three years later, they started lowering a ball.

From the organizers comes this overview of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, so you know what is in store for you if you decide to stand at the Crossroads of the World for New Year’s Eve

3 p.m. Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. By approximately 3:00 PM., the Bowtie of Times Square (42nd to 47th Sts. between Broadway & 7th Ave.) is fully closed to traffic. The crowd, in the millions, could go as far uptown as Central Park, 17 blocks away.

Another way of saying this: If you want to be within naked-eyesight of the Times Square ball, arrive in the afternoon, and be prepared to stand immobile until the ball drops at midnight.  Huddle with friends and loved ones for warmth.

mariah-carey-times-square6 p.m. The celebration begins with the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball atop One Times Square.

Following is an evening of entertainment — although, if you’re looking solely to be entertained, standing in Time Square might not be the best option.

11:16 – 11;19 p.m. “The Associated Press, the world’s oldest and largest news gathering organization, presents a news reel highlighting some of the most memorable events of 2016.”

11:38-11:44

Mariah Carey performs medley of Auld Lang Syne, Emotions and We Belong Together on the Countdown Stage. (The picture is of Carey performing at Times Square on New Year’s Eve a decade ago.)

11:59 p.m.

The Sixty-Second Countdown

The Mayor of New York City and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon push the Waterford crystal button that signals the 70-foot descent of the New Year’s Eve Ball over 60 seconds, as everybody counts down.

Midnight

HappyNewYearclock

Confetti, “2017” sign in lights, lots of hugging and wishing for a Happy New Year

I’ve spent three New Year’s Eves in Times Square, which is probably two more than necessary, but found each memorable. Do keep in mind, though, that the highlights will be televised. See What’s on TV, below.)

In just a few days, this street will be packed with millions of huddled masses yearning to shout

In just a few days, this street will be packed with millions of huddled masses yearning to shout “Happy New Year!”

DINING OUT ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

Open Table lists some 800 restaurants  with “New Year’s Eve offers” Most of them offer a choice of seatings – either earlier in the evening, so that you can make it in time elsewhere for the stroke of midnight, or party-hat-equipped seatings that lead up to midnight, where you can often turn on a TV so that you can watch the ball drop in Times Square. Open Table enables you to look for one in your neighborhood.

Have a favorite neighborhood eatery that’s not listed on Open Table? Go to them NOW, and ask them whether they will take reservations.

THEATER ON NEW YEAR’S WEEK

Fifteen of the shows currently on Broadway will be offering performances on New Year’s Eve — all of them matinees. (They’re almost all in Times Square, remember.) Then 16 of the shows will offer performances on New Year’s Day, a mix of matinee and evening performances.

Below is the schedule for the entire week leading up to New Year’s Day.

Crossed out dates= canceled performance
Bold faced dates= added performance
Italic dates= different curtain time

 Click on the schedule to see it enlarged.

Keep in mind that a good number of these shows are closing soon, so this may be your last chance to see them.

Closing December 31:
Fiddler on the Roof

Closing January 1, 2017:
The Illusionists
Matilda
Something Rotten

Closing January 8, 2017:
The Color Purple
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
The Encounter
Falsettos

Closing January 15, 2017:
Jersey Boys
The Humans
Holiday Inn

Closing January 22
Oh Hello

Closing January 29
The Front Page

(If tickets are not available through the box office, try buying tickets here)

Of course, New York theater is far more than just Broadway, and some Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway shows are not just happening, but getting into the whole excess thing that means New Year’s Eve to so many in New York. Prime example is Sleep No More, which for New Year’s Eve adds something called the McKittrick Masquerade, “live performances and an open bar all night long,” at a cost of a mere $450 apiece.

Similarly XIV Company offers its  “Nutcracker Rouge,”  (a “baroque, burlesque” not-for-children take on Nutcracker Suite) at Irondale Theater in Brooklyn, followed by a party with the cast.

FAMILY SHOWS NOT ON BROADWAY

1473804899-christmas_spectacular_radio_city_rockettes_tickets

Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

Harlem Gospel Holiday Celebration at Mount Olivet Baptist Church

That Physics Show

NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTIES AT NIGHTCLUBS & WEIRD PLACES (including home)

https-cdn-evbuc-com-images-26816208-85633514729-1-originalThere’s a New York for almost any taste, so why would it be surprising that Eventbrite lists nearly 500 New Year’s Eve parties? Forty of those are listed as free (that’s my taste.) Others are obscenely expensive.

You can dance at parties set up in Times Square venues, such as the Marriot Marquis and the AMC 42nd Street movie theater, most promoting a great view of the ball dropping (which — do you mind my pointing out? — is an insane pitch, but apparently an effective one. Maybe that’s a good summary of 2016)

You can also dance at a party set up at  a “Secret Bushwick Warehouse Location.” That’s BangOn!NYC‘s offering; we do know it’s called “Time + Space” and features a host from Australia —  “tropical house” DJ Thomas Jack.

 websterhallnyeWebster Hall offers “four huge dance floors, 6 unique rooms, 8 DJs, and 100,000 balloons at midnight.” It’s loud.

Also loud is what’s billed as the “F#CK 2016!” party at Brooklyn Bazaar: “As quite possibly the worst year on record, let’s destroy it like a teenage house party” with performances by Titus Andronicus (that’s a band, not Shakespeare’s bloodiest play), High Waisted and Toys in Trouble.

For contrast there is the Third Annual New Years Eve Flamingo Formal, which takes place at the Royal Palm Shuffleboard Club. (In Florida, a shuffleboard club might not be hip enough to be hosts on New Year’s, but this one opened in 2013 in Gowanus, Brooklyn.)

joan-crawford-partier

Many have suggested throwing your own New Year’s Eve party, and offer vaguely insulting step-by-step tips on how to do so. The most memorable advice for throwing a party came from Joan Crawford, who was quite a partier in her day (see above). Her advice (see below)  can be summed up as:

  1. Have a mix of people as your guests, but nobody with dirty feet.
  2. Secretly drug them.

joan-crawford-advice-on-party-giving

(Don’t do this.)

CONCERTS

St. John the Divine Concert for Peace.

st-john-new-years-eve-concert An annual event since 1984, when it was founded by Leonard Bernstein. Free.  This year with special guests Judy Collins, soprano Jamet Pittman, and theater composer Jason Robert Brown, in a program that includes Haydn, Bach, African-American spirituals,  and a new work  “Light Shall Lift Us,” a musical response to the Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando.

The New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center: “Some Enchanted Evening.” Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Tony-winning baritone Paulo Szot sing Broadway hits from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, while the orchestra performs Copland and Strauss. The bad news about this concert is that it’s sold out. The good news is that it’s being broadcast live on PBS starting at 8 p.m.

Phish

Phish at Madison Square Garden for the tenth year in a row!

The Long Bellow at Bowery Ballroom

Louis Armstrong Tribute with Joey Morant and Catfish Stew at BB King Blues Club.

CABARET

Tip: Most cabarets offer two seatings on New Year’s Eve. The one earlier in the evening is far less expensive. Many of these performers return to these venues every New Year’s — a wonderful tradition that makes last-minute tickets chancy, but worth trying.

Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford, with her band the Whiskey 5, at Feinstein’s/54 Below

Annaleigh Ashford

Annaleigh Ashford

charles-busch

Playwright and performer Charles Busch at Feinstein’s/54 Below early show

Sandra Bernhard at Joe’s Pub

SandraBernhard

Natalie Douglas at the Duplex — her 17th New Year’s there

NatalieDouglas

Marilyn Maye at the Metropolitan Room

maye_pre_060310_gls_030

FIREWORKS

NewYearsEvefireworks

Annual Prospect Park Fireworks – free. at Grand Army Plaza

Coney Island New Year’s Eve Celebration – free fireworks on the boardwalk

Central Park Fireworks (See also midnight run below)


HARBOR CRUISES

Big selling point of all these cruises — a close-up of the New Years Eve fireworks over the water. Most include a buffet, open bar, and dancing with a dj. Drawbacks: These cost hundreds of dollars, and many are already sold out.

Circle Line New Year’s Eve Cruises

 Zephyr New Year’s Eve Family Cruises

A MEDITATIVE ALTERNATIVE
The Kadampa Meditation Center in Chelsea, $30 for non-members, provides a way for you to “ring in the New Year “with compassion and beneficial intentions!” — hors d’oeuvres, meditation, and no alcohol. (Pre-registration is required.)
WALKING AND RUNNING AND BIKING
New York Road Runners’  Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park
Shorewalkers Happy New Years Day Hike — Hiking the shores and parks of upper Manhattan starting at noon on New Year’s Day, which gives you a good excuse to go to bed early.
19th annual Bike Ride and Outdoor After Party, from Time’s Up environmental action organization, which meets in Washington Square Park at 10 p.m. and bicycles en mass to the Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
WHAT’S ON TV
ABC: Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with hosts Ryan Seacrest and Fergie. For the 45th year, ABC invites viewers to a “Rockin’ Eve,” although the show has been without longtime host and producer Clark since his death in 2012. Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey and the cast of  “On Your Feet” from Times Square, plus  guests from the Billboard Hollywood Party in California.
andersoncooperCNN: New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin for the tenth year, from Times Square, with CNN correspondents reporting from celebrations across the country — and, afterwards,  a second countdown from New Orleans.
(I can’t help quoting what Anderson Cooper said in 2013: “I don’t know anybody who has a fun time at a party at New Year’s Eve. That’s why I work on New Year’s Eve.”
Fox: Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution. from Miami, with Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg

FXX: A 30-hour marathon of “The Simpsons” animated TV series, dubbed “The Simpsons New Year’s Resolutions,” beginning with “The Simpsons Movie” at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 and continuing with resolution-themed episodes from the past 26 seasons. (And yes, they did a Simpsons marathon last year too)

NBC: New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly.Daly returns to Times Square for the 14th year, joined by Mel B. Performers include Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Pentatonix and Blake Shelton.

PBS: Live from Lincoln Center New York Philharmonic concert, followed by Downton Abbey marathon. (And yes, they did that marathon last year too)

Some TV specials you might want to avoid:
AMC: “The Walking Dead” marathon all New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Fox News Channel: “All American New Year” will feature President-Elect Donald Trump live from Florida starting at 11 p.m.
You can also watch the Times Square festivities online here
 DogonNewYearsEve

Broadway Spring 2017 Preview Guide

spring-2017-broadway-logo-collage

Yes, Glenn Close, Sally Field, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Bette Midler, and Cynthia Nixon are all returning to Broadway in Spring 2017, and Cate Blanchett and Danny DeVito are making their Broadway debuts. But Broadway is more than its divas and hunks.

The Spring 2017 season begins with a new play based on Chekhov and ends almost four months later with a new play based on Ibsen. Frequently revived plays by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Lillian Hellman are all back again, while the one play by August Wilson that was never produced on Broadway finally gets there. Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel make their Broadway debuts with serious new works that were hits Off-Broadway. And the 41st Broadway house is being inaugurated this season with a Sondheim revival.

Or, yet another way to look at the season, three big beloved Broadway musicals are back, and seven new musicals (four of them based on movies) are making their debuts.

Below are the plays and musicals opening on Broadway from January through April, 2017, going chronologically by opening dates. Things are likely to change — additions, subtractions, rescheduling —  in the weeks and months ahead.

JANUARY

the-present-logoThe Present

Theater: Ethel Barrymore
Playwright: Andrew Lipton
Director: John Crowley
First preview: December 17
Opening: January 8, 2017
Closing: March 19
Cast: Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh
A new play based on Anton Chekhov’s Platonov, with the action transposed to the 1990s.

website

Twitter feed: @thepresentbway

Buy tickets to The Present

 

Jitney

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

website

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.

Buy tickets to Jitney

February

sunset-boulevard-logoSunset Boulevard

Theater: The Palace
First Preview: February 2, 2017
Opening: February 9, 2017
Written by Christopher Hampton and Don Black (book/lyrics), and Andrew Lloyd Webber (music)
Director: Lonny Price
Cast: Glenn Close
Revival of the 1994 musical based on the 1950 Billy Wilder movie about a faded Hollywood silent film goddess who tries to make one last comeback. This production was seen in a spring 2016 revival in London.

website

@sunsetblvd

Buy tickets to Sunset Boulevard

Sunday in the Park With George

sunday-in-the-park-logoTheater; Hudson
First Preview: February 2, 2017
Opens: February 23

Closes: April 23
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; book by James Lapine
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford
Transfer of the New York City Center‘s fall 2016 concert version of the Pulitzer-winning 1984 musical about pointillist painter George Seurat.

@hudsonbway

website

Buy tickets to Sunday in the Park with George

March

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.

@SignificantBway

website

Buy tickets to Significant Other

The Glass Menagerie

glass-menagerie-logoTheater: John Golden
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Director: Sam Gold
First preview: February 14, 2017
Opening March 9, 2017
Cast: Sally Field, Joe Mantello, Finn Witrock, Madison Ferris
The eighth production of Tennessee Williams play on Broadway.

website

Buy tickets to The Glass Menagerie

Come From Away

come-from-away-logo
Theater: Schoenfeld
Previews: February 18, 2017
Opens: March 12, 2017
Book, music and lyrics by the Canadian husband-and-wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein.
Director: Christopher Ashley
Cast: Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks and Caesar Samayoa.
New musical that explores the lasting connection forged between a group of travelers whose planes were diverted to a small Newfoundland town on Sept. 11, 2001.
The show had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in summer 2015,

website

@wecomefromaway

Buy tickets to Come From Away

The Price

theprice-logoTheater: Roundabout’s American Airlines
Playwright: Arthur Miller
Director: Terry Kinney
First preview: February 16, 2017
Opening: March 16, 2017
Cast: Danny DeVito, Jessica Hecht, Tony Shalhoub, John Turturro
website
Tweeter feed: @RTC_NYC

website

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

Buy tickets to The Price

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.

@MissSaigonUS

website

Buy tickets to Miss Saigon

Sweat

sweat-logoTheater: Studio 54
First previews: March 4, 2017
Opens: March 26, 2017
Playwright: Lynn Nottage
Director: Kate Whoriskey
Cast: Carlo Albán, James Colby, Khris Davis, Johanna Day, John Earl Jelks, Will Pullen, Miriam Shor, Lance Coadie Williams, and Michelle Wilson
Broadway transfer of the hit Public Theatre production of Nottage’s drama about blue-collar workers in a Pennsylvania town at the turn of the millennium.

Twitter: @SweatBroadway

website

My review of Sweat off-Broadway

Buy tickets to Sweat

APRIL

The Play That Goes Wrong

play-that-goes-wrong-logoTheater: Lyceum
First preview: March 9, 2017
Opens: April 2, 2017
Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields
Director: Mark Bell
Cast: Matthew Cavendish, Bryony Corrigan, Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, Greg Tannahill, and Nancy Zamit.
Olivier Award-winning comedy about an amateur university production that goes hopelessly awry

Twitter: @BwayGoesWrong

website

Buy tickets to The Play That Goes Wrong

Amelie

amelie-logoTheatre: Walter Kerr
First preview: March 9, 2017
Opens: April 3, 2017
Written by Dan Messé (music), Nathan Tyson (lyrics), Craig Lucas (book)
Director: Pam MacKinnon
Cast: Phillipa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat
A musical adaptation of the  2001 film, which starred Audrey Tautou as a shy waitress with a wild imagination.

@AmelieBroadway

website

Buy tickets to Amelie

Present Laughter

present-laughter-logoTheater: St. James
Target Previews: Early spring 2017
Opening: April 5, 2017
Playwright: Noël Coward
Director: Moritz von Suelpnagel
Cast: Kevin Kline

Revival of the 1940s comedy about the tribulations of a popular matinee idol.

website

@laughteronbway

Buy tickets to Present Laughter

War Paint

war-paint-logo
Theater: Nederlander
Previews: March 7, 2017
Opening: April 6, 2017
Writers: Book by Doug Wrights; music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie
Director: Michael Grief; choreographer: Christopher Gattelli
Cast: Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole
Musical based on the rivalry of cosmetics titans Helena Rubenstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole)
Premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in summer 2016.

website

@warpaintmusical

Buy tickets to War Paint

oslo-logoOslo

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

website

@LCTheater

Buy tickets to Oslo

 Groundhog Day

groundhog-day-logoTheater: August Wilson
Previews: March 2017
Opening: April 17, 2017
Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, book by Danny Rubin
Director: Matthew Warchus
Cast: Andy Karl
A musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray film about a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again…and again. Will he ever unlock the secret and break the cycle?
Produced in London in summer 2016.

website

@Groundhogdaybwy

Buy tickets to Groundhog Day

Six Degrees of Separation

six-degrees-of-separation-logoTheater: Barrymore
Target Opening: April 2017
Playwright: John Guare
Director: Trip Cullman
Cast: Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey
Revival of the 1990 drama about a young con man who is embraced by wealthy New Yorkers after passing himself off as Sidney Poitier’s son.

website

@SixDegreesBway

Buy tickets to Six Degrees of Separation

Indecent

indecent-logoTheater: Cort
Opening: April 18, 2017
Playwright: Paula Vogel
Director: Rebecca Taichman
Cast: TBA

A behind-the-scenes look at the true story of the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s “God of Vengeance” — “a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel,” in part because of its lesbian lovers.

My review of Indecent Off-Broadway

website

@IndecentBway

Buy tickets to Indecent

The Little Foxes

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

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

website

Buy tickets to The Little Foxes

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
Closing:
Cast: Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
website
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.

Buy tickets to Hello, Dolly

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.

website

@CharlieOnBway

Buy tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Anastasia

anastasia-logoTheater: Broadhurst
First Preview: March 23, 2017
Opening: April 24, 2017
Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally
Director: Darko Tresnjak
Cast: Christy Altomare, Derek Klana, Ramin Karimloo, Mary Beth Peil, John Bolton, and Caroline O’Connor
Inspired by the 1997 film about a young woman who may be the last surviving member of the Russian royal family. The score includes songs from the movie, including the Oscar- nominated “Journey to the Past,” plus an entirely new score from the Tony Award-winning team.
The musical had its world premiere at Hartford in 2016.

website

@AnastasiaBway

Buy tickets to Anastasia

Bandstand

bandstand-logoTheater: Bernard Jacobs
First Preview: March 31, 2017
Opening: April 26, 2017
Music by Richard Oberacker and book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
Director/Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuhler
Cast: Laura Osnes and Corey Cott
This “big-band musical” chronicles a mismatched band of WWII veterans who join forces to compete in a radio contest.
The show debuted in 2015 at Paper Mill Playhouse

website

@BandstandBway

Buy tickets to Bandstand

A Doll’s House, Part 2

a-dolls-house-logoTheater: Golden
First Preview: April 1, 2017
Opening: April 27, 2017
Playwright: Lucas Hnath
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell, Condola Rashad.
Sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s play, following up after Nora has left her husband and children.

website

@DollsHousePart2

Buy tickets to A Doll’s House, Part 2

 

Also check out my monthly calendar of theater openings, which includes Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

Full 2016-2017 Broadway season, including my reviews of the shows that have opened.

Broadway Christmas Week Schedule 2016

Below is the schedule for Broadway shows from Monday, December 19 to December 26.

Broadway is not the place to see shows in New York specifically geared to the holiday season (with one exception this year) but, like the annual family-oriented holiday shows like the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet,  as well as myriad versions of A Christmas Carol, Broadway musicals seem well-suited for family (and surrogate family) get-togethers.

Nine Broadway shows will be performing on the evening of Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, 2016. All others have canceled that day; there are no Christmas Day matinees at all. But almost all Broadway shows have added at least one performance the following day, Monday, December 26th, and many have added  shows on the days leading up to Christmas.

Last year, there was a campaign to turn December 26th into “Show Day,” much as the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday — but instead of a day for shopping, Show Day would be a day for show-going.

The campaign seems to have petered out. (It might have helped if, like Black Friday, there would be special discounts offered on Show Day.)

Update: #ShowDay is still around. Here’s Actors Equity President Kate Shindle, this year’s Show Day Grand Marshal:

Below is the Broadway schedule for Christmas Week 2016, divided in two

1. Monday December 19  to Sunday, December 25 (Christmas Day).

2. Monday, December 26th.

Crossed out dates= canceled performance
Bold faced dates= added performance
Italic dates= different curtain time

DARK means there is no performance on that day, normally, and on this week as well.

Please be sure to check the box office to make sure the schedule hasn’t changed.

Click on the first schedule to see it enlarged.

broadwayscheduledec26adec26scheduleb

 

Buy tickets to Broadway

December 2016 New York Theater Openings

Four shows are opening on Broadway this month, three of them new musicals: “A Bronx Tale” marks the Broadway debut of Robert De Niro as a “co-director,” although Jerry Zaks is reportedly doing the heavy lifting.  “Dear Evan Hansen,”  a cult hit Off Broadway by the team of Pasek and Paul, is transferring to the Music Box.  And “In Transit,” another Off-Broadway hit, is co-written by Kristin Anderson-Lopez, who went on to compose the music with her husband Bobby Lopez for “Frozen.”

But some of the most thrilling theater in December is happening Off-Broadway — including “Othello” directed by Sam Gold, starring David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig; Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) in an adaptation of the bestseller “Tiny Beautiful Things” directed by Hamilton’s Tommy Kail; and “The Dead, 1904,” starring Boyd Gaines and Kate Burton, a re-creation of the dinner party at the center of James Joyce’s “The Dead,” in which theatergoers are among the dinner guests.

And then, this being December, there are Christmas plays up the wazoo — too numerous to include here.

Below is a selection of the plays, musicals and less easily categorized theater pieces opening in December, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website. Also included are links to buy tickets (if you can’t get them at the box office.)

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the season as a whole, check out Broadway Preview Guide 2016-17 and Off-Broadway Fall 2016

Ad: Click here to sign up for discount ticket offers

December 1

A Bronx Tale (Longacre)

A Bronx Tale The Musical Pre-opening information; subject to change A Bronx Tale The Musical View More Images Longacre Theatre, (12/01/2016 - ) First Preview: Nov 03, 2016 Total Previews: Opening Date: Dec 01, 2016 Closing Date: Total Performances: Category: Musical, Drama, Original, Broadway A Bronx Tale The Musical tickets Official Website Opening Night Credits Production Staff Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Philip J. Smith: Chairman; Robert E. Wankel: President) Produced by Tommy Mottola, The Dodgers and Tribeca Productions Book by Chazz Palminteri; Music by Alan Menken; Lyrics by Glenn Slater; Musical Director: Jonathan Smith; Music arranged by Ron Melrose; Music orchestrated by Doug Besterman Directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks; Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt; Costume Design by William Ivey Long; Lighting Design by Howell Binkley; Sound Design by Gareth Owen; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Make-Up Design by Anne Ford-Coates Musical Supervisor: Ron Melrose Casting: Tara Rubin Casting; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Fight Coordinator: Robert Westley Cast Richard H. Blake Lorenzo Nick Cordero Sonny Ariana DeBose Jane Lucia Giannetta Rosina Bradley Gibson Tyrone Bobby Conte Thornton Broadway debut Calogero Hudson Loverro Broadway debut Young Calogero Athan Sporek Young Calogero Alternate Gilbert L. Bailey II Joe Barbara Michael Barra Broadway debut Jonathan Brody Ted Brunetti Brittany Conigatti Kaleigh Cronin Trista Dollison David Michael Garry Rory Max Kaplan Dominic Nolfi Christiani Pitts Broadway debut Paul Salvatoriello Broadway debut Joseph J. Simeone Joey Sorge Cary Tedder Kirstin Tucker Swings: Michelle Aravena, Gerald Caesar, Charlie Marcus, Wonu Ogunfowora and Keith WhiteThe 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.

Tickets

Iluminate (New World Stages) 

ILUMINATE 2

Acrobatic dancing by performers wearing glow-in-the-dark costumes

My review of Iluminate  at a previous venue

Tickets

December 3

Sgt. Stubby (St. Lukes Theater)

st-stubby

Subtitled “The Great American War Dog Musical,” the family-friendly show is inspired by the true story of a stray from New Haven, Connecticut who became a hero in World War I.

Tickets

December 4

Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)

dear-evan-hansen-for-calendar

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 a cult favorite Off-Broadway.  My review when it was Off-Broadway.

Tickets

The Illusionists (The Palace)

the-illusionists-2016-for-calendar

On Broadway for the third holiday season in a row, The Illusionists will present magic from the early 20th century,

My review the first time around.

Tickets

Sing (Theatre at St. Clements)

sing

A South African and American Holiday Musical celebration starring and directed by Thula Dumakude.

December 5

The Babylon Line (Lincoln Center)

the-babylong-line

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 cast includes Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Reaser.

Tickets 

December 6

Rancho Viejo (Playwrights Horizons) 

Rancho Viejo

In Dan LeFranc’s comedy of anxiety and awkward neighbors, the residents of the (fictional) affluent suburb 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. The cast includes Mark Blum and Mare Winningham.

December 7

Tiny Beautiful Things (The Public) 

Tiny Beautiful Things for calendar

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.)

Tickets 

December 8

The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater)

the-bands-visit

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), with a cast including Tony Shalhoub and John Cariani, 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.

Tickets

Anna Christie (The Wild Project) 

anna-christie-for-calendar

Eugene O’Neill’s drama of a woman torn between the expectations of men and the secrets of her past, gets a timely retelling under the direction of Peter Roberts.

The Dead, 1904 (Irish Rep)

boydgainesinthedead1904ataihs1

Based on the novella by James Joyce, “The Dead,1904 is a new adaptation in which an audience of 40 guests will themselves attend the Misses Morkan’s holiday party, move from room to room with the actors, listen to the music, watch the dances, dine on a meal inspired by the menu in the novella, and observe the characters in their interactions.  The production will take place in an authentic Victorian mansion.” It stars Kate Burton and Boyd Gaines.

December 11

In Transit (Circle in the Square)

I

I

Broadway’s first a capella musical — no orchestra — chronicles the intertwining lives of 11 subway riders. It was a  hit Off-Broadway in 2010. Co-written by Kristin Lopez-Anderson, now known for Frozen. Its 16-member cast includes Justin Guarini, Telly Leung and Erin Mackey.

Tickets

December 12

Othello (NY Theatre Workshop)

othello-for-calendar

 

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

Tickets

December 14

Nina Conti In Your Face (Barrow Street Theater) 

nina-conti

With handcrafted masks that transform audience members into “live puppets,” along with her sidekick, the “foul-mouthed” Monkey, Conti creates a hilarious new show nightly. This is ventriloquism for a new generation

Martin Luther On Trial (The Pearl)

martin-luther-on-trial-for-calendar

With Satan as the prosecutor and Luther’s wife for the defense, witnesses including Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Josel, St. Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pope Francis take the stand. Even as 2017 marks 500 years since Luther ignited the Protestant Revolt against Rome, he continues to spark intense debate

December 19

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns (Barrow Street Theatre) 

bright-colors

A one-man show written by and starring Drew Droege. “Josh and Brennan are about to get married in Palm Springs on a lovely Saturday afternoon. However, the night before becomes a drunken, drug-fueled scream riot, because their friend Gerry has arrived, furious that their invitation says “please refrain from wearing bright colors or bold patterns.”

What to See on Broadway Thanksgiving Week 2016

The turkey float in the Thanksgiving Day parade

The 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature (as it traditionally does) numbers from Broadway musicals — on CBS, The Color Purple,  On Your Feet, and School of Rock; on NBC, Cats, Holiday Inn, Paramour and Waitress. But you can also see the whole shows on Broadway during Thanksgiving Week.

Scroll down to the bottom for  the Broadway schedule for the week — most shows are dark on Thanksgiving Day, but have added matinees for the day after.

Here too are my recommendations, first for new shows that have opened this season so far, and then evergreens suitable for young children.

Recommended New Shows

In truth, I can only wholeheartedly recommend one show that’s opened on Broadway this season so far, so the following list is stacked with Off-Broadway shows. In alphabetical order:

Finian’s Rainbow

finians-rainbow-5-mark-evans-and-melissa-errico

At the Irish Rep, a four-piece orchestra and a 13-member cast led by the glorious Melissa Errico do delicious justice to the show’s terrific tuneful melodies, written by composer Burton Lane (whose long career on Broadway and in Hollywood included the discovery of Judy Garland) and lyricist Yip Harburg (who wrote the lyrics to more than 500 songs, including “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, “April in Paris”, and many of the songs for “The Wizard of Oz.”) The 15 songs in “Finian’s Rainbow” are an inspiring mix of Irish folk tunes, Southern mountain melodies, Tin Pan Alley, gospel and the blues.

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Josh Groban as Pierre and the cast of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway

Josh Groban as Pierre and the cast of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway

An opera with an unwieldy title based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace might seem like an unlikely crowd-pleaser, but Great Comet is the freshest, most inviting show on Broadway this season, especially awesome in its stagecraft. Nineteen of the cast members are making their Broadway debuts, including Josh Groban, who is stellar.

Notes From the Field

Notes from the Field 5

Anna Deavere Smith  portrays 17  disparate characters with her usual dazzling virtuosity, in presenting her argument that there is a school to prison “pipeline” for poor people and people of color.

Sweat

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

Like Grapes of Wrath, Lynn Nottage’s play offers a devastating look at social and economic breakdown, told not with rants or statistics, but through a riveting tale about good people in a bad situation. The characters in Sweat live in Reading, Pennsylvania, which 2010 U.S. Census data identified as the poorest city in America.

Vietgone

Jennifer Ikeda as Tong and Raymond Lee as Quang

Jennifer Ikeda as Tong and Raymond Lee as Quang

Qui Nguyen’s rap-infused play about two Vietnamese refugees who fall in love is as puckish as a comic book. But for all the pop culture silliness, the playfulness with language, and the clever stagecraft, “Vietgone” paints complex and credible portraits of the two main characters.

Broadway shows for young children

Aladdin

James Monroe Iglehart

James Monroe Iglehart

The genie is James Monroe Iglehart, and he is the one who provides the bulk of the entertainment, morphing from showbiz master of ceremonies to carnival barker to infomercial huckster to game show host to Cab Calloway-like zoot-suiter to disco dj to hip-hopper in a Hawaiian shirt, to yes, a sparkling-suited magical genie who emerges amid smoke from a little lamp. Every number over which he presides – nearly every moment he is on stage –  answers the question that fans of the 1992 film Aladdin might have wondered about: How would Disney be able to translate to the stage the protean cartoon character of genie voiced by Robin Williams at his peak? The answer is James Monroe Iglehart, and the answer satisfies.

Tickets to Aladdin

The Lion King

CircleofLifefromLionKing

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 — and worthwhile for any theatergoer no matter how experienced.

Tickets to The Lion King

Matilda

Matilda 10

“Matilda” is based on Roald Dahl’s dark children’s book about a girl with extraordinary gifts who is at first unappreciated by the adults. The musical  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. It is very British both in milieu and in enunciation. A major reason to choose this show is that it is set to close on January 1, 2017.

Tickets to Matilda

School of Rock

School of Rock

In his first original musical on Broadway in a decade, Andrew Lloyd Webber has chosen to adapt a movie with a plot that could hardly be sillier, and supplies a new score that could hardly be more addictive. School of Rock – The Musical is full of both hard-charging rock n roll and supremely catchy melodies.

An implicit message of the musical — that rocking and stomping are far more important to fourth graders than math or history – could make a convincing case for the depravity of rock n roll. But if anybody is still alive to be receptive to that argument, they’re sure to be won over by the thrilling performances by the baker’s dozen of talented kids, several sure to share stardom with the adults.

Tickets to School of Rock

Wicked

Wicked NY

Wicked NY

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.

Tickets to Wicked

Tickets to Hamilton

Broadway’s Thanksgiving Week Schedule

As the Broadway schedule below for Thanksgiving week indicates, seven shows are performing Thanksgiving Day. A Bronx Tale; Chicago; Fiddler on the Roof; Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812; Paramour; Phantom of the Opera; and Waitress. Every other show is dark that day. But most have added matinees on Friday.Some dozen of the shows have also added a performance on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

The show names in the chart below are linked to my reviews, or other relevant articles, when available. I put an asterisk next to those shows that I enjoyed without significant reservation. (Or just one significant reservation — tickets are expensive.)

A key to understanding the chart:
Crossed out dates means canceled performance
Bold faced dates means added performance
Italic dates means a different than usual curtain time

SHOW Mon. Nov. 21 Tue. Nov. 22 Wed. Nov. 23 Thu. Nov. 24 Fri. Nov. 25 Sat. Nov. 26 Sun. Nov. 27
*Aladdin DARK 7pm 1pm, 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 6:30pm
Alton Brown Live DARK 8pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 1pm, 5:30pm
Beautiful 7pm 7pm 2pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
*The Book of Mormon DARK 7pm 2pm,7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
A Bronx Tale 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Cats 8pm 7pm 7:30pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
The Cherry Orchard 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Chicago 8pm 8pm 8pm 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 7pm
*The Color Purple 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Dear Evan Hansen 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
The Encounter DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Falsettos DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Fiddler on the Roof DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
The Front Page DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Hamilton DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Heisenberg 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Holiday Inn DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
*The Humans DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
The Illusionists DARK 7pm DARK 7pm 3pm, 8pm 11am, 3pm, 8pm 1pm, 6:30pm
In Transit 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Jersey Boys DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Kinky Boots DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Les Liasons Dangereuses DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Lion King DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 6:30pm
*Matilda 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 6:30pm
*Natasha, Pierre… DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Oh, Hello 8pm 8pm 8pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
*On Your Feet! 8pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
Paramour 7pm 7pm 7pm 5pm DARK 3pm 2pm
Phantom of the Opera 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK
*School of Rock 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 1pm, 6pm
Something Rotten! 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Waitress DARK 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 7:30pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Wicked DARK 7pm 2pm, 7:30pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm

Buy theater tickets at Ticket Liquidator

November 2016 Theater Openings on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway

Three of the four Broadway openings  in November are for shows, with limited (holiday) runs, are rightly categorized more as entertainments than theater.  Ah, but the fourth…

Great Comet

The month offers new stage adaptations of two beloved movies, a rap take on Othello, Off-Broadway revivals of two big-time tuneful musicals,  and several exciting wholly original works of theater.

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

For a look at the entire season, check out Broadway Preview Guide 2016-17 and Off Broadway Fall 2016 Guide

November 2

Notes From The Field: Doing Time In Education (Second Stage)

notes-from-the-field-anna-deavere-smith

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 kristinchenowethintophatclassroom and into incarceration,

Kingdom Come (Roundabout Black Box)

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

My Love Letter to Broadway (Lunt-Fontanne)

Kristin Chenoweth in concert, for 12 performances.

November 3

Ultimate Beauty Bible (Page 73 at New Ohio)

Workaholic Danielle is forced to face her mortality,

Sweat (Public Theater)

Sweat P

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.

November 6

Finian’s Rainbow (Irish Rep)

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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.

Homos, or Everyone In America (Labyrinth)

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Michael Urie and Robin De Jesús star in a play about an everyday couple confronted by a vicious crime.

November 7

“Master Harold”….And The Boys (Signature)

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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…”

November 8

Women of a Certain Age (The Public Theater)

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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 13

The Portal (Minetta Lane)

A man journeys through the desert and mountains on a path to personal discovery.

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theatre)

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead BY SUZAN-LORI PARKS DIRECTED BY LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ

Subtitled, “AKA The Negro Book of the Dead,” Suzan-Lori Parks begins her Signature residency with a play that “explores and explodes archetypes of Black America.”

November 14

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 (Imperial)

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Josh Groban and Denee Benton star in this Broadway production 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.

November 15

Party People (Public Theater)

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.

November 16

Terms of Endearment (59E59)

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Molly Ringwald stars in a play based on the novel by Larry McMurtry and the film by James L. Brooks  about the relationship between  a highly opinionated mother and her feisty daughter.

Othello: The Remix (The Westside Theater)

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An 80-minute spin on Shakespeare’s tragedy by the Q Brothers, rappers GQ and JQ.

November 17

The Dead Poets Society (CSC)

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Academy Award-winner Tom Schulman adapts his own screenplay of the Robin Williams/Robert Sean Leonard film for this play about an inspiring boarding school teacher, starring Jason Sudeikis.

A Taste of Things To Come (York)

Four women enter a Betty Crocker cooking contest in the hopes of changing their lives.

November 20

Sweet Charity (New Group at Signature)

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

November 21

This Day Forward (Vineyard Theatre)

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.”

November 22

Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science (Ethel Barrymore)

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Broadway is just one stop on the 50-city tour for this veteran anchor of TV cooking shows, who promises  comedy, talk show antics, multimedia presentations, music and puppets.

November 27

The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal (Irish Rep)

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A dark comedy about a lonely outsider forced to live on an abandoned campsite that is discovered one day by a lost bachelorette party.