The Fringe Begins: How To Fringe In 5 Easy Steps

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

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

Fringe2016 logos

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

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

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

With that in mind:

1. Get a Free Sample

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

2. Ask On Line

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

3. Ask Online

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

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

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

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

4. Follow Your Bliss

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

5.  Follow Your Favorites; Support Your Friends.

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

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

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

 

Watch: 2016 New York Fringe Previews

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

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

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.

 

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

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

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

CarlosDandCarlosDengler

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

July 4

Liberty: A Monumental Musical (42West)

Details the story of Lady Liberty’s arrival in America

July 6

Runaways (New York City Center)

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

July 11

Osloforcalendar
Oslo (Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E Newhouse)

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

July 12

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

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

July 13

small_mouth_sounds for Calendar

Small Mouth Sounds (Signature Theater Center)

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

July 18

Privacy The Public Theater

Privacy (The Public Theater)

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

 

iLuminate for calendar

iLuminate (Theater 80)

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

July 21

Motown 6

Michael Jackson  and the Jackson 5

Motown the Musical (Nederlander)

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

July 25

A Class Act (New World Stages)

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

July 27

Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

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

July 28

Quietly-Title_Author-352x500

Quietly (Irish Rep)

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

July 31

The_Company_of_CATS_on_Broadway_-_Photo_by_Matthew_Murphy

 

CATS (Neil Simon Theater)

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

Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide

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

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

Check out last season: Broadway 2015-2016 Season Guide

MAY

Paramour

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

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

My review

JUNE

anactofgod-sean logoAn Act of God

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

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

JULY

Motown the Musical

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

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

CATS

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

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

Black to the Future

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

 

SEPTEMBER

The Encounter

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

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

OCTOBER

Oh Hello logoOh, Hello

Theater: Lyceum

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

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

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn logoTheater: Roundabout’s Studio 54
Authors: Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge
Director: Gordon Greenberg
First preview: September 1, 2016
Opening: October 13, 2016
Cast: Unknown at present
website
Twitter feed: @RTC_NYC

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

Heisenberg

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

Tweeter feed: @MTC_NYC

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

The Cherry Orchard

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

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

The Front Page

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

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

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

Falsettos

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

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

Les Liaisons Dangereuses 

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

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

NOVEMBER

 

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

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

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

The Illusionists – Turn of the Century

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

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

DECEMBER

A Bronx Tale

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

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

In TransitInTransitmusical

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

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

 

Dear Evan Hansen

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

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

JANUARY

Jitney

Theater: 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

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.

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.

The Price

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

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

The Glass Menagerie

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

Miss Saigon

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

APRIL

Oslo

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

My review of “Oslo” Off-Broadway

The Little Foxes

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

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

Hello, Dolly

Hello Dolly logoTheater: Shubert
Authors: Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, book by Michael Stewart
Director: Jerry Zaks, choreographer Warren Carlyle
First preview: March 13, 2017
Opening: April 20, 2017
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.

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

OTHER SHOWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bwayshowstosee

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

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

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

LONG-TIME HIT MUSICALS

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

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

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

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

 

THREE GREAT PLAYS

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

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
Ethel Barrymore Theater (243 West 47th Street)
Opened: April 5, 2014
Twitter: @CuriousBroadway

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

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

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

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

 

RECENTLY OPENED

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WHAT ABOUT GREAT CHOREOGRAPHY?

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

WHAT ABOUT HAMILTON?

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

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

 

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

June 2016 New York Theater Openings

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

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

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

June 1

A Persistent Memory (Theatre Row)

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

June 2

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

I’ll Say She Is (Connelly Theater)

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

June 6

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Himself and Nora (Minetta Lane Theater)

— a musical about James Joyce and his wife.

AnActofGodwithSeanHayes

An Act of God (Booth Theater)

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

War (Lincoln Center LCT3)

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

June 7

Funny Thing for Calendar.Beth_Behrs_and_Lisa_Emery

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

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

June 8

Indian Summer (Playwrights Horizons)

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

June 9

Shining City (Irish Repertory Theater)

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

 

June 11

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (Theatre Row)

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

June 12

Tony Awards broadcast

June 14

Taming of the Shrew (Delacorte)

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

June 19

Out of the Mouths of Babes (Cherry Lane Theatre)

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

June 23

Stet (Abingdon Theatre Company at June Havoc Theater)

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

 

June 28

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

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

13 Summer Theater Festivals in New York City 2016

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

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

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

May

The New York Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park

Delacorte

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

Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

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

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

Clubbed Thumb

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

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

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

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

June 

Ant Fest

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

Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

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

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

 

River to River Festival

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

Ice Factory Festival

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

July

Hot Festival 

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

Lincoln Center Festival 

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

July 13 to July 31. Twitter: @LincolnCenter 

Among the theater offerings this summer:

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

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

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

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

GolemLCF

Golem, by the British theater company called 1927

FringenycpostersNew York Musical Theater Festival

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

 Fresh Fruit Festival

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

Midtown International Theater Festival

Twitter: @NYMITF

August

New York International Fringe Festival

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

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

Dream Up Festival

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

May 2016 New York Theater Openings

May may be seen as the month when theater people are awaiting the Tony Awards in June, but there are also nearly two dozen plays, musicals and “unique theatrical experiences” opening on New York stages this month, including one on Broadway. Some look exciting.

AND there are a half dozen major New York theater awards announcing their winners in May. (See my 2016 NYC Theater Award Guide)

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

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

May 1

Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen (Second Stage)

A hit when it played at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage, this original musical tells the story of a high school student who is mistakenly thought to be best friends with a classmate who had committed suicide.   Michael Greif (RentNext to Normal and Grey Gardens) directs, with music and lyrics by  Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, Dogfight) and a book by Steven Levenson (Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”).

 

StreetcarNamedDesireStAnns

Streetcar Named Desire (St Ann’s Warehouse)

This Young Vic production of Tennessee Williams’ play is directed by Benedict Andrews, features a transparent, revolving set, and stars Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, Corey Johnson and Vanessa Kirby.

May 4

CrudeforCalendarCrude (Ars Nova)

When a catastrophic environmental accident threatens to derail Kurtz Petroleum, it’s up to documentarian turned big oil public relations flak Jaime Kurtz (Nico Tortorella) with the help of his commercial making pal Aaron (W. Tre Davis) and Aaron’s drug dealer Manny (Jose Joaquin Perez) to come up with the perfect pitch to save the company.

May 8

Evening – 1910 (Axis Theater)

In this musical, Henry, a newly arrived immigrant to 1910 New York, finds himself at the center of this story involving a Bowery theater facing eviction.

May 11

Do I Hear A Waltz (City Center)

The Encores concert series presents this 1965 musical, the only collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim.  Melissa Errico stars as Leona Samish, a middle-class American woman who uses her meager savings for a long-dreamed-of trip to Venice

May 12

Shoes and Baggage (The Cell)

A one-woman show by Cheryl Stern, playing two dozen characters, “about the passion, obsession and overwhelming drive to purchase and possess beautiful things.”

May 15

DaphnesDiveforcalendar

Daphne’s Dive (Signature)

Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton), this play is the first of several at the Signature to be written by Pulitzer winner Quiara Alegría Hudes (who collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda in writing In The Heights). “Daphne’s Dive is a cheap corner bar in North Philly where Daphne and her vibrant, eclectic regulars drink to art, politics, and life.”

A Better Place (Duke at 72nd Street)

A new comedy by Wendy Beckett about a couple transfixed by and jealous of their neighbors, whom they know only by spying them through the window.

 

May 17

Indecent

Indecent (Vineyard)

Paula VogelIn the same season that Shuffle Along presents the backstage story to a famous Broadway musical from the 1920’s, Paula Vogel’s new play looks at the events surrounding the 1923 Broadway debut of Yiddish-theater playwright Sholem Asch’s controversial drama God of Vengeance, which dealt with prostitution and lesbianism and whose cast was successfully prosecuted for obscenity.

May 18

The Ruins of Civilization (MTC)

A couple open their home to a stranger in need sometime in the future, with unexpected results. Written by Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike)

May 19

Jason Dirden and Nikiya Mathis

Jason Dirden and Nikiya Mathis

Skeleton Crew (Atlantic)

In Dominique Morisseau’s third play in her Detroit trilogy, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. I reviewed Skeleton Crew positively when it was in the Atlantic’s smaller theater.

JoeMortonasDickGregory

Turn Me Loose (Westside Theater)

Joe Morton stars Dick Gregory in this new play about the trailblazing comic who became an activist.

May 22

AlbeeFornesKennedy

Signature One Acts

Edward Albee’s The Sandbox
María Irene Fornés’ Drowning
Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro

This trio of famous one-act plays is directed by Lila Neugebauer

May 23

hadestown poster

Hadestown (New York Theatre Workshop)

Inspired by Orpheus’ mythical quest to overcome Hades and regain the favor of his one true love, this musical developed and directed by Rachel Chavkin  (a name you’ll keep on hearing), with folk and jazz music by Anaïs Mitchell, takes place in an “industrialized world of mindless labor and full stomachs.”
Hadestown
New York Theatre Workshop

Damon Daunno as Orpheus, Nabiyah Be as Eurydice

May 24

Incognito (MTC)

Written by Nick Payne (Constellations) and directed by Doug Hughes (Doubt.) “A pathologist steals the brain of Albert Einstein; a neuropsychologist embarks on her first romance with another woman; a seizure patient forgets everything but how much he loves his girlfriend.”

May 25

Click to see enlarged

Paramour (Lyric Theater)

The first Cirque du Soleil show to debut on Broadway, it features the company’s usual acrobatics and circus acts but also promises a plot — the backstage story about a young actress “forced to choose between love and art in the glamorous world of Golden Age Hollywood,” with a cast of 38 led by Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis and Ryan Vona.

peergynt_poster

Peer Gynt (Classic Stage)

Director John Doyle (Passion, Allegro)adapted Ibsen’s tale of the misadventures of young Peer from childhood renegade to outcast, adventurer, industrialist…

Total Bent Headshot Bar_V3

The Total Bent

British record producer courts a Southern black composer in this musical written by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, the team behind Passing Strange.

May 26

Friend Art (Second Stage)

“In this comedy we’re confronted with what it means to support the art and decisions your friends make, regardless of what it does to your friendships.” The cast includes Constantine Maroulis.

April 2016 Theater Openings Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway

This month only seven shows will open on Broadway — “only” because April is usually the most intense of theater-going months. (Last April there were 14 Broadway openings.)

The Broadway offerings include three plays — one new, starring Frank Langella; two revivals (of a comedy and of a tragedy) — and four Broadway musicals. Three of the musicals are new — about a waitress, a serial killer, and a girl who discovers the fountain of immortality.  The fourth is both new and a revival — see “Shuffle Along,” opening April 28th, the final cut-off date for Tony Awards eligibility.

April is still the busiest month, with many shows opening Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

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

Nothing, of course, is guaranteed about any of these shows, even those that seem the most promising. There are always surprises, some of them good.

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 2016 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2016 Preview Guide

April 3

CagneyforCalendar

Cagney (Westside Theater)

This musical about the movie star and song-and-dance-man James Cagney was well-received at York Theatre Company, and is being transferred for a commercial Off-Broadway run.

April 4

AntliaforCalendar

Antlia Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons)

In a ranch house deep in Texas Hill Country, a once tight-knit group of friends reunites to bury one of their own. But as they look backward through their lives, it becomes clear they’ve lost more than just their old pal. A play by Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns.)

 

April 6

Primary (IRT Theater)

The allure of local politics has brainwashed Laura, into a misguided campaign for State Representative. Her nine-year-old daughter Sophie must bring her back from the dark side.

 

April 7

DaddyIssuesforcalendar

Daddy Issues (Davenport)

The only thing that will make Donald’s overbearing parents happy is for him to give them a grandchild, so he hired the ten-year-old kid from downstairs.

VincentforCalendar

Vincent (Starry Night Theater Company at Theatre at St. Clements)

A play by the late Leonard Nimoy about the artist Vincent van Gogh, adapted from his letters to his brother

 

April 12

Exit Strategy (Primary Stages at Cherry Lane)

Written by Ike Holter, who wrote Hit The Wall, about the Stonewall Riots that started the modern gay rights movement in America. The press material says the play is “about the chaotic final days of a Chicago public school,

 

April 13

Set Design TONY STRAIGES Costume Design ANITA YAVICH Lighting Design JOE NOVAK Sound Design MATT STINE

 

Nathan The Wise (Classic Stage Company) 

In the Jerusalem of 1192, when Muslims, Christians and Jews live side by side thanks to a fragile truce that could collapse at any moment, a question arises from the ruling Sultan: “which religion is the one most beloved by God?” Nathan, a pious Jewish merchant, is charged with answering this question to help secure the continued safety of his people. F Murray Abraham portrays Nathan, Stark Sands a crusading Christian, in this 18th century play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing adapted by Edward Kemp.

Two Rooms (Phoebe Productions At Theatre 54)

In this play by Lee Blessing, the wife of an American hostage held in Beirut faces the difficult decision of cooperating with cautious hostage negotiators from the State Department or taking a riskier path by speaking candidly and publicly with a journalist.

 

April 14

Frank Langella in TheFather

 

The Father (MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre)

Andre (Frank Langella) is a retired dancer living with his adult daughter Anne and her husband. Or is he a retired engineer receiving a visit from Anne who has moved away with her boyfriend? Why do strangers keep turning up in his room? A look inside the mind of someone suffering from dementia.

 

One Funny Mother (New World Stages)

Dena Blizzard riffs on motherhood

 

Like Money in the Bank (Theatre Row)

A “romantic comedy about the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank. In 1910 Chicago, a suffragist-social reformer woman asks an immigrant mechanic to build her a new steam boiler. But instead of central heating, the pair gets drawn into a political struggle over how money and labor will collide in the Progressive Era.”

 

April 18

When I was a Girl I used to Scream and Shout (Theatre Row)

A play by Sharman Macdonald about a mother and daughter sharing a Scottish beach holiday that brings back memories of betrayal.

The Dingdong (The Pearl)

“Vatelin is a faithful husband—mostly. Lucy is a faithful wife—kind of. And their “fidelity” is about to be put to the test when a series of importunate suitors and femme fatales invade their little world.” Mark Shanahan’s adaptation of Le Dindon by George Feydeau

 

April 19

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again

Revolt, She Said, Revolt Again (Soho Rep)

“A series of provocations overlap, intersect, and explode to create a wildly theatrical and irreverent new play about how we talk to, and about, each other.” A play by Alice Birch

 

April 21

American Psycho (Schoenfeld)

 

Benjamin Walker, Jennifer Damiano, Alice Ripley, Helene York star in a musical based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis about a stylish serial killer. Music by Duncan Sheik.

In The Secret Sea (Theatre Row)

“A gut-wrenching decision confronts a newly-married couple, their parents, their consciences, and the rest of their lives.” A play by Cate Ryan.

 

April 24

SchoolForScandalforcalendar

The School For Scandal (Red Bull at The Lucille Lortel)

The 18th century farce by Richard Sheridan

Waitress (Brooks Atkinson Theatre)

 

Based on the 2007 movie written by Adrienne Shelly, the musical with a score by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, focuses on Jenna (Jessie Mueller), a waitress and expert pie maker, who is stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage… until a baking content in a nearby county and the town’s handsome new doctor .

April 25

FullyCommittedLogo

Fully Committed (Lyceum)

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is said to portray 40 character involved with a high-class restaurant in this revival of the play by Becky Mode.

 

April 26

Tuck Everlasting (The Broadhurst)

TuckEverlastingforCalendar

Based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt, the musical tells the story of Winnie Foster, who embarks on a life-changing adventure after she discovers the secret of the Tuck family (hint of what it is in the title.

 

April 27

Long Days Journey Into NightAmerican Airlines Theatre

Gabriel Byrne and jessica Lange

Long Day’s Journey into Night (American Airlines)

The sixth production of O’Neill’s riveting play about the Tyrone family, undisguised as his own. Starring Gabriel Byrne, John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Lange, Michael Shannon

 

AllOverTheMapposterAll Over The Map (Theatre Row)

Bill Bowers’ one man show in which he “takes you places so unbelievable they could only be true’

 

April 28

ShuffleAlongartwork

Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Music Box)

In May 1921, the new musical Shuffle Along became a hit, significantly altering the face of the Broadway musical. This is both that musical and the story of that musical. Cast includes Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon, Joshua Henry

 

Thao's Library posterThao’s Library (Theatre Row)

A multi-media play written and performed by Elizabeth Van Meter, with footage drawn from her documentary of the same name about her discovery of a photograph that propels her to rural Vietnam to meet a woman whose spirit inspires her to build a library.

Exile Is My Home (Theatre for a New City Cabaret Theatre)

 A sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fairy tale about Mina and Lina, a refugee couple from the Balkans traveling through the galaxy in search of a planet to call home.

 

 

March 2016 Theater Openings Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway

The season is suddenly in bloom.

Six shows are opening on Broadway in March, including a musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; the next installment of Arthur Miller as interpreted by avant-garde director Ivo van Hove; and “Eclipsed” by Danai Gurira, starring the luminous Lupita Amondi Nyong’o making her Broadway debut. March is happening as much Off-Broadway: Gurira has a second play opening at Playwrights Horizons, and let’s not forget that Eclipsed is transferring from its sold-out run at the Public Theater, which is on a definite roll. Just this month,  four new plays and musicals are opening at the Public, two of them star-studded — Homeland’s Clare Danes, The Office’s John Krasinski, Phylicia Rashad — and the other two promising to break new ground in theatrical storytelling.

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

Nothing, of course, is guaranteed about any of these shows, even those that seem the most promising. (This is why I write reviews.)

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or BlueOff Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Broadway Spring 2016 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2016 Preview Guide

March 3

familiar for calendar

 

Familiar (Playwrights Horizons)

“It’s winter in Minnesota, and a Zimbabwean family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter, a first-generation American. But when the bride insists on observing a traditional African custom, it opens a deep rift in the household.” The play is written by Danai Gurira,whose Eclipsed opens three days later on Broadway.

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Red Speedo (New York Theatre Workshop)

Lucas Hnath (The Christians) writes about an Olympic swimmer who “confronts the lure of endorsements, the perils of mixing the personal and professional, and the unforgiving weight of success.”

3 Mics (Lynn Redgrave Theater)

Neal Brennan takes the stage alternating between three separate microphones, each giving voice to the various aspects of his life – stand-up, one-liners, and “emotional stuff.”

March 4

Hungry (The Public Theater)

As a kind of follow-up to Richard Nelson’s impressive series, The Apple Family Plays, the playwright is writing a three-play cycle about a different family in the same upstate city of Rhinebeck, using the same approach — the discussion of politics happening on the same day as the play itself is unfolding.

 

March 6

Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed

Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed

Eclipsed (The Golden Theater)

Eclipsed is the story of five extraordinary women brought together by upheaval in their homeland of Liberia. Written by Danai Gurira, it stars Lupita Nyong’o

March 7

TheRoyaleforCalendar

The Royale (Lincoln Center Mitzi Newhouse)

Written by Marco Ramirez and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the play is “loosely based on the real-life experiences of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight world champion.”

White Rabbit Red Rabbit (Westside Theater)

An all-star cast, including Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg and George Takei (but one at a time), reads this play  by award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, who has been barred from leaving his native country because of his status as a conscientious objector.

March 8

DisasterforCalendar

Disaster

A spoof of 1970s disaster films written and co-starring Seth Rudetsky, using the popular music from that era. Among the cast are Faith Prince and Rachel York.

March 9

That Physics Show (Elektra Theater)

David Maiullo brings his physics experiments to the  stage, demonstrating such concepts as motion, momentum, vacuum, friction, energy,and sound vibration.

March 10

blackbirdin2007

Blackbird (Belasco)

In this play written by David Harrower and directed by Joe Mantello, Jeff Daniels stars as Ray, who had sex with Una when she was 12 years old, and went to jail for it. Fifteen years later, Una (Michelle Williams) tracks him down.

Boy (Theater Row)

A play by Anna Ziegler “based in part on a true story” about an adult who was raised as a girl seeking out a new identity.

March 13

Southern Comfort (The Public Theater)

A bluegrass-tinged musical based on a documentary that tells the true story of a group of transgender friends living life on their own terms in the back hills of rural Georgia

Robber Bridegroom for Calendar Steven-Pasquale-and-the-company-in-THE-ROBBER-BRIDEGROOM-photo-by-Joan-Marcus%2c-2016

The Robber Bridegroom (RTC Laura Pels)

Steven Pasquale stars in this revival of the musical with book by Alfred Uhry about  “a Southern-fried Robin Hood” who falls in love

Widower’s Houses (TACT at Theater Row)

George Bernard Shaw’s funny debut play tackles the crisis of conscience of a young man who comes face to face with the choice between his love and his ideals.

March 14

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Hold Onto Me Darling (Atlantic)

The new play by Kenneth Lonergan focuses on a world-famous country singer who questions his celebrity after his mother’s death, and moves back to his hometown; “it doesn’t go well.”

March 15

Ideation (59359)

Aaron Loeb brings a dark comic edge to this psychological suspense thriller, in which a group of corporate consultants work together on a mysterious and ethically ambiguous project

March 16

 

Ironbound (Rattlestick)

Marin Ireland and Josiah Bania in Ironbound. photo by Sandra Coudert (2)

In this play by Martyna Majok, Darja, a Polish immigrant cleaning lady (Marin Ireland), is done talking about feelings; it’s time to talk money. Over the course of 20 years and three relationships, Darja negotiates for her future with men who can offer her love or security, but never both. Critically acclaimed when it was presented at the Women’s Voices Theater Festival in Bethesda, Md.

The Way West (Labyrinth Theater)

TheWayWestforCalendar

In this new comedy by Mona Mansour, Mom has entered a new chapter in her life: Chapter 11.  Of course, that doesn’t stop her spending money…or borrowing money…or loaning money. Her daughters stage a financial intervention.

March 17

She Loves Me (Studio 54)

At the parfumerie where both work, Amalia (Laura Benanti) and Georg (Zachary Levi) hate each other. But as secret anonymous pen pals, they are falling in love.

I’m partial to this show.

March 20

The Effect for Calendar Susannah_Flood__George_Demas__Kati_Brazda__Carter_Hudson__(photo_by_Matthew_Murphy)

The Effect (Barrow Street Theater)

In a play by Lucy Prebble (Enron) directed by David Cromer (Our Town, Tribes), Connie and Tristan have palpable chemistry with one another—or is it a side effect of a new super-antidepressant? They are volunteers in a clinical trial, but their sudden and illicit romance forces the supervising doctors to face off over the ethical consequences of their work.

March 21

The Wolf in the River (The Flea)

A play written and directed by Adam Rapp that “explores love and neglect, the challenges of poverty, the dangerous cost of shiftlessness.”

March 22

Dry Powder (Public Theater)

The wheeling-dealing of the executives (including The Office’s John Krasinski making his stage debut, and Homeland’s Clare Danes) in a private equity firm.

DRY POWDERPUBLIC THEATER/MARTINSON HALL 425 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK

John Krasinski and  Claire Danes in Dry Powder

March 24

Bright Star From Grammy and Emmy winner Steve Martin and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Edie Brickell comes this hopeful and heart-swelling new musical, directed by Tony winner Walter Bobbie. Don't miss this powerful reminder that even in the darkest sky, there's always one… Bright Star. Carmen Cusack reprises the role of Alice, which she originated in Bright Star's world premiere production, and will be joined by co-stars Paul Alexander Nolan, Tony Award nominee Michael Mulheren, A.J. Shively, Hannah Elless, Tony Award nominee Stephen Bogardus, three-time Tony Award nominee Dee Hoty, Stephen Lee Anderson, Emily Padgett, Tony Award nominee Jeff Blumenkrantz, along with Maddie Shea Baldwin, Allison Briner, Max Chernin, Patrick Cummings, Sandra DeNise, Richard Gatta, Lizzie Klemperer, Michael X. Martin, William Michals, Tony Roach, Sarah Jane Shanks and William Youmans.

Bright Star (Cort)

This musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell tells of the meeting between successful literary editor Alice Murphy and an ambitious young soldier just home from World War II. Their connection inspires Alice to confront a shocking incident from her past.

 

March 28

HEAD OF PASSESPUBLIC THEATER/NEWMAN THEATER 425 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK

HEAD OF PASSES PUBLIC THEATER/NEWMAN THEATER 425 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK Cast: Alana Arenas, Francois Battiste, Kyle Beltran, J. Bernard Calloway, Robert Joy, John Earl Jelks, Phylicia Rashad and Arnetia Walker Director: Tina Landau PLAYWRIGHT: TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY

 

Head of Passes (Public Theater)

Inspired by the Book of Job, this play by Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) and directed by Tina Landau presents the story of Shelah (Phylicia Rashad) who must fight to survive during a reunion held on her birthday.

 Hamlet10 (The Flamboyan Theater)

In The New York Shakespeare Exchange production, ten actors (five male, five female) play all the roles in the play, including, by turns, the role of the tragic Danish prince.

Stupid F…ing Bird (Pearl Theater)

Aaron Posner’s “‘sort of’ adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull

March 30

Locusts Have No King (Intar)

In this play by J. Julian Christopher, two gay couples work together and even live in the same building. But they are closeted. But When one of them ponders his resignation, the others fear the exposure of their hidden relationships.

1776 (Encores)

Running just over a long weekend, this concert version of the musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, is certainly well-timed — not just to the election, but thanks to Hamilton.  The concert features  Santino Fontna (John Adams), John Behlmann (Thomas Jefferson) John Larroquette (Benjamin Franklin) as well as Andre De Shields and Nikki Renee Daniels

March 31

The Crucible 8

Elizabeth Teeter, Saoirse Ronan and Tavi Gevinson

The Crucible (Walter Kerr)

This is the sixth Broadway production of Miller’s popular account of the Salem witch trials of the 1690’s, but it is being directed by the experimental Belgium director Ivo van Hove, who made his Broadway debut in 2015 with another Miller play, A View From The Bridge. The cast includes Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, Ciaran Hinds, Saoirse Ronan.

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