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August 2017 New York Theater Openings: Hal Prince, Michael Moore…and More

Michael Moore and Harold Prince have the month all to themselves, more or less,  at the center of the two Broadway shows opening this month. It’s unusual to have any shows open on Broadway in August. Usually, it’s a month filled with festival fare — but, for the first time in 20 years, there will be no  New York International Fringe Festival this August, thus minus its 200+ shows. Still, there are three other (much smaller) theater festivals opening this month, one of them new.

Below, shows with August openings arranged chronologically by opening date.Click on any title to get to its website.

Color key: Broadway: RedOff Broadway: blue. Off Off Broadway: Green. Theater festival: Orange

August 2

A Parallelogram (Second Stage Theater)

A new play by Bruce Norris, the author of Clybourne Park, stars Celia Keenan-Bolger as a woman who can see her future.

August 3

Curvy Widow (Westside Theater)

Nancy Opel stars in a musical comedy “based on a true story” as a 50-year-old widow going back into the dating pool.

August 6

summer shorts 59e59

Summer Shorts, Series B (59E59 Theater)

Plays by Neil LaBute; Chris Cragin-Day; Lindsay Craft and Andrew Leeds

August 7

Corkscrew Theater Festival (Paradise Factory)

Running Aug 7 – Sept 3, this new summer theater festival features five world premieres and five readings performed in repertory over four weeks.

August 10

The Terms of My Surrender (Belasco)

Michael Moore makes his Broadway debut in what promises to be a stand-up routine to take down Trump.

A Never-Ending Line (Players Theater)

A song cycle with music by Jaime Lozano and lyrics by nine women lyricists. “Inspired by his upbringing in a strong matriarchy, Lozano conceived the show as a tribute to the women in his life. The songs, performed by a company of four, explore the unique challenges women face in society today on the journey to find happiness, love, and meaning in their lives. ”

August 17

Come Light My Cigarette (Theater at St. Clement’s)

A new musical about a young actress who “is driven to confront the two most turbulent relationships in her life—her father, with whom she shares a volatile and shameful past, and her ex-lover, a powerful and controlling woman who was instrumental in making her a success.”

August 24

Prince of Broadway (MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman)

Musical numbers from shows in which Hal Prince served as a producer or director, such as “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cabaret,” “Follies” and “Sweeney Todd.”

The Suitcase Under the Bed (Mint Theater at Theater Row)

An evening of four one act plays by Irish playwright Teresa Deevy (1894-1963), directed by Jonathan Bank.

August 27

Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn in I.M. LOST!

Dream Up Festival  (Theater for The New City)

The eighth annual festival will run August 27 – September 17, featuring more than 25 plays, 12 of them world premiere, four musicals, four on LGBTQ themes. One play comes from Iceland, “Guilty,”  about an infamous 19th century crime there. Another,”I.M. LOST!” is an “interactive clown show” based on interviews with clowns.

August 30

Inanimate (The Flea)

Nick Robideau’s play is about a woman who is in love with a Dairy Queen sign.  The play “explores objectum sexuality, feeling like an outsider, listening to your heart and finally, finding your tribe.”  But what’s most significant is that it’s the premiere play in the new million-dollar digs of The Flea, one of the consistently best Off-Off Broadway theaters in the city.
Here’s a video I put together of The Flea when they broke ground on the new building four years ago:

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July 2017 New York Theater Openings

This is an unusual month for New York theater: While there are no shows opening on Broadway, and few Off-Broadway, there is plenty to see – the annual summer theater festivals, such as the New York Musical Festival, NYMF 2017, which starts on July 10; FREE theatrical concerts like the weekly Broadway in Bryant Park, countless Shakespeares in the parks; and some one-off theater festivals, such as the month-long Soulpepper on 42nd Street — the 20-year-old Canadian theater company’s presentation of ten of its popular plays.

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

July 5

Kim’s Convenience (Soulpepper at Signature)

Kim’s Convenience, “the most successful new Canadian play of the last decade, is set in a family-run Korean variety store. This is one of the 10 shows presented by Soulpepper on 42nd Street.

 

July 6

Of Human Bondage (Soulpepper at Signature)

“W. Somerset Maugham’s epic tale of lustful obsession and the pursuit of art is adapted for the stage for the first time anywhere. “

July 7

To To or not to T

To T or Not To T (Hot Festival)

Queer/transgender Tamil-Sri LankanAmerican artist D’Lo contemplates  passing as a cisgender, straight, male, person of color. This is one production in a festival at Dixon Place that bills itself as “the longest-running LGBTQ festival in the world”

July 10

Pipeline (Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse)  

A mother’s hopes for her son clash with an educational system rigged against him in a new play by Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew).

Amerike The Golden Land (National Yiddish Theatre)

The story of an immigrant people, using  popular songs of the day, with stories “based on the lived experience of real immigrants “ In Yiddish with Russian and English supertitles.

Matthew McConaughey vs. The Devil (NYMF)

“A Faustian musical comedy that dares to ask the question, “How did Matthew McConaughey win an Academy Award?’ This is one of 20 full productions in New York Musical Festival (NYMF 2017) which runs through August 6

Opening Skinner’s Box (Lincoln Center Festival)

Britain’s Improbable theater company takes us on a tour of “great psychological experiments of the 20th century.” This is the first of five works from the Lincoln Center Festival that are identified as theater.

July 12

Assassins (Encores Off Center! NY City Center) 

A concert series production of the musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman about Presidential assassins and would-be assassins.

SAMSUNG CSC

True Right (Ice Factory Festival)

“A reimagining of Sam Shepard’s True West–featuring George and Jeb Bush, as played by two ethnic ladies.” One of the seven plays of this festival.

July 13

Hamlet (Public Theater)

Oscar Isaac as Hamlet, Charlayne Woodard as Gertrude and Keegan-Michael Key as Horatio. Directed by Sam Gold.

 

July 19

While I Was Waiting (Lincoln Center Festival)

Syrian playwright Mohammad Al Attar offers a portrait of Syria through one middle-class Damascus family who gather around the hospital bed of their son, who was beaten into a coma at a checkpoint. It is based on a true story.

This is one of three plays “opening” on this day (and running just a few performances) as part of Lincoln Center Festival,

Pete The Cat (TheatreworksUSA at Lucille Lortel)

This summer’s FREE summer offering of children’s theater is based on the book series of the same name by James and Kimberly Dean, and recommended for pre-K through third grade.

 

July 23

Money Talks (Davenport Theater

In this 95-minute musical comedy, Ben Franklin, the face on the $100 bill, is passed from a hedge fund manager, to a stripper, to a judge etc, trying to convince each of them to change their priorities before it’s too late.

Endangered (Davenport Theatre)

A musical about a social media savvy kid reporter and a group of endangered animals from around the globe who must survive an unexpected superstorm.

 

July 26

The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Encores Off Center! NY City Center)

Concert version of Kirsten Childs’ 2000 musical is about “a young African-American dancer who finds her way from West Coast suburbia to Broadway, all while navigating the politics of race and gender in an attempt to uncover her own identity.”

 

July 31

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in the Park) 

Directed by Lear de Bessonet and choreographed by Chase Brock, Shakespeare’s comedy will feature a starry cast including Annaleigh Ashford, Kyle Beltran, Danny Burstein, and Phylicia Rashad. FREE.

New York Musical Festival NYMF 2017 Preview

A ninth century Pope, a 21st century female Buddha,  Liberace with a notorious gangster, Errol Flynn with Fidel Castro, Matthew McConaughey with the devil, a Conquistador’s daughter with a Taino, and a female inmate string band from the 1930’s are among those featured in the 20 new musicals being given full productions at the 14th annual New York Musical Festival — NYMF 2017 — which runs from July 10 to August 6, 2017. Watch songs from six of them below, plus a seventh that will be presented as a concert. The videos were recorded during performances either at rehearsals or at an outdoor concert.

Besides the 20 full productions, NYMF 2017 will offer more than a dozen concerts and “beta musicals,” and 10 “readings” — new musicals in development. Use NYMF’s search-finder to help determine which of these many shows you might like.

Click on the titles below to get dates and details

A Wall Apart

A rock musical about a 30-year love story set against the backdrop of the Berlin Wall.

@NYReptheatre 

 

The Fourth Messenger

What if the Buddha were a woman, living in our times? Mama Sid is a modern-day “awakened one” with a worldwide following. But a determined young woman seeks to unearth Mama Sid’s mysterious past,

@FourthMessenger 

The Goree All-Girl String Band

The musical is inspired by the true story of six female convicts in 1938 Texas who taught themselves musical instruments in prison and became a radio sensation.

@GoreeMusical

Matthew McConaughey vs. The Devil

A musical that asks the question “How did Matthew McConaughey win an Academy Award?” The answer involves Lesli Margherita as Mephistophiles.

@M_MC_V_D

Temple of the Souls

A tale of forbidden love in Puerto Rico: Amada, the beautiful daughter of a Conquistador, and Guario, a young Taíno, meet in the magical rain forest

The Cadaver Synod: A Pope Musical

A musical based on a real albeit surreal “trial of the ninth century.” In the year 897 A.D., Pope Stephen VII dug up the rotting corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, and placed it on trial. The defense was represented by a sputtering teenage deacon.

Camp Wanatachi

Two girls’ journey of sexual discovery within the unlikely setting of an all-female Christian summer camp

@CAMPWANATACHI 

It’s Canada Day! Soulpepper Theatre Invades New York

Canada Day, almost always on July 1st, is special this year for two reasons: 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary. And it’s the first day of Soulpepper on 42nd Street.

Starting today through July 29, Soulpepper,  a 20-year-old theater company company based in Toronto, is taking over the Signature Theater Center and presenting 65 Canadian artists (63 of whom are making their New York stage debuts) in 10 shows — plays, musicals and cabarets. (see schedule below)

The kickoff event this afternoon was entitled True North: A Concert of Canada (which will be repeated tonight and Sunday), and featured 90 minutes of Canadian songs, starting with “Heave Away,” the kind of  traditional uptempo Celtic-flavored melody from Newfoundland that obviously influenced the score for “Come From Away,” the current Broadway hit that is the pride of Canada.

The toe-tapping Newfoundland music not of course the Sound of Canada. The Sound of Canada, judging from the Soulpepper concert, ranges from “The Hockey Song,” a folksy singalong about the national sport   to The Africville Suite, a classical jazz composition that pays homage to Africville, a black settlement near  the final stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped American slaves before the Civil War. that the City of Halifax demolished in 1960s. Also included in the concerts are songs by Leonard Cohen, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and The Tragically Hip — yes, Canadians all. A slot was given to J.S. Bach, who was not in fact Canadian, but Bach’s Prelude in C was sung in a mashup with After With Goldrush by Neil Young, who is.

Soulpepper on 42nd Street

Mainstage Productions

Click on the titles for details and dates of performance.

Of Human Bondage

W. Somerset Maugham’s epic tale of lustful obsession and the pursuit of art is adapted for the stage for the first time anywhere.

Kim’s Convenience

The most successful new Canadian play of the last decade, Ins Choi’s “Kim’s Convenience” is set in a family-run Korean variety store. An ode to generations of immigrants who have made Canada the country that it is.

Adapted from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Antholog. In a suspended moment during the burial of one who died too young, the dead come forth and share with us the unfiltered truth of their smalltown existence.

Ensemble Productions

Cage

Inspired by apes, Zen Buddhism, and the ideas of avant-garde composer John Cage, this experimental meditation on time, space, memory, and the human animal
Alligator Pie
Dennis Lee is called “Canada’s Father Goose”(also known for his lyrics to Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock). Five who grew up on his stories have made a musical out of them.
(Dennis Lee himself will give a reading on July 16. Click on “Reading” below.)

((Re)Birth: E.E. Cummings in Song

A whimsical musical celebration of the works of one of America’s great 20th century poets.

Crash
Written and performed by Pamela Mala Sinha.

After the loss of a loved one, a woman must face the shattering memories of a past trauma. Written and performed by Pamela Mala Sinha.

A Brimful of Ashes
Ravi and Asha Jain

Ravi Jain shares the stage with his real life non-actor mother, Asha, to tell each other’s side of Asha’s attempt to arrange Ravi’s marriage.

Concerts

TRUE NORTH: A CONCERT OF CANADA

NEW YORK – THE MELTING POT
A love letter from Toronto’s artists to the city of New York, it traces the contributions of immigrant cultures to the creation of the soundtrack of the 20th century right here in Manhattan.

Cabarets, Reading, Forums

Full Calendar

Broadway 2017-2018 Preview Guide

Updated August 21, 2017

Harry Potter, Olaf the snowman and Spongebob Squarepants all plan to perform on Broadway this season, as will Bruce Springsteen, Amy Schumer, Uma Thurman, Lea Salonga, Mark Rylance, Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Elizabeth McGovern. There will be new plays by Ayad Akhtar, Steve Martin and Tracy Letts; and revivals of My Fair Lady, M. Butterfly, Children of a Lesser God, Travesties, The Iceman Cometh and Once on This Island.

Below is a list of Broadway shows that have nailed down their opening dates and/or theaters for the 2017-2018 season. This list, which is organized chronologically by opening date, will be updated periodically, because the schedule is sure to change – shows will be added, especially 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.

JUNE

1984

Theater: Hudson
Author: Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan
Director: Robert Icke
First Preview: May 18, 2017
Opening: June 22, 2017
Cast: Reed Birney, Tom Sturridge, and Olivia Wilde
Website:
Twitter feed: @RevisedTruth
Stage adaptation of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel

My review of 1984

Marvin’s Room

Theater: American Airlines
Author:  Scott McPherson.
Directors: Anne Kauffman, Whitney White.
First Preview: June 8
Opening: June 29
Cast: Janeane Garofalo, Lili Taylor, Celia Weston
Website
Twitter feed: @RTC_NYC 

The play by Scott McPherson (who died in 1992 at age 33) that was turned into the 1997 star-studded film. “Estranged sisters Lee and Bessie have never seen eye to eye. Lee is a single mother who’s been busy raising her troubled teenage son, Hank. Bessie’s got her hands full with their elderly father and his soap opera-obsessed sister. When Bessie is diagnosed with leukemia, the two women reunite for the first time in 18 years.”

My review of Marvin’s Room

AUGUST

The Terms of My Surrender

Theater: Belasco

Author: Michael Moore

Directors:  Michael Mayer and Noah Racey

First Preview: July 28

Opening: August 10

Cast: Michael Moore

Website

Twitter feed: @MooreBroadway

Michael Moore makes his Broadway debut in what promises to be a stand-up routine to take down Trump.

My review of Terms of My Surrender

Prince of Broadway

Theater: Samuel J. Friedman

Author: David Thompson

Directors: Harold Prince and Susan Stroman

First Preview: August 3

Opening: August 24

Cast:

Website

Twitter feed: @MTC_NYC 

A look at the career of director and producer Harold Prince through musical numbers from shows he helmed, including West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Evita, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera.

OCTOBER

Time and the Conways

Theater: American Airlines

Author: J. B. Priestley

Director: Rebecca Taichman

First Preview: September 14

Opening: October 10

Cast: Elizabeth McGovern

Website

Twitter feed: @RTC_NYC

A revival of a play that was last on Broadway in 1938. Elizabeth McGovern will play Mrs. Conway, who in 1919 Britain, is full of hope at her daughter’s lavish 21st birthday celebration. Jump 19 years ahead, and the Conways’ lives have transformed unimaginably

Springsteen on Broadway

Theater: Walter Kerr

First preview: October 3

Opening: October 12

Closing: November 26

Bruce Springsteen makes his Broadway debut with five concerts a week.  “My show is just me, the guitar, the piano and the words and music. Some of the show is spoken, some of it is sung. It loosely follows the arc of my life and my work.”  He will read from his recently published autobiography, “Born to Run.”

website

M. Butterfly

Theater: Cort

Author: David Henry Hwang

Director: Julie Taymor

Opening: October 26

Cast: Clive Owen

Website

Twitter feed:

Owen will play a married French diplomat in China who carries on a 20-year affair with a mysterious Chinese opera singer—all without realizing that the singer is a man. Producers said the author will introduce “new material inspired by the real-life love affair between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Chinese opera singer Shi Pei Pu that has come to light since the play’s 1988 premiere.”

NOVEMBER

Junk

Theater: Vivian Beaumont

Author: Ayad Akhtar

Director: Doug Hughes

First Preview: October 5

Opening: November 2

Cast: Steven Pasquale

Website

Twitter feed: @LCTheater

From the Pulitzer winning author of Disgraced. Set over 30 years ago, “Junk” – as in “junk bonds” — is a play about “how money became the only thing of real value.”

The Band’s Visit

Theater: Ethel Barrymore

Authors: Itamar Moses, book; David Yazbek, songs.

Director: David Cromer

First Preview: October 7

Opening: November 9

Cast: Much the same as Off-Bway

Website

Twitter feed: @TheBandsVisit

The widely acclaimed Off-Broadway musical moves to Broadway! Based on the 2007 independent film, it follows an Egyptian police band that arrives in the wrong town Israel to play a concert.

My review when it was Off-Broadway.

Meteor Shower

Theater: Booth Theatre
Author: Steve Martin
Director: Jerry Zaks
First Preview: November 1, 2017
Opening: November 29, 2017
Cast: Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Laura Benanti, Alan Tudyk
Two California couples find themselves in marital freefall—and in a meteor shower

@MeteorShowerBwy

The Parisian Woman

Theater: Hudson
Author: Beau Willimon
Director: Pam MacKinnon
First Preview: November 7, 2017
Opening: November 30, 2017
Cast: Uma Thurman, Josh Lucas, Blair Brown
Uma Thurman makes her Broadway debut as Chloe, a socialite armed with charm and wit, coming to terms with politics, her past, her marriage and an uncertain future in the social power center that is Washington D.C.

website

@ParisianBway

DECEMBER

Once on this Island

Theater: Circle in the Square

Authors: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty

Director: Michael Arden,

First Preview: November 9

Opening: December 3

Cast:
Phillip Boykin as Tonton Julian, Merle Dandridge
as Papa Ge/Demon of Death,Quentin Earl Darrington as Agwe/God of Water, Alysha Deslorieux as Andrea, David Jennings as Armand, Hailey Kilgore as Ti Moune , Kenita R. Miller as Mama Euralie, Alex Newell as Asaka/Mother of the Earth,
Isaac Powell as Daniel, Lea Salonga as Erzulie/Goddess of Love

Website

Twitter feed: @OnceIslandBway 

A revival of the musical about Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl who falls in love with a wealthy boy from the other side of the Caribbean island. When their divided cultures threaten to keep them apart, Ti Moune, guided by the island gods, sets out on a remarkable quest to reunite with the man who has captured her heart.

Spongebob Squarepants

Theater: Palace

Author: Kyle Jarrow and Tina Landau

Director: Tina Landau

First Preview: November 6

Opening: December 4

Cast:

Website

Twitter feed: @SpongeBobBway

New musical based on the hit Nickelodeon cartoon series

The score features original songs from a mix of classic and contemporary artists, including Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, and the late David Bowie.

The Children

Theater: Samuel J. Friedman

Author: Lucy Kirkwood

Director: James Macdonald

First Preview: November 28

Opening: December 12

Cast: Francesca Annis, Ron Cook, Deborah Findlay

Website

Twitter feed: @MTC_NYC

In a remote cottage on the lonely British coast, a couple of retired nuclear engineers are living a very quiet life. Outside, the world is in utter chaos following a devastating series of events. When an old friend turns up at their door, they’re shocked to discover the real reason for her visit.

Farinelli and the King

Theater: Belasco

Author:  Claire van Kampen

Director: John Dove

First Preview: December 5

Opening: December 17

Cast: Mark Rylance

Website

Twitter feed: @FarinelliBway

Mark Rylance plays King Philippe of Spain who is entranced by Farinelli, one of the greatest celebrities of his time – a castrato “with a voice so divine it has the power to captivate all who hear it.”

MARCH

The Minutes

Theater: TBA

Author: Tracy Letts

Director: Anna D. Shapiro

First Preview: February 6, 2018

Opening: March 8, 2018

Cast:

Website

Twitter feed:

“A town’s proud history, the legend of a local hero, the coveted privilege of reserved parking: nothing is sacred during the town council meeting at the heart of Tracy Letts’ new play.”

Escape to Margaritaville

Theater: Marquis

Authors: Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley

Director: Christopher Ashley

First Preview: February 16

Opening: March 15

Cast: Paul Alexander Nolan, Alison Luff as Rachel and Lisa Howard

Website

Twitter feed: @buffettmusical 

Frozen

Theater: St. James Theater

Author: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Jennifer Lee

Director: Michael Grandage

First Preview: February 22, 2018

Opening: March, 2018

Cast:  Caissie Levy (Elsa), Patti Murin (Anna), Jelani Alladin (Kristoff), Greg Hildreth (Olaf), John Riddle (Hans) and Robert Creighton (Duke of Weselton)

Website

Twitter feed: @FrozenBroadway

APRIL

Children of a Lesser God

Theater: Studio 54

Author: Mark Medoff

Director: Kenny Leon

First Preview: March 22, 2018

Opening: April 11, 2018

Cast: Joshua Jackson, Lauren Ridloff

A revival of the Tony-winning play about the romance between a hearing man and deaf woman

website

@LesserGodBway

My Fair Lady

Theater: Vivian Beaumont

Authors: Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

Director: Bartlett Sher.

First Preview: March 22

Opening: April 19

Cast: TBA

Website

Twitter feed: @LCTheater

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Theater: Lyric

Author: Jack Thorne

Director: John Tiffany.

First Preview:

Opening: April 22

Cast: Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger, Jamie Parker
as Harry Potter, Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley, Anthony Boyle
as Scorpius Malfoy, Sam Clemmett
as Albus Potter, Poppy Miller
as Ginny Potter, Alex Price as Draco Malfoy

Website

Twitter feed: @HPPlayNYC

A play written by Jack Thorne based on an original story by him, directory John Tiffany and Harry Potter novelist J.K. Rowling “While an adult Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. “

Travesties

Author: Tom Stoppard
Director: Patrick Marber
First Preview: Mar 29, 2018
Opening Date: Apr 24, 2018
Closing Date: Jun 17, 2018
Cast: Tom Hollander

A revival of Tom Stoppard’s play from Great Britain’s Chocolate Factory. :In 1917 Zurich, an artist, Tristan Tzara; a writer, James Joyce; and a revolutionary, Lenin, collide”

Closing Date:Jun 17, 2018

 

The Iceman Cometh

Author: Eugene O’Neill

Director: George C. Wolfe

First Preview: March 22

Opening: April 26

Cast: Denzel Washington + about 18 other cast members TBA.

The fifth Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s play about dead-end alcoholics and prostitutes hanging out in a saloon and rooming house in Greenwich Village in 1912.

Sometime in Spring

Carousel

Theater: TBA

Author: Rodgers and Hammerstein

Director: Jack O’Brien

First Preview: March 23, 2018

Opening: TBA

Cast: Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry, Renee Fleming

Website

Twitter feed:

Check out last season’s Broadway guide

Broadway 2016-2017

Also:

What Broadway Shows Should I See? Top 10 Suggestions.

2017 Tony Awards Cheat Sheet

The 71st annual Tony Awards, honoring the shows that opened in the 2016-2017 season in the 41 Broadway theaters of New York, will be presented starting at 8 p.m. tonight, June 11, 2017 at New York’s 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall.

How To Watch

Most Americans who watch will do so on CBS as a television broadcast that is scheduled to last three hours.

A total of 8.7 million viewers tuned into last year’s Tony Awards broadcast, which was the highest number in 15 years, pumped up by excitement over Hamilton. There is no similar juggernaut this year.

(There are ways as well to watch the Tonys online.)

Info for international viewers and intense fans (who don’t think the three-hour broadcast is enough.)

Host Kevin Spacey

The host will be Kevin Spacey, the Oscar-winning movie actor, currently the star of House of Cards on Netflix portraying a devious homicidal president of the United States (expect at least one Trump joke based on that.)  Spacey is also an eight-time Broadway veteran who won the Tony for best featured actor in 1991 for Lost in Yonkers and was nominated for best actor in 1999 for The Iceman Cometh. Few realize he is also a song-and-dance man, glimpses of which are available in his portrayal of Bobby Darin in the 2004 film Beyond The Sea.

Scheduled Performances

Musical numbers from nominated shows “Bandstand,” ″Come From Away,” ″Dear Evan Hansen,” ″Falsettos,” ″Groundhog Day The Musical,” ″Miss Saigon,” “Natasha,Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” with Josh Groban,″Hello, Dolly!” without Bette Midler,“War Paint”

plus Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. (last year’s Tony winners for The Color Purple and Hamilton, respectively.)

and the Radio City Rockettes

Scheduled Presenters

Lea Salonga and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Orlando Bloom, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Josh Gad, Taraji P. Henson, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Wilde, Scott Bakula, Sara Bareilles, Rachel Bloom, Glenn Close, Brian d’Arcy James, Sally Field, Sutton Foster, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Mark Hamill, Allison Janney, Nick Kroll, John Legend, John Lithgow, Patina Miller, John Mulaney, David Oyelowo, Chazz Palminteri, Sarah Paulson, Lea Salonga, Tom Sturridge and Tommy Tune.

There will also be an appearance by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

What To Watch For

Both Best Musical and Best Play categories are competitive this year. Look to see how many of its 12 nominations Great Comet nails as the evening progresses, and Dear Evan Hansen’s nine, and Come From Away’s seven.

Also, see what the Tonys do to celebrate an unusually strong season of straight (non-musical) plays. Normally, they’re given short shrift.

Tony Nominations

Below is the list of Tony nominations organized by category. (And below that is a list of the number of nominations each show received.)

(For a rundown on which I feel SHOULD win, plus links to my reviews, click here)

Best Play
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Indecent
Oslo
Sweat


Best Musical

Come From Away
Dear Evan Hansen
Groundhog Day The Musical
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812


Best Book of a Musical

Come From Away
Irene Sankoff and David Hein

Dear Evan Hansen
Steven Levenson

Groundhog Day The Musical
Danny Rubin

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Dave Malloy


Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Come From Away
Music & Lyrics: Irene Sankoff and David Hein

Dear Evan Hansen
Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Groundhog Day The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Music & Lyrics: Dave Malloy


Best Revival of a Play

August Wilson’s Jitney
John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation
Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Present Laughter


Best Revival of a Musical

Falsettos
Hello, Dolly!
Miss Saigon


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Denis Arndt, Heisenberg
Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Corey Hawkins, John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Jefferson Mays, Oslo


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Cate Blanchett, The Present
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Laura Linney, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Christian Borle, Falsettos
Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day The Musical
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Michael Aronov, Oslo
Danny DeVito, Arthur Miller’s The Price
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Richard Thomas, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
John Douglas Thompson, August Wilson’s Jitney


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Johanna Day, Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Cynthia Nixon, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Condola Rashad, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Michelle Wilson, Sweat


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia


Best Scenic Design of a Play

David Gallo, August Wilson’s Jitney
Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page
Michael Yeargan, Oslo


Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Rob Howell, Groundhog Day The Musical
David Korins, War Paint
Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!


Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
Toni-Leslie James, August Wilson’s Jitney
David Zinn, A Doll’s House, Part 2


Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho, Anastasia
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Paloma Young, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Catherine Zuber, War Paint


Best Lighting Design of a Play

Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Jane Cox, August Wilson’s Jitney
Donald Holder, Oslo
Jennifer Tipton, A Doll’s House, Part 2


Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Howell Binkley, Come From Away
Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!
Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Japhy Weideman, Dear Evan Hansen


Best Direction of a Play

Sam Gold, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s Jitney
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Daniel Sullivan, Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent


Best Direction of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen
Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day The Musical
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!


Best Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day The Musical
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical
Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812


Best Orchestrations

Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!
Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen
Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

 

* * *

 

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

 

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award

Gareth Fry & Pete Malkin, Sound Designers for The Encounter

Regional Theatre Tony Award

Dallas Theater Center

Dallas, TX

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Baayork Lee

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre

Nina Lannan

Alan Wasser

 

Tony Nominations by Production

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 – 1

Hello, Dolly! – 10

Dear Evan Hansen – 9

A Doll’s House, Part 2 – 8

Come From Away – 7

Groundhog Day The Musical – 7

Oslo – 7

August Wilson’s Jitney – 6

Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes – 6

Falsettos – 5

War Paint – 4

Indecent – 3

Present Laughter – 3

Sweat – 3

Anastasia – 2

Bandstand – 2

The Front Page – 2

John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation – 2

Miss Saigon – 2

Arthur Miller’s The Price – 1

The Glass Menagerie – 1

Heisenberg – 1

Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical – 1

The Play That Goes Wrong – 1

The Present – 1

What Broadway Shows Should I See? Top 10 Suggestions

“I just want you to pick the shows for me,” an out-of-town friend, planning a visit to New York, said to me recently, exasperated that I was trying to determine his taste in theater before making some recommendations.

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 for Broadway known as the Tony Awards broadcast.

Below are some suggestions, listed alphabetically under several categories, starting with long-time hits. They are recommendations based largely on my taste.

 

FOUR LONG-TIME HIT MUSICALS

These musicals have proven to be audience favorites, but a caveat: The original casts have long since moved on.

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” and “Frozen” (music and lyrics) is about the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and his 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

Tickets to Book of Mormon

 

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.

Tickets to Lion King

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. I find this show too loud and overwrought for my taste, but it is the one exception I’m making to the list of recommendations based on my personal taste, because it’s a tourist favorite, and admittedly visually stunning – people still ooh at the falling chandelier.

 

Tickets to Phantom of the Opera

 

Wicked NY

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.

Tickets to Wicked

FOUR GREAT NEW 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 more substantive, stimulating and satisfying (and less expensive.)

laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper and Jane Houdyshell

A DOLL’S HOUSE PART 2
John Golden Theater (252 West 45th Street)
Opened: April 27, 2017
Twitter: @DollsHousePart2

The main pleasures in A Doll’s House, Part 2, are rooted in the chance to watch four accomplished performers in this compelling, and surprisingly humorous sequel to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, written 138 years after that first play by Lucas Hnath, making his Broadway playwriting debut. Laurie Metcalf is magnificent as Nora, returning home 15 years after she left her husband and children, with an urgent ulterior motive, and encountering Chris Cooper as Nora’s husband Torvald, Jayne Houdyshell as her former nanny Anne Marie, and Condola Rashad as her daughter

More on A Doll’s House Part 2

Tickets to A Doll’s House Part 2

INDECENT
Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street)
Opened: April 18, 2017
@IndecentBway

There are many reasons to find deep satisfaction in Indecent, a fascinating backstage tale strikingly staged about a century-old Jewish drama entitled “God of Vengeance,” which featured a scandalizing kiss between two women that caused its Broadway cast to be prosecuted for obscenity. It marks the long-delayed Broadway debut of Paula Vogel, who at 65 is one of the theatre community’s most admired playwrights and playwriting teachers.

It is proof that a play can explore a range of frighteningly relevant issues and be simultaneously enlightening, moving and entertaining. There is so much delightful music in the show that it often feels like a musical.

More on Indecent

Tickets to Indecent

OSLO
Vivian Beaumont Theatre
150 West 65th Street
Opened: April 13, 2017

@LCTheater

“Oslo” explores the little-known story of how a Norwegian couple instigated and pushed along the secret negotiations that led to the famous moment when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands at the White House in 1993. The play offers a lucid refresher course on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, provides entertainment that is both surprisingly funny and suspenseful. It also leaves us with a sense that maybe even the world’s most unsettling situations can someday be settled.

More on Oslo

Tickets to Oslo

Khris Davis and Will Pullen

SWEAT
Studio 54 Theatre (254 West 54th Street)
Opened: March 26, 2017
Twitter; @SweatBroadway

Playwright Lynn Nottage won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in Drama for this play about a group of friends and family members who hang out in a bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, which was identified in 2010 as the poorest city in America. Like Grapes of Wrath, it 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.

More on Sweat

Tickets to Sweat

TWO BELOVED NEW MUSICALS

DEAR EVAN HANSEN
Music Box Theatre
239 West 45th Stree
Opened: December 04, 2016
Twitter: @DearEvanHansen

Ben Platt gives an extraordinary performance as Evan Hansen, an anxious high school student with no real friends who becomes the center of attention when a classmate he barely knew commits suicide and, through a misunderstanding, people think that Evan was his best friend.  Evan turns that misunderstanding into a lie, and the lie gets out of hand. The musical offers insights into an array of issues, from adolescent insecurity to the downside of social media, while keeping us emotionally engaged with the characters. The songs by Pasek and Paul are tuneful and deeply felt.

More on Dear Evan Hansen

Tickets to Dear Evan Hansen

Lucas Steele as Anatole and Denee Benton as Natasha

NATASHA, PIERRE AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812
Imperial Theatre  (249 West 45th Street)
Opened: November 14, 2016
Twitter: @GreatCometBway

They’ve made a party out of what looks on paper like unlikely material —  a sing-through musical with  an unwieldy title based on  70 pages of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But Dave Malloy’s eclectic score is tuneful, the performances are terrific, and the stagecraft is groundbreaking.  Director Rachel Chavkin and set designer Mimi Lien in particular deserve kudos for re-creating on Broadway something very close to the kind of immersive theater that’s lately been intriguing theatergoers all over the world. (Josh Groban as Pierre leaves in July.)

More on Great Comet

Tickets to Great Comet

 

WHAT ABOUT GREAT CHOREOGRAPHY?

 

Check out Bandstand and On Your Feet (which is closing August 20),

 

WHAT ABOUT HAMILTON?

Javier Munoz and cast

I loved Hamilton,  Off-Broadway ,  on Broadway  and now with the new cast , finding it ground-breaking and breathtaking. You have to decide whether it’s 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, where top ticket prices are $849. My feeling is you shouldn’t need to choose between seeing a show and taking a trip to Europe.

There IS a daily lottery online  where you can try your luck at snagging one of the tickets for only  $10 (because Hamilton’s face is on the ten-dollar bill.)

Tickets to Hamilton

WHAT ABOUT HELLO, DOLLY! AND COME FROM AWAY?

This is my taste, remember?

More on Hello, Dolly!

Tickets to Hello, Dolly!

More on Come From Away

Tickets to Come From Away

 

ON A LIMITED BUDGET?

There ARE ways to get affordable tickets to Broadway shows, especially if you are willing to 1. Wait until the day of the performance, and 2. Live with uncertainty. Getting tickets to a hit Broadway show for as little as $10 (and no more than $80) takes time, luck, knowledge and/or ingenuity. Most shows now have digital lotteries and “rush” tickets. For a show-by-show breakdown on the discounts available, check out Broadway for Broke People

 

DON’T FORGET OFF-BROADWAY

Some of the best shows on Broadway began Off-Broadway. Off-Broadway shows tend to be more adventurous and less expensive. But they also tend to have more limited runs, and be less publicized. Off-Broadway shows don’t get the attention they deserve. A willingness to hunt a little will pay off in a satisfying discovery, and bragging rights possibly for years to come.

Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello

To pick one current example of a terrific show Off-Broadway: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s glorious murderous musical, began in 2014 in Harrington’s, one of London’s oldest working pie shops. An impressively detailed replica of Harrington’s has now set up shop Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theater, including the pies

More on Sweeney Todd (The show now has an All-American cast, led by Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello.)

Tickets to Sweeney Todd

LOOK OUT FOR THE NEXT HIT

Check out my latest monthly calendar of openings to what’s newly available on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

 

June 2017 New York Theater Openings

Below is a preview  of the shows opening on New York stages in June — including the first two shows of the 2017-2018 Broadway season — 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, with one exception.)
Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple, blue or black. Off Off Broadway: Green.

June 1

The Government Inspector (Red Bull  at The Duke)

Michael Urie stars in Nikolai Gogol’s satire of small-town corruption, adapted by playwright Jeffrey Hatcher

Sweetee (Signature Center)

OOB

“An outcast minister leads a young street singer and a ragtag band of orphans as they struggle to make music and find their place in the world amid the bigotry and poverty of the 1930’s south.”

June 5

The End of Longing (MCC at The Lucille Lortel)

A play written by and starring Matthew Perry: “An alcoholic, an escort, a self-diagnosed neurotic and a well-intentioned dimwit 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

June 6

Animal (Atlantic Theater Company, Stage 2) 

OOB

A darkly comic play by Clare Lizzimore
“Her husband thinks she needs time; her psychiatrist suggests positive thinking. But then Rachel’s visions start”

Somebody’s Daughter (Second Stage Uptown)

A play by Chisa Hutchinson. Alex is a fifteen year old Asian-American girl going to extremes to get her own mother to notice her.

June 7

Cost Of Living (MTC at City Center Stage I)

A play by Martyna Majok (“Ironbound”) about the realities of facing the world with physical disabilities. “Truck driver Eddie is struggling to rebuild a relationship with his estranged wife Ani and Jess is trying to navigate the day-to-day with John, her new boss in a job that she desperately needs.”

June 8

Woody Sez (Irish Rep)

The life and music of Woody Guthrie

June 12

Bella : An American Tall Tale (Playwrights Horizons) 

Book, music and lyrics by Kirsten Childs (Bubbly Black Girl
As a wanted woman of mythic proportions looks to begin life anew out west, Bella takes us on the trip of a lifetime to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier.

Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Park)

Public Theater artistiShakespeare’s play of politics and power, last seen in the Park 17 years ago.

June 13

Expecting Isabel (TBG Theatre) 

OOB

A comedy by Lisa Loomer about the adventures of a New York couple trying to have a baby—by any means necessary

Invincible (59 E 59)

Part of Brits Off-Broadway, the play by Torben Betts pits Emily and Olive, who have decided to downsize and shift their middle- class London lifestyle to a small town , against the new neighbors Dawn and Allan whom they have invited over, in “a disastrous evening of olives, anchovies, Karl Marx and abstract art” where class and culture collide

June 15

Attack of the Elvis Impersonators (Theatre Row)  OOB

A satire by Lory Lazarus (author of “Courage the Cowardly Dog.”) “When Drac Frenzie, a burnt-out world famous heavy metal icon decides to save himself from self-destruction by impersonating Elvis, a miracle occurs — which leads him to not only saving himself, but also the world.”

June 20

Fulfillment Center (MTC at NY City Center)

Deirdre O’Connell, Bobby Moreno, Frederick Weller and Eboni Booth star in a play by Abe Koogler. Four lonely lives come together in the search for fulfillment at a giant online retailer’s shipping center in the New Mexico desert.

June 22

1984-logo

1984

A stage adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, starring Tom Sturridge, Olivia Wilde and Reed Birney.

 

The Traveling Lady (Cherry Lane)

A play by Horton Foote directed by Austin Pendleton. An intrepid woman who journeys to a small town in 1950’s Texas to reunite with her husband upon his release from prison.

June 26

The Crusade of Connor Stephens (Jerry Orbach Theater )
A teenage recruit of a conservative Texas megachurch kills the six-year-old granddaughter of the preacher before killing himself. The girl’s parents are a gay couple. The family must come to terms with this act of violence that thrusts them into a national debate.

June 29

Marvin’s Room (American Airlines Theatre) 

Broadway

Janeane Garofalo makes her Broadway debut, co-starring Lili Taylor and Celia Weston, in the play by Scott McPherson (who died in 1992 at age 33) that was turned into the 1997 star-studded film. “Estranged sisters Lee and Bessie have never seen eye to eye. Lee is a single mother who’s been busy raising her troubled teenage son, Hank. Bessie’s got her hands full with their elderly father and his soap opera-obsessed sister. When Bessie is diagnosed with leukemia, the two women reunite for the first time in 18 years.”

Me The People (The Triad) OOB

Subtitled “The Trump America Musical”

12 Summer Theater Festivals in New York City 2017

Summer in the city offers theater that is cheaper (often free), more cutting-edge and even more abundant than what you can see during the regular theater season — thanks largely to the perennial summer theater festivals. The shows are not necessarily better, of course, and finding the right ones for you can be intimidating, especially among the bigger festivals.

This is the sixth year I’m offering a run-down on New York’s most reliable summer theater festivals (2012,  20132014  2015 and 2016). 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

Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks

Begun in 1996, this festival has consistently offered three new quality, cutting-edge plays each summer. This  is the 22nd annual Summerworks. @ClubbedThumb

The World My Mama Raised writtenby Ariel Stess, directed by Kip Fagan May 20 – May 30

Of Government, written by Alex Borinsky, directed by Jeremy Bloom June 5 – June 15

What The Constitution Means to Me, written by Heidi Schreck directed by Oliver Butler, June 21 – July 1

The New York Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park

Delacorte

Joseph Papp began Free Shakespeare in the Park in 1962 in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, which was built for that purpose. The two-play summer season usually only offers Shakespeare, but occasionally there will be a Sondheim or other modern classic.

Twitter: @PublicTheaterNY

Julius Caesar,  directed by Oscar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater,  with a large cast that includes  Nikki M. James,, Elizabeth Marvel, Corey Stoll and John Douglas Thompson May 23 to June 18.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream directed by by Lear deBessone, with a large cast that includes Annaleigh Ashford, De’Adre Aziza, Kyle Beltran, Danny Burstein, July 11 to August 18

JUNE

Ant Fest

Started by Ars Nova (most celebrated recently for originating Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812), Ant Fest is, according to the organizers, “four non-stop, throw-down weeks of live entertainment mayhem, featuring fresh material from the next wave of dynamic, indie-theater makers. All New Talent, all the time.”  June 5 to 29. 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 14 to July 9.

 

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.

Of particular interest this year: HARBORED, En Garde Arts’ new site-specific theatrical experience about immigration, featuring a cast of more than 50 performers. Immigration stories will also be gathered each day from passersby and incorporated into the script that night. June 22 to June 25, Winter Garden.

A MARVELOUS ORDER, a multimedia opera about the battle between city planning czar Robert Moses and civic reformer Jane Jacobs.

Twitter: used to be @R2RFestival, now their parent org, @LMCC  with hashtag !. This year’s festival runs from June 14 to June 25.

 

Ice Factory Festival

Twitter: @newohiotheatre This year the festival at New Ohio Theater runs from June 28 to August 12. Among the seven offerings are True Right, “A reimagining of Sam Shepard’s True West–featuring George and Jeb Bush, as played by two ethnic ladies”

JULY

Hot Festival 

The festival is billed as the longest-running LGBTQ festival in the world, now in its 26th year celebrating queer culture. At Dixon Place, July 5 to July 29.  @HotFestNYC. or @DixonPlace . This year, trans Sri-Lankan American comic D’Lo headlines the festival in “To T, or Not to T.”

Lincoln Center Festival 

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

July 10 to July 30. Twitter: @LincolnCenter 

There are five offerings explicitly labeled theater this summer:

Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century by Improbable Theatre

While I Was Waiting by Mohammad Al Attar, portrait of Syria through one family. July 19–22

Yitzhak Rabin: Chronicle of an Assassination,Text by Amos Gitai and Marie-José Sanselme. July 19

Il N’est Pas Encore Minuit, by Compagnie XY July 19-22

To the End of the Land. The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv / Ha’Bima National Theatre. July 24–27

New York Musical Festival

Some 300 new musicals have premiered at this festival (originally named the New York Musical Theater Festival) since 2004, including “Next to Normal,” “Altar Boyz” and “title of show”

Twitter: @nymf

This year’s festival runs July 10 to August 6, and features 22 full productions, as well as almost as many concerts and readings.

 Fresh Fruit Festival

Celebrates LGBT culture. Twitter: @FreshFruitFest July 10-23

Midtown International Theater Festival

Twitter: @NYMITF July 15 to August 6.

August

Dream Up Festival

Twitter: @TNCinNYCAugust 27 – September 17 at Theater for a New Audience.

New York International Fringe Festival

The New York International Fringe Festival is celebrating its 21st year — by taking a hiatus. That’s right — there’s no New York Fringe this summer. @FringeNYC  Those of us who stay in New York every August in part to attend the Fringe may be looking for summer theater festivals outside NYC, (15 specific to the US in 2017)

May 2017 New York Theater Openings

May is a month when Broadway is on the brain, but not on the stage. Theatergoers focus on the Tonys and many other theater awards, but there are more than a dozen Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway shows opening this month.

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

Color key: Broadway: Red. (none this month)  Off Broadway: Purple, blue or blackOff Off Broadway: Green.

May 1

Baghdaddy (St. Luke’s Theater)

Inspired by a true story, Baghdaddy? is a new musical comedy, presented as a support group for the mid-level spies who started the Iraq War.

It has mercifully shortened its title since the time I saw the 2015 production (“Who’s Your Baghdaddy, or How I Started the Iraq War.”)

May 2

Ski End (Piehole at Ohio Theatre)

An abandoned ski shop becomes the center of the universe. A group of urbanites finds itself stuck in a flood-damaged building with a makeshift skate ramp, dead birds, and the tattered banner of a final blowout sale. From these clues they ritualistically reanimate a bygone world of Ski, until they incite a cosmic force

 

May 4

Pacific Overtures (Classic Stage Company) 

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.

Marry Harry (The York Theater Company) 

A new musical. “On a block in the East Village where graffiti comes to life, mannequins dance, and angels sing, big-dreaming cook Harry and frustrated real estate agent Sherri meet — and sparks fly.”

Happy Days with Dianne Wiest

Happy Days (Theatre for a New Audience)

The Yale Rep’s production of Beckett’s play, starring Dianne Wiest

 

May 7

Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Second Stage at Tony Kiser)

A musical about a sleep-deprived single mom who struggles to work as a video game music composer. Unexpectedly, she is contacted across time by the famous polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Inspired by her music, he shares his epic Antarctic journey with her in video and song

May 10

Arlington (St. Ann’s Warehouse)

A “strange and tender love story” written and directed by Enda Walsh (best-known in New York for Once and Lazarus.) “Isla waits in a waiting room in a tower as a man watches her, documents her every move and pulls her dreams from her.”

a previous production

Seven Spots on the Sun (Rattlestick) 

This play by Martin Zimmerman tells the story of a doctor of a war-torn and plague-ravaged village who discovers that his touch can cure the plague. A meditation on mourning, redemption, and revenge.

 

May 15

Venus (Signature) 

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.

May 16

Chinasa Ogbuagu as Abasiama; Hubert Point-Du Jour as Ukpong in Sojourners (from earlier production)

Sojourners/Her Portmanteau (New York Theatre Workshop) 

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…”

Derren Brown: Secret (Atlantic) 

Mind-reading, suggestion and psychological illusion at the hands of UK’s Derren Brown.

 

May 21

Hamlet (Sheen Center)

The play stars Arian Moayed (The HumansBengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), and is accompanied by an original score.  “Set in Persia a hundred years ago, on the eve of World War I, Waterwell’s Hamlet weaves passages of Farsi translation into the English of Shakespeare’s masterpiece of crisis and identity. In it, a traditional way of life is being threatened by an evolving world, the land is being threatened by encroaching foreign interests, and a young man finds himself uprooted and torn between opposing customs, values and codes.”

Building the Wall (New World Stages)

A play by Pulitzer winner Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle, All The Way, the movie Hacksaw Ridge) says of his anti-Trump play: “I wrote this in a white-hot fury. We no longer live in a world that is business as usual — Trump has made that very clear —and if theater is going to remain relevant,we must become faster to respond. We cannot hope to be useful if we can’t respond until 18 months after the fact. It is not a crazy or extreme fantasy. It’s very solidly grounded in current American law, and Trump’s rhetoric, and his most recent executive orders.”

cast and playwright

The Whirligig (New Group at Signature) 

Written by Hamish Linklater and featuring a cast that includes Norbert Leo Butz, Zosia Mamet and Jonny Orsini. When, after much time away, Kristina is back in Berkshire County, word spreads fast that she and her ex-husband are caring for their estranged, ailing daughter Julie. Broken-hearted and giddy with love and confusion, surprising visitors from Julie’s complicated past practically trip over each other to reach the young woman they thought they’d lost years before

 

May 23

cast

Can You Forgive Her? (Vineyard)

A play by Gina Gionfriddo (Becky Shaw; Rapture, Blister, Burn) about Miranda, drowning in debt and on the run from a date threatening to kill her, who is offered a safe haven by a couple on Halloween night.  “But is the promise of a better life a treat or a trick?”

May 25

The Boy Who Danced on Air (Abingdon) 

A new musical of a modern-day love story set in rural Afghanistan.