12 Summer Theater Festivals in New York City 2018

Summer has begun in the city, theatrically speaking, with the first of the summer theater festivals. These festivals present  shows that are cheaper (often free), more cutting-edge and more abundant than what you can see during the regular theater season.  They also present a greater challenge in choosing which of their shows to see.

In this, the seventh year I’m offering a run-down on New York’s most reliable summer theater festivals, there are two big changes.  Lincoln Center has killed its Lincoln Center Festival, and the Fringe Festival has moved to October.

Below is a list arranged more or less chronologically by the month in which the festival begins. (Several continue through the summer.) Read more of this post


May 2018 New York Theater Openings

Yes, we now debate theater nominations and await the awards, but the shows must go on in May. That includes just one play on Broadway — the first of the 2018-2019 Broadway season and star-studded to boot. There is also a play by Tennessee Williams and a new play about him, as well as works by Caryll Churchill and Stephen Adly Giurgis

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
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New York Theater Awards: A Guide

Why was the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, who performed in and/or produced more than 40 shows on Broadway, never even nominated for a single Tony — nor any other major New York theater award? That’s easy: They didn’t exist during her lifetime. But other questions about these awards are harder to answer.  Why so many? How do they differ? Which are worth paying attention to? When will the various nominations be made? (Answer: many within the next week and a half) When will the awards be announced? (Answer: most within the next month and a half) Which have ceremonies open to the (paying) public?

Below a rundown. See also a calendar of nominations and awards at bottom.

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April 2018 New York Theater Openings

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

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

Below is a list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
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March 2018 New York Theater Openings

Six shows are opening on Broadway this month, including the much anticipated  “Frozen,” and starry revivals of both “Angels in America” and “Three Tall Women,” which marks Glenda Jackson’s return to Broadway after 30 years.

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February 2018 New York Theater Openings

No shows are opening on Broadway in February, but there are many snippets of Broadway musicals all on one stage — a 25th anniversary celebration of Encores! concert series creates a new musical out of old musicals. (See February 7.)

It’s not the only show with a starry cast. So is a revival of Edward Albee’s first hit, altered late in life.

Off-Off Broadway, there are provocative plays about lynching, drone warfare, and gender transition; Off-Broadway about a right-wing takeover of the working class (in Europe), and a political power play (in DC).  Martyna Majok has written “Queens”; Sarah Burgess has written “Kings.” Eve Ensler brings to the stage her memoir about surviving a life-threatening illness; Martin McDonagh imagines an executioner who’s been forcibly retired.

Below is a selective list of (no Broadway), Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and festival offerings in February, organized chronologically by opening date, with each title linked to a relevant website.

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Off Broadway Spring 2018 Guide

The Spring 2018 season Off-Broadway promises some thrilling shows, as the preview guide below should make clear. There are new plays by superstar playwrights — Caryl Churchill (about revolution) Terrence McNally (about Nijinsky) Bruce Norris (about slavery), Adrienne Kennedy (about Jim Crow and Nazism), Lynn Nottage (about an elephant)…as well as New York premieres of plays by Tracy Letts, Martin McDonagh, Dominique Morisseau, and Aristophanes (in Greek!).

Idina Menzel, Will Swenson, Jeremy Irons, Jayne Houdyshell and some of the hottest Broadway directors, many of them women, are working Off-Broadway in Spring 2018.
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January 2018 New York Theater Openings

Just one Broadway show is opening this month,  but January is as usual one of the most robust months for theater in New York, thanks in large part to the January theater festivals.

Together these festivals offer more than 100 shows; most are experimental, often hybrids that redefine what theater is; many are difficult to describe; some run only for one or two performances

Below is a selective list of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and festival offerings in January, organized chronologically by opening date (or, for a festival show, the first performance), with each title linked to a relevant website. Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black or Blue.Off Off Broadway: Green. January theater festival*: Orange

Below that, links to the home pages of seven of the festivals.

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New Year’s Eve in New York City 2018 Last Minute Plans

My annual New Year’s Eve last-minute guide features the Broadway show schedule for New Year’s week, and other theater, as well as parties, concerts,intimate dinnerscruises, and quiet or healthy alternatives that are still available to do on New Year’s Eve 2018 (when 2017 turns into 2018) in New York City. Some events are free, some are outdoors — and then there are TV listings

Only eight percent of Americans reportedly plan to go out on New Year’s Eve. For those New Yorkers (and New York visitors) who haven’t made those plans yet, here are some ideas:

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Broadway Spring 2018 Preview Guide: A Season of Strong Women

Yes, there will be stars on Broadway in the Spring – Denzel Washington, Diana Rigg (after an absence from Broadway of 24 years), Glenda Jackson (after an absence of 30 years), Laurie Metcalf, Nathan Lane, Andrew Garfield,  Condola Rashad, Tina Fey making her Broadway playwriting debut, and more. But what distinguishes the 16 shows scheduled (so far) is how many are themselves the stars — the Harry Potter play and the “Frozen” musical hotly anticipated by legions of fans of J.K. Rowling’s novels and Disney’s animated movie respectively; the first Broadway revival of the landmark, two-part “Angels in America”; the fifth Broadway revival of Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” and the sixth Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.”
There is even a suggestion of a timely theme emerging — the season of strong women: Read more of this post