Theater Listings for April 4-10

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Theater Listings for April 4-10

Posted on: April 4th, 2014 by tommyj

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 ‘Dinner With Friends’ As a happily married man whose life is upended when his best friend announces he is leaving his wife, Jeremy Shamos (above, with Marin Hinkle) gives a standout performance in this solid but sometimes emotionally distant production of Donald Margulies’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about negotiating the rough middle years of marriage  (2:00). Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theater, 111 West 46th Street, Manhattan, 212-719-1300, (Charles Isherwood)

Approximate running times are in parentheses. Theaters are in Manhattan unless otherwise noted. Full reviews of current productions, additional listings, showtimes and ticket information are at A searchable, critical guide to theater is at

Previews and Openings

‘Act One’ (in previews; opens on April 17) Moss Hart’s classic autobiography becomes a play courtesy of James Lapine, who also directs this Lincoln Center Theater premiere. Three actors — Matthew Schechter, Santino Fontana and Tony Shalhoub — portray Hart at different ages on his journey from childhood poverty in the Bronx and Brooklyn to stardom as half of the team (with George S. Kaufman) responsible for some of the most successful comedies in Broadway history. Andrea Martin plays Hart’s Aunt Kate, who first sparked his passion for the stage. Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-239-6200, (David Rooney)

‘Bullets Over Broadway’ (in previews; opens on Thursday) Fresh from steering Cate Blanchett to an Oscar win in “Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen has written the book for this musical adaptation of his delightful 1994 screen comedy about an aspiring playwright, a talentless gangster’s moll and a theatrical grande dame (“Don’t speak!”) in 1920s New York. Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the show features songs from the era performed by a cast that includes Zach Braff, Marin Mazzie, Brooks Ashmanskas, Lenny Wolpe and Karen Ziemba. St. James Theater, 246 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘Cabaret’ (in previews; opens on April 24) Willkommen. Studio 54 once again summons the decadent spirit of Weimar-era Berlin with the return of the Kit Kat Klub and Roundabout Theater Company’s wildly successful 1998 revival of this classic Kander and Ebb musical. Directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, the revival redux promises a fresh take on Sally Bowles, courtesy of the luminous Michelle Williams. Alan Cumming reprises his lasciviously Brechtian Master of Ceremonies, while the first-rate supporting cast includes Linda Emond, Danny Burstein and Bill Heck. Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, 212-719-1300, (Rooney)

‘Casa Valentina’ (in previews; opens on April 23) While Harvey Fierstein has kept busy writing books for musicals like “Newsies” and “Kinky Boots,” this premiere from Manhattan Theater Club is his first new play in over 25 years. Based on actual events, it takes place in 1962, in a secluded Catskill bungalow colony where heterosexual family men with a secret passion for cross-dressing are free to frolic in frocks. Directed by Joe Mantello, the deluxe cast includes Reed Birney, John Cullum, Gabriel Ebert, Lisa Emery, Patrick Page, Larry Pine and Mare Winningham. Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘The City of Conversation’ (previews start on Thursday; opens on May 5) The actress Jan Maxwell will invite audiences to dinner as she portrays Hester Ferris, a famed Washington hostess, in Anthony Giardina’s capital play. Doug Hughes directs a cast that includes Phillip James Brannon and Kristen Bush in this drama, which runs from the Carter administration to the current one and pits family loyalties against political ones. Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-239-6200, (Alexis Soloski)

‘Don Juan, or the Wages of Debauchery’ (opens on Thursday) The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater revives its child-friendly take on the Don Giovanni fable in which the arch seducer Don Juan has women wrapped around his finger. But in this version he’ll suffer a similar treatment as the writer-director Vit Horejs and his fellow puppeteers bring Don Juan back to the stage to suffer the consequences of his depravity. Jan Hus Playhouse, 351 East 74th Street, 800-838-3006, (Soloski)

‘Fishing for Wives’ (previews start on Saturday; opens on Thursday) As part of a season centered on social justice and migration, Pan Asian Repertory Theater presents Edward Sakamoto’s Cyrano-esque comedy, directed by Ron Nakahara. One of Hawaii’s most prolific playwrights, Mr. Sakamoto focuses his play on two lonely Big Island fishermen in 1913. When one decides to send away for a Japanese picture bride, much angling ensues. Clurman Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Soloski)

‘Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!’ (in previews; opens on May 4) Whether it’s the treadmill in “Kinky Boots” or the trapeze in “Pippin,” it’s hard not to see certain sequences on Broadway and wonder: “What would ‘Forbidden Broadway’ do with/to this?” After a 10-month hiatus, Schadenfreude-prone theatergoers need wonder no more. Gerard Alessandrini has at those shows and several other newcomers in his latest incarnation. Expect some playful jabs at “Rocky,” “Aladdin,” “The Sound of Music Live!” and “Bullets Over Broadway.” Davenport Theater, 354 West 45th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Eric Grode)

‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ (in previews; opens on April 22) Time to put on some makeup, turn up the eight-track and pull that “Wig in a Box” down from the shelf. John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s influential cult musical about the rocker chick from East Berlin with the Farrah Fawcett tresses and the botched transgender surgery ran more than two years in its original 1998 Off Broadway incarnation. The show moves uptown for the first time, with Neil Patrick Harris slipping into heels and donning eyeliner as “the internationally ignored song stylist,” under the direction of Michael Mayer. Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘The Heir Apparent’ (in previews; opens on Wednesday) David Ives has had a string of successes with Classic Stage Company, including “Venus in Fur.” He returns with his version of Jean-François Regnard’s obscure early-18th-century French farce about the lust for lucre, written in rhyming couplets. John Rando directs a cast that includes Suzanne Bertish, Carson Elrod, David Pittu and Paxton Whitehead. Reviewing a 2011 production in Washington, D.C., Charles Isherwood wrote in The New York Times that the play “crackles along merrily from start to finish.” Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, East Village, 212-352-3101, (Rooney)

‘Isolde’ (previews start on Thursday; opens on April 12) The playwright and director Richard Maxwell returns with a tale of love, art and architecture. In reviewing an earlier work in The New York Times, Ben Brantley called him “one of the few sui generis voices in experimental theater.” For this New York City Players production, he brings together four of his regular actors — Brian Mendes, Gary Wilmes, Tory Vazquez and Jim Fletcher — in a story about an actress with a tricky memory and a sticky marriage, who decides to build her dream home. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, at Pitt Street, Lower East Side, 212-352-3101, (Soloski)

‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’ (in previews; opens on April 13) This late addition to the Broadway season provides an enticing opportunity to hear the incomparable Audra McDonald interpret the songs of Billie Holiday, in Lanie Robertson’s 1986 bio-drama. A five-time Tony winner, Ms. McDonald and her frequent directing collaborator Lonny Price have been preparing this project for over two years. Set during an intimate 1959 concert in the Philadelphia nightspot of the title, the play captures Holiday in reflective mode near the end of her life as she performs “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit” and other numbers. Circle in the Square, 235 West 50th Street, 212-239-620, (Rooney)

‘The Library’ (in previews; opens on April 15) Steven Soderbergh makes his New York stage directing debut with this timely drama about gun violence and truth from Scott Z. Burns, whose screenwriting credits include Mr. Soderbergh’s films “Side Effects” and “Contagion.” Chloë Grace Moretz, known for her screen work in “Kick-Ass,” “Hugo” and the “Carrie” remake, plays a survivor of a high school shooting whose account gets twisted amid the surrounding media noise. The ensemble cast also features Lili Taylor, Jennifer Westfeldt, Michael O’Keefe and Tamara Tunie. Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, East Village, 212-967-7555, (Rooney)

‘The Most Deserving’ (in previews; opens on Tuesday) Following “crooked” and “How the World Began,” Catherine Trieschmann returns to the Women’s Project with this tart satirical dig at small-town culture wars, starring Veanne Cox and Adam LeFevre. Directed by Shelley Butler, the comedy tracks the infighting that results when a Kansas municipal arts council is charged with bestowing the largest individual artist grant in its history, causing temperatures to rise over issues of sex, class and politics. City Center, 131 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212, (Rooney)

‘The Mysteries’ (in previews; opens on April 19) With “Noah” and “Son of God” on the big screen, it seems fitting that the Bible should also get stage treatment, even if this promises to be an unorthodox interpretation. Conceived and directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, and performed by 54 members of the Flea Theater’s resident acting ensemble, the Bats, this radical retelling of the Good Book encompasses episodes by 48 playwrights. Among them are David Henry Hwang, Craig Lucas, Billy Porter, Jeff Whitty, José Rivera, Dael Orlandersmith, Najla Said and Jenny Schwartz. At six hours, this qualifies as epic event theater, but dinner and dessert are served during the intermissions. Flea Theater, 41 White Street, TriBeCa, 866-811-4100, (Rooney)

‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’ (previews start on Thursday; opens on April 17) For the culmination of its 10th anniversary season, Red Bull Theater presents a revival of Charles Ludlam’s genre-spanning two-hander. Mr. Ludlam’s ridiculous theatrics reached their lunatic apogee in this supernatural amalgam of Gothic novels, B-movies and frantic cross-dressing. Arnie Burton, who earned his quick-change bones in “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps,” stars opposite Robert Sella. Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street, West Village, 212-352-3101, (Soloski)

‘Of Mice and Men’ (in previews; opens on April 16) James Franco adds Broadway actor to his Renaissance-man résumé, playing George, the drifter chasing a dream of new opportunity in Depression-era California with his simple-minded friend Lennie, played by Chris O’Dowd. A Tony winner for “August: Osage County,” Anna D. Shapiro directs John Steinbeck’s adaptation of his classic novella, with an ensemble that also features Leighton Meester, Jim Norton, Ron Cephas Jones and Jim Parrack. Longacre Theater, 220 West 48th Street, Manhattan, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘The Realistic Joneses’ (in previews; opens on Sunday) One of the most idiosyncratic playwrights to emerge in the past decade, Will Eno tends to provoke love-it or loathe-it responses, which is always preferable to risk-free vanilla theater. Following the recent premiere of his subversive riff on the family play, “The Open House,” he makes his Broadway debut with what Charles Isherwood in The New York Times called a “tender, funny, terrific new play” when it had its premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2012. Sam Gold directs a killer cast — comprising Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Marisa Tomei and Tracy Letts — in this sly consideration of how well we know our neighbors. Lyceum Theater, 149 West 49th Street, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity’ and ‘Clean’ (in previews; opens on Wednesday) If Scotland votes for independence, can its plays still be a part of 59E59 Theater’s annual Brits Off Broadway festival? That referendum won’t be voted on until September, so in the meantime the theater is offering this double bill, which played at the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh. In Douglas Maxwell’s comedy “A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity,” a newly bereaved woman learns choice obscenities from her husband’s former employee. And in Sabrina Mahfouz’s poetry-infused romp, “Clean,” three women plan a spectacular heist. 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, Manhattan, 212-279-4200, (Soloski)

‘The Substance of Fire’ (previews start on Thursday; opens on April 27) With strong-arm tactics from online booksellers and declining interest from readers, this is hardly a golden age of publishing. But it may be a fine time for a revival of Jon Robin Baitz’s 1991 play, which concerns a foundering literary house. Second Stage hosts Trip Cullman’s restaging, with John Noble as the imperiled patriarch and Halley Feiffer, Daniel Eric Gold and Carter Hudson as his children. Second Stage, 305 West 43rd Street, Clinton, 212-246-4422, (Soloski)

‘The Threepenny Opera’ (in previews; opens on Monday) Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s glittering gutter-musical masterwork returns courtesy of Atlantic Theater Company in this production of Marc Blitzstein’s adaptation, directed and choreographed by the dance-theater maverick Martha Clarke. It stars F. Murray Abraham and Mary Beth Peil as the nefarious Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, who control the beggars of 19th-century London, with the Broadway darling Laura Osnes as their daughter Polly, Michael Park as her scoundrel husband Macheath and Sally Murphy as Jenny, the prostitute coerced into turning in her former flame, “Mack the Knife.” Linda Gross Theater, 336 West 20th Street, Chelsea, 866-811-4111, (Rooney)

‘Ubu Sings Ubu’ (opens on Wednesday) Punk-rock music, a scurrilous puppet play and several Off Off Broadway luminaries join in this unusual mishmash. Tony Torn and Dan Safer direct this musical, which combines Alfred Jarry’s classic brutalist comedy with songs from the art-rock band Pere Ubu. Adding to the absurdism, Mr. Torn and his collaborators have adapted the script from the original French using Google translate. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, at Pitt Street, Lower East Side, 212-352-3101, (Soloski)

‘The Velocity of Autumn’ (in previews; opens on April 21) The independence of the elderly and the indignities of aging are themes tackled in Eric Coble’s two-character play, which comes to Broadway after a successful run last fall in Washington, D.C., directed by Molly Smith. Estelle Parsons plays an irascible 79-year-old artist barricaded inside her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to raze the block. While she’s intent on going nowhere, her family has other ideas, sending in her estranged son, played by Stephen Spinella, as mediator. Reviewing the premiere in The New York Times, Charles Isherwood called Ms. Parson’s performance “bracing, honest and often deliciously funny.” Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘Violet’ (in previews; opens on April 20) Sutton Foster makes a welcome return to Broadway as the title character in Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s 1997 musical about a facially disfigured North Carolina country girl who embarks on a quest for movie-star beauty that takes her across the South during the civil rights era. Directed by Leigh Silverman, the revival evolved out of an Encores! one-night concert presentation last summer. In his review for The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote, “The role of Violet fits Ms. Foster so perfectly, it could have been written for her,” describing her performance as “transfixing.” Starring alongside her here are Colin Donnell, Alexander Gemignani and Joshua Henry. American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street, 212-719-1300, (Rooney)

‘Your Mother’s Copy of the Kama Sutra’ (in previews; opens on April 21) Playwrights Horizons continues its season with the premiere of this tough-love comedy by Kirk Lynn, the Austin, Tex., playwright and founding member of the Rude Mechs theater collective. The play deals with sex and honesty, beginning with a couple who agree to marry on condition that they first come clean about their respective sexual histories — via role-playing re-enactments. Those stories prove instructive years later when the barriers of intimacy that were broken down between them resurface in the household. Anne Kauffman directs a cast of six. Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-279-4200, (Rooney)


★ ‘After Midnight’ The stars of this tribute to the Harlem jazz clubs of the 1920s and ’30s are the 16 virtuosic musicians who perform — with verve, style and a good splash of sheer joy — about 25 songs from the period, with a special emphasis on Duke Ellington both as composer and arranger. The dancers and singers are terrific, and Adriane Lenox all but steals the show with her two lowdown numbers. But it’s really the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars on the bandstand at the back of the stage who shine brightest (1:30). Brooks Atkinson Theater, 256 West 47th Street, 212-745-3000, (Charles Isherwood)

‘Aladdin’ Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon”) directs and choreographs (and choreographs, and choreographs) the latest Disney musical, adapted from the 1992 animated movie. While the familiar formulas are not entirely abandoned, Mr. Nicholaw and the book writer, Chad Beguelin, stuff so much splashy, shticky business into this show that the more syrupy bits hardly register. James Monroe Iglehart stands out as the showboating, scene-stealing genie (2:20). New Amsterdam Theater, 214 West 42nd Street, 866-870-2717, (Isherwood)

‘All the Way’ Bryan Cranston makes a commanding Broadway debut as Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s mostly absorbing drama about the tumultuous first year of the Johnson presidency. The play, directed by Bill Rauch, sorely needs streamlining, but Mr. Cranston’s dynamic performance gives it a compelling center (2:50). Neil Simon Theater, 250 West 52nd Street, 800-745-3000, (Isherwood)

‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’ This friendly, formulaic jukebox show about the New York-born singer-songwriter might as well be called “Brooklyn Girl,” so closely does it adhere to the template of the megahit “Jersey Boys” (about the Four Seasons). Jessie Mueller, though, is extraordinary as Ms. King, making us feel the connection between a singer and her songs (2:25). Stephen Sondheim Theater, 124 West 43rd Street, 212-239-6200, (Ben Brantley)

‘The Bridges of Madison County’ As a questioning farmer’s wife who briefly discovers a love with all the answers, Kelli O’Hara brings a rich and varied topography to what might have been strictly flat corn country. Adapted from Robert James Waller’s best-selling novel, this musical features a sumptuous score by Jason Robert Brown and a lust-worthy leading man in Steven Pasquale (2:30). Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, 236 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

★ ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ Playing eight different victims of a sweet-faced killer (Bryce Pinkham) in Edwardian England, Jefferson Mays sings, dances, prances and generally makes infectious merriment in this daffy, ingenious new musical. Written with real wit by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, the show has been stylishly directed by Darko Tresnjak (2:20). Walter Kerr Theater, 219 West 48th Street, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

‘If/Then’ This new musical from Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (“Next to Normal”) is a gleaming drawing board of a show, full of polished surfaces and clearly drawn lines. The shiny-voiced Idina Menzel portrays a conflicted urban planner pondering two different roads her life might have taken. The show feels less like a variation on a theme, than a dogged reiteration of it (2:35). Richard Rodgers Theater, 226 West 46th Street, 877-250-2929, (Brantley)

★ ‘Matilda the Musical’ The most satisfying and subversive musical ever to come out of Britain. Directed by Matthew Warchus, with a book by Dennis Kelly and addictive songs by Tim Minchin, this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel is an exhilarating tale of empowerment, told from the perspective of that most powerless group, little children (2:35). Shubert Theater, 225 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

‘Les Misérables’ It’s back — again. Capitalizing on the popular movie, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s musical about the French fellow who steals a loaf of bread and lives to regret it storms Broadway in a new production. Ramin Karimloo, as the long-suffering bread-stealer, and Will Swenson, as his relentless foe, Javert, give sterling performances (2:50). Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

‘Mothers and Sons’ In this impeccably acted production about the legacy of AIDS, Terrence McNally uses the old-fashioned form of the drawing room drama to take pulse of a gay American subculture. It doesn’t avoid the stasis of most debate plays. But it features affecting moments from Frederick Weller, Bobby Steggert and the formidable Tyne Daly (1:30). John Golden Theater, 252 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

‘Motown: The Musical’ A dramatically slapdash but musically vibrant joy ride through the glory days of the Detroit music label founded by Berry Gordy. Mr. Gordy’s book is sketchy and obvious — you want to plug your ears whenever the music stops. But the music is, of course, some of the greatest R&B ever recorded, and the performers mostly electric (2:40). Lunt-Fontanne Theater, 205 West 46th Street, 877-250-2929, (Isherwood)

‘Pippin’ Diane Paulus sends in the acrobats for her exhaustingly energetic revival of Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson’s 1972 musical. As for the 99-pound story at the center of this muscle-bound spectacle — the one about the starry-eyed son of Charlemagne — that’s there too, if you look hard (2:35). Music Box Theater, 239 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

‘Rocky’ The final 16 minutes of this adaptation of the 1976 movie — about a schlemiel who coulda been a contender — are terrific. That’s when the climactic boxing match occurs, and it’s a hell of a fight. Otherwise, this sluggish show’s sensibility isn’t just underdog; it’s hangdog. Alex Timbers directs a cast that includes the valiant and appealing Andy Karl (2:20). Winter Garden Theater, 1634 Broadway, at 50th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

Off Broadway

‘And Baby Makes Seven’ Paula Vogel’s 1984 play gets a high-spirited but numbing revival, with its central conceit — grown-ups loudly mimicking three imaginary children before a real one arrives — as reductive and off-putting as ever. Each minute with these moppets means less differentiation for the murky lead characters and more strained physical comedy (1:45). New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, 888-596-1027, (Grode)

★ ‘Appropriate’ Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s very fine, subversively original new play summons dysfunctional family dramas past, and then slyly turns the form inside out. A tale of uprooted Southerners in a decaying family plantation where secrets exhumed offer anything but closure, this is a ghost story in the most profound sense. A first-rate Johanna Day leads a good cast, directed by Liesl Tommy (2:15). Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-244-7529, (Brantley)

★ ‘Bayside! The Musical’ Attending this bawdy, ridiculous, unauthorized parody of the harebrained sitcom “Saved by the Bell” is a bit like going to a midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” given the many inside jokes and synchronized audience responses. Audience members know the material so well because half the humor comes from merely reproducing every ludicrous plot twist and trope from the TV show (including Zack’s giant cellphone, Becky the Duck and other allusions that will be familiar to longtime fans). The other half of the humor is just good-old fashioned raunch, usually playing up the horrifying ways to reinterpret a squeaky-clean children’s show (2:00). Theater 80, 80 St. Marks Place, East Village, 212-388-0388, (Catherine Rampell)

‘Beyond Therapy’ The Actors Company Theater revives Christopher Durang’s not-quite romantic comedy about two flailing 30-somethings and their crazier-than-thou therapists. The production doesn’t make much of a case for the play, whose humor hasn’t aged well (2:00). Beckett Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Rachel Saltz)

‘Bill W. and Dr. Bob’ Making the story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous 99 percent preachiness-free is quite an accomplishment. Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey’s purpose-driven script, which never forgets the humor of the human experience, goes a long way toward making this a satisfying revival (2:15). SoHo Playhouse, 15 Van Dam Street, South Village, 866-811-4111, (Anita Gates)

‘Breathing Time’ This drama by Beau Willimon, the man behind the Netflix series “House of Cards,” begins with two guys in an office, exchanging unremarkable banter until it becomes evident that this is no ordinary day or ordinary office. Then comes an aftermath scene between the wife of one and the sister of the other. It’s an absorbing if not especially remarkable exploration of how individual lives are sometimes at the mercy of earthshaking events (1:30). Teatro IATI, 64 East Fourth Street, East Village, 866-527-5376, (Neil Genzlinger)

★ ‘Buyer & Cellar’ Jonathan Tolins has concocted an irresistible one-man play from the most peculiar of fictitious premises — an underemployed Los Angeles actor goes to work in Barbra Streisand’s basement — allowing the playwright to ruminate with delicious wit and perspicacity on the solitude of celebrity, the love-hate attraction between gay men and divas, and the melancholy that lurks beneath narcissism. Stephen Brackett directs this seriously funny slice of absurdist whimsy (1:30). Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street, at Seventh Avenue South, West Village, 212-868-4444, (Rooney)

‘Charlatan’ A boyish young performer (Vinny DePonto) delivers a solid, intimate and rigorously executed magic show decked out in theatrical finery (1:30). Ars Nova, 511 West 54th Street, Clinton, 212-489-9800, (Jason Zinoman)

‘Cougar the Musical’ Three older women find themselves attracted to younger men, two against their better judgment. The concept seems made for bus tours, but imagination, appealing numbers with original melodies and theme-transcending jokes lift this show well above the level of “Menopause: The Musical” and its ilk (1:30). Saturdays only. St. Luke’s Theater, 308 West 46th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Gates)

‘Cuff Me: The Fifty Shades of Grey Musical Parody’ What can I possibly say that isn’t said by the title of this production? Here’s one thing: It’s not exactly great theater, but I’d still rather see “Cuff Me” than read the novel upon which it’s based (1:30). Actors Temple Theater, 339 West 47th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Claudia La Rocco)

‘Dinner With Friends’ As a happily married man whose life is upended when his best friend announces he is leaving his wife, Jeremy Shamos (“Clybourne Park”) gives a standout performance in this solid but sometimes emotionally distant production of Donald Margulies’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about negotiating the rough middle years of marriage (2:00). Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theater, 111 West 46th Street, 212-719-1300, (Isherwood)

‘Disaster!’ Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick lampoon those cheesy 1970s movies in which fistfuls of C-list stars were clobbered by various unnatural acts of nature. Deathlessly awful songs from the same era — “Torn Between Two Lovers,” “Feelings,” “I Am Woman” — are thrown in for good measure (2:05). St. Luke’s Theater, 308 West 46th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

★ ‘50 Shades! The Musical’ When it comes to potential for satire, E. L. James’s she-porn best seller “50 Shades of Grey” seems as easy a target as you could shake a sex toy at. That said, this exuberant takeoff handily delivers the goods, barreling along with a score steeped in show tunes, R&B, gospel, Gilbert and Sullivan, and lyrics packed with references to various practices and orifices. “This is real life; this isn’t a book,” says Ana, the show’s heroine, to her tycoon suitor. “If it was, it would be terrible.” It certainly would. But “50 Shades!” is a musical parody, and a very entertaining one (1:30). Elektra Theater, 300 West 43rd Street, Clinton, 212-352-3101, (Andy Webster)

‘Heathers: The Musical’ Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s rowdy guilty-pleasure musical isn’t as mordant as the 1988 cult movie that inspired it. But in scaling up the grotesqueness, this sardonically grisly high-school revenge comedy puts a genial, guilt-quelling distance between its onstage mayhem and its audience. The excellent Barrett Wilbert Weed plays the ambivalent heroine (2:10). New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

★ ‘I Remember Mama’ The shyly charming resurrection of this work might have seemed too brazenly sentimental for current tastes. But Jack Cumming III, the director, has come up with the inspired gimmick of casting John van Druten’s 1944 play about a poor-but-loving Norwegian-American family entirely with actresses born in the 1930s and ’40s. They all prove themselves artful masters of time travel (2:20). The Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street, at Washington Square South, Greenwich Village, 866-811-4111, (Brantley)

‘iLuminate’ More spectacle than story, “iLuminate” offers technology as its most dazzling star. Conceived, produced and directed by Miral Kotb, a former software engineer, the show employs about a dozen talented, indefatigable young actor-dancers, encased in black suits wired with digitally controlled lights. Performing in total darkness to a score combining hip-hop, jazz and classical influences, they portray the tale of an artist whose magic paintbrush is stolen for evil ends. Much of the action is like a neon comic book, but it does have its magic moments (:55). New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Laurel Graeber)

‘Jasper in Deadland’ The afterlife is a multi-culti mash-up of myth and magic in Ryan Scott Oliver and Hunter Foster’s playful, silly-smart musical, presented by Prospect Theater Company. A living teenager, Jasper (Matt Doyle), navigates the underworld, searching for his best friend, Agnes. Unclear for too long is how closely he’s following in the footsteps of Orpheus. Is Agnes Jasper’s true love or just a friend, as he insists (2:20)? West End Theater in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street, Manhattan, 212-352-3101, (Laura Collins-Hughes)

‘The Junket’ Mike Albo turns a career misfortune into an entertaining though slight solo show about the perils of navigating freelance waters in a new media world. The underdeveloped larger themes of the “really insecure TED talk” need some work, but with a combination of charm and snark, Mr. Albo manages to engagingly depict the struggles of trying to make it in the big city (1:05). Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project, 45 Bleecker Street, near Lafayette Street, East Village, 866-811-4111, (Frank Rizzo)

★ ‘King Lear’ In Arin Arbus’s thoughtful and affecting production, Shakespeare’s most daunting play lowers its voice, the better to be heard more clearly. Starring Michael Pennington in a delicate portrait of the title monarch, Ms. Arbus’s “Lear” tones down the bluster, and makes it clear that this portrait of majesty undone is as much a heart-wrenching domestic drama as an epic tragedy (3:05). Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, 866-811-4111, (Brantley)

★ ‘London Wall’ John van Druten’s lively 1931 office comedy is a provocative, socially conscious bit of fun that never made it to Broadway, even in an era when many of his plays did. Watching Davis McCallum’s brisk, pitch-perfect production feels like stumbling across a lost film classic by Howard Hawks: How did this fresh and fizzy thing fall into obscurity (2:30)? Mint Theater, 311 West 43rd Street, Clinton, 866-811-4111, (Collins-Hughes)

★ ‘Murder for Two’ After a successful run at Second Stage Uptown, this show returns to another Off Broadway space, New World Stages. In this nifty mystery musical comedy by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, a virtuosic Jeff Blumenkrantz plays all the suspects, and Brett Ryback the investigating officer. The actors also provide the music, taking turns at the piano, under Scott Schwartz’s fleet direction (1:30). 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

★ ‘My Mother Has 4 Noses’ In Jonatha Brooke’s haunted and haunting solo play with music, she is bearing witness, recounting the descent into dementia of her mother, Darren Stone Nelson, and her experience of caring for Ms. Nelson in the last years of her life. Unavoidably sad yet poignantly funny, it is a narrative created beautifully out of mourning (1:45). The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, 646-223-3010, (Collins-Hughes)

‘A Night With Janis Joplin’ A new production of this show, which had a four-and-a-half-month run at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway, returns to the stage on Thursday. The hard-living singer of the title, whose greatest hits are performed with impressive emotional ferocity by Mary Bridget Davies, is joined by gifted singers giving their own impersonations of the singers who influenced her, from Bessie Smith to Odetta to Nina Simone to Aretha Franklin. But the talky Janis who gives us a docent tour of blues history in this amplified concert, written and directed by Randy Johnson, doesn’t compel the way the ferocious singer does (2:15). Gramercy Theater, 1127 East 23rd Street, Manhattan, (Isherwood)

‘Ode to Joy’ Craig Lucas, the author of great toxic fairy tales for grown-ups like “Prelude to a Kiss,” suspends storybook whimsy for this more straightforward look at talented people battling the ogres of addiction and denial. An eloquent mess of a play, filled with choice dialogue and sharply acted by Kathryn Erbe, Arliss Howard and Roxana Hope (2:00). Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce Street, West Village, 866-811-4111, (Brantley)

‘The Real Americans’ Fueled by a hefty dose of liberal guilt and propelled by an earnest desire to better understand his fellow citizens, the playwright-performer Dan Hoyle leaves the comfort of his native San Francisco to travel through small towns and rural areas of the United States. It is an entirely honorable endeavor, but the resulting solo show traces a well-traveled path peopled with familiar types (1:15). Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker Street, East Village, 866-811-4111, (Collins-Hughes)

‘Red Velvet’ Playing the 19th-century African-American actor Ira Aldridge, Adrian Lester provides so many layers — of style, technique and emotion — that you may have trouble wrapping your mind around all of them. Lolita Chakrabarti’s carefully researched drama, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, can bring to mind the stolidity of “great lives” biographies. But Mr. Lester’s centuries-crossing performance is truly transporting (2:15). St. Ann’s Warehouse, 29 Jay Street, at Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn, 718-254-8779, (Brantley)

★ ‘Satchmo at the Waldorf’ John Douglas Thompson does a remarkable job impersonating the aging Louis Armstrong in this one-man show, written by The Wall Street Journal’s drama critic, Terry Teachout. While Armstrong’s reminiscences cover the bases of his life, the show is most interesting in its examination of the racial and generational divides this jazz giant straddled. Two other portraits, ably conveyed by Mr. Thompson, also loom large: Armstrong’s longtime manager, Joe Glaser, and the towering trumpeter Miles Davis (1:30). Westside Theater, 407 West 43rd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Webster)

‘Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man’ Matt Murphy’s one-act is a blend of a bachelorette party at Chippendales and the embarrassing midnight show at some tourist trap in Pigalle. It has a talented cast, but it is no “Queer Eye” (1:20). 777 Theater, 777 Eighth Avenue, at 47th Street, Manhattan, 888-841-4111, (Gates)

‘La Soirée’ The side show meets the big top in this naughty hybrid of burlesque and circus, featuring performers like the comic chanteuse Meow Meow and a waterlogged hunk taking a very gymnastic bath (2:00). Union Square Theater, 100 East 17th Street, 800-653-8000, (Isherwood)

‘Tales From Red Vienna’ David Grimm’s play, about a gentlewoman (Nina Arianda) forced to work as a prostitute, is not only set in 1920, but it also feels like a throwback to that era, in which melodramas showed good women in hard times suffering fates worse than death. Ms. Arianda, so compelling in “Venus in Fur,” is out of her element (2:25). Manhattan Theater Club at City Center Stage I, 131 West 55th Street, Manhattan, 212-581-1212, (Brantley)

‘Til Divorce Do Us Part: The Musical’ This revue, considering its provenance (its lyricist and choreographer, Ruthe Ponturo, conceived it after being dumped by her husband), is surprisingly spry, nimble and spleen-free. Happy to let finesse, buoyant ditties and high spirits prevail over its darker undercurrents, it is highly recommended for those who have survived (or are surviving) its titular ordeal (1:30). DR2 Theater, 103 East 15th Street, 212-239-6200, (Webster)

Off Off Broadway

‘Adoration of the Old Woman’ Directed by Patricia McGregor, José Rivera’s drama uses the micro (family ghosts, turbulent love triangles) to explore the macro (Puerto Rico’s future), but the layers never quite stack up to a sufficiently complex world (2:00). Intar Theater, 500 West 52nd Street, Clinton, 212-352-3101, (La Rocco)

‘Chang in a Void Moon The playwright and director John Jesurun debuts three new episodes of his absurdist serial, which he originated in 1982. A tale of a businessman’s efforts to bilk a wealthy family, Mr. Jesurun’s script features tangled story lines, impossible chronologies, vigorous name-dropping and gnarled family trees. If you’re confused, well, so are the characters. So concentrate instead on Mr. Jesurun’s warped imagination and filmic staging (:45). Incubator Arts Project, St. Mark’s Church, 131 East 10th Street, East Village, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

‘Thank You for Being a Friend’ This shrill, frantic musical drag parody of “The Golden Girls” — one of the best-written and -acted sitcoms of the 1980s and ’90s — is so raunchy, overwrought and redolent with misogyny, it would be hard to call it affectionate (1:30). Laurie Beechman Theater, inside the West Bank Cafe, 407 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-352-3101, (Webster)

★ ‘Then She Fell’ Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books, this transporting immersive theater work occupies a dreamscape where the judgments and classifications of the waking mind are suspended. A guided tour of Wonderland, created by Third Rail Projects, leads its participants through a series of rooms and an interactive evening of dance, poetry, food and drink (2:00). The Kingsland Ward at St. John’s, 195 Maujer Street, near Humboldt Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-374-5196, (Brantley)


‘Queen of the Night’ The latest and most lavish of this city’s immersive theater experiments includes cocktails, a meal and a circus-style floor show, in addition to any number of possible intimate, eroticism-tinged (but PG-13) encounters with the comely young cast members. The show is not for the social anxiety-prone, but full of gaudy spectacle, with a fin-de-Bloomberg-era vibe (2:45). Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel, 235 West 46th Street, Manhattan, 866-811-4111, (Isherwood)

Long-Running Shows

‘Avenue Q’ R-rated puppets give lively life lessons (2:15). New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200,

‘The Berenstain Bears Live! In Family Matters, the Musical’ This adaptation of three of Stan and Jan Berenstain’s children’s books is pleasant enough, but the cubs are showing their age. Saturdays and Sundays (:55). Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater, 5 West 63rd Street, 866-811-4111,

‘Black Angels Over Tuskegee’ The tear-jerker story of these trailblazing African-American pilots (2:30). (Saturdays only.) Actors Temple Theater, 339 West 47th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200,

Blue Man Group Conceptual art as entertainment (1:45). Astor Place Theater, 434 Lafayette Street, East Village, 800-258-3626,

‘The Book of Mormon’ Singing, dancing, R-rated missionaries proselytize for the American musical (2:15). Eugene O’Neill Theater, 230 West 49th Street, 800-432-7250,

‘Chicago’ Jazz Age sex, murder and razzle-dazzle (2:25). Ambassador Theater, 219 West 49th Street, 212-239-6200,

‘The Fantasticks’ Boy meets girl, forever (2:05). Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street, 800-745-3000,

‘Jersey Boys’ The biomusical that walks like a man (2:30). August Wilson Theater, 245 West 52nd Street, 212-239-6200,

‘Kinky Boots’ These boots are made for dancin’ (and stompin’ out bigotry) (2:20). Al Hirschfeld Theater, 302 West 45th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200,

‘The Lion King’ Disney’s call of the wild (2:45). Minskoff Theater, 200 West 45th Street, 800-870-2717,

‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ Directed by José Zayas and performed by an efficient four-actor crew, Caridad Svich’s adaptation of the Gabriel García Márquez novel is pleasing but lightweight. A production cannot live on romance alone. In Spanish with subtitles (2:00). Runs in repertory at Gramercy Arts Theater, 138 East 27th Street, Manhattan, 212-889-2850,

‘Mamma Mia!’ The jukebox musical set to the disco throb of Abba (2:20). Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, 800-432-7259,

‘Newsies’ Extra! Extra! enthusiasm (2:20). Nederlander Theater, 208 West 41st Street, 866-870-2717,

‘The Norwegians’ Sweet Minnesota-Scandinavian hit men and the young women who hire them (1:30). Drilling Company Theater, 236 West 78th Street, 212-868-4444,

‘Once’ Almost love, in a singing Dublin (2:15). Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, 242 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200,

‘Perfect Crime’ The murder mystery that has been investigated since 1987 (1:30). Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street, 800-745-3000,

‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Who was that masked man anyway? (2:30). Majestic Theater, 247 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200,

‘Rock of Ages’ Big hair, thrashing guitars and inspired humor fuel this jukebox musical (2:25). Helen Hayes Theater, 240 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200,

‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella’ The ultimate makeover story, restyled for a red-carpet age (2:20). Broadway Theater, 1681 Broadway, at 53rd Street, 212-239-6200,

‘Sistas: The Musical’ Black women reflect on their lives, with songs (1:30). (Saturdays and Sundays.) St. Luke’s Theater, 308 West 46th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200,

‘Sleep No More’ A movable, murderous feast at Hotel Macbeth (2:00). The McKittrick Hotel, 530 West 27th Street, Chelsea, 866-811-4111,

‘Stomp’ And the beat goes on (and on), with percussion unlimited (1:30). Orpheum Theater, 126 Second Avenue, at Eighth Street, East Village, 800-982-2787,

‘Wicked’ Oz revisited (2:45). Gershwin Theater, 222 West 51st Street, 800-745-3000,

Last Chance

‘Character Man’ (closes on Sunday) In this solo show, Jim Brochu blends cabaret, theater and scrapbooks to recall stage colleagues and inspirations like David Burns, Jack Gilford and Barney Martin (among many others), who were recognizable if not household names. It’s an amusing and entertaining memory tour of Broadway in the 1950s and ’60s (1:30). Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street, Manhattan, 212-868-4444, (Daniel M. Gold)

‘Fast Company’ (closes on Sunday) Carla Ching offers a crafty take on the dysfunctional-family tale, in a script combining con artistry and game theory. She has a great gift for dreaming up elaborate plots, though rather less success in unspooling them. The director, Robert Ross Parker, tries to hurry things along, favoring broad, energetic strokes, which keep the pacing swift but sometimes pushes the characters toward caricature (1:20). Ensemble Studio Theater, 549 West 52nd Street, Clinton, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

‘Kung Fu’ (closes on Sunday) The exciting action-dance sequences, full of furious fists and flashing legs, supply all the propulsive energy in David Henry Hwang’s otherwise pedestrian bio-drama about the martial arts master and action movie star Bruce Lee, played by a perky Cole Horibe, of the television competition “So You Think You Can Dance” (2:00). Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-244-7529, (Isherwood)

★ ‘Love and Information’ (closes on Sunday) This thought-churning, deeply poignant new work by Caryl Churchill is made up of 57 — count ’em, 57 — short plays about our multifarious ways of trying to connect with and understand one another and the splintered world around us. It is directed with dizzying fluency by James Macdonald, and features 15 actors playing more than 100 roles (2:00). Minetta Lane Theater, 18 Minetta Lane, Greenwich Village, 800-982-2787, (Brantley)

‘Nothing on Earth Can Hold Houdini’ (closes on Saturday) The Axis Theater Company does a fine job with this unconventional look at Harry Houdini’s war on phony mediums, which occupied the later years of his life and brought him into conflict with Arthur Conan Doyle. The playwright, Randy Sharp, tells the tale through moody fragments that build to one particularly high-profile debunking, Houdini (George Demas) all the while seeming a bit tormented by his own skepticism (1:25). Axis Theater, 1 Sheridan Square, West Village, 212-807-9300, (Genzlinger)

‘Sir Patient Fancy’ (closes on Saturday) Little is known about Aphra Behn (1640-89), one of the rare female professional playwrights of the 17th century, other than that she was a spy for King Charles II at one point, and that her plays often possess a ribald flair. This production, from the all-female downtown group the Queen’s Company, certainly does. The ensemble handily taps its inner swashbuckler (and farceur), despite the intrusions of a couple of lip-synced pop songs (2:15). Wild Project, 195 East Third Street, East Village, 866-811-4111, (Webster)

★ ‘Stage Kiss’ (closes on Sunday) Sarah Ruhl frothily whips together romantic comedy and backstage farce in this lively comedy about a pair of actors — delightfully portrayed by Jessica Hecht and Dominic Fumusa — who find life and art mixing together when they rekindle an old romance during rehearsals for a play. It is nimbly directed by Rebecca Taichman (2:00). Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-279-4200, (Isherwood)

‘Transport’ (closes on Sunday) Politics, history and exile are much on the minds of Thomas Keneally (“Schindler’s List”) and Larry Kirwan (of the band Black 47), whose new musical is set on a 19th-century prison ship packed with Irishwomen and bound for Australia. The show floats along on the strength of its fiddle- and flute-filled score, but the spare book makes the characters seem more like ideas than people (1:45). Irish Repertory Theater, 132 West 22nd Street, Chelsea, 212-727-2737, (Collins-Hughes)

‘Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!’ (closes on Saturday) This lively dissection and reanimation of an early classic of Yiddish theater arrives courtesy of the venturesome Target Margin Theater. The director David Herskovits, a four member cast and a very inventive technical team adroitly and ardently juggle assorted layers of history, language and interpretation (1:20). Chocolate Factory, 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, 212-352-3101, (Brantley)

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