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 nytimes.com/theater. A searchable, critical guide to theater is at nytimes.com/events.
Previews and Openings
‘Act One’ (in previews; opens on April 17) Moss Hart’s classic autobiography, one of the most beloved American theater memoirs, 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, lct.org. (David Rooney)
‘Amaluna’ (in previews; opens on Thursday) The director Diane Paulus clearly developed a taste for big-top spectacle in her Tony-winning Broadway revival of “Pippin.” She has teamed with Cirque du Soleil to write and stage this touring show, which draws inspiration from Greek and Norse mythology, Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” A cast consisting of 70 percent women and an all-female band celebrate the relationship between mothers and daughters and the sacred role of goddesses as protectors of the planet. Citi Field, Parking Lot C, 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 800-450-1480, cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna. (Rooney)
‘And Baby Makes Seven’ (in previews; opens on Sunday) Paula Vogel’s prescient 1984 comedy concerns a lesbian couple who enlist a gay male friend to help them start a family. As they prepare for parenthood, complications ensue through their failure to account for the persistent presence of the three imaginary children they already share. Unseen professionally in New York since 1993, the play is directed in this New Ohio Theater/Purpleman Theater Company revival by Marc Stuart Weitz. New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village, 888-596-1027, newohiotheatre.org. (Rooney)
‘Beyond Therapy’ (in previews; opens on Tuesday) Unseen in New York since the 1982 Broadway production that starred John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest and a young David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Durang’s satire on the search for meaningful relationships in the contemporary world was called his “Alice in Wonderland” by The New Yorker. It returns via the Actors Company Theater, staged by one of that troupe’s artistic directors, Scott Alan Evans. Beckett Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Rooney)
‘Breathing Time’ (previews start on Friday; opens on Thursday) Best known for his play “Farragut North” (which was adapted for the screen as George Clooney’s “The Ides of March”) and as creator of the Netflix series “House of Cards,” Beau Willimon takes a break from political chicanery with this intimate drama about four people connected by the shocking events of a single day in New York. Aaron Rossini directs this premiere for Fault Line Theater, a young company with a mandate to produce socially relevant, character-driven plays for contemporary audiences. Teatro IATI, 64 East Fourth Street, East Village, 866-527-5376, smarttix.com. (Rooney)
‘Bullets Over Broadway’ (in previews; opens on April 10) Fresh from steering Cate Blanchett to an Oscar win in “Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen writes 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, telecharge.com. (Rooney)
‘Cabaret’ (previews start on Friday; 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, both of whom have established major film careers since the Tony-winning production began its original six-year run, 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, roundabouttheatre.org. (Rooney)
‘Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)’ (in previews) Suzan-Lori Parks test-drives her ambitious new Confederate battlefield drama about the chaos of war and the price of freedom in a short run as part of the Public Lab workshop series. Jo Bonney directs a strong ensemble cast that includes Cherise Boothe, Sterling K. Brown, Larry Bryggman, Louis Cancelmi, Kevin Carroll and Arthur French. Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, East Village, 212-967-7555, publictheater.org. (Rooney)
‘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, telecharge.com. (Eric Grode)
‘Greed: A Musical for Our Times’ (in previews; opens on April 3) The “Avenue Q” veteran Stephanie D’Abruzzo heads the cast of this new show, written by Michael Roberts and directed by Christopher Scott. Skewering targets that range from Ponzi schemes to mortgage bundlers, the musical finds a common thread to link Jamie Dimon, Lance Armstrong, Pope Francis and Bernie Madoff. New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Rooney)
‘Heart and Lights’ (previews start on Thursday; opens on April 3) Audiences no longer have to hold out until the year-end holidays to get their fix of Rockettes kick lines. The resident Radio City dance troupe returns in this new show written by Doug Wright and directed and choreographed by Linda Haberman. A valentine to New York City, it follows two cousins who tumble down a Big Apple rabbit hole as they explore the past of their beloved grandmother, taking a 3-D subway ride, chatting with the lions on the Public Library steps, and encountering a 26-foot-tall animatronic Statue of Liberty. Radio City Music Hall, 866-858-0008, heartandlights.com. (Rooney)
‘Heathers: The Musical’ (in previews; opens on March 31) Has it really been 25 years since Winona Ryder teamed up with Christian Slater’s sexy sociopath to take down the troika of mean girls who ruled the school in that deliciously dark twist on the screen teen comedy? How very. This musical adaptation by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, directed by Andy Fickman, rockets us back to Westerburg High in 1989, where Heather, Heather and Heather’s reign of terror will again be challenged, this time in song. New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, heathersthemusical.com. (Rooney)
‘Hellman v. McCarthy’ (in previews; opens on Wednesday) Dick Cavett appears as himself in the Abingdon Theater’s premiere of Brian Richard Mori’s legal drama about the feud that was ignited when Mary McCarthy appeared on Mr. Cavett’s talk show in 1980 and declared every word written by Lillian Hellman to be a lie. A bitter four-year libel suit followed. Jan Buttram directs the production, which stars Roberta Maxwell and Marcia Rodd as the literary lionesses of the title. June Havoc Theater, Abingdon Theater Arts Complex, 312 West 36th Street, 866-811-4111, abingdontheatre.org. (Rooney)
‘I Remember Mama’ (in previews; opens on March 30) Ten veteran actresses play the 23 roles in John Van Druten’s 1944 chestnut about the experiences of a Norwegian immigrant family in San Francisco in the 1910s. Among the intriguing cast members are Barbara Barrie, Lynn Cohen, Rita Gardner, Heather MacRae and Phyllis Somerville. Jack Cummings III directs this reinterpreted reflection on time and memory, which follows last season’s “Queen of the Mist” in the Transport Group’s decade-by-decade 20th Century Project. The Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street, at Washington Square South, Greenwich Village, 866-811-4111, transportgroup.org. (Rooney)
‘If/Then’ (in previews; opens on March 30) Almost 20 years ago, Michael Greif directed a group of absurdly talented young actors in “Rent,” cementing a very specific image of life as a 20-something New Yorker. Flash forward to this new musical, also directed by Mr. Greif, in which the slightest decisions of a soon-to-be-40-something New Yorker (embodied by one of those “Rent” stars, Idina Menzel) send her into alternate realities, both of which are interwoven onstage. Throw in another “Rent” alumnus (Anthony Rapp), as well as the creative team behind “Next to Normal” (the composer Tom Kitt and the book writer and lyricist Brian Yorkey), and you’ve got quite the pedigree. Richard Rodgers Theater, 226 West 46th Street, 877-250-2929, ifthenthemusical.com. (Grode)
‘King Lear’ (in previews; opens on Thursday) “Macbeth” mania has ruled New York stages of late, with Alan Cumming, Ethan Hawke and, opening on May 31, Kenneth Branagh among those tackling that murderous Scot. But Shakespeare’s tragedy of the broken monarch, betrayed as much by his own vanity and paranoia as by schemers in his court, is gaining ground. On the heels of Frank Langella’s interpretation at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and in advance of John Lithgow’s Shakespeare in the Park outing this summer, comes this Theater for a New Audience production. Directed by Arin Arbus, it promises a female take on the patriarchal drama, and stars the esteemed British classical actor Michael Pennington in the title role. Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, 866-811-4111, tfana.org. (Rooney)
‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’ (previews start on Tuesday; 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 about that jazz great. A five-time Tony winner, Ms. McDonald and her frequent directing collaborator Lonny Price have been preparing this project for more than 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 numbers that include “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.” Circle in the Square, 235 West 50th Street, 212-239-620, telecharge.com. (Rooney)
‘The Library’ (previews start on Tuesday; 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,” “Contagion” and “The Informant!” Chloë Grace Moretz, known for her screen work in films like “Kick-Ass,” “Hugo” and the recent “Carrie” remake, plays a survivor of a high school shooting whose account of the events 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, publictheater.org. (Rooney)
‘Les Misérables’ (in previews; opens on Sunday) Ah, the joys of synergy: The success of the film has induced Cameron Mackintosh to bring a new version to Broadway, where its most recent revival closed in 2008. This new, slightly streamlined staging, which toured the United States for a couple of years, has new scenic designs and orchestrations but no revolving turntable — a centerpiece of the original Broadway production. Among the cast members are a couple of “Hair” veterans (Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine); Nikki M. James, who won a Tony for “The Book of Mormon,” as Eponine; and the London theater star Ramin Karimloo, making his Broadway debut, as Jean Valjean. Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Grode)
‘Mothers and Sons’ (in previews; opens on Monday) In what is being billed as Terrence McNally’s 20th Broadway production, this new play features the star of his last Broadway outing: Tyne Daly, who made a formidable impression in the 2011 revival of “Master Class.” Here she plays a woman who visits her dead son’s former partner years later. She will be joined by two other people who have done well by Mr. McNally (and vice versa): Bobby Steggert, who received a Tony nomination for “Ragtime,” and Frederick Weller, part of the “Some Men” ensemble cast. Sheryl Kaller (“Next Fall”) directs. John John Golden Theater, 252 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Grode)
‘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, telecharge.com. (Rooney)
‘A Raisin in the Sun’ (in previews; opens on April 3) In his 2004 Broadway debut, the director Kenny Leon guided Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald to Tony wins in Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark 1959 drama about the Younger family’s attempts to escape Chicago’s South Side and forge a better life. Mr. Leon returns to the play with this deluxe revival. While Diahann Carroll dropped out because of endurance concerns, the production doesn’t lack for star wattage, with Denzel Washington, Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose, along with LaTanya Richardson Jackson stepping in as the embattled family matriarch, Lena. It also affords a rare opportunity to see the director David Cromer in an acting role, as the oily white neighborhood “welcome” ambassador, Karl Lindner. Ethel Barrymore Theater, 243 West 47th Street, Manhattan, 212-239-6200, raisinbroadway.com. (Rooney)
‘The Realistic Joneses’ (in previews; opens on April 6) 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, telecharge.com. (Rooney)
‘Red Velvet’ (previews start on Tuesday; opens on March 31) Adrian Lester makes a rare New York stage appearance in his acclaimed role as Ira Aldridge, the black American actor who stepped in for an ailing Edmund Kean as Othello at Covent Garden in 1833, a time when the British Empire remained divided over the Slavery Abolition Act. Even prominent theater critics back then unapologetically aired their prejudices. Indhu Rubasingham’s production of this vivid historical drama by Lolita Chakrabarti (Mr. Lester’s wife) comes direct from its sold-out return engagement at London’s Tricycle Theater. St. Ann’s Warehouse, 29 Jay Street, at Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn, 718-254-8779, stannswarehouse.org. (Rooney)
‘A Second Chance’ (in previews; opens on March 30) Following last season’s lauded premiere of “Fun Home,” about sexual identity, family and death, the Public Theater presents another emotionally intimate musical, this time examining the midlife, mid-crisis encounter between a recent widower and a divorcée, both looking to put painful pasts behind them. Jonathan Butterell directs the real-life husband and wife Brian and Diane Sutherland in this show from the musical theater writer Ted Shen. 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, East Village, 212-967-7555, publictheater.org. (Rooney)
‘The Threepenny Opera’ (in previews; opens on April 7) 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, atlantictheater.org. (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, ticketmaster.com. (Charles 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, allthewaybroadway.com. (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 mega-hit “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, telecharge.com. (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, telecharge.com. (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, telecharge.com. (Isherwood)
★ ‘Kinky Boots’ Cyndi Lauper has created a love-and-heat-seeking score that performs like a pop star on Ecstasy. This Harvey Fierstein-scripted tale of lost souls in the shoe business, in which a young factory owner teams up with a drag queen (Billy Porter), sometimes turns into a sermon. But it’s hard to resist the audience-hugging charisma of the songs (2:20). Al Hirschfeld Theater, 302 West 45th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (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, telecharge.com. (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, ticketmaster.com. (Isherwood)
★ ‘No Man’s Land’/‘Waiting for Godot’ With Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart playing a couple of swells and a couple of hobos, Sean Mathias’s productions bring out the polish and shimmer in the language of these existential classics from Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. If these shows lack the requisite mortal chill, they allow us to savor fully some of the best dialogue ever written. (“Waiting for Godot”: 2:30; “No Man’s Land”: 2:00.) Cort Theater, 138 West 48th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Brantley)
‘Pippin’ Diane Paulus sends in the acrobats for her exhaustingly energetic revival of Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson’s 1972 musical starring Patina Miller. As for the 99-pound story at the center of this muscle-bound spectacle — the one about the starry-eyed son of Charlemagne (Matthew James Thomas) — that’s there too, if you look hard (2:35). Music Box Theater, 239 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (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, rockybroadway.com. (Brantley)
★ ‘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, signaturetheatre.org. (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, baysidethemusical.com. (Catherine Rampell)
★ ‘Beauty and the Beast’ A priceless bedtime story for grown-ups. Playing both the fairy-tale characters of the title and their real selves are Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Fraser, spouses who met while working in a sideshow on Coney Island. Directed by Phelim McDermott, these two deliver their own remarkable, love-struck and sweetly pornographic idea of the uses of enchantment (1:20). Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, at Pitt Street, Lower East Side, 212-352-3101, abronsartscenter.org. (Brantley)
‘Bikeman: A 9/11 Play’ Thomas F. Flynn’s docudrama, adapted from his book “Bikeman,” recounts a journalist’s travels to ground zero on the day of the attacks (:55). TriBeCa Performing Arts Center, Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street, near Greenwich Street, 212-220-1460, bikeman911.com. (Ken Jaworowski)
‘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, sohoplayhouse.com. (Anita Gates)
★ ‘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 Malibu, Calif., 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; Christopher J. Hanke has stepped into the role that drew raves for Michael Urie (1:30). Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street, at Seventh Avenue South, West Village, 212-868-4444, smarttix.com. (Rooney)
‘Character Man’ 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, urbanstages.org. (Daniel M. Gold)
‘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, telecharge.com. (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, telecharge.com. (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, roundaboutunderground.org. (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, disastermusical.com. (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, 50shadesthemusical.com. (Andy Webster)
★ ‘Hand to God’ Robert Askins’s scary-funny comedy about our divided souls features a virtuosic performance by Steven Boyer as a good-hearted teenager whose unruly id is unleashed when he dons a sock puppet. Geneva Carr gives a moving performance as his mother, who turns out to have just as much trouble keeping her darker impulses in check (1:50). Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street, West Village, 866-811-4111, mcctheater.org. (Isherwood)
‘The Hero’ This first-rate revival of Gilbert Emery’s 1921 play is steeped in repressed emotions as it follows a family reunited with a soldier back from World War I (2:10). Metropolitan Playhouse, 220 East Fourth Street, East Village, 212-995-5302, metropolitanplayhouse.org. (Jaworowski)
‘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, iluminate.com. (Laurel Graeber)
‘Kung Fu’ 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, signaturetheatre.org. (Isherwood)
★ ‘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, minttheater.org. (Laura Collins-Hughes)
★ ‘Love and Information’ 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, nytw.org. (Brantley)
‘Middle of the Night’ Keen Company’s polished revival of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1956 Broadway play about a May-December relationship that outrages the lovers’ two families is only diminished by its script, an earnest, contrived portrait of a transgression that seems mild in this day and age (2:10). Clurman Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Webster)
★ ‘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, telecharge.com. (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, dukeon42.org. (Collins-Hughes)
‘No Exit’ Written in response to the intellectual paralysis of German-occupied Paris, Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 one-act play about three people condemned to share quarters in hell is a curio that’s equal parts punishing and intriguing in Linda Ames Key’s sharply designed production for the Pearl Theater Company. The play’s bleakly comic existential thesis remains relevant, even if the acting is too uneven to push the unnerving realization deep under the audience’s skin (1:40). Pearl Theater, 555 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-563-9261, pearltheatre.org. (Rooney)
‘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, cherrylanetheatre.org. (Brantley)
‘The Open House’ Will Eno’s funny but slightly hollow new play depicts an average suburban family disintegrating — almost literally — as the ailing father (Peter Friedman) strafes the room with bile. Mr. Eno’s trademark style still has its rewards, and the play contains a nifty twist, but the intimate cruelty of family life does not seem to come naturally to this gifted playwright (1:20). Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-244-7529, signaturetheatre.org. (Isherwood)
‘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, cultureproject.org. (Collins-Hughes)
‘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, sextipsplay.com. (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, ticketmaster.com. (Isherwood)
★ ‘Stage Kiss’ 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, ticketcentral.com. (Isherwood)
‘Stockholm’ Bryony Lavery’s short, sharp shocker of a portrait of a marriage offers a compelling mix of anguished compassion and clinical dispassion. This production — directed by Nick Flint, and featuring Christina Bennett Lind and Richard Saudek as a dangerously co-dependent couple — shows its cards too early to be entirely effective. But it’s definitely a play worth knowing (1:10). 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, 212-279-4200, 59e59.org. (Brantley)
‘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, nycitycenter.org. (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, telecharge.com. (Webster)
‘Transport’ 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, irishrep.org. (Collins-Hughes)
★ ‘The Tribute Artist’ Charles Busch’s new comedy — about a man who impersonates his dead landlady for mercenary reasons — is delightful and slyly insightful. Co-starring the invaluable Julie Halston, Mr. Busch’s longtime aide-de-camp in theater, the show subversively blurs lines between fact and fiction, male and female and, most daringly, what we think of as moral and immoral behavior (2:10). 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, 212-279-4200, primarystages.org. (Brantley)
Off Off Broadway
‘Nothing on Earth Can Hold Houdini’ 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, axiscompany.org. (Neil Genzlinger)
★ ‘The Pig, or Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for a Pig’ Singing. Dancing. Politics and pulled pork sandwiches. Edward Einhorn and his Untitled Theater Company #61 take on Vladimir Moravek’s take on a Vaclav Havel dialogue. The result is a layered and darkly laced concoction (1:20). 3LD Art & Technology Center, 80 Greenwich Street, at Rector Street, Lower Manhattan, 866-811-4111, 3ldnyc.org. (La Rocco)
‘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, SpinCycleNYC.com. (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, thenshefell.com. (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, queenofthenightnyc.com. (Isherwood)
‘Avenue Q’ R-rated puppets give lively life lessons (2:15). New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.
‘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, berenstainbearslive.com.
‘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, telecharge.com.
Blue Man Group Conceptual art as entertainment (1:45). Astor Place Theater, 434 Lafayette Street, East Village, 800-258-3626, ticketmaster.com.
‘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, telecharge.com.
‘Chicago’ Jazz Age sex, murder and razzle-dazzle (2:25). Ambassador Theater, 219 West 49th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.
‘En el Tiempo de las Mariposas’ Caridad Svich’s Spanish-language adaptation of Julia Álvarez’s novel (“In the Time of the Butterflies”) about the Mirabal sisters, who opposed the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and died as a result (2:00). Runs in repertory at Repertorio Español at Gramercy Arts Theater, 138 East 27th Street, 212-225-9999, repertorio.org/mariposas.
‘The Fantasticks’ Boy meets girl, forever (2:05). Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.
‘Jersey Boys’ The biomusical that walks like a man (2:30). August Wilson Theater, 245 West 52nd Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.
‘The Lion King’ Disney’s call of the wild (2:45). Minskoff Theater, 200 West 45th Street, 800-870-2717, ticketmaster.com.
‘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, repertorio.org.
‘Mamma Mia!’ The jukebox musical set to the disco throb of Abba (2:20). Broadhurst Theater, 235 West 44th Street, 800-432-7259, telecharge.com.
‘Newsies’ Extra! Extra! enthusiasm (2:20). Nederlander Theater, 208 West 41st Street, 866-870-2717, newsiesthemusical.com.
‘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, smarttix.com.
‘Once’ Almost love, in a singing Dublin (2:15). Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, 242 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.
‘Perfect Crime’ The murder mystery that has been investigated since 1987 (1:30). Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Who was that masked man anyway? (2:30). Majestic Theater, 247 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.
‘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, telecharge.com.
‘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, telecharge.com.
‘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, telecharge.com.
‘Sleep No More’ A movable, murderous feast at Hotel Macbeth (2:00). The McKittrick Hotel, 530 West 27th Street, Chelsea, 866-811-4111, sleepnomorenyc.com.
‘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, ticketmaster.com.
‘Wicked’ Oz revisited (2:45). Gershwin Theater, 222 West 51st Street, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.
‘Antony and Cleopatra’ (closes on Sunday) This squishy adaptation by the terrifically talented playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney resets Shakespeare’s tragedy in sunny, 18th-century Hispaniola, under French rule, and everything about it feels dampened by its soggy reconception. That includes any spark of chemistry between its title lovers, embodied by a mismatched Jonathan Cake (who’s still very good in the first half) and Joaquina Kalukango (2:40). Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, East Village, 212-967-7555, publictheater.org. (Brantley)
‘Arlington’ (closes on Sunday) This solo musical (with piano) is about an Army wife, portrayed by the gifted singer Alexandra Silber, who spends a day ruminating on an unnamed war and her changing attitudes toward it. The music, by Polly Pen, and the libretto, by Victor Lodato, are skillful and well integrated, but the blinkered heroine’s epiphany comes as too little too late (1:00). Vineyard Theater, 108 East 15th Street, 212-353-0303, vineyardtheatre.org. (Isherwood)
★ ‘A Doll’s House’ (closes on Sunday) The director Carrie Cracknell ratchets up the suspense factor in this terrifically exciting version of Ibsen’s classic about marital secrets and lies, newly adapted by Simon Stephens. Hattie Morahan gives a galvanizing performance as a film-noir Nora, running scared with no place to hide. The excellent Dominic Rowan is her uxorious husband. Ian MacNeil designed the dizzying, rotating set (2:40). Harvey Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, 718-636-4100, bam.org. (Brantley)
‘The Happiest Song Plays Last’ (closes on Sunday) The warm-blooded but diffuse concluding play in Quiara Alegría Hudes’s trilogy about the ex-Marine Elliot (the terrific Armando Riesco) and his cousin Yaz (a warm Lauren Vélez), who find their paths diverging, but their relationship holding strong (2:20). Second Stage Theater, 305 West 43rd Street, Clinton, 212-246-4422, 2st.com. (Isherwood)
‘Riding the Midnight Express With Billy Hayes’ (closes on Sunday) The story of Mr. Hayes’s five-year imprisonment in Turkey for trying to smuggle hashish has been presented before: in “Midnight Express,” his 1976 memoir, and in the 1978 movie adaptation. But as he makes clear in this one-man show, the movie omits much of his ordeal, and what it does present has, shall we say, a high degree of historical revisionism. Mr. Hayes sets the story straight in this engrossing production, and the facets of his tale not covered in the film are highlights (1:30). St. Luke’s Theater, 308 West 46th Street, 212-239-6200, telecharge.com. (Webster)
★ ‘Take Me Back’ (closes on Saturday) An ex-convict grudgingly dotes on his mother in Muskogee, Okla., and is visited by his high school girlfriend (now married) in this incisive character study by Emily Schwend. While the story hinges on his ability to not repeat the past, this production is mostly about complex emotions coursing under seemingly simple lives. It is also about terrific writing and acting, and not to be missed (1:35). Walkerspace, 46 Walker Street, TriBeCa, 212-868-4444, smarttix.com. (Webster)