Theater Listings for March 28-April 3

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Theater Listings for March 28-April 3

Posted on: March 28th, 2014 by tommyj

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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, above, of the television competition “So You Think You Can Dance” (2:00). Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-244-7529, (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)

Brits Off Broadway (opens on Tuesday) Running through June 29, this 10th annual showcase of stage works includes two productions from Scotland’s Traverse Theater Company that celebrate brazen women: Sabrina Mahfouz’s “Clean,” about female denizens of London’s underworld, and Douglas Maxwell’s “A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity,” in which the title character blossoms through an unlikely relationship with her deceased husband’s gutter-mouthed employee. The lineup also includes David Rudkin’s “The Love Song of Alfred J. Hitchcock,” a poetic glimpse inside the mind of the master of suspense; Jessica Walker in “Pat Kirkwood Is Angry,” about the British wartime star and Noël Coward muse; and three plays written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn, “Time of My Life” (receiving its New York premiere) and the new works “Arrivals & Departures” and “Farcicles: A Double Bill of Frivolous Comedies.” 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, 212-279-4200, (Rooney)

‘Bullets Over Broadway’ (in previews; opens on April 10) 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, 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, (Rooney)

‘Casa Valentina’ (previews start on Tuesday; opens on April 23) While Harvey Fierstein has kept busy writing books for musicals, most recently “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)

‘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)

‘Greed: A Musical for Our Times’ (in previews; opens on Thursday) 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, (Rooney)

‘Heathers: The Musical’ (in previews; opens on Monday) 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, (Rooney)

‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ (previews start on Saturday; 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, Manhattan, 212-239-6200, (Rooney)

‘The Heir Apparent’ (previews start on Friday; opens on April 9) David Ives has had a string of successes with Classic Stage Company, including “New Jerusalem,” “The School for Lies” and “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)

‘I Remember Mama’ (in previews; opens on Sunday) 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, (Rooney)

‘If/Then’ (in previews; opens on Sunday) 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, (Grode)

‘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,” “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness” 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’ (previews start on Sunday; opens on April 8) 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 Most Happy Fella’ (opens on Wednesday) Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs this seven-performance run of Frank Loesser’s beloved 1956 musical for the City Center Encores! series. Fleshing out the romantic triangle of a Napa Valley farmer, a young waitress and a restless ranch hand are Shuler Hensley, Laura Benanti and Cheyenne Jackson. The cast also features Heidi Blickenstaff, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Jessica Molaskey, with music direction by Rob Berman. City Center, 131 West 55th Street, 212-581-1212, (Rooney)

‘The Mysteries’ (previews start on Thursday; 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)

‘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)

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ (in previews; opens on Thursday) 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, 212-239-6200, (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, (Rooney)

‘Red Velvet’ (in previews; opens on Monday) 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, (Rooney)

‘A Second Chance’ (in previews; opens on Sunday) 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, (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, (Rooney)

‘The Velocity of Autumn’ (previews start on Tuesday; 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’ (previews start on Friday; 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’ (previews start on Saturday; 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)

★ ‘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 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, (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)

‘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)

★ ‘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)

‘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, (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, (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)

‘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)

‘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)

‘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, (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, (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, (Brantley)

★ ‘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)

‘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)

★ ‘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)

★ ‘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, (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)

‘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, (Collins-Hughes)

‘Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!’ 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)

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)

‘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, (Neil Genzlinger)

‘Sir Patient Fancy’ 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)

‘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,

‘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,

‘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

★ ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (closes on Sunday) In this priceless bedtime story for grown-ups, the fairy-tale characters of the title and their real selves are played by 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, (Brantley)

‘Bikeman: A 9/11 Play’ (closes on Sunday) 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, (Ken Jaworowski)

★ ‘Hand to God’ (closes on Sunday) 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, (Isherwood)

‘The Hero’ (closes on Sunday) 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, (Jaworowski)

‘Middle of the Night’ (closes on Saturday) 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, (Webster)

‘No Exit’ (closes on Sunday) 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. 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, (Rooney)

★ ‘No Man’s Land’/‘Waiting for Godot’ (closes on Sunday) 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, (Brantley)

‘The Open House’ (closes on Sunday) 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, (Isherwood)

★ ‘The Pig, or Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for a Pig’ (closes on Saturday) 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, (La Rocco)

‘Stockholm’ (closes on Saturday) 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, (Brantley)

★ ‘The Tribute Artist’ (closes on Sunday) 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, (Brantley)

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