Theater Listings for May 9-15

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Theater Listings for May 9-15

Posted on: May 9th, 2014 by tommyj

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All the Way Bryan Cranston, above, 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 and nominated for a Tony Award for best play, sorely needs streamlining, but Mr. Cranston’s dynamic Tony-nominated performance gives it a compelling center (2:50). Neil Simon Theater, 250 West 52nd Street, Manhattan, 800-745-3000, (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

‘American Hero’ (previews start on Monday; opens on May 22) Do you want your play on white or honey wheat? The playwright Bess Wohl sets her Second Stage Uptown comic study of low-wage America behind the counter of a toasted sub franchise. Its three employees (Ari Graynor, Jerry O’Connell, Erin Wilhelmi) struggle for sandwich mastery and against desperation. The director Leigh Silverman maintains theatrical and food safety standards. McGinn/Cazale Theater, 2162 Broadway, at 76th Street, fourth floor, 212-246-4422, (Alexis Soloski)

‘Dream of the Red Chamber: A Performance for a Sleeping Audience’ (performances start on Friday) Who could fall asleep in the midst of Times Square? You are invited to try when Jim Findlay and Times Square Arts, in partnership with Allied Partners and Brickman Real Estate, take over a portion of the Brill Building to offer this free piece inspired by an 18th-century Chinese novel about the epic love between a stone and a flower. The production, by Collapsable Giraffe and 3-Legged Dog, takes place in the building’s basement and features video, sound and lighting design. Beds are provided as Mr. Findlay encourages his audience to sleep through much of the show. Brill Building, 1619 Broadway, at 50th Street, Manhattan, (Soloski)

‘A Fable’ (in previews; opens on May 22) Aesop and La Fontaine can now welcome the playwright David Van Asselt to their ranks. Mr. Van Asselt, artistic director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, offers this modern-day parable about an idealist’s attempts to right an old wrong amid a shifting moral landscape. Elizabeth Swados composed the music; Daniel Talbott directs. Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce Street, West Village, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

‘The Food Was Terrible’ (previews start on Tuesday; opens on Wednesday) Dinner and a show? Sort of. William Burke’s play about grief includes preshow food and drink. You can sip your cocktail and nibble your casserole (despite the promise of the title) as you watch two men discuss life and loss. The actors Noel Joseph Allain and Evander Duck perform alongside two visual artists. Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, Brooklyn, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

‘Hamlet’ (previews start on Thursday; opens on May 22) If Denmark is a prison, it’s an unusually green and pleasant one in the Drilling Company’s staging of this Shakespearean tragedy at Bryant Park, free of charge. Although the Drilling Company typically performs in a municipal parking lot, its director, Hamilton Clancy, will revive this 2011 production to help Bryant Park kick off a new Shakespeare series. Avenue of the Americas, at 40th Street, Manhattan, (Soloski)

‘In the Park’ (previews begin on Friday; opens on Monday) The raconteur Edgar Oliver (“Helen & Edgar”) has a sleepy, gothic voice — something like Poe’s raven the morning after a bender. For his new monologue at Axis Theater, directed by Randy Sharp, he’ll lead audiences into the hidden vales and secret glades of Prospect Park as he offers reminiscences of his peculiar childhood. Axis Theater Company, 1 Sheridan Square, West Village, 212-807-9300, (Soloski)

‘The People L.E.S.’ (performances start on Friday) Reality television thrives on dysfunctional families, but just try outdoing the royal family of Argos. In this multimedia production at the Abrons Arts Center’s amphitheater, Big Art appropriates the techniques of TV — interviews, re-enactments, live video — to explore the politics of Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy. This production, on Friday and Saturday only, includes a cast drawn from community members and the center’s Youth Theater. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street at Pitt Street, Lower East Side, 212-598-0400, (Soloski)

‘Too Much Sun’ (in previews; opens on May 18) Medea is one woman who won’t be receiving a Mother’s Day card. Neither, perhaps, will Audrey Langham, an actress preparing the role. In this Nicky Silver comedy, directed by Mark Brokaw, Audrey (Linda Lavin) flees rehearsal only to be rebuffed by her adult daughter (Jennifer Westfeldt). Will Ms. Lavin, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 for her role in Mr. Silver’s “The Lyons,” roar again? Vineyard Theater, 108 East 15th Street, 212-353-0303, (Soloski)


★ ‘Act One’ Playing the theater addict and artisan Moss Hart in James Lapine’s loving adaptation of Hart’s memoir, Tony Shalhoub and Santino Fontana brim contagiously with passion for that endangered religion called the Theater. If the lively, overblown production surrounding them isn’t on their level, their shimmering performances (Mr. Shalhoub is also priceless as Hart’s mentor, George S. Kaufman) are reason to celebrate (2:40). Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-239-6200, (Ben Brantley)

★ ‘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 Manhattan-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, (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)

‘Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical’ This occasionally funny but mostly just loud adaptation of Woody Allen’s 1994 film, directed by Susan Stroman, features a score of 1920s standards and esoterica. If watching the movie was like being gently tickled into a state of hysteria, this musical version feels more like being head-butted by linebackers. Make that linebackers in blinding sequins (2:30). St. James Theater, 246 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

‘Cabaret’ Only a decade after it closed, Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s popular, audience-teasing reincarnation of this classic musical feels as if it never left us. Alan Cumming seems to be having the time of his life reprising the creepy, tragic M.C., a role he redefined for the ages. Michelle Williams appears somewhat less comfortable as the madcap Sally Bowles (2:30). Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, 212-719-1300, (Brantley)

‘Casa Valentina’ A gentle magic whispers amid the speechifying of Harvey Fierstein’s prolix play about cross-dressing in the Catskills in the early 1960s. Directed with ripples of beauty by Joe Mantello, and featuring a first-rate cast, this production has the heaviness of an old-fashioned message drama. But it captures the blessed consummation that occurs for ordinary men transformed into women (2:15). Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

★ ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ Michael Grandage’s splendid production of Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy from 1996 is a ringing testament to the talents of everyone involved. That includes its star, Daniel Radcliffe, who plays a misshapen boy from rural Ireland with Hollywood dreams; an unimpeachable ensemble; and, most important, Mr. McDonagh, whose spellbinding narrative powers have seldom been so alluringly displayed (2:20). Cort Theater, 138 West 48th 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)

★ ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ Though he plays an “internationally ignored song stylist” of undefinable gender in John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s 1998 rock musical, Neil Patrick Harris is in full command of what he becomes here. That’s a bona fide Broadway star, who can rule an audience with the blink of a sequined eyelid. Michael Mayer directed this mightily entertaining exercise in crowd control (1:30). Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

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

★ ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill’ Audra McDonald scales her lustrous soprano down to jazz-soloist size to portray the great Billie Holiday in this concert-cum-solo-play by Lanie Robertson. Ms. McDonald’s terrific performance moves beyond mimicry to become a haunting portrait of a troubled artist who could only find equilibrium in her life when she lost herself in her music (1:30). Circle in the Square, 235 West 50th Street, 212-239-620, (Isherwood)

‘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)

‘Of Mice and Men’ In Anna D. Shapiro’s respectable, respectful and generally inert revival of John Steinbeck’s classic portrait of a friendship, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd are the immortal itinerant farmhands George and Lenny. These two undeniably talented screen stars here wear their archetypes like armor. The competent cast includes Leighton Meester as the woman who destroys their lives (2:20). Longacre Theater, 220 West 48th Street, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

★ ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Despite the presence of a movie megastar, Denzel Washington, in a central role, Kenny Leon’s disarmingly relaxed revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s epochal drama has a welcome egalitarianism. This engrossingly acted ensemble piece makes us newly aware of one family’s dynamics. The very good cast also includes LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Anika Noni Rose and Sophie Okonedo (2:40). Ethel Barrymore Theater, 243 West 47th Street, Manhattan, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

★ ‘The Realistic Joneses’ Plays as moving and funny, as wonderful and weird as Will Eno’s meditation on the confounding business of being alive (and contemplating mortality) do not come along often on Broadway. Or ever. Sam Gold directs a flawless cast: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei (1:30). Lyceum Theater, 149 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

‘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)

★ ‘Violet’ A terrific, heart-stirring revival of Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s musical about a young woman from the South who hopes a faith healer can cure the facial scar that has blighted her adolescence. Sutton Foster gives a moving, career-redefining performance in the title role, with nary a tap shoe in sight (1:45). American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street, 212-719-1300, (Isherwood)

Off Broadway

‘Annapurna’ In Sharr White’s two-hander, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman portray a long-divorced couple suddenly reunited when she shows up at his trailer in the mountains of Colorado wanting to rehash their troubled marital history. Engaging performances cannot quite mask the play’s resemblance to a scruffier version of a Lifetime television movie (1:30). Acorn Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

★ ‘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)

★ ‘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, (David Rooney)

‘Cherry Smoke’ In James McManus’s overwrought play, an amateur boxer (Vayu O’Donnell) cycles from back-alley bouts to prison stints to riverside encounters with his guileless girlfriend, Cherry (Molly Carden). Though Mr. McManus claims steel-town origins, this Working Theater production fetishizes hardscrabble lives, condescending to its characters (2:00). Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street, 212-868-4444, (Soloski)

★ ‘The City of Conversation’ Jan Maxwell gives a captivating, multifaceted performance as a well-connected Washington dinner hostess in Anthony Giardina’s lively drama, which charts the rise of our polarized politics through the microcosm of a single family. Smoothly directed by Doug Hughes (2:00). Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center, 212-239-6200, (Isherwood)

‘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, (Anita Gates)

‘Dutchman’ In LeRoi Jones’s incendiary 1964 play, revived by the National Black Theater and the Classical Theater of Harlem, a black man and a white woman meet on a subway, but their flirtation soon turns fatal. “Dutchman” isn’t a nice play. Beyond it’s difficult racial politics there’s a deep-dyed misogyny that remains present and apparently even attractive. But “Dutchman” endures because it resists simple allegory (0:50). National Black Theater, 2031 Fifth Avenue, near 126th Street, East Harlem, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

‘The Fabulous Miss Marie’ Ed Bullins’s raucous, jazz-inflected play centers on a Christmas celebration in the Los Angeles home of Marie (Tonya Pinkins) and her husband, Bill (Roscoe Orman) — three days of drinking, dancing and infidelity. Woodie King Jr.’s lurid, hurried production embraces the script’s verve, while denying it any real weight or consequence (1:30). Castillo Theater, 543 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-941-1234, (Soloski)

‘Family Play (1979 to Present)’ This smart, heartfelt and emotionally exhausting work by the devised-theater company CollaborationTown heaves you into the most intimate moments of family life. The actors give skilled performances and the writing is economical and clear-cut, but you can only engage with so many lives before you start to wonder if maybe everyone could hurry up and live happily ever after (1:50). New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher Street, West Village, 888-596-1027, (Soloski)

★ ‘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)

‘Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!’ This latest version of Gerard Alessandrini’s long-lived revue exudes an oxymoronic air of spirited ennui, an awareness that there ain’t much in the way of inspiring creative targets these days. With an industrious four-member cast, the show is dirge-like fun, rather in the spirit of a New Orleans jazz funeral (1:45). Davenport Theater, 354 West 45th Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (Brantley)

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

★ ‘Here Lies Love’ This invigorating poperetta, conceived by David Byrne, sets a new standard for audience participation. Or do I mean coercion? In this heady show about the heady life of Imelda Marcos, staged with infinite inventiveness by Alex Timbers, all the world’s a dance floor, and all the men and women (including the audience) merely disco rats (1:30). Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, at Astor Place, East Village, 212-967-7555, (Brantley)

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

‘Inventing Mary Martin’ This biographical revue is best when the Broadway pro Emily Skinner gets a chance to sing (highlights: her versions of “Swattin’ the Fly” and “I Got Lost in His Arms”). But the show is more often tepid or clunky, losing sight of the woman it seeks to honor (1:30). Theater at St. Peter’s, 619 Lexington Avenue, at 54th Street, 212-935-5820, (Rachel Saltz)

★ ‘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)

★ ‘An Octoroon’ The playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins takes on a melodrama from the mid-19th century, about forbidden love in the slaveholding South, that would appear approachable today only with a set of sterilized tongs. But under the direction of Sarah Benson, this exhilarating, bobby-trapped production deploys pretty much every weapon in the arsenals of cultural demolition and crowd-tickling showbiz to ask unanswerable questions about race and theater (2:20). Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street, TriBeCa, 866-811-4111, (Brantley)

★ ‘Peddling’ Harry Melling, best known for having played Dudley Dursley in the “Harry Potter” films, gives a powerful and delicately calibrated solo performance in his poetic first play about a volatile lost boy, grasping his way toward the possibility of a better existence. Presented by HighTide Festival Theater, Steven Atkinson’s splendidly designed production is part of the Brits Off Broadway festival (1:00). 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, 212-279-4200, (Laura Collins-Hughes)

★ ‘Red-Eye to Havre de Grace’ Thaddeus Phillips directs this haunting new musical theater work about the grim, disorderly last days of Edgar Allan Poe. Ean Sheehy gives a mesmerizing performance as Poe, and the show features Poe texts set to haunting original music by the Wilhelm Bros. & Co. (1:30). New York Theater Workshop, 79 East Fourth Street, East Village, 212-279-4200, (Isherwood)

★ ‘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)

‘17 Orchard Point’ Anton Dudley and Stephanie DiMaggio’s clunky new two-hander, starring the Tony winner Michele Pawk as a venomous mother and Ms. DiMaggio as her pious daughter, begins with bitterness and deception, followed by bourbon-fueled truth telling and betrayal. But let this be a lesson in the marvelously Teflon qualities of Ms. Pawk. Amid awkward exposition and an overabundance of hoary jokes, she makes a subpar piece of writing look better than it deserves (1:20). Beckett Theater at Theater Row, 410 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-239-6200, (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, 888-841-4111, (Gates)

‘The Substance of Fire’ Standout performances from the Australian actor John Noble, as an embattled father, and Charlayne Woodard, as a social worker, enliven this revival of Jon Robin Baitz’s meaty (if talky) drama about a family in the publishing business fractured along generational lines (2:05). Second Stage Theater, 305 West 43rd Street, Clinton, 212-246-4422, (Isherwood)

★ ‘Swing & Beowulf’ These Dublin Fringe Festival one-acts are profoundly different yet equally winning. The charming “Swing” concerns a grown-up couple (Steve Blount and Janet Moran) at a dance class who strike a shared rhythm on a floor full of colorful characters. In the solo show “Beowulf: The Blockbuster,” a father imparts the ancient tale to his young son, embellishing it with Hollywood references and intimations of his own mortality. This phantasmagoric production is a tour de force for its writer-star, Bryan Burroughs (2:00). Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, Clinton, 866-811-4111, (Webster)

‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ For a 25th anniversary production, this marriage-and-reception comedy has been given a Times Square home, with cast and audience trekking across Broadway in midshow to get from the “church” to a restaurant where everyone partakes of a buffet dinner. The stereotyping of Italian-Americans, gay people and others is less funny than ever, but the walk through the living theme park that is the theater district is nutty fun (2:00). Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, 120 West 46th Street, 866-811-4111, (Neil Genzlinger)

Off Off Broadway

★ ‘The Mysteries’ Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, a savvy and ambitious young director, has commissioned more than 40 playwrights to condense the Old and New Testaments into a five-and-a-half hour event, both gratifying and grueling. An enthusiastic 53-member cast works from the first light to the Last Judgment, with a vegan meal served in between (5:30). Flea Theater, 41 White Street, TriBeCa, 866-811-4100, (Soloski)

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


‘Amaluna’ Written and directed by the Tony-winning Diane Paulus (“Pippin”), this latest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza is based ever so vaguely on “The Tempest,” with a twist: the magical island is ruled by women. While the display of female strength (as in biceps and triceps and quads, oh my) is a lovely thing, the show is just another giant machine of a spectacle (2:30). Citi Field, Parking Lot C, 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 800-450-1480, (Claudia La Rocco)

‘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,

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

‘Matilda the Musical’ The children’s revolution, per Roald Dahl (2:35). Shubert Theater, 225 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200,

‘Motown: The Musical’ A dramatically slapdash but musically vibrant joy ride through the glory days of the Detroit music label founded by Berry Gordy (2:40). Lunt-Fontanne Theater, 205 West 46th Street, 877-250-2929,

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

‘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,

‘Pippin’ Making love and war, with music, under the big top (2:35). Music Box Theater, 239 West 45th 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,

‘Then She Fell’ Go ask Alice (2:00). The Kingsland Ward at St. John’s, 195 Maujer Street, near Humboldt Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-374-5196, (Brantley)

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

Last Chance

‘The Box: A Black Comedy’ (closes on Sunday) Marcus Gardley’s Foundry Theater play draws on ancient myth and contemporary hip-hop as it explores the debilitating relationship between the prison system and minority men. If you were to judge it purely on aesthetic terms, you might not be entirely lenient. But Mr. Gardley and the director Seth Bockley have positioned “The Box” as education and evangelism (1:25). Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

★ ‘The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2’ (closes on Sunday) Eugene O’Neill’s stage directions go on for pages. The New York Neo-Futurists celebrate his dramaturgical quirk in this sequel, which has five stalwart actors dashing to enact every line of O’Neill’s early plays. Well, every line except the actual dialogue. By all rights, this should be an esoteric exercise. Instead it is a sidesplitting workout (1:25). Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, at Ninth Street, East Village, 212-868-4444, (Soloski)

‘Four Last Things’ (closes on Wednesday) Lisa Tierney-Keogh’s sensitive, static drama set on an Irish farm comprises three intertwined monologues. The college-age Jane (Elizabeth A. Davis) speaks of the emptiness she feels. Her father (Victor Verhaeghe) describes his inability to help her. The family dog (Justin Hagan) talks of strange smells. The monologue form helps to emphasize these feelings of disconnection, but it also stymies action (1:20). American Globe Theater, 145 West 46th Street, 866-811-4111, (Soloski)

★ ‘The Heir Apparent’ (closes on Sunday) David Ives’s scintillating, exuberantly bawdy adaptation of a rarely seen play by Jean-François Regnard receives a stylish, endlessly entertaining production from John Rando. Carson Elrod shines as a wily servant scrambling to secure an inheritance for his master from an ailing miser, played with exuberant repulsiveness by Paxton Whitehead. It’s a hoot from start to finish (2:15). Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street, East Village, 212-352-3101, (Isherwood)

‘Holy Land’ (closes on Saturday) In its opening scenes, this drama by the Algerian writer Mohamed Kacimi, set in disputed territories, suggests how ordinary people might make sense of such extraordinarily brutal circumstances. But soon incident and symbol pile on and the play’s themes grow crushingly obvious as the script subs in tawdry violence for trenchant thought (1:10). Here, 145 Avenue of the Americas, at Dominick Street, South Village, 212-352-3101, (Soloski)

‘The Mystery of Irma Vep’ (closes on Sunday) In this Charles Ludlam play, revived by Red Bull Theater, two stalwart actors (Arnie Burton and Robert Sella) shift gowns, trousers, fezzes and the occasional wooden leg faster than laws of space and time would seem to permit. Though their repartee seems regulated and practiced, a scene set in an Egyptian tomb achieves divine lunacy (2:00). Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street, West Village, 212-352-3101, (Soloski)

‘La Soirée’ (closes on Sunday) 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)

‘The Spring Fling: First Love’ (closes on Sunday) This program of six short plays is both unsatisfying and perplexing in its disregard for its audience (1:15). Access Theater, 380 Broadway, at White Street, TriBeCa, (Ken Jaworowski)

‘The Threepenny Opera’ (closes on Sunday) Martha Clarke’s pretty-looking but pallid production of the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill music drama lacks bite, despite a sterling cast, including F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Peachum and Laura Osnes (who sings beautifully) as his daughter, Polly (2:05). Linda Gross Theater, 336 West 20th Street, Chelsea, 866-811-4111, (Isherwood)

‘Tough Titty’ (closes on Sunday) Oni Faida Lampley’s mordantly funny, quietly wrenching, semi-autobiographical 2005 play about breast cancer has been given its New York premiere six years after her death. Awoye Timpo’s somewhat scattered production is studded with Broadway veterans, and the uneven cast has several fine performances. Even in this staging’s weaker moments, we can hear the strength of Ms. Lampley’s writing (1:45). Paradise Factory Theater, 64 East Fourth Street, East Village, 212-868-4444, (Collins-Hughes)

‘Your Mother’s Copy of the Kama Sutra’ (closes on Sunday) An odd title for an odd play by Kirk Lynn about various forms of intimacy, sexual and otherwise. A couple (Zoë Sophia Garcia and Chris Stack) decide to re-enact each other’s sexual history before they get married (2:10). Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, Clinton, 212-279-4200, (Isherwood)

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