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A dozen promising productions, including a solo show with Cecily Strong, new musicals from Taylor Mac and Duncan Sheik, and spouses starring in Long Day's Journey Into Night
Thrilling musicals aren't just opening on Broadway. Our roundup of shows to see beyond Broadway this January includes six new musicals, including Whisper House by Tony-winning Spring Awakening composer Duncan Sheik, The Hang from Pulitzer Prize finalist Taylor Mac and an adaptation of the Afrofuturist novel Black No More by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter. Plus , catch a reimagined Long Day's Journey Into Night, new plays from Clare Barron and Joshua Harmon, and Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong in a stunning solo turn. For a comprehensive overview of everything bowing beyond Broadway, browse the listings in TDF's Show Finder.
In terms of COVID-19 safety protocols, all of these productions require theatregoers to provide proof of being fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine. Masks are also mandatory. Note that some shows are adding additional rules such as proof of a COVID-19 booster or negative COVID-19 test. While we are doing our best to keep this article up to date, before buying tickets to any event, double-check the COVID-19 rules to avoid disappointment.
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The Shed: The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe - already running
The Shed, 545 West 30th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Hudson Yards
Already in previews. Opens January 11. Closes February 6.
For those who saw Lily Tomlin's Tony-winning turn in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, it may be hard to imagine anyone else channeling the show's charmingly offbeat characters. Written and directed by her wife and longtime collaborator, Jane Wagner, this one-woman play had two runs on Broadway decades apart, both starring Tomlin. But Saturday Night Live MVP Cecily Strong has proven herself a compelling conjurer of kooky characters on TV, and she's taking on this solo tour de force with Tomlin and Wagner's blessing. Tony nominee Leigh Silverman directs.
Whisper House - January 11
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues in Midtown East
Previews begin January 11. Opens January 20. Closes February 6. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Originally produced at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre a decade ago, this musical by Tony-winning Spring Awakening composer Duncan Sheik and Tony-nominated writer Kyle Jarrow (SpongeBob SquarePants) is finally getting its New York debut. Inspired by Sheik's concept album of the same name, Whisper House is set during World War II and centers on an angry and confused adolescent boy who's sent to live with the aunt he's never met in a Maine lighthouse. Once there, he becomes suspicious of the Japanese immigrant caretaker and the resident ghosts. Samantha Mathis (Billions) leads the cast of this haunting chamber piece about loneliness, regret and lost love. The Civilians' Steve Cosson directs.
MTC Stage I at City Center, 131 West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 13. Opens February 1. Closes March 27. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Although many of Joshua Harmon's plays have been called comedies—Bad Jews, Significant Other, the college rat race satire Admissions—they always explore serious subjects. But his latest work, Prayer for the French Republic, sounds like a straight-up drama, though undoubtedly it will still showcase Harmon's talent for punch lines and passionate rants. This three-act exploration of anti-Semitism follows five generations of a French Jewish family, from the Holocaust to the 21st century. Tony winner David Cromer (The Band's Visit, Our Town) directs the Manhattan Theatre Club production.
Lincoln Center Theater: Intimate Apparel - January 13
Lincoln Center Theater, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue
Previews begin January 13. Opens January 31. Closes March 6. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Based on Lynn Nottage's eponymous play about a lonely African-American seamstress searching for love and fulfillment in turn-of-the-20th-century New York, Intimate Apparel marks Lincoln Center Theater's inaugural opera. Composer Ricky Ian Gordon (Orpheus & Euridice, Morning Star) actually approached the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner about transforming her script into a sung-through piece, and Tony winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, My Fair Lady) directs.
Atlantic Theater Company: SHHHHH - January 14
Atlantic Theater Company's Stage 2, 330 West 16th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
Previews begin January 14. Opens January 31. Closes February 13. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Atlantic Theater Company commissioned this provocative new play by acclaimed dramatist Clare Barron (Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie winner for Dance Nation), who also directs and costars. Described as a study in kink, trauma, pleasure and revenge, SHHHHH is sure to be an insightful exploration of sex and womanhood in the patriarchy. The ensemble cast also includes Constance Shulman (Orange Is the New Black), Nina Grollman (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Broadway veteran Greg Keller.
The New Group: Black No More - January 20
The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street between Dyer and Tenth Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 20. Opens February 15. Closes February 27. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
A prescient 90-year-old Afrofuturist novel becomes the urgent new musical Black No More at The New Group. George S. Schuyler's 1931 Harlem Renaissance-set tale centers on Max Disher (Shuffle Along Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon), a Black man who's intrigued by a mysterious procedure that can turn him white, which is being marketed as a solution to America's race problem. This thought-provoking production features a book by Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley, songs by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter from The Roots, who costars, and choreography by Tony winner Bill T. Jones. Scott Elliott directs a cast that includes Broadway favorites Lillias White, Ephraim Sykes and Jennifer Damiano.
Audible Theater: Long Day's Journey Into Night - January 18
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane between Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street in the West Village
Previews begin January 18. Opens January 25. Closes February 20. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Note: Proof of booster shot required.
Tony-nominated director Robert O'Hara (Slave Play) is well known for his radical reinventions of classics. Now he's giving Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical epic Long Day's Journey Into Night a 21st-century twist by setting this dysfunctional family's downward spiral during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. Married stage stalwarts Elizabeth Marvel (Other Desert Cities, Julius Caesar at Shakespeare in the Park) and Tony nominee Bill Camp (The Crucible, The Queen's Gambit) play deluded and destructive parents to unhappy sons portrayed by Tony nominee Ato Blankson-Wood (Slave Play) and Jason Bowen. As this is an Audible production, expect the emphasis to be on the acting over aesthetics, and a streamlined running time of 100 minutes.
Playwrights Horizons: Tambo & Bones - January 19
Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street between Ninth and Dyer Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 19. Opens February 7. Closes February 27. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Note: Proof of booster shot required.
Up-and-coming playwright Dave Harris is having a banner season with two world premieres Off Broadway. First up is Tambo & Bones, a surreal satire about racism centering on two Black men trapped in a minstrel show. As Harris is also a published poet, there's sure to be a lot of intricate and illuminating wordplay in this rags-to-riches hip-hop fable, as the duo roasts our nation's racist past and grapples with our racist present. Taylor Reynolds directs this coproduction between Playwrights Horizons and LA's Center Theatre Group.
HERE: The Hang - January 20
HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue at Dominick Street in Soho
Begins January 20. Closes March 6.
All patrons must wear KN95 or KF94 masks. If you don't have one, one will be provided for free. As of January 31, proof of booster shot also required. Click here for more details.
Taylor Mac's fabulous, song-filled, daylong epic A 24-Decade History of Popular Music was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. So we're happy to sing the praises of his latest musical extravaganza, The Hang, which is premiering at HERE. With a book and lyrics by Mac and music by his frequent collaborator Matt Ray, the show imagines a gathering around Socrates' deathbed, a queer celebration of virtue replete with jazz, dance and debates that resonates through history. Niegel Smith directs Mac and his eccentric pals in this communion of iconoclasts, which features jaw-dropping outfits by costumer Machine Dazzle.
MCC Theater: Space Dogs - January 25
The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, 511 West 52nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 25. Opens February 13. Closes March 20. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Note: Proof of booster shot required.
Although the last musical Nick Blaemire wrote infamously closed on its opening night on Broadway, he's gone on to have a busy career as an actor on stage (Godspell, Dogfight) and screen. In fact, he recently played an aspiring songwriter in Lin-Manuel Miranda's film adaptation of tick, tick...BOOM!, a wonderful inside joke for theatre lovers who knew he was working on a new musical, Space Dogs, with Van Hughes. The duo performs this history-inspired tuner about the relationship between Laika, a stray dog, and the Russian scientist who sent her to space during the Cold War. Betrayal, political intrigue and the bond between man and man's best friend all figure in this bittersweet show.
Museum of Jewish Heritage, Edmond J. Safra Hall, 36 Battery Place near First Place in Battery Park City
Begins January 27. Closes February 6.
Ricky Ian Gordon is having a busy winter! In addition to Intimate Apparel, he's premiering a second English-language opera this January: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, a coproduction between New York City Opera and National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Inspired by Giorgio Bassani's eponymous 1962 novel, which also served as the basis for the Oscar-winning Italian film of the same name, the World War II-set show centers on the members of a privileged Italian-Jewish family, who believe they won't be impacted by the rise of the Nazis. As they tend to their luxurious garden, they remain willfully ignorant of the danger growing just outside their walls. Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, Flying Over Sunset) penned the libretto.
Reflex - January 28
MITU580, 580 Sackett Street between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Brooklyn
Begins January 28. Closes February 19.
Hideaway Circus presents master juggler Jay Gilligan in a dazzling history of his gravity-defying craft. Through stories and eye-popping sequences, Gilligan demystifies the art of juggling, though you still shouldn't try his tricks at home. The last week of performances will also be live-streamed to at-home audiences.
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Top image: Taylor Mac, whose new musical The Hang opens at HERE this month.