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Catch Romeo & Bernadette, Fat Ham at The Public, soft at MCC Theater and more
Broadway's spring season may have wrapped but many of Off-Broadway's most exciting theatre companies continue to open new shows this month. Our curated list features a dozen of the most promising productions, including a musical comedy inspired by Shakespeare's most famous tragedy, a queer Black reimagining of Hamlet at The Public Theater, a tribute to South African musical legend Miriam Makeba at New York Theatre Workshop and a powerful new drama by the singular Donja R. Love at MCC Theater. For a comprehensive overview of everything playing beyond Broadway, browse the listings in TDF's Show Finder. And remember, most of our Off-Broadway picks for April are still running!
As for COVID-19 protocols, although most Broadway theatres are no longer checking vaccination status, all of the Off-Broadway shows listed below continue to require proof of full vaccination as well as masks. 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 so you are prepared.
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59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues in Midtown East
Previews begin May 1. Opens May 8. Closes June 4. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
The bond of motherhood has a way of transcending cultural differences. That phenomenon is at the heart of Karen Hartman's drama Goldie, Max and Milk, which centers on an Orthodox Jewish lactation consultant and her new client: a single lesbian mom. Jackson Gay directs Lauren Molina and Blair Baker in this tale of strangers from conflicting backgrounds who find common ground. Part of 59E59 Theaters' VOLT Festival 2022 showcasing the plays of Karen Hartman.
Theater 555, 555 West 42nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin May 3. Opens May 16. Closes June 26. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Even Romeo and Juliet didn't have such bad timing! After a well-reviewed limited run in early 2020, Mark Saltzman's merry musical sendup of Romeo and Juliet was set to transfer to a bigger theatre and then, well, you know the rest. Two years later, its triumphant remounting was marred by omicron. But after such sweet sorrow the production finally arrives Off Broadway with its cast intact. Although its been shticking around for a while, its humor is timeless as Romeo magically awakens in 1960 Brooklyn and goes after a gal named Bernadette, the potty-mouthed daughter of a mob boss. The melodies are lifted from famous Italian songs and the plot from the Bard, only with a lot more punch lines. Anna Kostakis and Nikita Burshteyn reprise their roles as the star-crossed couple.
Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Chelsea
Previews begin May 11. Opens May 19. Closes June 26. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Irish Rep presents the New York premiere of Jaki McCarrick's history-inspired Belfast Girls. Between 1848 and 1850, thousands of "morally pure" girls ages 14 to 20 escaped Ireland's Great Famine by agreeing to resettle in Australia as part of the Female Orphan Emigration Scheme. This new drama looks at five such young women who move halfway around the world for the promise of a better life.
The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street near Astor Place in the East Village
Previews begin May 12. Opens May 26. Closes July 31.
Newly minted winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for drama! Celebrated playwright James Ijames (Kill Move Paradise) reimagines Hamlet as a darkly comic coming-of-age tale about Juicy, a queer, Black, Southern college student whose dead dad demands his son avenge his murder. But as a sensitive and self-aware young man, Juicy wants to break the cycles of trauma and violence that impede him. Originally seen as a digital production at Philadelphia's Wilma Theater, Fat Ham is a compelling examination of love and loss, pain and joy helmed by The Public's associate artistic director Saheem Ali. Coproduced by the National Black Theatre. Note: If you're feeling lucky, try entering the digital lottery to win free tickets to the first preview on Thursday, May 12. Details are on The Public's site.
The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, 511 West 52nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin May 12. Opens June 9. Closes July 17.
Prolific playwright Donja R. Love presents another powerful and nuanced portrait of young Black men with soft at MCC Theater. Set in a correctional boarding school racked by a recent student suicide, the play explores one teacher's quest to save his Black teenage charges from a world trying to snuff out their softness. Don't mistake this for some kind of inspirational after-school special. Those familiar with Love's work (the absurdist HIV drama one in two, the queer slave play Sugar in Our Wounds) know he approaches complex subjects with poetry, piercing insight and a touch of the surreal. Whitney White directs a cast that includes Broadway vet Leon Addison Brown.
Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin May 12. Opens June 2. Closes July 10. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Five years ago, Mansa Ra (formerly known as Jiréh Breon Holder) made his Roundabout Theatre Company debut with Too Heavy for Your Pocket about the civil rights Freedom Riders. After many other plays (In The Southern Breeze, 50:13) and a stint writing for NBC's New Amsterdam, he graduates to Roundabout's larger Off-Broadway space, the Laura Pels, with ...what the end will be. Directed by Margot Bordelon, this new play centers on three generations of men living under one roof, exploring what it means to be Black and gay. The cast includes Ryan Jamaal Swain (FX's Pose, Choir Boy) and Broadway vet Keith Randolph Smith.
Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street between Broadway and Church Street in Soho
Previews begin May 17. Opens May 30. Closes June 19.
The always adventurous Soho Rep presents Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members by Mara Vélez Meléndez, about a young Puerto Rican activist fighting to save her beloved island and culture from the claws of big business and corrupt politicians. Described as "a drag show about decolonizing places and people," the two-hander focuses on Lolita, who infiltrates the Wall Street office tasked with overseeing the isle armed with a pistol and radical ideas. David Mendizábal directs. Note: Catch the show on the cheap with 99-Cent Sunday performances on May 29, June 5 and 12—tickets are sold in person, first come, first served.
New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue in the East Village
Previews begin May 17. Opens June 1. Closes June 26.
Grammy nominee Somi Kakoma wrote and stars in Dreaming Zenzile, about South African musical legend and activist Miriam Makeba. Set at Makeba's final concert, the show features a live jazz band backing Kakoma's electrifying portrait of the revolutionary artist as her ancestors beckon her to relive and reconcile with her past. Obie winner Lileana Blain-Cruz (The Skin of Our Teeth, Pipeline) directs.
St Ann's Warehouse, 45 Water Street near New Dock Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn
Previews begin May 18. Opens May 22. Closes June 5.
St. Ann's Warehouse presents Édouard Louis' critically acclaimed, autobiographical solo show Who Killed My Father, an intimate and wrenching exploration of a queer artist son's complicated relationship with his working-class father. Coproduced by Théâtre de la Ville Paris and directed by Thomas Ostermeier, the play is performed in French with English supertitles.
Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues in the East Village
Previews begin May 20. Opens June 8. Closes July 9. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Inspired by the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Snow in Midsummer is a captivating ghost story and murder mystery. When a wealthy businesswoman takes ownership of a factory in a drought-devastated community, she discovers the town was cursed by a woman executed for a crime she didn't commit. Directed by Zi Alikhan and featuring an all-Asian cast, the play examines heavy themes including injustice, the climate crisis and generational trauma.
Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street between Irving Place and Union Square East in Union Square
Previews begin May 25. Opens June 9. Closes June 30.
During the shutdown, the Vineyard Theatre presented Lessons in Survival, a series of virtual recreations of landmark speeches and conversations about race and freedom in the US. Expanding on that project, the theatre is sharing an in-person mounting of the illuminating 1971 discussion between 28-year-old poet Nikki Giovanni and renowned 47-year-old novelist James Baldwin on the so-called "Black Tonight Show" SOUL!. A half century on, their candid and provocative dialogue continues to resonate. Tyler Thomas directs Crystal Dickinson and Carl Clemons-Hopkins in this unique offering from the arts collaborative The Commissary.
Lincoln Center Theater, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, 150 West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue
Previews begin May 26. Opens June 23. Closes July 24.
Tyne Rafaeli directs Brian Watkins' eerie Epiphany, about a group of longtime friends reuniting to try and resuscitate a forgotten tradition. But when the guest of honor is a no-show, the party takes a dark turn as the invitees begin to grapple with some difficult, long-neglected questions. The impressive ensemble cast includes Heather Burns, Tony nominee Jonathan Hadary and perennial scene-stealer Marylouise Burke.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
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Top image: Zach Schanne and Anna Kostakis in Romeo & Bernadette. Photo by Russ Rowland.