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Catch Anthony Rapp, Norbert Leo Butz, Katie Holmes and other stars in new productions
A Saturday Night Live stand-up in a new solo show; a new tuner starring two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz; Rent star Anthony Rapp's musical memoir about love and loss; and Katie Holmes playing (what else?) a gorgeous celebrity. These are just some of the promising productions opening Off Broadway in January. For a comprehensive overview of theatre in New York City, browse the listings in TDF's Show Finder and remember, there are five adventurous festivals to check out this month, too.
In terms of COVID-19 safety protocols, rules vary by venue. While we are trying to keep this article up to date, be sure to double-check the protocols before purchasing tickets so you arrive prepared.
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Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street between Bleecker and Hudson Streets in the West Village
Previews begin January 6. Opens January 23. Closes February 11. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Masks are required.
Saturday Night Live stand-up and charming cynic Colin Quinn returns to the New York stage with his latest humorous treatise. This time around he's delving into the cult of personality, sharing how he's learned to chat up folks from diverse backgrounds and ways you can, too. Fans of his other solo shows, including his two Broadway outings Long Story Short and An Irish Wake, know that Quinn is a skilled storyteller and insightful observer of the human condition. Don't expect much of a plot, but do expect lots of laughs.
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues in Midtown East
Previews begin January 10. Opens January 18. Closes February 12. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Masks are optional.
This post-apocalyptic puppet show is far from child's play. Award-winning visual theatre company Wakka Wakka Productions, whose previous shows include SAGA and Made in China, set this dystopian coming-of-age tale in 2555, when humanity is on its last legs. But hope is embodied by the magical title creature in this surreal not-quite-the-end-of-the-world sci-fi fantasy.
Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street in Soho
Previews begin January 11. Opens January 19. Closes February 17. Encore run March 3-April 1. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Masks are optional.
After living through a pandemic, a comedy about grief is something we can all relate to. Of course, as Sam Morrison's critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe hit Sugar Daddy reminds us, not everyone lived through COVID-19. In this harrowing and hilarious solo show, Morrison recounts meeting his lover Jonathan at Bear Week in Provincetown and how the two got deadly serious while quarantining together at his grandmother's house. Then the unthinkable happened. But life—and laughs—go on, and sometimes comedy is the best way to cope with tragedy.
WP Theater at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway at 76th Street on the Upper West Side
Previews begin January 12. Opens January 19. Closes February 4. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Masks are required for the performance on February 3 at 7:30 p.m. only.
Back in the beforetimes, Lightning Rod Special's outrageous musical satire about the abortion debate earned raves from NYC critics, including me. In our post-Roe v. Wade world, this return engagement of The Appointment is sure to feel even more gonzo and galvanizing. Singing fetuses, prognosticating turkeys and male clinic doctors crooning abortion-regret tales—those are just a few of the unsettling scenes in this fantasia about how personal reproductive choice has been turned into a polarizing political issue. It's a shockingly entertaining call to action, with a portion of the proceeds going to the National Network of Abortion Funds.
New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 14. Opens January 25. Closes April 30.
Masks are optional.
Rent changed the lives of myriad musical theatre-loving youth, none more so than Anthony Rapp. He was working at a Starbucks in the early '90s when he was invited to audition for a new East Village-set rock opera inspired by La Bohème. Soon he found himself centerstage on Broadway starring in a cultural phenomenon. But at the same time, his beloved mother was dying of cancer. Inspired by his memoir of the same name, Without You interweaves stories and songs, including iconic numbers from Rent, as Rapp shares his moving tale of love and loss, and why we should all live like there's no day but today.
A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 19. Opens January 22. Closes February 19. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.
Masks are optional.
Maya Lin's powerful Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC is considered a minimalist masterpiece. But when she won a public competition to design it at age 21, she encountered backlash from some who wondered why a young Asian woman was crafting an unconventional memorial for male American soldiers. Pan Asian Rep presents the world premiere of Livian Yeh's history-based play about the racism and sexism Lin faced as she defended herself and her design to critics and even the US Congress!
Atlantic Stage 2, 330 West 16th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
Previews begin January 20. Opens February 14. Closes March 5.
Masks are required.
A new Off-Broadway musical celebrating Old New York starring two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz staged at Atlantic Theatre Company's more intimate theatre? No wonder Cornelia Street is practically (though not quite) sold out. Featuring songs by rocker Mark Eitze (lead singer of American Music Club) and a book by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Tony winner Simon Stephens, the show centers on Jacob Towney (Butz), an old-timer desperately trying to save the West Village restaurant he loves while giving his daughter the life she deserves. Neil Pepe directs an ensemble cast that includes the legendary Mary Beth Peil, George Abud (The Band's Visit) and Gizel Jiménez (Miss You Like Hell).
Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Chelsea
Previews begin January 25. Opens February 2. Closes April 16.
Mask are required at Wednesday matinee and Saturday evening performances only.
I admit, I already touted this production in my January theatre festivals roundup. But this impeccably cast mounting of Samuel Beckett's absurdist, tragicomic one-act deserves the promotion. Tony nominee John Douglas Thompson is Hamm, a domineering man who's blind, immobile and abusive to his downtrodden servant Clov (Tony winner and Beckett aficionado Bill Irwin). Hamm's legless parents (Joe Grifasi and Patrice Johnson Chevannes) are his only other company as they all wait for the inevitable. As with all his plays, Beckett's pitch-black humor has audiences laughing to the grave.
The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, 511 West 52nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 26. Opens February 14. Closes April 2.
Mask are required at Tuesday evening, Saturday and Sunday matinee performances only.
Last season, Soho Rep presented a sold-out, critically acclaimed run of Hansol Jung's Wolf Play, a sly exploration of culture and family. Now MCC Theater is giving the surreal show an encore run. When a white couple decide they can't handle the Korean six-year-old they adopted, they put him up for rehoming online. A queer couple come to the rescue, but happily ever after isn't so easy, especially when your child insists he's a wolf. The boy is embodied by a whimsical puppet whose human manipulator narrates in a wolf costume. We are all animals after all, but how does one find one's pack?
Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 26. Opens February 16. Closes March 26.
COVID-19 protocols to be determined.
What do a Hasidic Jewish couple in an arranged marriage and a secular couple have in common? More than you might think in Anna Ziegler's play juxtaposing the lives and longings of these seemingly disparate pairs. After a world premiere at San Diego's Old Globe in 2018 and a number of regional productions, The Wanderers arrives in New York courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Company with a bona fide Hollywood star, Katie Holmes, playing (what else?) a Hollywood star who disrupts these not-quite-happy homes. Barry Edelstein directs.
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane between Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street in the West Village
Previews begin January 27. Opens February 5. Closes February 25.
Masks are optional.
Fearless playwright-director Erica Schmidt (Cyrano, Mac Beth), who routinely explores taboo subjects with piercing insight, is behind Lucy, a disturbing two-hander about a busy working mom and her trusted nanny who may not be what she seems. Talk about tapping into primal parenting fears! Lynn Collins and Brooke Bloom star.
The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street between Dyer and Tenth Avenues in Midtown West
Previews begin January 31. Opens February 21. Closes March 12.
Masks are required at Tuesday evening and Saturday and Sunday matinee performances only.
Playwright Samuel D. Hunter is having a moment. His exquisite two-hander, A Case for the Existence of God, made many critics' best of 2022 lists, and the film adaptation of his play The Whale is garnering Oscar buzz. This month, Signature Theatre Company is reviving his dark comedy A Bright New Boise, which, like most of his oeuvre, is set in his home state of Idaho and spotlights its hardworking residents. The play centers on Will (Peter Mark Kendall), a new Hobby Lobby Craft Store store staffer with a secret whose religious fervor throws the outpost into chaos. Oliver Butler directs this new production of Hunter's 2011 Obie-winning show.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
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Top image: Norbert Leo Butz, who's starring in the new musical Cornelia Street at Atlantic Theater Company.