Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
See Michael Urie in a new comedy, eclectic offerings at the FRIGID Festival, The Wooster Group and more
Now that the omicron disruption has subsided, Off-Off Broadway is back and busier than it's been in months. Adventurous audiences know that some of the biggest theatrical thrills are found on NYC's smallest stages. Bonus: These shows are great for theatregoers on a budget. In fact, TDF members can see dozens of Off-Off Broadway productions for as little as $11! Not a TDF member? Consider joining our Go Off-Off and Beyond program, which gives you access to discount tickets to indie theatre, music and dance performances for a one-time fee of five bucks.
In terms of COVID-19 safety protocols, all of these productions require audiences 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 booster shot. 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.
The Flea, 20 Thomas Street between Broadway and Church Street in Tribeca
Begins February 6. Closes March 13. you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase $18 tickets.
All theatres have had a rough two years, but The Flea's journey has been particularly arduous and led to a total overhaul of how it functions and creates art. It's telling, then, that The Flea's first show back is named for Shakespeare's fantastical forest from As You Like It, a gender-bending wonderland where anything can happen. A collaborative spectacle spearheaded by and featuring the divine Diana Oh, Flea artistic director Niegel Smith, MacArthur Fellows Okwui Okpokwasili and Carrie Mae Weems, and filmmaker-designer Peter Born, Arden – But, Not Without You is more of an experience than a play. Oh, a queen of participatory performance art, describes it enticingly as: "Four Generations of Deeply Intimately Bound All-Kinds-of-Doing-Shit Artists sharing of themselves in a Tender-Ass Room full of Queer Femme Shamanic Energy who Genuinely and Gently Welcome You: Social Anxieties, Yummy Freakiness, and All." Come prepared to commune, this is all about being in the room.
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues in Midtown East
Begins February 9. Closes March 6.
Note: Proof of booster shot required.
A laugh-out-loud send-up of the last days of the aristocracy? Sounds fabulous. Devised by the Washington, DC-based Happenstance Theater, BAROCOCO is a physical comedy that parodies the aesthetics, attitudes and excesses of the late Baroque Rococo period. The elite won't go down without flaunting their finery.
44-02 23rd Street between 44th Avenue and 44th Road in Long Island City, Queens
Begins February 10. Closes February 26. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase $11 tickets.
After shifting to digital fare during the pandemic, the Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) resumes in-person performances with a new artistic director, Tony Williams II, at a new Long Island City, Queens location. Known for its handsome and professional mountings of undersung musicals, APAC returns with Man of La Mancha, which hasn't enjoyed a major NYC revival in two decades. The show's signature song, "The Impossible Dream," became an anthem of hope during the shutdown, with Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell crooning the tune out of his Upper West Side window as a tribute to frontline workers. So this musical about striving for greatness even under oppressive circumstances is sure to have new resonance during this period of recovery.
A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Midtown West
Begins February 11. Closes February 26. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase $15 tickets.
What happens when your judgment day comes after death? That's the premise of The Jury, a new tuner presented by musical incubator Theatre Now about a deceased young woman whose bad life choices continue to haunt her post-mortem. Written by longtime collaborators Jonathan Bauerfeld and Casey Kendall, the production is directed by Lucky Stiff, known for their immersive genre-bending work at venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Note: Catch the show on the cheap with two pay-what-you-can performances on Sunday, February 13 and Saturday, February 19 for which tickets start at $5.
The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue, and Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place between First Avenue and Avenue A, both in the East Village
Begins February 16. Closes March 6. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account and search for FRIGID to purchase $11 tickets to most performances.
FRIGID New York is known for its theatre festivals, but this 16th annual event is its flagship and often the launchpad for bigger things—Broadway's Thoughts of a Colored Man made its NYC debut at FRIGID 2015. Over two and a half weeks, almost two dozen eclectic shows will be presented at two East Village venues: the Kraine Theater and Under St. Marks. Highlights include the surreal Are you lovin' it? from Japan's Theatre Group GUMBO; A Play for Voices, which is performed in complete darkness; the US debut of UK comedian Eleanor Conway in Vaxxed & Waxxed and the atypical rom-com Love & Sex on the Spectrum. It's worth browsing the complete schedule to see what piques your interest. If you're concerned about COVID-19, note that in addition to the usual safety rules the theatres will only be filled to 50% capacity. Alternatively, you can stay home and watch online since all performances will be live-streamed.
La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue in the East Village
Begins February 17. Closes March 6. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase $12 tickets.
Note: Proof of booster shot required.
Renowned writer, visual artist, designer and director Theodora Skipitares is behind Grand Panorama, about Frederick Douglass' obsession with photography and his belief that it would redefine Blacks in America and end slavery. In this multimedia piece, the social reformer, abolitionist and orator is conjured through masks, puppetry and 19th-century attractions such as the panorama, shadow theatre and the kinetoscope. A one-of-a-kind take on race and history.
Repertorio Español, 138 East 27th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues in the Flatiron District
Begins February 18. Closes May 13.
One of NYC's premier Latinx theatres and the launchpad for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Repertorio Español reopens its doors for the first time in two years with La dama boba (The Foolish Lady), a new adaptation of Spanish playwright Lope de Vega's 1613 broad comedy about two sisters in love with the same man. Leyma López directs and adapted the script, which is performed in Spanish with English subtitles.
The Performing Garage, 33 Wooster Street between Grand and Broome Streets in Soho
Begins February 18. Closes March 19. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase $24 tickets.
Legendary experimental theatre collective The Wooster Group (who recently got a cool shout-out from founding member Willem Dafoe on Saturday Night Live) presents an encore run of The Mother (a learning play), which garnered rave reviews last fall. A reimagining of Bertolt Brecht's tale of a woman's journey to revolutionary action, the show evokes parallels between contemporary political unrest and the socialist rebellions of the past. The troupe's resident visionary Elizabeth LeCompte directs.
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street between Rivington and Delancey Streets on the Lower East Side
Already running. Closes February 19.
Two of NYC's most adventurous indie theatres, Dixon Place and Ping Chong and Company, join forces for Specially Processed American Me, a multimedia exploration of the history SPAM (the canned meat product, not unwanted emails). Through the stories of three generations of Asian women, audiences learn about SPAM's legacy in the military, its introduction to the Asia-Pacific and its impact on Asian cuisine. Playwright and codirector Jaime Sunwoo digs into many issues in this foodstuff fantasia, including colonization, immigration, assimilation and disillusionment with the American dream.
The New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street between Washington and Greenwich Streets in the West Village
Begins February 23. Closes March 26. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase $21 tickets.
Note: Proof of booster shot required.
Talene Monahon's comedy Jane Anger was a digital hit during the shutdown and now it's having a full-fledged production in NYC. It's 1606 and William Shakespeare is stuck in quarantine with his unpaid apprentice Francis and a killer case of writer's block. Then inspiration comes knocking... actually, she climbs through the window in the form of Jane Anger, the Cunning Woman, who's determined to make history. Stage and screen star Michael Urie portrays the Bard, Ryan Spahn is Francis, playwright Monahon is Shakespeare's wife Anne Hathaway and Amelia Workman is the smart lady of the title who changes their lives. Lucille Lortel Award winner Jess Chayes directs. This play was workshopped extensively during the pandemic, including a very funny Zoom reading of an early draft titled Frankie & Will courtesy of MCC Theater in spring 2020. We're excited to see Jane Anger up on stage!
Andrew Block is an Ovation Award-winning director who hails from New Orleans and now works primarily with the vibrant NYC independent theatre community. He also serves as TDF's Manager of Off & Off-Off Broadway Services.
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Top image: Nono Miyasaka in Are you lovin' it?, part of FRIGID New York's FRIGID Festival. Photo by Sue Brenner.