This spring on Broadway, there are 19 shows opening. That may seem like a lot of shows if you're not a regular theatregoer but it's actually a small amount when compared to the countless number of shows opening Off-Broadway in New York City. Every spring, there are so many Off-Broadway shows that even at Playbill, we have to run a disclaimer saying that our listings are not comprehensive because we're always going to accidentally leave someone out. So with dozens of shows opening in New York in the next few months, how do you know what to see?
Luckily, Playbill is here to help you. Playbill's Editor in Chief Diep Tran and Features Editor Talaura Harms have decades of New York theatre-going between us.
We looked through the list of upcoming Off-Broadway shows and picked which ones we're especially excited for this spring. Obviously, this list is not comprehensive and in addition to the shows below, we hope you'll check out the many, many other shows playing in New York this spring.
Full disclosure: I’ve already seen it. But I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to seeing it again. MCC’s The Connector is a brand-new musical from Jason Robert Brown (score), Daisy Prince (story conception and direction), and Jonathan Marc Sherman (book). Set at a fictional New York City culture magazine (think Vanity Fair or New York Magazine), the story follows two young writers as one ascends the publishing ladder of success and the other…watches. It’s an exciting score, a compelling narrative, and an amazing cast (Ben Levi Ross and Hannah Cruz lead as the two young writers, with television star Scott Bakula returning to the stage as the magazine’s editor). Completely original stories in musical theatre are few and far between, and this show had me leaning forward, anxious for what happens next. Performances began January 12 and were recently extended through March 3 at MCC's Newman Mills Theater. Opening night is February 6. —Talaura Harms
Kate Douglas’s The Apiary is the first production from Second Stage Theater’s inaugural Next Stage Festival, which will feature one fully-stage production and a series of readings of new works. I’m excited to see another big league New York theatre company committing to supporting new plays. Douglas’ play was developed at the 2022 Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference and this is its official world premiere, directed by Kate Whoriskey (Clyde’s, Sweat). The story is set 20 years in the future—bees are extinct in the wild, but two lab techs in a synthetic apiary discover a way that bees may be able to thrive once again. And it’s kind of grim and creepy. And I want to see this play. The cast includes April Matthis, Taylor Schilling, Carmen M. Herlihy, and Nimene Wureh. Performances began January 31 at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theatre for a run through February 25. —Talaura Harms
The last couple of seasons, I’ve been able to take in three shows by Native American writers: Larissa FastHorses’s The Thanksgiving Play, Madeline Sayet’s Where We Belong, and Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Manahatta. Three isn’t many, but after decades of drought without Native American stories on New York stages, it now seems like a rainfall. This spring, the new Perelman Performing Arts Center is bringing in a new work, Between Two Knees, by the intertribal sketch comedy group The 1491s (members of The 1491s have also served as creators, show-runners, and writers for the television comedies Reservation Dogs and Rutherford Falls). Between Two Knees traces one family’s history from the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee through the 1973 American Indian Movement occupation of Wounded Knee. But it’s The 1491s, so this storytelling comes with a warning, advising audiences to prepare for graphic violence, genocide, and massacres against Native people, as well as loud rapping, country line dancing, mime wolves, 31 wigs, and a really big explosion. Count me in. Performances begin February 4 at PAC NYC for a run through February 24. —Talaura Harms
It's easy to dismiss Teeth as yet another musical based on a film. But Tony winner Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop) is writing the book and lyrics, with Anna K. Jacobs writing the music and book. The musical is based on a horror film about a teenager who discovers that she has teeth in her vagina, which attack when men try to violate her. Considering today's hostile political environment towards women, a musical about female rage and revenge is just what the doctor ordered. And I am deeply curious if there will be a singing vagina (if it bites, it should sing, right?). Anyway, bring on the female anger anthems. Performances begin February 21 at Playwrights Horizons and runs through March 31.—Diep Tran
I want to say it was an oddities museum somewhere in one of the Dakotas…or maybe Texas…or Missouri…where I first read the story of Elmer McCurdy. He was a wild west outlaw who died in a shootout after a train robbery in Oklahoma. His body was preserved and displayed at sideshows and carnivals for decades after, and rediscovered in 1976 at a California amusement park. And now David Yazbek has created about musical it all. I’m already sold. But then, factor in that Yazbek has brought in his collaborators from the Tony-winning musical The Band’s Visit (book writer Itamar Moses and director David Cromer) along with Americana composer Erik Della Penna—this is a must-see for me. Dead Outlaw is the first musical commission from Audible Theater, which has been programming mostly new solo works since its inception five years ago. Performances begin February 28 at Minetta Lane Theatre and runs through April 7. —Talaura Harms
It's nothing new these days for musicians to turn their concept album into musicals (we're looking at you Here Lies Love, Hadestown). But when it was announced that indie folk artist Sufjan Stevens was teaming up with playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury and choreographer Justin Peck to turn Stevens' album Illinois into a theatrical work, I was curious. All of these artists work in a decidedly non-commercial mode—filled to the brim with big ideas and inventive forms. Drury's play Fairview is one of my favorite theatrical experiences of the past decade. So how are they going to turn an album where each song is a story unto itself (“John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” is about a clown-turned-serial killer and "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" is a tribute to Superman and Chicago steel workers) into a coherent narrative? I don't know but I'm looking forward to how they will do it. Illinoise is currently running at Chicago Shakespeare Theater so if you're curious, read the Chicago reviews before the show comes to New York. Performances begin March 2 at Park Avenue Armory and run through March 23. —Diep Tran
If you're a fan of the TV show Succession, this spring in New York is for you. Not only is actor Jeremy Strong moving away from Kendall Roy by playing a whistleblower in An Enemy of the People on Broadway, but Succession co-executive producer/writer Lucy Prebble's play The Effect is running Off-Broadway. In the show, two participants of a clinical drug trial fall in love, but they're not sure if their feelings are genuine or a side-effect of the antidepressants they're on. The play had an acclaimed run at the National Theatre in London. Having been a fan of the rapid-fire dialogue in Succession, I'm curious to see what Prebble's stage voice is like. Plus, with Jamie Lloyd (of the Broadway-bound minimalist Sunset Boulevard) as the director, The Effect will at the very least be visually inventive. Performances begin March 3 at The Shed and run through March 31.—Diep Tran
A new play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks is always a cause for celebration. Granted, this play is kind of about the relationship between President Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemmings, so I'm not entirely sure how much of a good time this will be. At the very least, I know it'll be something memorable and unexpected. For one, Parks is not writing a historical work—instead it's about an interracial couple who are putting on a play and they're playing the main characters. What happens when life and art collide? Well, I expect the show to be a perceptive look at America then and now. Performances begin March 28 at the Public Theater and run through August 28. —Diep Tran
Signature Theatre will stage the newest musical from creator Dave Malloy, who has written the book, lyrics, music, and orchestrations for this world premiere. Ever the envelope-pusher, Malloy’s previous works include the song cycle Ghost Quartet, the Rachmaninoff fantasia Preludes, the rock opera Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage, the chamber choir musical Octet, and the Broadway pop opera Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. For Three Houses, Malloy tells the stories of three isolated people living in different countries, all haunted by their grandparents. Malloy always creates a world that completely draws me in...but in wildly different ways. I'm excited to see how he'll do it this time. Malloy’s frequent collaborator Annie Tippe directs. Performances begin April 30 for a run through June 9 at Signature Theatre’s Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre. —Talaura Harms
So I cheated, because I saw this show at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe (it's another example of how the Scottish festival has become the preeminent way that shows gain future lives). The best way I can sum up Dark Noon is that if you are a fan of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, this is the show for you. Granted, this is not a didactic lecture. Instead, it is an epic, entertaining, and shocking look at American history and America's lies around that history—and how those lies have spread around the globe. And as created by South African Fix+Foxy Production, with South African performers, it shows that sometimes, the people with the clearest look at what America is are those abroad. Performances begin June 7 at St. Ann's Warehouse and run until July 17. —Diep Tran