21 Shows to Catch Off-Broadway

Off-Broadway News   21 Shows to Catch Off-Broadway
New musicals, award-winning playwrights, and Broadway stars—here’s what not to miss through May 16.
Cast of Venus at the Signature Theatre Joan Marcus

May 1: A.D. Penedo and Marshall Pailet’s Baghdaddy turns the true story of the Iraq war instigators—a ragtag group of analysts and detectives—into a musical comedy unlike any other. The show, staged in the basement at St. Luke’s Church, invites the audience to (literally) pull up a chair and join a support group meeting for those who started the war. The open-ended return run officially opened May 1.

The cast of <i data-rte2-sanitize="italic">Baghdaddy </i>
The cast of Baghdaddy Ambe Williams


May 2: The newest immersive experience from Sleep No More producer Randy Weiner debuts underneath Chelsea’s High Line in Manhattan. Few details about the show, which is titled Seeing You, have been revealed—simply that it is “narcotic and eye-opening.” In spite of the ambiguous billing, performances are sold out through the end of May, and the limited engagement has been extended through July 21. Performances began May 2.

May 3: New York welcomes two works by Tony winner Enda Walsh: The Irish Arts Center presents the Irish playwright’s theatrical installation Rooms, alongside St. Ann’s Warehouse’s staging of the play Arlington. The latter is billed by the Off-Broadway theatre as “bleak and terrifying,” with echoes of Orwell’s 1984.

May 3: Target Margin’s five-hour marathon staging of Mourning Becomes Electra officially opens at the Abrons Arts Center as part of the company’s 25th anniversary season. Eugene O’Neill’s rarely-seen trilogy is revived through May 20.

May 4: Previews begin for the New York premiere of Gina Gionfriddo’s Can You Forgive Her? starring Amber Tamblyn in her Off-Broadway debut. The newest play from the two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist follows a woman on the run from a date threatening to kill her. The production will officially open May 23 at the Vineyard Theatre.

May 4: John Doyle’s anticipated, small-stage revival of Pacific Overtures officially opens at Classic Stage Company. Included in the cast are George Takei, Karl Josef Co, Ann Harada, and Kelvin Moon Loh. The revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical is set to run through June 18.

May 4: Hamish Linklater’s The Whirligig debuts at the Signature Theatre in a production from The New Group. Norbert Leo Butz, Zosia Mamet, and Grace Van Patten are among the cast of the world-premiere play from the actor and playwright. The production will officially open May 21.

Dianne Wiest in <i>Happy Days</i>
Dianne Wiest in Happy Days Joan Marcus

May 4: Oscar winner Dianne Wiest stars as Winnie, a woman buried up to her waist in dirt and slowly sinking into the earth, in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. The production, directed by James Bundy at Theatre for a New Audience, arrives Off-Broadway following an earlier acclaimed staging at Yale Repertory Theatre. Performances began April 23 ahead of a May 4 opening at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.

May 4: The New York premiere of Marry Harry officially opens at the York Theatre Company at Saint Peter’s. Set in the East Village, the new musical offers a comedic look at what happens when adults refuse to let go of their parental ties. Performances began April 25.

May 5: Kartik Naram’s The Whalephant about the search for self at sea, debuts its limited engagement at the Tank Theatre. The whimsical new play, which features original music and dance, is co-produced by Current Harbor.

May 7: Q Theatricals’ high-tech musical adventure Ernest Shackleton Loves Me officially opens at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theatre, which has been transformed into the vast and snowy Antarctic for the production. Electro-violinist Valerie Vigoda stars as a single mom who is unexpectedly thrown into an adventure with a famous polar explorer, played by Priscilla Queen of the Desert’s Wade McCollum. The show is written by Memphis playwright and lyricist Joe DiPietro with music by Brendan Milburn, lyrics by Vigoda, and direction by Lisa Peterson. Performances began Off-Broadway April 14.

May 10: Martín Zimmerman’s Seven Spots on the Sun officially opens at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Set in a Latin-American village, the play details stories of loss, miracles, and redemption. The downtown theatre has teamed up with the The Sol Project, a New York-based theatre initiative dedicated to raising the visibility of Latinx playwrights, for the world-premiere production.

May 12: The true story of the “almost-first” female astronaut is brought to the stage in They Promised Her the Moon, which kicks off a limited engagement at St. Clement’s Theatre. Amanda Quaid and Andrus Nichols star as the pioneering female aviators in Laurel Ollstein’s probing drama. The show runs through May 27 with a May 15 opening.

May 12: Performances begin for Building the Wall, a new political drama written by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan. Set in 2019, the play imagines what might happen if the Trump administration carries out its campaign promise to round up and detain millions of immigrants. The show will officially open May 21 at New World Stages.

May 13: The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene wraps up performances of Boris Zilberman’s Old New Year, a modern-day take on Faust in English and Yiddish staged at the Art345 Gallery in East Harlem. The world-premiere immersive staging is a co-production with Lost & Found Project, which began performances April 26.

Jonathan Raviv Joseph Marzullo/WENN

May 15: Signature Theatre resident playwright Suzan-Lori Parks debuts her newest work, Venus. Directed by Lear deBessonet, the play follows the real-life journey of Saartjie Baartman, the unfortunate star of 19th century London’s freak-show circuit. Performances began April 25.

May 15: Tim Rosser and Charlie Sohne’s musical fable The Boy Who Danced On Air debuts in New York in a production from Abingdon Theatre Company. The love story explores the dark underworld of Afghanistan’s bacha bazi, where wealthy men take in young boys from poor families and often abuse them. Performances are in the June Havoc Theatre, with Troy Iwata and The Band’s Visit’s Jonathan Raviv reprising their roles from the world premiere in San Diego.

May 16: Following an acclaimed world premiere at last year’s Williamstown Theatre Festival, Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living debuts Off-Broadway in a production from Manhattan Theatre Club. The newest work by the Ironbound playwright explores the ways in which abled and disabled bodies meet each other.

May 16: New York Theatre Workshop celebrates the official opening of Mfoniso Udofia’s plays Sojourners and Her Portmanteau, currently running in repertory. Both works are part of the playwright’s epic, nine-part Ufot Cycle, which chronicles the life—the triumphs and losses—of a Nigerian immigrant woman living in America.


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