From world premieres and anticipated revivals, to acclaimed international productions debuting in the U.S., the winter 2020 Off-Broadway (and Off Off-Broadway) season is shaping up to be an exciting one.
Among the slew of offerings are: a world premiere from Taylor Mac at The Flea, the U.S. debut of Alice Birch’s critically acclaimed Anatomy of a Suicide, a chamber opera version of Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, a Ruth Negga-led Hamlet at St. Ann's Warehouse, Celine Song’s Endlings, a play about elderly "sea women" in Korea complete with onstage dunk tanks, and a return of Young Jean lee’s concert-play We’re Gonna Die.
Check out the full winter preview below.
January 4: The Tank and InVersion Theatre present the world premiere of Johnny G. Lloyd’s Or, An Astronaut Play, a new play about access, space, and privilege as four astronaut students compete for the chance to make it to outer space. William Steinberger directs; performances continue through January 26.
January 6: Red Bull Theater’s production of Mac Beth, an all-female re-interpretation of Shakespeare's Macbeth adapted and directed by Erica Schmidt, returns for an encore run at Hunter College’s Frederick Loewe Theater as part of the Hunter Theater Project. In Schmidt’s version, seven girls meet up to do a play in an empty lot outside the city on an autumn afternoon. Using only Shakespeare’s text, they hurl headlong into the unchecked passions of Macbeth as the line between real life and fantasy quickly blurs. Performances are scheduled through February 22.
January 7: Olivier Award-winning company Fishamble returns to 59E59 Theaters with Eva O’Connor’s Maz and Bricks, about the unlikely friendship of a man (played by Ciaran O’Brian) and a woman (played by O’Connor) who change each other in ways neither thought possible. Jim Culleton directs; performances continue through February 2.
January 7: Through the lenses of creative expression and cultural perseverance, Native performing artists explore original Native material in a two-week festival of cultural exchange involving new plays, directing workshops and song-making at Reflections of Native Voices at Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop. The festival is curated by Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective. The festival concludes January 19.
January 8: Diana Arnold returns to the Dixon Place mainstage with a one-night-only encore run of her autobiographical solo show with her stories of waitressing at NYC’s best restaurants in On the Table, directed by Ken Barnett.
January 8: Octet director Annie Tippe teams up with musician-storyteller duo James & Jerome for The Conversationalists at The Bushwick Starr. This world-premiere show is at once as a theatre piece, a concert, a radio play, a night of storytelling, and a movie dreamed together “about the triangular friendship (and sometimes enemyship) between a Colombian-born Mexican-raised pop-ranchera star, her teenage son, and a Palestinian-born Jordanian-raised owner of a chess shop in Greenwich Village.” Performances continue through January 25.
January 8: Eboni Booth, seen onstage in Dance Nation and After the Blast, makes her professional playwriting debut with Paris at Atlantic Theater. Jules Latimer stars as Emmie, one of the few black people living in Paris, Vermont, in Booth’s new play about invisibility and isolation. Knud Adams directs the world premiere, which plays through February 9.
January 8: The 16th annual Under the Radar Festival kicks off at The Public and other venues, showcasing new work by some of the brightest minds working in the field in the U.S. and abroad. The lineup includes a return of Aleshea Harris’ What to Send Up When It Goes Does; Palestinian playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi’s play Grey Rock; Ahamefule J. Oluo’s darkly comic musical portrait of his mother, Susan; Australian ensemble Back to Back Theatre’s The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes about five activists with intellectual disabilities; and Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang’s new virtual reality experience, To The Moon. The festival plays through January 19.
January 9: Seen in 2018 at the New York Musical Festival, Emojiland, written by Keith Harrison and Laura Schein, returns for a commercial run at The Duke on 42nd Street. An ensemble piece about a diverse community of emoji archetypes who take one another at face value, expect to meet a smiling face dealing with depression, a princess who doesn’t want a prince, and a skull dying for deletion. Performances continue through March 8 with a cast that includes Max Crumm, Lesli Margherita, Ann Harada, and more.
January 9: Part salsa concert and part love letter to the Bronx, HBO Def Poetry Jam alum Flaco Navaja’s one-man show Evolution of A Sonero fuses salsa, hip-hop, spoken-word poetry and beatboxing. Previously seen as part of the 2019 Under the Radar Festival, the show returns for a limited run at Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater through January 19.
January 9: Go behind the scenes and take a deep dive into the culture of NYC's local news in Good Morning New York. Featuring original songs about the Staten Island Ferry and The Plaza, as well as a six-minute tap dance number in a dive bar, the new musical kicks off a month-long run at The Players Theatre. Directed by Bridget Greaney, Good Morning New York has a book by Jacklyn Thrapp, and music and lyrics by Thrapp, Jackson Bell, and Dylan Adler.
January 11: Theatre For a New Audience teams up with Royal Shakespeare Company for a gender-bending Timon of Athens. Olivier Award winner Kathryn Hunter stars in the Shakespeare play, directed by Simon Godwin, at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center through February 9.
January 11: Tony-nominated playwright Charles Busch (The Tale of the Allergist's Wife) returns Off-Broadway in his play The Confession of Lily Dare at The Cherry Lane Theatre. Seen in 2018 at Theatre for a New City, the return engagement is presented by Primary Stages and directed by Carl Andress. Playing through March 5.
January 12: Performances begin at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for Simon Stone's Medea, starring Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Dylan Baker. In Stone's contemporary reworking of the Euripides tragedy, Anna (the Medea character), once a successful doctor, returns from a stint in a psychiatric hospital. Willing to forgive her husband’s affair with a younger woman, she wants a fresh start with him and their children.
will begin performances January 12, 2020. The modern adaptation, starring Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Dylan Baker as Anna (the Medea character), Lucas, and Christopher respectively, is set to officially open at the BAM Harvey Theatre January 30.
In Stone's contemporary reworking,
January 14: Classic Stage Company welcomes the first of its two Gothic horror plays, Dracula, in a new adaptation by Kate Hamill that confronts the sexism of Bram Stoker’s original work. Billed as a “disquieting feminist revenge fantasy,” the Sarna Lapine-helmed production stars Matthew Amendt as Dracula. Through March 8.
January 16: La MaMa teams up with the Polish Cultural Institute to present the U.S. premiere of Komuna//Warszawa’s Cezary Goes to War, a musically-driven queer fantasia on masculinity, nationalism, and the culture of war. The show is conceived and directed by Cezary Tomaszewski, a rising star of the Eastern European avant-garde scene, and plays only four performances through January 19.
January 16: The New Group kicks off the new year with a world-premiere musical adaptation of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, the 1969 film about two couples whose outlook on life are changed by the sexual revolution. Artistic Director Scott Elliott directs a company led by Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano as Carol, Ana Nogueira as Alice, Joél Pérez as Bob, and Michael Zegen as Ted. The musical, which will play at the Signature Theatre, has a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman with additional lyrics by Amanda Green and choreography by Kelly Devine. Through March 15.
January 16: Darling Grenadine, Daniel Zaitchik’s bittersweet Manhattan love story about songwriter Harry who falls for chorus girl Louise, begins at Roundabout Underground’s black box. The new musical, starring Adam Kantor, Emily Walton, and Jay Armstrong Johnson, arrives Off-Broadway following regional productions. [title of show] director Michael Berresse directs and choreographs the production, which plays through March 15.
January 17: In the mountains of Turkey, the survival of a village rests on the shoulders of the pregnant Yashar (the village must spend its winter in near-silence to avoid triggering an avalanche). Slow Sound of Snow (previously seen at Yale Cabaret when translator and director Shadi Ghaheri was a student), the English-language adaptation of Jaber Ramezani and Payam Saeedi’s quiet drama makes its Off Off-Broadway debut at JACK. Featuring a full company of Iranian and Iranian-American actors from Peydah Theatre, performances run January 17–26 as part of the Exponential Festival.
January 20: Writer and actor Zora Howard makes her professional playwriting debut with world premiere STEW, a play about three generations of women and the violence hovering around the periphery of their lives. The world premiere, directed by Colette Robert, is presented by Page 73, the playwright-first organization whose alumni include Michael R. Jackson, Clare Barron and more. (Page 73 also boasts a Ten Dollar Ticket Initiative.) Performances are at Walkerspace through February 22.
January 21: The hit Off-Broadway revival of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s Little Shop of Horrors welcomes back Gideon Glick in the role of Seymour. Glick takes over from Jonathan Groff in the Michael Mayer-helmed production, which also stars two-time Tony winner Christian Borle and Tammy Blanchard at the Westside Theatre. Currently on sale through March 15.
January 21: Beyond Babel arrives in New York following a sold-out run in San Diego. Told entirely through West Coast urban dance, the immersive production is inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet as well as contemporary stories of love and separation from around the world. Keone and Mari Madrid choreograph, direct, and star in the production, co-created with Josh Aviner and Lyndsay Magid Aviner of Hideaway Circus. The 10-week limited run is at the Gym at Judson through March 29.
January 23: The Obie-winning Mint Theater Company returns Off-Broadway with the world premiere of Chekhov/Tolstoy: Love Stories. The evening features back-to-back presentations of two short plays by Miles Malleson—An Artist’s Story and What Men Live By—each an adaptation of a story by Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy, respectively. The Mint's artistic director Jonathan Bank and longtime collaborator Jane Shaw, co-direct the limited run at Theatre Row through March 14.
January 24: In Doctors Jane and Alexander, playwright Edward Einhorn weaves imagined dialogue and verbatim text from interviews with his mother, a psychologist and visual artist, to examine the legacy of his famous grandfather, Alexander S. Wiener—the man responsible for discovering the Rh factor in blood. The production, at HERE, welcomes the return of Untitled Theater Company No. 61 following their acclaimed The Marriage of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein in 2017. Performances run January 24–February 15.
January 30: Stephanie Berry takes on the title role in Tristan Bernays’ adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at Classic Stage Company (running in rep with Dracula). Timothy Douglas directs.
January 31: Playwright and performer Donnetta Lavinia Grays takes the stage in the world premiere of her play Where We Stand at Off-Broadway's WP Theater. Directed by Tamilla Woodard (associate director Hadestown), the monologue play will also star David Ryan Smith (rotating with Grays) for the run from February 15–March 1.
Also in January: Kate Kremer takes aims at U.S. immigration and drone policy in her Kafka-esque Term of Art at Brooklyn’s JACK (January 3–12); Stephen Mallatratt’s site-specific adaptation of Susan Sill’s The Woman in Black, previously seen in the West End, moves into the McKittrick Hotel beginning January 8–March 8; Rick Miller performs his solo show documenting the music, culture, and politics that shaped the Baby Boomers, BOOM, at 59E59 (January 9–February 23); Less Than Rent presents the world premiere of Talene Monahon’s How to Load a Musket, woven from the verbatim conversations of Revolutionary and Civil War re-eanactors (January 11–26 at 59E59 Theaters); the world-premiere opera Magdalene, scored by the collective voices of 14 women, debuts at HERE as part of the PROTOTYPE festival (January 11–17); the Off-Broadway premiere of Barra Grant’s autobiographical Miss America’s Ugly Daughter, about growing up the daughter of the first and only Jewish Miss America, began December 28 but officially opens in January at The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater (through March 1); mistaken identities abound in Mark Saltzman’s Romeo & Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn when Romeo wakes up in 1960s Brooklyn and thinks the daughter of a mob boss is Juliet, adapted from classic Italian melodies and presented at A.R.T/New York by Amas Musical Theatre (January 14–February 16); Jewelle Gomez traces jazz singer and songwriter Alberta Hunter’s life story in Leaving the Blues at The Flea, directed by Mark Finley (January 16–February 8); Michelle Dooley Mahon’s solo show The Scourge—about her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s—debuts at Irish Rep’s downstairs theatre in association with Wexford Arts Centre (January 22–February 2): Nick Mecikalski’s post-apocalyptic Really Really Gorgeous, directed by Miranda Haymon, kicks off a limited run at The Tank (January 23–February 9); and New York Theatre Workshop’s Next Door programming continues with Sarah Einspanier’s House Plant (January 28–February 23);
February 1: Alice Birch’s Blackburn Prize-winning play, Anatomy of a Suicide, premieres Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company. Directed by Obie winner Lileana Blain-Cruz, the new play sees the stories of three generations of women unfold simultaneously onstage. The cast includes Carla Gugino. The play runs through March 15.
February 1: The Gate Theatre Dublin production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Yaël Farber and starring Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga, begins at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Loving star Negga takes on the famed Dane alongside an ensemble of Irish actors in the gender-bent production. Performances continued through March 8.
February 1: Keen Company kicks off its 2020 season with the New York premiere of Blues for an Alabama Sky by playwright, novelist, and poet Pearl Cleage. LA Williams directs the play, about a group of friends in Harlem during the summer of 1930. Through March 14.
February 4: Young Jean lee’s We’re Gonna Die, first performed by the playwright at Joe’s Pub in 2011, returns for an Off-Broadway engagement at Second Stage starring Janelle McDermoth. Directed and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly, the show weaves a series of songs and stories to celebrate the ways in which we live our lives. Through March 22.
February 4: Signature Theatre launches resident playwright Lauren Yee’s residency with the Off-Broadway premiere of her musical play Cambodian Rock Band, featuring music by rock group Dengue Fever. In the play, a Khmer Rouge survivor returns to Cambodia for the first time in three decades, as his daughter will prosecute one of Cambodia's most infamous war criminals. Chay Yew directs a cast led by Aladdin star Courtney Reed and Joe Ngo through March 8.
February 6: MCC Theater kicks of the new year with the world premiere of All The Natalie Portmans by resident playwright C.A. Johnson. A fantastical coming-of-age comedy directed by Kate Whoriskey (Sweat) , the new play sees 16-year old Keyonna, “too smart, ‘too gay,’ and too lonely to fit in,” escape into the imagined worlds of her muse, Natalie Portman, and the characters she plays. Through March 15.
February 6: The Hearth continues its mission of uplifting the next generation of female-identifying artists with the world premiere of Lily Akerman's The Commons, a new play about living with strangers and the small things (like missing almonds) that can become big. The Hearth's co-founder Emma Miller directs. Playing through February 23.
February 8: LCT3 debuts The Headlands, the newest work from Obie-winning playwright Christopher Chen (The Passage). Directed by Knud Adams, the play (running through March 22) follows Henry, played by Aaron Yoo, an amateur sleuth working to solve the crime of his father’s murder.
February 13: Maria Elena Ramirez (Fish in the Dark) stars as Anita, a woman deported from her home and separated from her family in Arizona, in the world premiere of 72 Miles to Go… by FX’ The Americans writer Hilary Bettis at Roundabout Theatre Company. Jo Bonney directs the new play in RTC’s Laura Pels, playing through May 3.
February 11: Signature Theatre presents the world premiere of The Hot Wing King, a new comedy by resident playwright Katori Hall (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, The Mountaintop). Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, the Memphis-set play follows Cordell Crutchfield’s claim for the crown at the annual “Hot Wang Festival”—only a few ingredients threaten to get in the way. Through March 22.
February 11: Off the heels of their critically acclaimed The Thin Place (which began November 22 at Playwrights Horizons), Tony-nominated playwright Lucas Hnath (A Doll’s House Part 2) and director Les Waters return Off-Broadway with Dana H., a new play detailing the real-life kidnapping of Hnath’s mother. Adapted from interviews conducted with Dana Higginbotham by Steve Cosson, Dana H. recounts the true story of how she was held captive for five months by a patient in the psych ward where she worked. Dana H. premieres in New York at Vineyard Theatre (set to run through Marc 22) following runs in L.A. and Chicago.