As summer comes to a close, there’s no denying that the Great White Way goes into a seasonal lull. But fear not! There are a bunch of stellar off- and off-off Broadway shows on the horizon.
Below, our theater and performance experts share the shows they’re anticipating through the beginning of October.
David Cote, Theater Expert
One of the most seasoned voices in the NYC theater scene, this member of the New York Drama Critics Circle has previously appeared in the pages of The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Time Out New York.
For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, August 18–October 1
Whimsical and quirky playwright Sarah Ruhl focuses her talents on the iconic flying boy who never wanted to grow up. Unfortunately for Peter, he did age, and he’s also a she. Stage veteran Kathleen Chalfant is Ann, a performer who played Peter Pan at her hometown children’s theater half a century ago. Now she and her former castmates must return to Neverland to confront the realities of growing old. This production is directed by Ruhl’s frequent collaborator, Les Waters.
Charm, August 31–October 8
Trans performers and themes are cropping up in the theater just as they are in quality streaming TV. This NYC premiere by Chicago scribe Philip Dawkins follows a 60-something African-American trans woman who teaches etiquette to an LGBTQ group. Sounds sweet and comic. The production will be directed by trans-identified director and choreographer Will Davis, and the casting folks made sure to find transgender and gender-nonconforming artists to populate the stage.
Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical, September 16–October 8
There aren’t many options for family-friendly entertainment that appeal to both adults and kids. (How many times can you see The Gazillion Bubble Show?) That’s why this limited run at the Atlantic is worth a shot. With music and lyrics by Greg Borowsky and Douglas Lyons and a book by Melvin Tunstall III, the piece is a musical allegory about segregation. As the show’s description has it, “Eight-year-old Lily Polkadot just moved to the ‘Squares Only’ small town of Rockaway. As the first Polkadot in an all Square school, Lily faces an almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers.” A timely play that is also a teachable moment!
Tommy Kriegsman, Theater Expert
This music and theater producer strives to expose New Yorkers to risk-taking artists from around the globe.
Public Works: As You Like It, September 1–5
Nothing says New York City like the Public Theater’s Public Works programming; the annual productions are a personal favorite of mine and something not to be missed. In its fifth season, this initiative gives diverse communities from across New York a chance to join in creating ambitious works of participatory theater. This year’s edition is a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s pastoral romantic comedy As You Like It, complete with sheep jokes and cross-dressing.
Ross Tipograph, Theater Expert
Along with appearing inside the pages of The Fader and Time Out New York, this vibrant culture guru created the one-of-a-kind immersive theatrical experience 8Players.
Andromeda, August 29
The Neo-Political Cowgirls, a performance troupe that mixes comedy, old-style storytelling, and beautiful music, presents Andromeda, a 90-minute, fairy tale–themed “outdoor immersive experience” packed with joyful theatrics, dance, and puppetry.
The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Martha Stewart, September 11 and 12
Joe’s Pub plays host to this show about the ups and downs of lifestyle queen Martha Stewart. Created by and starring Ryan Raftery, the writer–performance artist whose past works have focused on Andy Cohen and Anna Wintour, the show features music from Beyoncé, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adele, and Metallica.
On July 4, an interactive “voting booth” appeared within the Knockdown Center, where participants were asked to contribute stories of their immigration through audio, video, and writing. The gathered narratives will be revealed in the fall via “an immersive art installation produced by immigrant children and families.”
Grandma’s Ashes: We Won’t Tell, Saturdays at 10:30 p.m.
Your darkest story will be adapted in a show right in front of your eyes. At this Uptight Citizens Brigade event, audience members contribute personal horrors to challenge the improv group onstage as they act out your nightmare with hilarious results. The group of actors has been seen on Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, and more.
Molly Surno, Performance Art Expert
The Brooklyn-based installation artist has performed in a number of NYC’s most prestigious venues, including MoMA PS1, Pioneer Works, and BAM.
Eat/ing Your Heart Out, September 16–October 9
All human beings eat. Curated by yours truly, this show explores how we eat, both collectively and alone; what nourishes us; and how eating (away) can deplete us. Through performances, sculptures, videos, and installations, a dozen artists explore our relationship to food through symbolic, gestural, emotional, and political means.
As always, feel free to reach out if you’d like to join us at the Lucille Lortel Theater or Joe’s Pub, and we’ll make sure to get you a ticket.