New York Theatre Recommendations Fall 2016/17

Ah, New York.  We have great theatre throughout the country, but I would love to live in New York for the theatre alone (plus the bagels), if I wouldn’t have to give up closeness to family, friends and the life I’ve built in California. I do try to go when I can, and when I don’t actually go, I read extensively about New York theatre and who’s doing what and when, and I yearn.  I am often asked, and cheerfully share, my recommendations for New York theatre selections, with the caveat that these are plays and musicals that personally intrigue me, not necessarily the “best” theatre (whatever that means anyway), and often I haven’t seen them.  I might love the playwright’s prior work, or know a particular director chooses edgy, exciting new plays or have read some tantalizing advance word or, occasionally, have seen a reading or developmental production on that show’s way to New York. puts together online lists with brief descriptions, periodically updated, of shows scheduled to come to Broadway and many of the shows coming to off-Broadway theatres. Culled primarily from Playbill’s lists, updated by me and buttressed by recommendations from several New York director friends, here is my list (in no particular order) of ten new works I would very much like to see in their upcoming New York productions:

FADE, by Tanyo Saracho; director Jerry Ruiz
• Primary Stages: Cherry Lane Theatre/Mainstage
• Opening January 2017
“In this sharp, true-to-life new comedy, Lucia is a tenacious novelist, newly hired to write for a TV detective series and struggling to find her place among a team of domineering white male co-workers. Abel is one of the studio’s janitors, compassionate to Lucia’s difficulties and generous with his opinions and personal anecdotes which keeps them in an absorbing tête-à-tête throughout their workdays. As their bond grows, Abel’s stories quickly blur with those Lucia is writing for the show and they both find themselves in the center of their own not-quite-made-for-TV drama.”

I saw a reading of Fade at the Denver Summit a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it!  Wickedly funny and yet poignant and complex.  Highly recommend.           — skf

HEISENBERG, by Simon Stephens; directed by Mark Brokaw

Marie-Louise Parker Photo courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club

Marie-Louise Parker
Photo courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club

• Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
• First Preview: September 20, 2016; Opening: October 13, 2016
• Cast: Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker
“It’s just another day on a crowded London train platform but something out of the ordinary is about to happen. A woman named Clare approaches a much older man named Alex, whom she’s never met before, and kisses him. This surprising moment sets in motion a series of events which will change both Clare and Alex forever.”
“Broadway transfer of the 2015 Off-Broadway hit by the author of Tony winner The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN, score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; book by Steven Levenson; directed by Michael Greif
• Belasco Theatre
• Previews: November 14, 2016; Opening: December 4, 2016
• “Musical about a high school’s reaction to the death of one of the students.  Seen previously at Arena Stage in Washington DC. Had a sold-out run at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage in spring 2016. Won Outer Critics Circle Award as Best New Off-Broadway Musical.”

 “A heart-piercing trip to the place musical theatre can sometimes take us to.”  –Peter Marks, Washington Post

ALL THE WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU, by Neil LaBute, directed by Leigh Silverman
• MCC at the Lucille Lortel Theatre
•  Opening:  September 6, 2016
•  Cast:  Judith Light
“Mrs. Johnson is a high school English teacher and guidance counselor in a loving marriage. As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life. All The Ways To Say I Love You is a solo play about love, hard choices, and the cost of fulfilling an all-consuming desire.”

MARIE AND ROSETTA, by George Brant, directed by Neil PepeMarie and rosetta
• Atlantic Theater Company/Linda Gross Theater
• Now in previews; Opening: September 12, 2016
• Cast: Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kecia Lewis

“Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a legend in her time, bringing fierce guitar-playing and swing to gospel music.  Tharpe was the queen of ‘race records’ in the 30’s and 40’s, a woman who played guitar as passionately as Clapton, who performed mornings at churches and evenings at the Cotton Club, who was a big enough star to fill a baseball stadium for her third wedding, but ended up buried in an unmarked grave in Philadelphia. Marie and Rosetta chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégé, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duet teams in musical history.”

George Brant and Neil Pepe brought this piece to the TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s New Works Festival in 2015 where it was a big hit.  I found the history fascinating and the music beautiful!   –skf

THE HARVEST, by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Davis McCallum

• The Claire Tow Theater (Lincoln Center)
• First Preview: October 8, 2016; Opening October 24, 2016
The Harvest is set in the basement of a small church in Southeastern Idaho, a group of young missionaries is preparing to go to the Middle East, and one of them — a young man who has recently lost his father — has bought a one-way ticket. But his plans are complicated when his estranged sister shows up in town and makes it her mission to keep him home.”

COME FROM AWAY, book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein; directed by Christopher Ashleygander
• Theatre: Shubert house TBA
• Previews: February 18, 2017; Opens: March 12, 2017
• Cast: Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, Joel Hatch, Rodney Hicks and Caesar Samayoa
New musical that explores the lasting connection forged between a group of travelers whose planes were diverted to Gander, a small Newfoundland town, on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The show had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in summer 2015 (I was there –skf), prior to a fall 2015 run at the Seattle Repertory Theatre (I sent many family members; some went twice –skf), where it broke box-office records. A tryout tour is planned. It will play Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre Sept. 2-Oct. 9, 2016, followed by a Nov. 15, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017, run at Toronto’s Mirvish Theatre.

Irene Sakoff and David Hein, creators of "Come From Away"

Irene Sakoff and David Hein, creators of “Come From Away”

 I first saw some of this show at the National Alliance of Musical Theatre Festival of new musicals in New York in 2013 and first met the Canadian husband-and-wife writing team, Irene and David, who were swamped at NAMT by would-be producers.  Come From Away  was the runaway hit even after sharing only 45 minutes of the show.  Since then I have spoken with them several times, written a post about them and the show  and met them again during a partial reading of another of their works in development, Mitzvah.  I am a serious fan!     –skf

P.S.  If you happen to be in Newfoundland or Labrador, Canada on October 29, 2016  the Come From Away cast and team will honor the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador and the “come from aways” whose lives inspired the new musical with two benefit concert performances.

HOMOS, OR EVERYONE IN AMERICA, by Jordon Seavey; directed by Mike Donahue
• Labyrinth Theatre Company at Bank Street Theatre
• First Preview: October 20, 2016; Opens: November 6, 2016
• Cast: Michael Urie and Robin De Jesús
“Love is love” – but is navigating it any less complicated today? What does it mean to be in a committed relationship? Is monogamy just monotony? Told through interweaving glimpses into the life of an everyday couple unexpectedly confronted by a vicious crime, Homos, Or Everyone In America is a fearless, funny, heart-on- its-sleeve examination of the moments that can bring two people together – or pull them apart.”

David Hyde Pierce

David Hyde Pierce

A LIFE, by Adam Brock; directed by Anne KauffmanPlaywrights Horizons/Peter Jay Sharp Theater
• Playwrights Horizons/Peter Jay Sharp Theater
• First Preview: September 30, 2016
• Cast: David Hyde Piece, Marinda Anderson, Brad Heberlee, Nedra McClyde, Lyne McCollough
“Nate Martin is hopelessly single. When his most recent breakup, another in a lifelong string of ill-fated matches, casts him into a funk, he turns to the only source of wisdom he trusts: the stars. Poring over astrological charts, he obsessively questions his past and his place in the cosmos. But in Adam Bock’s disarming new play, the answer he receives, when it comes, is shockingly obvious — and totally unpredictable.”

THE PRESENT, by Andrew Upton (adapted from the unfinished Chekov work Playonov ); directed by John Crowley

Ethel Barrymore Theatre
First Preview: December 17, 2016; Opens: January 8, 2017
Cast:  Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh 
The Present unfolds over the course of a birthday celebration in the post-Perestroika Russian countryside. Old flames ignite in this passionate and bitingly comic play.”

So, enjoy!  (If you do see one or more of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts.   Let me know if these turn out to be good recommendations:  email:



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