New York’s world-class theatre and cabaret venues continue to thrive

Written by | Entertainment, Stage

Well, Broadway is officially back and, one by one, new shows and old shows alike are opening doors and raising curtains. Of course, there remains the pesky issue of shows that were just beginning their runs in 2020 and never quite got their due, namely the nationally televised recognition of being honored as nominees for the Tony Awards. This slight was finally corrected when the 74th Annual Tony Awards aired from the legendary Winter Garden Theater – original home to Funny Girl, Follies, Mame and Mamma Mia! – on September 26th and broadcast exclusively on Paramount+. (The question remains … when we theater queens reference these in years to come, will we call them “the 2020 Tonys” or “the 2021 Tonys?” Time will tell!)

While Slave Play is sadly not scheduled to reopen (it concluded its limited run just prior to the pandemic), Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst Theatre, open-ended) will resume performances October 21st. Competing Best Musical Tony nominees Tina (Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, open-ended) will once again ask “What’s Love Got To Do With It” on October 8th. Conor McPherson’s Bob Dylan musical Girl from the North Country (Belasco Theatre, open-ended) hadn’t been running long enough for the Tony voters to see it before the shutdown, but it starts up again October 13th to vie for next year’s prizes.

The long running hits are still flickering open in real time as well, with Aaron Sorkin’s bold theatricalization of To Kill A Mockingbird (Shubert Theatre, open-ended) starring Jeff Daniels beginning again October 5th. The popular Temptations jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud (Imperial Theatre, open-ended) starts serenading “My Girl” again on October 16th. The longest running Broadway musical of all time, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera (Majestic Theatre, open-ended) sings more music of the night on October 22nd. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s collaboration with Frozen’s Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon (Eugene O’Neill Theatre, open-ended), is back November 5th. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric Theatre, open-ended) will reappear November 12th, magically transformed into a single presentation from its former two-part self.

For those who prefer their special effects unplugged, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s improvisational hip-hop comedy musical Freestyle Love Supreme (Booth Theatre, through January 2nd) returns to drop some beats October 7th. Another show that had already closed pre-pandemic but has Sara Bareilles trodding the boards again now in her Tony-nominated role is Waitress (Ethel Barrymore Theatre, through January 9th) to serve up the love.

Shows from 2020 that hadn’t yet officially opened to critics that now may continue their aborted preview processes include the musical adaptation of the blockbuster comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim Theatre, open-ended) getting dolled up October 21st; the Princess Diana bio musical Diana (Longacre Theatre, open-ended) models the crown November 2nd with music by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan; and, most excitingly, London’s hit, the gender-bending revival of Sondheim’s landmark musical comedy Company (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, open-ended) starring The Band’s Visit Tony winner Katrina Lenk with Broadway legend Patti LuPone importing her Laurence Oliver Award-winning rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch.”

One of my favorite Off-Broadway shows of recent years, Tina Satter’s mesmerizing docudrama Is This A Room (Lyceum Theatre, through January 16th) plays the big house September 24th. Another Vineyard Theatre production moving to Broadway in repertory with Is This A Room, Lucas Hnath’s equally acclaimed Dana H. (Lyceum Theatre, though January 16th) will share the venue from October 1st. Slam poet Keenan Scott II makes his Broadway playwriting debut with Thoughts of A Colored Man (John Golden Theatre, through March 20th) previewing October 1st.

A musical many theater fans feel got the short shrift when it opened on Broadway in 2004 (particularly when original leading lady Tonya Pinkins lost the Tony to Wicked’s Idina Menzel) is Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, Or Change (Studio 54, through January 9th) resurfaces in a smash West End production with an Olivier-winning performance by Sharon D. Clarke on October 8th. Alice Childress’s rarely produced 1955 satire about race in show business, Trouble in Mind (American Airlines Theatre, through January 9th), arrives for its long-awaited Broadway premiere November 18th starring Tony winner La Chanze.

November 3rd marks the first preview of Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s new play, Clyde’s (Hayes Theatre, through January 16th), starring Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) and Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us). And Lincoln Center Theatre presents its latest Broadway musical Flying Over Sunset (Vivian Beaumont Theatre, open-ended), directed by James Lapine, from November 11th.

There’s a lot brewing Off-Broadway now as well. At the top of my list are: Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Signature Theatre, October 12th – November 14th), a new take on Anna Deavere Smith’s groundbreaking depiction of the events following the police officers’ acquittal in the Rodney King brutality trial; Fairycakes (Greenwich House Theatre, October 14th – January 2nd), Douglas Carter Beane’s retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Trevor (Stage 42 Theatre, October 25th – April 17th), a musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning short that inspired The Trevor Project; and Selling Kabul (Playwrights Horizons, November 17th – December 23), Sylvia Khoury’s prescient exploration of Afghanistan post-pullout.

New York’s world class cabaret venues continue to thrive, providing intimate musical entertainment by unparalleled talent. This is nowhere more bountiful than at Feinstein’s/54 Below, where you can catch: Tony winner Laura Benanti (October 5th – October 10th), brilliant up-and-comers and Search Party co-stars Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker together (October 11th), RuPaul’s Drag Race vixen Alexis Michelle (October 14th and November 19th), Liza’s sister/Judy’s daughter Lorna Luft (October 21st – October 23rd), Bright Star star Carmen Cusak  (October 22nd – October 25th), Johnny Carson’s favorite singer Marilyn Maye (October 25th – November 1st), Smash diva Megan Hilty (November 2nd – November 7th), cult favorite belter Linda Eder (November 11th – November 13th), Grammy nominee Mykal Kilgore (November 18th – November 20th), and South Pacific breakout Paulo Szot (November 24th – November 27th).

Birdland and the Birdland Theater boast the incandescent Natalie Douglas (October 1st – October 2nd), jazz duo Tuck & Patti (October 12th – October 16th), viral impressionist Christina Bianco (October 15th – 16th), and a Jerry Herman tribute from the great Klea Blackhurst (October 20th – October 22nd). Weekly variety shows from Jim Caruso and Susie Mosher remain staples.

The Green Room 42 hosts a plethora of enticing stars, but special attention must be reserved for the original Tony-winning triple threat star of A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie (November 11th-November 13th).






Last modified: October 20, 2021