Features Published 28 January 2019

Exeunt NYC Recommends: February

New musicals arrive on Broadway, a neglected Swedish master gets his due, and Dionysus becomes Diane. All that and more this February in New York!

Exeunt Staff

With 2019 in full swing, an influx of new shows are going up on, off, and off-off Broadway. Our contributors find something to love at all institutional levels. Happy theatergoing — and stay warm!

“Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations” (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations (Imperial Theatre) (Open run, begins February 28): We seem to be in a golden era of pop bio-shows – Summer: The Donna Summer Musical just closed; The Cher Show is going strong; and new musicals about Tina Turner and Michael Jackson are on the horizon. Now here comes a show about The Temptations, the all-male Motown singing and dancing sensation of “Just My Imagination” fame, and so much more. Following successful stints in Washington, D.C. and at Berkeley Rep, the show comes to Broadway. I find the best way to appreciate this genre is to surrender to the music and nostalgia – and in this case, the dancing. Can’t wait. (Juliet Hindell)

Be More Chill (Lyceum Theatre) (Open run, begins February 13): I’m in my thirties, I’m happily married, and the last time I played a video game, it was the kind you had to blow on first. Yet I find myself unreasonably excited for Be More Chill, the wildly popular cult musical about angst, friendship, and gaming in high school. The show built a following after its premiere engagement at Red Bank, New Jersey’s Two River Theater in 2015, buoyed by an original cast recording and a thriving online community. After a sold-out Off-Broadway run last summer, it comes to Broadway touted as the first musical to go viral, with a legion of fans who see themselves in the show and its characters. As theater strives for greater inclusivity, that sounds like something to cheer. (Cameron Kelsall)

The cast of “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine” (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Transport Group/The National Asian American Theatre Company) (January 16-February 23): Combining the fire power of two Off-Broadway institutions –Transport Group and the National Asian American Theatre Company – this play looks at activism and resistance from another era. Using transcripts from the trial of Catholic protesters who burned draft cards in protest of the Vietnam War, the play is directed by Jack Cummings III (whose recent production of Summer and Smoke was fantastic) and stars downtown legend Mia Katigbak, along with David Huynh and Eunice Wong. For me, Katigbak – who founded NAATCO and is an activist herself – is always a must-see. She has worked for years for more visibility for Asian-American performers. NAATCO aims to expand the kind of roles Asian-American artists are cast in, and this project is no exception. (Nicole Serratore)

Suicide Forest (Bushwick Starr/Ma-Yi Theater Company) (February 27-March 16): Kristine Haruna Lee’s work is always intriguing, challenging, and packed with language and ideas. This production, which has an all-star team of performers including Lee, is described as “a bilingual nightmare play,” and I can’ t wait to find out what that means. (Dan O’Neil)

Ah, Wilderness! (Blackfriars Repertory Theatre/Storm Theatre) (January 25–February 17): I am on a personal quest to see every Eugene O’Neill play. This mission has led me to do some crazy things – I’ve seen four separate productions of Mourning Becomes Electra, probably more than any other living person has (or should). I can finally cross O’Neill’s 1933 family comedy Ah, Wilderness! off my list when it returns to New York later this month. (Cameron Kelsall)

Alice by Heart (MCC Theater) (January 30-March 10): Alice in Wonderland is a well that never runs dry for me. I must have read the book a hundred times, and I’ll take a gamble on just about any work based on it. They’re sometimes insane, often over-the-top, but very rarely boring. Add the musical team behind Spring Awakening (Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater) and the creator of Waitress (Jessie Nelson) – all of whom know their way around an adaptation from another medium – and you could have something very special. (Loren Noveck)

James Udon and Elise Kibler in “Mies Julie” (Photo courtesy of Classic Stage Company)

August Strindberg in Repertory (Classic Stage Company) (January 15-March 10): The works of August Strindberg get a lot less love than those of his Scandinavian contemporary Henrik Ibsen, so Classic Stage Company deserves respect for devoting a significant portion of their season to the dramatist. Even better – they plan to approach his canon from an interesting angle. Rather than producing a traditional version of his most famous play Miss Julie, Shariffa Ali directs Yaël Farber’s South African adaptation, Mies Julie, which considers ongoing race and class struggles post-Apartheid. That production pairs with Dance of Death, adapted by Conor McPherson and directed by Victoria Clark, and featuring a terrific trio of Off-Broadway acting talent: Cassie Beck, Christopher Innvar, and Richard Topol. (Cameron Kelsall)

Hurricane Diane (New York Theatre Workshop and WP Theater) (February 6-March 10): I was probably sold on Hurricane Diane from the first sentence of the promo blurb, which includes the phrase “permaculture gardener dripping with butch charm.” Madeleine George has been one of my favorite playwrights from the first time I read the then-unproduced Zero Hour, striking that tart balance of theatrical high-concepts, real characters, and big ideas that makes me happy. And director Leigh Silverman is having an amazing season, putting up show after show with beautifully realized, intensely individual style. (Loren Noveck)

Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine


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