Features NYCNYC Features Published 1 March 2020

Exeunt NYC Recommends: March 2020

Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Claudia Rankine, Rose Byrne, Katrina Lenk, and Katori Hall — those names barely scratch the surface of all there is to offer on New York stages this month!

Exeunt Staff

Each spring, the cherry blossoms bloom, the clock springs forward an hour, and Laurie Metcalf returns to the New York stage. Our critics delight at the prospect of her taking on one of the most iconic roles in the American theater repertory. But there’s plenty going on beyond Broadway, too.

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? returns to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf as Martha. (Image courtesy of the production.)

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Booth Theatre) (March 3-August 2): Laurie Metcalf is the earth mother and we’re all flops, to paraphrase a line from the play. She’ll undoubtedly deliver it with a devastating bite in this new production of Edward Albee’s masterpiece. Is it revived too often? Sure. Is it a great fucking play? Yes. Metcalf is the closest thing we have to a kind of Broadway leading lady of yesteryear like Julie Harris or Colleen Dewhurst. Her annual appearances on Broadway are always an event, but after last year’s lackluster outing, I’m ready for a triumph again. (Lane Williamson)

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf(Booth Theatre) (March 3-August 2): Do we need another Broadway revival of Albee’s masterpiece after Steppenwolf’s excellent 2012 production? The Wojnarowicz burning house stencil blazing away on the poster seems to think so. Our country is a house on fire, and so on and so forth, but the real draw here is the cast. Stepping into George and Martha’s (sad, sad, sad!) shoes are Rupert Everett, who I’m rooting for in a tough role, and Laurie Metcalf, who was recently crowned the First Lady of the American Stage. As for the younger couple, Joe Mantello (who directed Metcalf to a Tony in Albee’s Three Tall Women) has two Brits joining the fireworks: recent Olivier-winner Patsy Ferran and Russell Tovey, who’ll hopefully get the recognition he so deserves. Yes, I may be a Tovey fan first, human being second, but there’s almost no way the Booth won’t light up for this. (Juan A. Ramirez)

Jenn Gambatese and Rob McClure in Mrs. Doubtfire. (Photo: Tracy Martin)

Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim Theatre) (Open run, previews begin March 9): I’m not expecting this to be a groundbreaking, Tony-winning musical adaptation of the stellar ’93 film starring the late Robin Williams, but I am hoping this show brings amusement back to Broadway. With Rob McClure and Jenn Gambatese serving as leads, I’m sure we’ll get performances filled with humor and drama. Also, who doesn’t get excited about a new David Korins set design? (Ayanna Prescod)

The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlander Theatre) (March 7-June 28): The Lehman Trilogy returns to New York after a sell-out run at the Park Avenue Armory in 2019. This time around the production will be on the traditional proscenium stage at the Nederlander for this expansive tale of the rags-to-riches finance empire run for over a century by the Lehman family. Three actors depict myriad roles under the stunning direction of Sam Mendes. The play lays the blame for Lehman’s collapse rightly or wrongly not on the family but on those who took over shortly before its collapse. It’s a cautionary tale. (Juliet Hindell)

Katrina Lenk in Company. (Photo: Ahmed Klink)

Company (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre) (Open run, previews begin March 2): I have never had the chance to see Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s existential concept musical for the modern age, but I fell in love with the original cast recording the moment I heard it. It’s delightfully tonally ambivalent, funny and sad, with something of the pleasure of pressing a bruise. Normally, I would roll my eyes at yet another gender-reversal as “updating” a classic, yet director Marianne Elliott’s decision to turn the central character into a woman does, in this case, give the musical new relevance –the anxiety stimulated by Bobbie’s singleness at 35, and his/her/the musical’s deep ambivalence about love and marriage cuts closer to the bone when that character is a woman — even (or perhaps especially) in 2020. It is also a fantastic opportunity to see Katrina Lenk (Bobbie) and Patti LuPone (Joanne) in the same production. (Alison Walls)

The Minutes (Cort Theatre) (Feb 25-June 14): Even in a crowded Broadway season for plays, there is a lot of room for The Minutes to prove a surprise breakout. The season is full of revivals and return engagements, as Jesse Green has written on — most of them great, but perhaps less exciting the second time around. Tracy Letts has a lot of goodwill following the recent New York success of his plays Mary Page Marlowe and Linda Vista. The cast is absurdly stacked, from movie star Armie Hammer to countless theater veterans. I don’t really know what the play is, but I love Letts’ work in all its forms, and never get sick of his point-of-view. (Joey Sims)

Flying Over Sunset (Vivian Beaumont Theater) (March 12-June 28): I’m not sure I can do better to explain the potentially inspired lunacy of this show than to quote its own tagline: “You are in Malibu with Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce and Aldous Huxley and they are on an acid trip.” Crazy, right? And yet the lineup of talent behind this is astonishing: Composer Tom Kitt. Director (and book writer) James Lapine. Choreographer Michelle Dorrance. Actors Tony Yazbeck, Carmen Cusack, and Harry Hadden-Paton. I don’t quite know what to expect here, but I’m pretty confident it won’t be like anything else on Broadway this (or any other) season. (Loren Noveck)

Love Life (City Center Encores!) (March 19-22): When it comes to the still-invaluable City Center Encores! series, the entries I most look forward to are the ones I’m not likely to see produced anywhere else. These are the shows that have been performed infrequently since their debuts, the ones that are unlikely to generate talk of Broadway transfers. Love Life, a 1948 curiosity by Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner, certainly fits that bill. The score contains some of the loveliest music Weill ever wrote for Broadway. The plot, which concerns a couple who live for centuries without aging, is both funny and rueful. Brian Stokes Mitchell and Kate Baldwin will play the perennial pair, under Victoria Clark’s direction. See it now — you never know when you’ll get another chance. (Cameron Kelsall)

Help (The Shed) (March 10-April 5): Playwright and poet Claudia Rankine, whose Citizen: An American Lyric is a crucial text to understanding race in America today, constructed this play out of real-life conversations she’s had with white men in airports and other transitional spaces. With the fantastic Roslyn Ruff standing in for Rankine as the Narrator, the piece engages white male privilege, public dialogue about race, and how we function in America today. It’s not going to be an easy play to watch, I suspect, but it will be an important one. (Loren Noveck)

The Vagrant Trilogy (Public Theater) (March 17-April 26): Mona Mansour has been waiting too long for her moment. Mansour’s last major New York production, The Way West at Labyrinth in 2016, was a witty, deeply moving piece that never got its due. Now with The Vagrant Trilogy, the Public is doing what it does best by taking a big swing on an ambitious piece. A three-act exploration of the Palestinian struggle for home and identity, it promises to be intimate and epic. (Joey Sims)

Salesman之死: The (Almost!) True Story of the 1983 Production of Death of a Salesman at the Beijing People’s Art Theatre Directed by Mr. Arthur Miller Himself From a Script Translated By Mr. Ying Ruocheng Who Also Played Willy Loman (Target Margin Theater) (March 29-April 18): In 1983, Arthur Miller directed a production of Death of a Salesman in China with a Chinese cast. An all-female cast tries to recreate this event, mixing truth and fiction with an irreverent tone. This sounds to me like a very curious moment of cultural exchange and a piece of theater history worth re-exploring. (Nicole Serratore)

Lunch Bunch (122CC) (March 18-April 19): Clubbed Thumb’s recently raised profile is giving us the chance to look at some of their exceptional work year-round, instead of just in the summer. Sarah Einspanier’s daffy play about a group of office gourmands and the politics of their exclusive lunch rotation is being remounted this month and is adding David Greenspan to the cast. It’s short, it’s weird, it’s hysterical. (Lane Williamson)

Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne are previewing their upcoming Australian appearance in A View From the Bridge. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Theatre Company.)

A View From the Bridge (The Acting Company) (March 23): Real-life couple Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne are spending 2020 playing unhappily married pairs on stage. They’re currently wrapping up Simon Stone’s Medea at BAM, and later this year, they’ll travel to Byrne’s native Australia to appear in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of A View From the Bridge. American audiences will get a one-night-only preview of them as Eddie and Beatrice Carbone, in a benefit performance for The Acting Company. (Cameron Kelsall)

Anywhere (Here Arts) (March 11-15): This show involves ice puppets. PUPPETS MADE OF ICE. Based on Oedipus on the Road by Henry Bauchau, watch as Oedipus melts into oblivion — as if the tragedy could not get sadder. AND THEN IT DOES. I feel like this needs to be seen, because the puppets are made of ice. ICE! (Nicole Serratore)

The Hot Wing King (Signature Theatre) (February 11-March 22): In Katori Hall’s new play, the writer returns to her native Memphis, where she has time and again celebrated the vibrant, pulsating language and culture of southern Black life with great success. In this play, she turns her attention to a small community of gay men who, in their preparation for a hot wing cook-off, find themselves embroiled in tense conflicts of identity, sexuality, and the responsibility to other people. Like her best Memphis plays (Hurt Village and Hoodoo Love, among others), Hall is at her best as a writer when she allows the city to speak through her, and The Hot Wing King is committed to that very endeavor. (Patrick Maley)

Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine


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