Features NYC Features Published 26 December 2017

Exeunt NYC Recommends: January

Select shows to see in January in NYC based on our writers’ top picks of the month.

Exeunt Staff

Erin Markey has a concert mix of her greatest hits at Under the Radar this January.

January in New York offers a selection of American and international dance, performance, and theater at the annual Under the Radar, COIL, Prototype, American Realness, and Exponential festivals.  But there are many shows outside the festival context that will kick-off in January as well.  Bundle up and get theater-ing:

Festival Shows

Panorama (Under the Radar Festival/La MaMa) (December 29-January 21): Italy’s Motus Theatre and Great Jones Repertory Company are inspired by the concept of nomadic, post-nationalistic identities in this performance piece devised from interviews and personal experiences of migration.  (Molly Grogan)

Erin Markey’s Rainbow Caverns: Greatest Hits of All Time Including the Future (Under the Radar/Joe’s Pub) (January 6, 7, & 14):  Erin Markey is cabaret chanteuse with a killer voice and a performance artist with a wholly unique style.  If you’ve missed any of Markey’s sexual, romantic, disturbing, hilarious cabaret anarchy over the past few years, this is a good way to catch up. She’ll be performing musical excerpts from some past shows and even a future one, with a back-up band and her partner, performer Becca Blackwell.  (Nicole Serratore)

Fellow Travelers (Photo: Philip Groshong)

Fellow Travelers (Prototype Festival/Gerald W. Lynch Theater) (January 12-14): The ambitious, eclectic Prototype Festival has hosted the New York premieres of several important contemporary operas, including Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and David Lang’s anatomy theater. This season, they’ll import Fellow Travelers by composer Gregory Spears, whose Paul’s Case was a highlight of the 2014 festival. Based on a novel by Thomas Mallon, Fellow Travelers explores a queer sexual awakening against the backdrops of the Red Scare and the “Lavender Panic.” Spears’ score blends elements of Minimalism, Expressionism, and Neo-Romanticism. A co-production with Cincinnati Opera, Fellow Travelers features a libretto by the playwright Greg Pierce (Slowgirl, Her Requiem, and the upcoming Cardinal). (Cameron Kelsall)

Pursuit of Happiness at Under the Radar (Photo: Andrej Gamut)

The Pursuit of Happiness (Under the Radar/NYU Skirball Center) (January 12-14): Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska, the creative duo behind Nature Theater of Oklahoma, have teamed up with Slovenian dance company EnKnapGroup to investigate a foundational principle of the American Dream in what promises to be a wacky ride through “an endlessly morphing folk tale of ultra-violent Western expansion” and spaghetti westerns too. (Molly Grogan)

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko (Photo: Andrew Amorim)

Séancers (American Realness/Abrons Arts Center) (January 13-16): Performer, poet, and artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko will look at death, ritual, extinction, and loss in black life in his work Séancers.  His work #negrophobia which he presented at American Realness in 2016 confronted the death of his brother to senseless violence and expanded that lens to larger questions of violence against black men. Séancers too is borne from aspects of Kosoko’s life but he will share the stage with guest artists who will act as witnesses as he pushes his spiritual and surreal inquiry beyond the personal to questions of history and colonialism. (Nicole Serratore)

Broadway

Farinelli and the King (Belasco Theatre) (December 18-March 25): At some point I am going to get tired of the adulation surrounding actor Mark Rylance (and I want to roll my eyes at the claims to historical authenticity in his all-male Shakespeare productions – he passed “boy actor” age some time ago). However, he is really rather good and is returning to Broadway in this critically-acclaimed new play from Shakespeare’s Globe with music by author and composer Claire van Kampen. Based on the true story of the Spanish king, Philippe V who, teetering on the brink of madness, finds solace in the voice of the world-renowned castrato Farinelli, the play promises all the pleasures of historical melodrama with the depth of characterization one might expect from a renown Shakespeare company. The live baroque instrumental music, along with arias performed by British countertenor, Iestyn Davies (the role of Farinelli is doubled with Davies standing on stage alongside actor Sam Crane to sing), should add another rich layer to this atmospheric, candlelit production.  (Alison Walls)

Farinelli and the King at the Belasco Theatre (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Farinelli and the King at the Belasco Theatre (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Off-Broadway

Disco Pigs (Irish Repertory Theatre) (January 5-February 18):  Enda Walsh’s play, Disco Pigs, writes the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner, “didn’t so much debut at the 1997 Edinburgh fringe as erupt there.” To find out why, check out Tara Finney Productions’ 20th anniversary production, which first ran at London’s Trafalgar Studios this summer. It stars Evanna Lynch—Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films— and Colin Campbell, with direction by John Haidar. (Jordan G. Teicher) 

In The Body Of the World (New York City Center – Stage I) (January 16-March 25): Remember The Vagina Monologues that ran Off-Broadway for four years in New York before touring the country? Tony Award-winning author, activist, performer and writer of that epic feminist play, Eve Ensler is headed to Manhattan Theatre Club with her new play, In The Body of the World. The new work starring Ensler is based on her own memoir in which she traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to work with women who had survived the war there. In doing so, she was met with her own life-threatening illness. If this play, directed by Tony-winner Diane Paulus, is anything as profound as The Vagina Monologues, we’re in for a journey of deep storytelling. (Ayanna Prescod)

Fire and Air (Classic Stage Company) (January 17-February 25): A longtime chronicler of the history of opera, Terrence McNally turns his attention to ballet for this world premiere, directed by Classic Stage’s artistic director John Doyle. He chronicles the founding of the Ballet Russes, with particular attention paid to the complicated professional and personal relationship between the impresario Sergei Diaghilev and the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. The impressive cast includes Tony-winner Douglas Hodge as Diaghilev and up-and-comer James Cusati-Moyer as Nijinsky, with support from Marsha Mason, Marin Mazzie, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and McNally stalwart John Glover. (Cameron Kelsall)

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box (Theater for a New Audience) (January 18-February 11): Adrienne Kennedy is one of those writers whose work breaks my heart and blows my mind all at the same time. She tackles the enormous issues of American politics and culture and history with dazzling theatrical imagination, lyrical writing, and imagery that will burn itself into your memory. She’s only written one play in the past twenty years, and a new one is a major event. (Loren Noveck) 

Hangmen (Atlantic Theater) (January 18-March 4): Martin McDonagh marries pitch-black humor with shocking violence like no one else. Hangman is his newest stage work about England’s second-best hangman. I’m often amazed to find myself loving his plays, because “bloody” and “brutal” are usually enough to keep me away–but then I find myself laughing unstoppably as I peer between my fingers like I do in horror movies, and I know I’ll keep coming back for more. (Loren Noveck)

Field Guide (Yale Repertory Theatre) (January 26-February 17):  Austin, Texas-based troupe Rude Mechs make only occasional appearances in New York. They will be in the tri-state area in January, so imagine this recommendation comes with an emoji siren of excitement. They have a knack for combining concepts and styles that you would not think would work together…and yet they do. One of their shows involved a queso fountain and tap-dancing.  In this commission, Rude Mechs are adapting The Brothers Karamazov and using dance, magic, and stand-up comedy to do it.  I suspect this will be worth the train ride to New Haven. (Nicole Serratore)

Ugo Chukwu and Julia Sirna-Frest in [Porto] © Marina McClure Photography

[Porto] (WP Theater) (January 28-February 25): When I saw [Porto] at the Bushwick Starr, where it had a brief run earlier this year, I feared it would be an insufferable millennial rom-com, but instead this story of a single woman spending time in her local bar and meeting its regulars is warm, charming, bracingly philosophical, and occasionally surreal. Playwright Kate Benson and director Lee Sunday Evans walk the line between cynicism and snarkiness, and between whimsical and twee, coming down on the right side every time. Women’s Project, New Georges, and Bushwick Starr bring this co-production back for an encore run. (Loren Noveck)

Kings (The Public Theater) (January 30-March 25): Sarah Burgess burst onto the New York theater scene when her play, Dry Powder, was rescued from the slush pile by none other than the Public’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, who called it a “once in a decade” discovery. She’s back at the Public in January — again teaming up with Hamilton director Thomas Kail — with what promises to be a fiercely funny and critical look at the state of the nation. A play whose central character is forced to choose between “backing the system or backing what she believes in” seems tailor-made for the Trump era, and I for one could certainly use the laughs. (Alex Barasch)



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