Off Broadway Shows Are the Best Shows to See

Although people think Broadway is synonymous with New York theater, truth is there’s a lot of great stuff beyond the bright lights of the Great White Way. Some of the most innovative new plays and musicals are happening on the city’s more intimate

Some of the most innovative new plays and musicals are happening on the city’s more intimate Off Broadway stages (technically defined as seating between 100 and 499). From the award-winning Public Theater downtown to the crowd-pleasing attractions at New World stages and the city’s network of great nonprofit companies, Off Broadway offers something for everyone.

Here are some starting just in time for the holiday season:

• Manhattan Theatre Club- City Center Stage I
• First Preview: October 5, 2016
• Opening: October 25, 2016
• Playwright: Qui Nguyen
• Director: May Adrales
• Cast: Jon Hoche, Jennifer Ikeda, Raymond Lee, Samantha Quan, Paco Tolson

A modern twist on the All-American love story, Qui Nguyen’s (She Kills Monsters) new play Vietgone pulses with contemporary energy. It’s the classic story of boy meets girl – except this boy and girl are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp inside Middle America. Borrowing elements from the world of up-to-the-minute popular culture to recreate the playwright’s own parents’ meeting, Vietgone ranges from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama.

• 59e59
• First Preview: October 7, 2016
• Opening: TBD
• Playwright: Joe Sutton
• Director: Peter Hackett
• Cast: TBA

In the first years after World War II the author of Animal Farm is chaperoned during an American book tour by a fetching young woman whose job is to dissuade George Orwell from telling Americans why he is a proud socialist.

• The Public Theater/Newman Theater
• First Preview: October 4, 2016
• Opening: October 20, 2016
• Playwright: David Hare
• Director: David Leveaux
• Cast: Corey Stoll, Rachel Weisz

An English woman who served as a spy for the French Resistance during World War II sees her youthful ideals about the war’s effect on Britain destroyed in the decades after, as her marriage and sanity also deteriorate.

• Roundabout Theater/Laura Pels Theatre
• First Preview: October 7, 2016
• Opening: November 2, 2016
• Playwright: Jenny Rachel Weiner
• Director: Kip Fagan
• Cast: Crystal Finn, Alex Hernandez, Stephanie Styles, Carmen M. Herlihy, Socorro Santiago

Samantha is lonely and confined to her bed. Layne is shy and too afraid of the world to journey into it. But when these two thirtysomethings connect through an online dating site, they fall for each other fast and hard. What could go wrong? Considering that they’re both pretending to be someone else, the short answer is: everything.

• The Claire Tow Theater
• First Preview: October 8, 2016
• Opening October 24, 2016
• Playwright: Samuel D. Hunter
• Director: Davis McCallum
• Cast: Gideon Glick, Scott Jaeck, Leah Karpel, Peter Mark Kendall, Madeleine Martin, Christopher Sears, Zoe Winters

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.

• Soho Repertory/Connelly Theatre
• First Preview: October 11, 2016
• Playwright: Daniel Alexander Jones
• Director: Will Davis
• Cast: Jacques Colimon, Tenzin Gund-Morrow, Toussaint Jeanlouis, Daniel Alexander Jones, Jomama Jones, Stacey Karen Robinson, Kaneza Schaal

Two halves of a soul hunt through a hall of records. A librarian breaks the seal of a mysterious archive. A teacher and her class prepare the pageant to end all pageants. Duat conjures a spell of disintegration, transformation and regeneration through an incandescent performance in three parts. A little bit vaudeville, a little bit rock and soul.

• The Public Theater/Martinson Hall
• First Preview: October 18, 2016
• Opening: November 3, 2016
• Playwright: Lynn Nottage
• Director: Kate Whoriskey
• Cast: Carlo Albán, Lance Coadie Williams, James Colby, Johanna Day, Khris Davis, John Earl Jelks, Will Pullen, Miriam Shor, Michelle Wilson

A group of close friends shares everything: drinks, secrets and laughs. But when rumors of layoffs shake up the local factory, the fragile bonds of their community begin to fray and a horrific crime sends shock waves across two generations. This gripping world premiere by acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage explores America’s industrial decline at the turn of the millennium by examining the inhabitants of one Pennsylvania town who still struggle to reclaim what’s lost, find redemption and redefine themselves in a new century.

• Signature Theatre Company
• First Preview: October 18, 2016
• Opening: November 2, 2016
• Playwright: Athol Fugard
• Director: Athol Fugard
• Cast: Leon Addison Brown, Sahr Ngaujah, Noah Robbins

Set in a small tea shop in South Africa, the play explores themes of family, race and power.

• Signature Theatre Company
• First Preview: October 25, 2016
• Opening: November 10, 2016
• Playwright: Suzan Lori-Parks
• Director: Lileana Blain-Cruz
• Cast: TBA

A riotous theatrical event, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz.

• Classic Stage Company
• First Preview: October 27, 2016
• Opening: November 17, 2016
• Playwright: Tom Schulman
• Director: John Doyle
• Cast: Jason Sudeikis

At a rigorous all-boys preparatory school renowned for its ancient traditions, the unconventional Professor Keating inspires his students to defy conformity and to live passionately. Academy Award-winner Tom Schulman adapts his own screenplay for this much-anticipated production.

• 59e59
• First Preview: October 29, 2016
• Opening: November 16, 2016
• Playwright: Dan Gordon
• Director: Michael Parva
• Cast: Molly Ringwald

An Oscar-winning story comes to the American stage for the first time in a play by Dan Gordon, based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurty, and the screenplay by James L. Brooke. Terms Of Endearment traces the complicated relationship between a challenging mother, Aurora Greenway, and her equally stubborn daughter, Emma. A funny and heartbreaking story about love in the face of life’s challenges, both large and small, Terms Of Endearment captures the delicate, and sometimes fractured bonds between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and lovers, both new and old.

• Vineyard Theatre Company
• First Preview: November 3, 2016
• Opening: November 20, 2016
• Playwright: Nicky Silver
• Director: Mark Brokaw
• Cast: Andrew Burnap, Michael Crane, Holley Fain, Francesca Faridany, June Gable

In this new comedy about love and marriage and everything in-between, Martin thinks he has just married the girl of his dreams, but when Irene makes a surprising confession in their honeymoon suite, all their well-made plans fall apart. Nearly 50 years later, Irene’s children wrestle with their past, and a mother whose secrets are quickly fading along with her memory.

• 59e59
• First Preview: November 4, 2016
• Opening: TBD
• Playwright: Andy Bragen
• Director: Lee Sunday Evans
• Cast: TBA

A play about love and hate, about friendly and not so friendly competition. Tennis is just tennis…until it isn’t. Kate and Leslie explore the complexities of their boyfriends’ competitive spirits in this comic new drama. Russ has a temper. Brian has been known to cheat. As their weekly tennis sets play out aggressively on stage, Kate and Leslie dissect their friendship and rivalry in a volley of sharp observation and wry wit. An explosive comedy about love, relationships, and the consequences of a lousy backhand.

• Cherry Lane/Mainstage
• First Preview: November 2016
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Tanya Saracho
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA

In this sharp, true-to-life new comedy, Mexican-American Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character in a cutthroat Hollywood TV studio. She soon discovers that the Latino studio custodian, Abel, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows, Lucia begins incorporating Abel’s ideas into her scripts, fast-tracking her to success at work – and to complication in her personal life.

• Atlantic Theater Company/Linda Gross Theater
• First Preview: November 11, 2016
• Opening: December 8, 2016
• Music and Lyrics: Tony Yazbeck, Book: Itamar Moses
• Director: David Cromer
• Cast: John Cariani, Tony Shalhoub, George Abud, Bill Army, Katrina Lenk, Erik Liberman, Andrew Polk, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh, and Alok Tewari

An Egyptian Police Band arrives in Israel to play a concert. After a mix up at the border, they are sent to a remote village in the middle of the desert. With no bus until morning and no hotel in sight, these unlikely travelers are taken in by the locals. Under the spell of the desert sky, their lives become intertwined in the most unexpected ways.

• The Public Theater – LuEsther Hall
• First Preview: November 4, 2016
• Opening: November 8, 2016
• Playwright: Richard Nelson
• Director: Richard Nelson
• Cast: Meg Gibson, Lynn Hawley, Roberta Maxwell, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Amy Warren

Part three of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family. The three-play cycle introduces us to the Gabriels of Rhinebeck, New York. These three plays unfold in real time and track the lives of the Gabriels throughout the coming presidential election year.

• MCC Theater
• First Preview: November 9, 2016
• Opening: December 1, 2016
• Music and Lyrics: Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell
• Director: Rachel Rockwell
• Cast: Taylor Louderman, Alex Wyse, Lillian Castillo, Karl Hamilton, Emily Rohm, and Kholby Wardell

The original musical written by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell follows a youth chamber choir in the aftermath of a death-by-roller-coaster accident, as the members all compete for a chance to return to the living realm.

• Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater
• First Preview: November 11, 2016
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Dan LeFranc
• Director: Daniel Aukin
• Cast: TBA

We never meet young Richie and Lonna, whose marriage is on the rocks. But miles and miles away, in the affluent southwestern suburb where their parents live, this couple’s separation is disturbing the tranquility of a community they’ve barely met. In Dan LeFranc’s comedy of anxiety and awkward neighbors, the residents of Rancho Viejo drift from one gathering to the next, wrestling life’s grandest themes while fending off existential despair — set against the lustful, yearning strains of a distant bolero.

• The Public Theater/Shiva Theater
• First Preview: November 15, 2016
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Nia Vardalos
• Director: Thomas Kail
• Cast: Nia Vardalos

In this play based on the book Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, Sugar is an anonymous online advice columnist—later revealed to be Strayed—who thousands of people have turned to for words of wisdom, honesty and hope. At first unsure of herself, Sugar finds a way to weave her own life experiences together with the deep yearning and real problems of her readers, creating a beloved column about the monstrous beauty, endless dark and glimmering light at the heart of being human.

• New York Theatre Workshop
• First Preview: Winter 2016
• Opening: TBA
• Director: Sam Gold
• Cast: David Oyelowo, Daniel Craig, David Wilson Barnes, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Rachel Brosnahan, Blake DeLong, Glenn Fitzgerald, Slate Holmgren, Anthony Michael Lopez, Matthew Maher, Nikki Massoud, Kyle Vincent Terry, Finn Wittrock

NYTW Usual Suspect and Tony Award winner Sam Gold will return to NYTW to direct David Oyelowo (Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Histories, Selma) in the title role and Daniel Craig (Betrayal, Spectre) as ‘Iago’ in William Shakespeare’s Othello.

Atlantic Theater Company Stage 2
• First Preview: January 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Paola Lázaro
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA

You’re in Puerto Rico. Old San Juan. You’re a tourist, you walk down the stairs of this beautiful old fort built by the Spaniards. When you reach the bottom, you realize you’re in the hole, a slum. Welcome to La Perla, the barrio and the underbelly that lies under the tourism and behind the fort walls. You spend some days there, you don’t want to leave. Oh no, you’re addicted to the beauty, the women and the drugs. A raw and compelling play about searching for first love, found family, and hope.

• Signature Theatre Company
• First Preview: January 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
• Director: Lila Neugebauer
• Cast: TBA

A modern riff on one of the oldest plays in the English language promises to be just as unique as Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Gloria, An Octoroon and the award-winning Signature production of Appropriate.

• Cherry Lane Theater
• First Preview: January 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Stephen Sachs (adapted from the poem by Claudia Rankine
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA

From the shooting of Trayvon Martin, to the tennis career of Serena Williams, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Citizen powerfully explores life in the face of unrelenting and pervasive acts of injustice, whether they are political affronts on the global stage or passing slurs at the local supermarket.

• Classic Stage Company
• First Preview: January 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: David Ives
• Director: Michael Kahn
• Cast: TBA

The charming Dorante cannot tell the truth and the manservant Clinton cannot tell a lie. CSC favorite David Ives (The School for Lies, The Heir Apparent) takes on Pierre Corneille’s hilarious seventeenth-century farce of mistaken identity and secrets.

• St. Ann’s Warehouse
• First Preview: January 13, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Director: Phyllida Lloyd
• Cast: TBA

The magician and former duke Prospero, who has been exiled on an island with his daughter Miranda for years, plots revenge on the brother who usurped his throne with the help of the magical island creatures in his thrall, in one of William Shakespeare’s final plays.

• Roundabout Theater – Laura Pels Theatre
• First Preview: January 19, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Steven Levenson
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA

A sharply funny, unflinchingly honest new play about the stories we choose to believe, the compromises we can’t avoid and the hurt only our nearest and dearest can inflict.

• Vineyard Theatre
• First Preview: September 2016
• Opening: TBA
• Music: John Kander, Book and Lyrics: Greg Pierce
• Director: Liesl Tommy
• Cast: TBA

In KID VICTORY, seventeen-year old Luke returns to his small Kansas town after a wrenching one-year absence. As his friendship grows with the town misfit, Emily, his parents realize that in order to truly find their son, they must confront some unnerving truths about his disappearance.

• MCC Theater
• First Preview: February 2, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Anna Jordan
• Director: Trip Cullman
• Cast: TBA

The London import is billed as an exploration of “childhood without boundaries.”

• MTC/City Center
• First Preview: February 3, 2017
• Opening: February 23, 2017
• Playwright: Penelope Skinner
• Director: Lynne Meadow
• Cast: TBA

Linda Wilde has dedicated her life to changing the world. She’s won awards for her efforts, at the same time as working hard to become an inspiring mother, and an independent, loving wife. Now, at 55, she seems to have it all. But Linda isn’t satisfied. She’s a woman in her prime and she’s embarking on her most ambitious plan to date. But beneath the surface, the cracks are starting to show.

• Pershing Square Signature Center
• First Preview: February 7, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA

• The Public Theater/Newman Theater
• First Preview: February 14, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: David Byrne
• Director: Alex Timbers
• Cast: TBA

Once upon a time, there was a girl who talked to God. She built a nation, and they burned her for it. An exploration of the electrifying, meteoric rise of Joan of Arc through the lens of a one-of-a-kind rock musical concert.

• Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater
• First Preview: February 17, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen (with The Debate Society)
• Director: Oliver Butler
• Cast: TBA

Behold The Spectatorium: an audacious, visionary 12,000-seat theater designed for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 by Steele MacKaye, the now-forgotten theatrical impresario around whom this haunted, 40-year love story spins. From the minds of celebrated play-making company The Debate Society, The Light Years is an epic, intimate tale of two families struggling to meet their future, and a spectacular tribute to man’s indomitable spirit of invention.

• Vineyard Theatre Company
• First Preview: Spring 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Gina Gionfriddo
• Director: Peter DuBois
• Cast: TBA

Ms. Gionfriddo’s play is set on Halloween and Miranda is desperate for a way out. She’s drowning in debt, may be falling for her sugar daddy, and is on the run from her date who has threatened to kill her. When she meets Graham and Tanya, a door opens, for all of them… but is what’s beyond a treat or a trick?

• New York Theatre Workshop
• First Preview: Spring 2017
• Opening; TBA
• Playwright: Mfoniso Udofia
• Director: Ed Sylvanus Iskandar
• Cast: TBA

Both plays are chapters of Mfoniso Udofia’s nine-part saga The Ufot Cycle, which chronicles the life of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family.

• New York Theatre Workshop
• First Preview: Spring 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Geoff Sobelle
• Director: David Neumann
• Cast: TBA

This immersive theatrical installation turns the theatre into a storage facility of gargantuan proportion where audiences are free to roam and poke through the clutter.

• Cherry Lane/Mainstage
• First Preview: March 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Michael McKeever
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA

Perfect house, perfect friends, even a mother who wants them to wed. What isn’t perfect is that Daniel longs to be married and Michael does not. A turn of events forces both men to face the consequence of their opposing views, and they learn that they are living in a world where fundamental rights aren’t always so fundamental.

• Public Theater/Martinson Hall
• First Preview: March 14, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Martin Sherman
• Director: Sean Mathias
• Cast: Harey Fierstein

Beau, a pianist expat living in London meets Rufus, an eccentric young lawyer, at the dawn of the internet dating revolution. After a life spent recovering from the disappointment and hurt of loving men in a world that refused to allow it, Beau is determined to keep his expectations low with Rufus. But Rufus comes from a new generation of gay men who believe happiness is as much their right as anyone else’s, and what Beau assumed would be just another fling grows into one of the most surprising and defining relationships of his life. A remarkably moving, brilliantly funny love story, Gently Down the Stream reflects the triumphs and heartbreaks of the entire length of the gay rights movement, celebrating and mourning the ghosts of the men and women who led the way for equality, marriage and the right to dream.

• Public Theater/Anspacher Theater
• First Preview: March 17, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: John Leguizamo
• Director: Tony Taccone
• Cast: John Leguizamo

John Leguizamo schools his son—and the rest of us—on the buried and forgotten history of Latinos in the Americas in this outrageously funny one-man show about uncovering the truth, and recovering from the past. Inspired by the near total absence of Latinos in his son’s American history class, Leguizamo embarks on a frenzied search to find a Latin hero for his son’s school project. From a mad recap of the Aztec empire to stories of unknown Latin patriots of the Revolutionary War and beyond, Leguizamo breaks down the 3,000 years between the Mayans and Ricky Ricardo into 90 irreverent and uncensored minutes in his trademark style.

• Playwrights Horizons/Peter Jay Sharp Theater
• First Preview: March 17, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Zayd Dohrn
• Director: TBA
• Cast: TBA
• Safe in the liberal fortress of Manhattan, Raif Almedin is a first-generation immigrant who prides himself on his modern, enlightened views. But when his daughter falls for the son of a conservative Muslim family in White Plains, he discovers the threshold of his tolerance. In Zayd Dohrn’s sharp and timely tale, two families are forced to confront each other’s religious beliefs and cultural traditions, and to face their own deep-seated prejudice.

• Pearl Theatre
• First Preview: March 24, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Kate Hamill (adapted from the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray)
• Director: Eric Tucker
• Cast: TBA

A new adaptation of the classic novel.

Signature Theatre Company
• First Preview: April 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Annie Baker
• Director: Lila Neugebauer
• Cast: TBA

• Soho Rep
• First Preview: April 4, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Richard Maxwell
• Director: Sarah Benson
• Cast: Becca Blackwell, Vinie Burrows, Steve Earle, Roy Faudree, Modesto Flako Jimenez, Paul Lazar

On the fringes of the frontier, a messenger embarks on an arduous journey to collect a debt from a man he’s never met. Friends set out to atone for a mistake that can’t be undone. Strangers look for a little bit of comfort wherever they can find it. A spiritual and visceral celebration about whatever it is we call home.

• Pershing Square Signature Theater Center – The Diamond
• First Preview: April 25, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Suzan-Lori Parks
• Director: Lear deBessonet
• Cast: TBA

Leaving her home in southern Africa for a better life, Saartjie Baartman became a star on the 19th Century London freak show circuit for the size of her posterior. This Obie Award-winning play gives vibrant life to the story of Baartman’s journey to London, her rise to fame as the “Hottentot Venus” and her eventual love affair with a French scientist. Inspired by the true story of Baartman, Venus is a wild carnival, bursting with humor and heart while examining the paradox of love.

• Manhattan Theatre Club
• First Preview: April 26, 2017
• Opening: May 16th, 2017
• Playwright: Martyna Majok
• Director: Jo Bonney
• Cast: TBA

The Cost of Living is the story of four very different people, in four very different circumstances, each trying to get by. Eddie, an unemployed truck driver, reunites with his ex-wife Ani after she suffers a devastating accident. John, a brilliant and witty doctoral student, hires over-worked Jess, a caregiver. As their lives intersect, Majok’s play delves into the chasm between abundance and need and explores the space where bodies — abled and disabled — meet each other.

• Atlantic Theater Company Stage 2
• First Preview: May 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Clare Lizzimore
• Director: Gaye Taylor Upchurch
• Cast: Rebecca Hall

Rachel has it all: marriage, house, career. So why does she suddenly have this creeping feeling? Did she leave something behind? Or is there something in the walls…? Her husband thinks she needs time; her psychiatrist suggests positive thinking. But then the visions start. A darkly comic play about the underside of domesticity, the complexity of the brain in chaos, and the thin line between sinking and survival.

• MCC Theater
• First Preview: May 8, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Matthew Perry
• Director: Lindsay Posner
• Cast: Matthew Perry

Meet Jack, Stephanie, Joseph and Stevie: four lost souls, entering their forties and searching for meaning. After sharing one raucous night together in a downtown Los Angeles bar, their lives become irreversibly entwined in a rollercoaster journey that forces them to confront the darker sides of their relationships.

• Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater
• First Preview: May 19, 2017
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Kirsten Childs
• Director: Robert O’Hara
• Cast: TBA

All aboard for a Western musical adventure the likes of which you’ve never experienced. As a wanted woman of mythic proportions looks to begin life anew out west, Bella takes us on the trip of a lifetime to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier. Rowdy, wild, and hilarious, Kirsten Childs (Bubbly Black Girl…) infuses this tall tale with soulful tunes and madcap antics aplenty. Giddy-up to our get-down!

• Pershing Square Signature Center
• First Preview: 2017-18 Season
• Opening: TBA
• Playwright: Suzan-Lori Parks
• Director: Jo Bonney
• Cast: TBA

Remixing The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal masterpiece, The Red Letter Plays tear open notions of gender and hypocrisy with poetic honesty and exhilarating wit. In the Blood’s Hester La Negrita is a penniless mother of five condemned by the very men who loved her. Fucking A’s Hester Smith is an abortionist, forced to ply her trade to save her own son. Performed together for the first time, with a shared cast and director, the two plays form a thrilling and powerful indictment of American society.

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