Throughout the summer, many of New York’s iconic stages sit empty. Dance companies and orchestras are traveling, and the opera takes a break before rumbling into its fall season.
But this year, many tourists will be coming to the city for the first time in years – or ever – and I don’t want them to fear: There is plenty of incredible theater to witness.
Join the audience of as many of these as you can: just be sure to check mask policies. New York lifted its indoor performance mask mandate starting in July 2022, so the rules are not consistent across all productions.
What if Celine Dion didn’t just sing the song for the movie Titanic? What if she was a player in the story?
This is but one of the wild possibilities this unhinged production explores, mashing together Dion’s music, elements from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and a cacophony of other unexpected pop culture references.
The biggest surprise in this madcap musical, however, is the lovely singing – particularly by Dion herself, played with a lunatic’s precision by Marla Mindelle. Asylum NYC, through September 25.
Six, a joyously energetic pop concert about the six wives of King Henry VIII, is a perfect piece of entertainment. Its 90-minute run length ensures no notes are wasted, and none of the jokes are flabby.
In fact, the only overweight wasteoid in the all-woman show is Henry himself, who never appears on stage and whom the women, after telling their own tragicomic stories through soaring songs, eventually learn to rise above. Do not miss these six. Brooks Atkinson Theatre, ongoing.
Perplexing, preposterous physical performance is the hallmark of the Connecticut-based Momix dance troupe, which is bringing a new production of the Alice in Wonderland story to Chelsea’s Joyce Theater. Momix is a perpetual audience favorite at the Joyce, and the production will offer plenty of awe and “aww”s for adults and kids alike. The Joyce Theater, July 6-24.
A Strange Loop
Critics cannot say enough about this stirring musical by Michael R. Jackson, the spiraling, seismic saga of a young Black queer artist writing a musical about a young Black queer artist writing a musical.
It’s won the Pulitzer Prize, the 2022 Tony Awards for best musical and best book of a musical, and plenty of other awards. But prizes and critical acclaim can’t quite capture how this sweet, sorrowful, and triumphantly original work will make you feel. Lyceum Theatre, ongoing.
Fela! The Concert
I hadn’t known anything about Fela Kuti, the Nigerian singer and activist who helped popularize Afrobeat music around the world, until I saw the Broadway production of Fela! in 2009.
But the show – and its politics and music – is one that jumps straight into your bones, with call-and-response rhythms, frenzied drumbeats, howling saxophone and guitar, and audience members dancing in the aisles. It’s back with some of the original cast, for a one-night concert at the Queens Theatre. Queens Theatre, July 16 only.
Into the Woods
This stripped-down version of Stephen Sondheim’s dark fairy tale mashup ran for two weeks at City Center and was such a smash, it moved to Broadway.
Who needs elaborate sets when you have a constellation of stars to fill the stage, including Phillipa Soo, Brian d’Arcy James, Joshua Henry, Gavin Creel, and Patina Miller? Despite all that wattage, the show – and hearts– belongs to the wonderful Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife. St James Theatre, through August 21.
As You Like It
On a beautiful summer night, there is probably no greater experience than sitting at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as the sun goes down and the raccoons wander across the stage.
This year the Public Theater’s beloved 2017 Public Works production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It will return to this marvelous setting, featuring music and lyrics by Suffs writer Shaina Taub, and a cast that includes professional actors and a merry brigade of amateur performers. Shakespeare in the Park, August 10 to September 11.
Wired by Kinetic Light
Kinetic Light is an arts ensemble of dancers with disabilities who will be bringing Wired to the Shed in late August. The program, which opened in Chicago, features the three dancers as they fly through the air and spin across the floor, traced and encircled with light and barbed wire as they push boundaries and perceptions. The Shed, August 25-27.
Little Shop of Horrors
This plucky off-Broadway production has enjoyed an enviable string of Seymours – including Jonathan Groff, Jeremy Jordan, Gideon Glick, Conrad Ricamora, Skylar Astin – but that’s not the only reason Little Shop is still a must-see.
Christian Borle is doing the work of 10 men as the dentist, and Tammy Blanchard and the urchins bring hilarious, slightly tweaked-out soul to the bizarre story. Westside Theatre Upstairs, ongoing.
Come From Away
Since it opened in 2017, the Canadian musical Come From Away has been a crowd-pleaser, with its rousing shanty songs and message of welcome. Centered on the tragedy of September 11, the show nonetheless trumpets tolerance, generosity, hope, and faith in humanity.
It will close this fall, and for much of summer, Tony nominee Jen Collela has returned to perform the role she originated. If you haven’t seen it, catch it before it ends. I suggest you bring your family. And tissues. Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, through October 2
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