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Top New York Performing Arts This Week: Governors Ball, BRIC, More

Governors Ball scenario
(Governors Ball)

This is the week that New York explodes with music. Jack White and Eminem headline the Governors Ball. There are some weekend tickets left at about $300. Common opens the BRIC Celebrates Brooklyn! shows, which have free admission with a suggested donation. Gregory Porter starts the Central Park Summer Stage concerts.

Plus there is a wealth of theatrical shows in the Big Apple, with “Three Tall Women,” “Dance Nation” and “Travesties” all playing for a few weeks more after sell-out shows and critical acclaim.

The format of these weekly short capsule previews is to list newly opening and one-time shows; those near the end of their run; and others highly recommended. We continue to review the best and most noteworthy in depth and separately.


Governors Ball

At Randalls Island Park, June 1 through June 3.

This weekend event is as close as New York gets to a music festival in the center of town. Jack White, Eminem and Travis Scott are among the headliners among some 60 acts on four main stages. At the time of writing some tickets are still available. If you miss out, well, make a diary note to book for next year.

Central Park Summer Stage

Central Park and elsewhere, June 2 through September 27.

The free shows start on June 2 with Gregory Porter and Victory, in association with the Blue Note Jazz Festival. The main events are at Rumsey Playfield, with other concerts across the five boroughs.

BRIC Celebrates Brooklyn!

At Prospect Park, June 5 through August 11.

Most gigs in this series are free, with a $5 suggested donation. The season opener this year is Common on June 5.



At Bushwick Starr, extended through June 12.

Erin Markey is back with another challenging show. Here she squares up to Emily Davis in a poetic performance where the two get as close as possible in a constantly changing late-hate style relationship that is said to explore intimacy like never before.


“Paradise Blue”

At Pershing Square, Hell’s Kitchen, through June 17.

Dominique Morisseau’s play about a jazz club owner and trumpeter named Blue touches on a lot of obvious themes about Detroit in the 1940s. Racism, violence and poverty are all components of the tune. The story has echoes of real dilemmas of urban renewal: should Blue sell his club, Paradise, or stay on?


“Three Tall Women”

At Golden Theatre, extended through June 24.

Edward Albee’s acclaimed later play, which rescued his reputation, was inspired by his mother. It has two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson returning to Broadway after her 30-year absence. She is backed by Laurie Metcalf – the Tony winner for “Doll’s House,” although still waiting for her first Oscar. Alison Pill, of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” fame, takes on the younger role. As most playgoers know, the story has three versions of the same woman at various stages of her life. This is a textbook example of a stunning revival.

Dance Nation”

At Playwrights Horizons, Hell’s Kitchen, extended through July 1.

The scene is set at the national dance finals at Tampa Bay, Florida. The carefully choreographed routines conceal the bitterest of rivalries. Clare Barron’s excellent play should rightly go on to more after this short run off-Broadway.

“Travesties” by Tom Stoppard

At American Airlines Theatre, through June 17.

Tom Stoppard’s clever-clever 1974 play won a Tony in its time, with its complex plot set in 1917 Zurich. The city hosted writer James Joyce, artist Tristan Tzara and leader-in-exile Lenin among others. They are all seen through the eyes of aging diplomat Henry Carr, who looks back with comic confusion. This reviewer saw and recommended the recent London production, nominated for best revival at the last Olivier Awards and now transferring to Broadway with the excellent Tom Hollander as Carr. It is going down a storm. Go see.

“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”

At Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, booking through November 18 2018 currently.

Donna Summer joins those singers getting a theater tribute. As “The Tina Turner Musical” has a world premiere in London, this New York show attempts to do justice to the disco Queen. It is a transfer from La Jolla Playhouse. Fortunately for the drama, quite a lot of tense plot-lines can be added to her already far-from-smooth ride to success. There is plenty of joy too and dancing to “I Feel Love” and more. It suffers from the common musical malaise of clunky dialogue but gets a little forgiven for the finest pieces of disco known to humanity.

IFrame“The Iceman Cometh”

At the Bernard B. Jacobs, through July 1.

This play has a lot of great things going for it. First, it stars Denzel Washington. Second, direction is by George C. Wolfe. Third, Eugene O’Neill’s play was written just before the masterpiece “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” It is another epic story sometimes known as “Waiting for Hickey,” the salesman who gets the party started. Its four-hour run time and large cast makes it a tough staging, as the cast mainly realize their dreams are delusions which will come to nothing. We now know it’s pretty impressive and Washington especially so.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2”

At the Lyric Theatre, open dates.

Those of us who have seen the London hit will know that a good knowledge of Harry Potter is useful, but it all makes some kind of sense even if you don’t. This is a sequel to the books, with Harry Potter now an adult and out to save the world. Hint: see Part 1, then Part 2 in that order. You’ll be mightily confused to see them the other way around. See Part 1 alone, and you are left at a cliffhanger; see Part 2 alone and it makes no sense at all. One of the reasons for its success is that most playgoers see both, and hopefully in the right order.

“Mean Girls”

At the August Wilson Theatre, booking through September.

No pressure. Tina Fey has got some $15 million of theater money riding on this. It cannot fail for her, and the word is that it will not – she has recruited serious talent. The director-choreographer is Casey Nicholaw and lyrics are by Nell Benjamin, of “Legally Blonde” fame.

“My Fair Lady”

At the Vivian Beaumont, through September.

Bartlett Sher is an obvious choice of director after reviving “South Pacific” and “The King and I.” The cast includes TV star Lauren Ambrose – actually not the most obvious Eliza Doolittle. Harry Hadden-Paton moves on from “Downton Abbey” as Henry Higgins, and, best of all, there is Diana Rigg as his mother.


At Imperial Theatre, booking through September.

The cast includes opera singer Renee Fleming as well as Joshua Henry and Jessie Mueller. It is a classic and the buzz has been positive. The return after 24 years has largely been cheered: “half-terrific” and “meticulously curated” indeed.

“Springsteen on Broadway”

At Walter Kerr Theatre, extended through December 15.

Following on from his autobiography “Born to Run,” The Boss conceived a one-man acoustic show including spoken words and songs. It is back in the news after an extension was announced through to near the end of the year. He is joined by his wife Patti Scialfa for backing vocals in places.

“Angels in America”

At the Neil Simon Theatre, booking through July 4.

This critic saw the early versions of this production at London’s Royal National Theatre. Tony Kushner’s 1993 epic play was winner of many awards, including the Pulitzer. The two-part story was initially controversial with its exploration of the topics of AIDS and gay couples. Nathan Lane plays White House lawyer Roy Cohn and Andrew Garfield plays AIDS patient Pryor Walter.

“Escape to Margaritaville”

At the Marquis Theatre, booking through November.

Songwriter Jimmy Buffett’s hits such as “Margaritaville,” “Come Monday,” “Volcano,” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” are cunningly worked into a feel-good musical comedy about a romance between a lawyer and a barman. Buffett fans bought every ticket for its off-Broadway tryouts.

Disney’s “Frozen”

At St James Theatre, booking through December currently.

The ubiquitous Michael Grandage directs as the Oscar-winning movie comes to Broadway. In its new form, some of the film magic is replaced by a new magic: there are twice as many songs woven in. This is a surefire sellout just given the level of interest in the film and all things Disney. If “Aladdin” can make it big even after mixed reviews out of town, this Denver transfer certainly can. It is helped by set pieces such as the signature song “Let It Go.”

“A Bronx Tale”

At Longacre Theatre, open dates, booking though November.

This show is recommended any week, not just this one. It is a musical account of the story that has already been a book, a play and of course a Robert De Niro movie.


At Richard Rodgers Theater, open dates.

A show about American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton might not sound a rewarding prospect, but this is still one of the highlights of Broadway. Hamilton had a huge character and a most eventful life. The raps are hilarious. It also has contemporary resonance – how will we be remembered – and our Presidents too.


At Brooks Atkinson Theatre, extended through December.

This wonderfully funny show keeps getting extended. You might remember the 2007 film of the same name. It’s the basis of play which makes it worth heading to Brooks Akinson for. A theater-loving writer friend, who was a waitress in her college days, recently saw it. She went along with low expectations, and came out impressed with its cheery feminist messages and sympathy for waiting staff – “the hardest job in the world.”

Click on the slideshow for images of some of the productions and stars

Founder Louise Blouin