New York has many short summer drama festivals starting up soon, led by the Ice Factory. Music on offer in the Big Apple this week runs from Radiohead through to Michael Tilson Thomas. There’s still time to catch “Sugar in Our Wounds” at Manhattan Theatre Club, which has now been extended through July 16.
Apart from these there are many classic shows still on the must-see list: “Hamilton,” “The Band’s Visit,” “Carousel,” Disney’s “Frozen,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and “Escape to Margaritaville” among them.
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.
Central Park SummerStage
Central Park and elsewhere, through September 27.
The concerts this week include DJ Sylk and Federation Sound. The main events are at Rumsey Playfield, with other concerts across the five boroughs.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
At Prospect Park, through August 11.
Most gigs in this series are free, with a $5 suggested donation. The next shows include a performance by Trio Da Kali and the Kronos Quartet, while Jazz de Montreal produces a homage to Leonard Cohen.
At Madison Square Garden, July 10 through 14.
The Garden has some excellent rock shows this month, with the Foo Fighters playing on July 16 and 17, one of Billy Joel’s regular monthly gigs on July 18 and Beck on July 19. First, the acclaimed British rock band Radiohead has a series of concerts. The band’s career threatened to turn into huge commercial success about the time of the album “OK Computer” before veering off into the bravely experimental and since coming full circle.
National Youth Orchestra: Tilson Thomas
At Carnegie Hall July 19 only.
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America as part of a series about the musician. Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs Gershwin’s Piano Concerto. The program also includes Sibelius’s Second Symphony, and the world premiere of a new work by Ted Hearne, commissioned by Carnegie Hall.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE
“Sugar in Our Wounds”
At Manhattan Theatre Club, extended through July 15.
The characters in Donja R. Love’s play are plantation slaves in the 1860s, and that adds an extra twist to this drama. There are plenty of universal themes that go beyond freedom and possession and include love and growing up.
Ice Factory 2018
At New Ohio Theatre, through August 18.
This West Village festival has been quietly kicking up a storm for 25 years now. Its curators plan a different show every week during its duration. Cliche though it may be, expect the unexpected.
ALSO WORTH SEEING
“On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”
At Irish Repertory Theatre, through August 12.
The plot is as bizarre as they come. It makes The Who’s “Tommy” or Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Poisoned Kiss” look totally normal. A psychiatrist falls in love with a long-dead woman summoned up in a psychic session. The work is something of a neglected gem, with a poetic title and flowing score.
“Head Over Heels”
At Hudson Theatre, through December 31.
In terms of jukebox musicals, The Go-Go’s and Belinda Carlisle may not be the most obvious choice. Still, this show is a lot of fun, with a fairly crazy plot about a messed up royal family.
“The Boys in the Band”
At Booth Theatre, through August 11.
Mart Crowley’s play has been around 50 years and is only now making its Broadway debut. While this 1960s play was hilarious and thought-provoking, it was also controversial in its gay subject matter. While some of its initial shock value has now faded, it remains a powerful piece of writing.
“The Band’s Visit”
At the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, booking through February 2019.
This has won 10 Tony Awards, which may be recognition enough. The Israeli story about a police band whose tour goes wrong has many standout songs such as “Something Different.”
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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