Add to the list of New York perks: There’s a plethora of musicals and plays to choose from, all a subway ride (or two) away from your home. So, what’s on our radar so far this year? Here, five shows New Yorkers are already buzzing about. Snap up seats now.
The Top 5 Shows to See On (and Off) Broadway Right Now
1. The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
Now Playing, BAM
She was the first Black female playwright to have a show produced on Broadway—Lorraine Hansberry was just shy of 29 when A Raisin in the Sun came to life on a New York stage in 1959. Her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, is now being revived by director Anne Kauffman at BAM nearly 60 years later. The premise? A group of diverse friends are living in Greenwich Village in the 1960s and grappling with the divide between their progressive dreams and life’s realities. But the focus is on married couple, Sidney and Iris Brustein—played by Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan—and whether their passionate union can survive the pressure of fast-diverging ideals.
Why You Should See It: Isaac and Brosnahan are magnetic to watch and, despite the show’s length (3 hours) and unfinished feeling (Hansberry was ill with cancer and didn’t have time to revise it), it’s both captivating and thought-provoking.
Now in Previews, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
The previously sold out New York City Center production of Parade starring Ben Platt (of Dear Evan Hansen fame) and Micaela Diamond has officially moved to Broadway and is already being billed as one of the biggest shows of the year. A musical that’s based on a true story, the show centers on Leo and Lucille Frank, a newlywed Jewish couple who are struggling to make ends meet in Georgia. But when Leo is accused of a terrible crime, a trial with antisemitic motives is carried out and becomes the ultimate test of faith, humanity…and a marriage.
Why You Should See It: One glimpse at the show’s trailer and you’ll have chills. Not only that, but it’s also topical and already critically acclaimed.
3. How to Defend Yourself
Now Playing, New York Theatre Workshop
Written by Liliana Padilla, this play takes place over the course of a DIY self-defense class that’s been organized by students on a college campus after learning that a fellow classmate has been attacked. But as they learn to use their bodies as weapons and how to not be a victim, self-defense becomes an outlet for an honest and, at times humor-filled, exploration of the students’ own rage, anxiety and confusion—not to mention desire.
Why You Should See It: Rachel Chavkin—of Hadestown and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812—co-directs.
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Now in Previews, Lunt-Fontanne Theater
Lin-Manuel Miranda is already singing the praises of this Stephen Sondheim revival—a musical about a Victorian-era murderous barber—which is back on Broadway this month for the first time in 43 years. Part of the early theater buzz is tied to the cast. You’ve got Josh Groban as Sweeney Todd and Annaleigh Ashford as pie shop owner Mrs. Lovett, plus Gaten Matarazzo (of Stranger Things fame) playing the orphan Toby. Not only that, but the production team also boasts Hamilton alums including director Thomas Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire. Sure, there was the recent off-Broadway (and immersive) production of Sweeney at a West Village pie shop—which was brilliant—but this one brings back something that one couldn’t offer: a Broadway-level production value.
Why You Should See It: The full-scale orchestra alone will carry Stephen Sondheim’s operatic score high into the rafters, but also this particular show is thought to be one of the late composer’s best.
5. Fat Ham
Opens March 21, American Airlines Theater
This play, penned by James Ijames won the Pulitzer Prize following its recent run at the Public Theater last year—now it’s Broadway-bound. A reinvention of Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet, it tells the story of Juicy, a queer, Southern college kid who is already questioning his identity when the ghost of his father shows up in the backyard demanding that Juicy avenge his murder. The only problem? Juicy is the sensitive type and an incredibly self-aware Black man focused on his own happiness and liberation. Comedy, but also compelling reflections on love and loss and pain and joy ensue.
Why You Should See It: The New York Times raved about the show last year saying that it both echoes Shakespeare’s Hamlet and finds a language beyond it. Sign us up.