The Very Best of NYC Theater

The Commons of Pensacola, The Glass Menagerie, Becoming Dr. Ruth, Welcome Home Sonny T, Darkling and Hip

Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker appear in the world premiere of The Commons of Pensacola, a new comedy by Amanda Peet. Based on the Bernie Madoff scandal, Commons tells the story of Judith (Danner), a woman who must move from her beautiful New York home to a less fancy one-bedroom condo in Florida after her husband’s Wall Street scam has been discovered. It’s a show that should appeal to anyone who has grown up in a dysfunctional family, and really, isn’t that everybody? The Commons of Pensacola will be playing at Manhattan Theater Club’s New York City Center through Jan 26.

Out actors Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto have earned ecstatic reviews as the leads in the Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie. Jones stars as Amanda Wingfield, a dowager bent on finding a suitor for her introverted daughter, Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger). She enlists the help of her son, Tom (Quinto), who finds a “gentleman caller” for the girl. But—this being a Tennessee Williams drama—emotional wounds, alcoholism and sexual tension all come into play. The Glass Menagerie, directed by John Tiffany, runs through Feb 23 at the Booth Theatre. 

What do you get when you mash up ‘70s-era disaster films with a funky disco soundtrack? You get Disaster!, the new off-Broadway musical starring Mary Testa. Written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, Disaster! takes us back to 1979, when New York’s finest are heading to the opening of Manhattan’s first floating casino/discotheque. But the elite won’t be dancing for long because infernos, an earthquake, killer bees, piranhas and more await. The soundtrack for this wild and wacky show features Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” and Barry Manilow’s “Daybreak.” Disaster! will be wreaking havoc at St. Luke’s Theatre until Feb 28. 

The life story of America’s favorite sex therapist forms the basis of a brand-new off-Broadway play in Becoming Dr. Ruth. The show takes us on a journey from Ruth Westheimer’s devastating childhood in a war-torn country to being a sniper in Israel to finally moving to America, where she becomes not only a sex therapist, but also a bestselling author, TV host and pop culture icon. Debra Jo Rupp (of That 70s Show) stars, giving a performance the Huffington Post calls “masterful.” Becoming Dr. Ruth is at the Westside Theater now through Jan 12.

William Electric Black tackles the timely subject of gun violence in Welcome Home Sonny T. In this new play, Black writes about a neighborhood in which gun violence is an all-too-regular occurrence between African-American and Mexican youth. The play takes place during Sonny T’s homecoming from Afghanistan, at a time when his brother, Rodney, is heading down a bad path. Can the caring Reverend Miller and community members save Rodney and other troubled youths? Welcome Home Sonny T promises to be not just a powerful dramatic experience but also a call to action. It runs through Dec 22 at the Theater for the New City.

Two writers join together for Darkling and Hip, similarly-themed plays that probe the life of the outsider. In Kim Katzberg’s Darkling, 13-year-old Trinity (also played by Katzberg) is consumed by three things: the Goth world, becoming a woman, and the messy life of her older sister. When her sister leaves for boarding school, Trinity wonders if she should go with her or stay in boring suburbia—or perhaps there’s another option. In Nora Wolley’s Hip, Wythe, a Williamsburg hipster is dying to be recognized for his talent but is concerned his music has been co-opted by The Strokes. Wolley also stars in this thought-provoking dark comedy. Both shows will be playing at the IRT Theater from Dec 21 through Jan 12.

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