The Very Best of NYC Theater

Elizabeth Rex, David Mamet’s Boston Marriage, Patti LuPone in Gypsy and more…

Witness Queen Elizabeth struggle with her decision to behead her beloved Robert, Earl of Essex, for treason in Elizabeth Rex. Members of a 16th-century Shakespearean theatre company—whose female roles are played by men—entertain and divert the Queen from her mental torment. The actors’ androgyny feeds the Queen’s fascination with the ambiguity and duality of gender: She feels the sexual passion of a woman, but must put that aside to act in the interest of the State—or, as she said to the army at Tilbury, “I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a King.” Get swept away by all the Elizabethan drama at the Spoon Theater, now through April 19.

20% Theatre Company presents their latest production, David Mamet’s Boston Marriage, April 10–12 and 17–19 at the WOW Café Theatre. Anna and Claire are two bantering, scheming Victorian “women of fashion” who have long lived together on the fringes of upper-class society. Anna has just become the mistress of a wealthy man who has just given her a precious emerald; Claire, meanwhile, is infatuated with a respectable young lady and wants to enlist the jealous Anna’s help to arrange a tryst. As the two women exchange barbs and take turns taunting Anna’s hapless Scottish parlor maid, Claire’s young inamorata suddenly appears, setting off a crisis that puts both the valuable emerald and the women’s futures at risk.

After a limited engagement at City Center, Gypsy, with the fabulous Patti LuPone as Momma Rose, takes on Broadway in an open-ended run at the St James Theatre. A consummate show-biz musical, Gypsy traces the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, who attempts to follow in her unstoppably ambitious stage mother’s footsteps and finally finds pleasure in the burlesque spotlight. The vibrant score includes “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”and “Rose’s Turn.”

The iconic image and legacy of Oprah Winfrey serve as the inspiration for the latest performative experiment of Baraka de Soleil/D UNDERBELLY: The dreamlike sci-fi allegory Childr’n of “O.” April 25–26 at BAX, the electronic age transmits its powerful presence through the voice and image of an iconic black woman figure: “O.” Unfolding through an intricate web of poetic text, deconstructed TV symbolism and gestural language, Childr’n of “O” examines the complexities of our cultural relationships with “stars,” technology and evolving contemporary society.

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