Our take on Off-Broadway's busy season
I've never understood why major Off-Broadway companies always rush to open major productions right before Thanksgiving. Since Broadway producers are doing the exact same thing, many of these Off-Broadway shows receive little or no exposure. This week's theater review space is dedicated to the many Off-Broadway shows I've been waiting to cover.
Richard Nelson, who previously chronicled the Apple family of Rhinebeck, N.Y., in "That Hopey Chaney Thing" (set around the 2010 midterm election) and "Sweet and Sad" (set on the 10th anniversary of 9/11), continues this inspired series with "Sorry," which takes place on the morning of this year's presidential election. Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., 212-967-7555, through Dec. 2.
The Pearl Theatre Company, which just moved to the Signature Theatre Company's old digs, premieres Charles Morey's freewheeling adaptation of the 1778 Beaumarchais comedy, "The Marriage of Figaro," which inspired the Mozart opera. Sean McNall makes for a dynamic Figaro. 555 W. 42nd St., 212-563-9261, Through Dec. 2.
Tony winner Shuler Hensley, wearing a massive amount of padding, stars in Samuel D. Hunter's engrossing drama about a 600-pound writing tutor who attempts to reach out to his troubled daughter. Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St., 212-279-4200, through Dec. 9.
The Public Theater is producing perhaps the biggest new musical of the fall. Not just in size (22-person cast, 17-piece orchestra), but in length (three hours) and artistic ambition. Condensing Edna Ferber's epic novel about a Texan family is no easy task, leading to a lack of focus, but Michael John LaChiusa's flavorful score is a monumental achievement. The exceptional cast includes Brian d'Arcy James. 425 Lafayette St., 212-539-8500, through Dec. 16.
Joshua Harmon, a playwriting student at Juilliard, makes a promising debut with this slight but edgy comedy about three college-age cousins who reunite following their grandfather's death. Steinberg Center, 111 W. 46th St., 212-719-1300, through Dec. 16.
"The Piano Lesson"
Signature Theatre Company, which produced three excellent August Wilson revivals during its 2006-07 season, offers a similarly sound production of the Pulitzer-winning "The Piano Lesson," in which a brother and sister are forced to confront their family history. Signature Center, 480 42nd St., 212-244-7529, through Dec. 16.
St. Ann's Warehouse inaugurates its new space with Yael Farber's sexually charged take on the classic August Strindberg drama, relocating it to post-apartheid South Africa. 29 Jay St., 718-254-8779, through Dec. 16.