2018 was a year of many theatrical triumphs – in addition to some misfires, hot messes and outright disasters. Let’s take a look at the best that Off-Broadway had to offer in 2018.
“Gallows humor” took on a disturbingly literal meaning when applied to Martin McDonagh’s old-fashioned, engrossing and extremely entertaining black comedy/ whodunit murder mystery, which played Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company and may eventually transfer to Broadway.
‘Songs for a New World’
Jason Robert Brown’s complex and thematically-linked 1995 song cycle received an unexpectedly thrilling concert-style revival (with four superb vocalists, expanded orchestrations and back-up dancers) as part of the Encores! Off-Center series at City Center. A cast album will be released Jan. 25.
‘Be More Chill’
“Dear Evan Hansen” meets “Little Shop of Horrors” in “Be More Chill,” a sci-fi teen musical comedy with a pop-rock score by Joe Iconis and an unusually devoted fan following on social media. Following a sold-out Off-Broadway run, it will transfer to Broadway in February.
‘Girl from the North Country’
Built around songs by Bob Dylan, “Girl from the North Country” (with direction and book by Irish playwright Conor McPherson) was not a jukebox musical but an enigmatic and haunting Depression-era drama. Its Public Theater run just ended and it is unclear whether it will transfer to Broadway.
Daniel Fish’s experimental, stripped-down and ominously-toned revamp (which premiered at Bard College and just played St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO) allows viewers to experience Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 1943 musical theater classic with fresh eyes and ears. It will transfer to Broadway in the spring.
‘Fiddler on the Roof – In Yiddish’
Just two years since “Fiddler” last played Broadway, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene presented a Yiddish language version of the beloved 1964 musical (accompanied by English and Russian supertitles). Following an extended run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, it will transfer to Off-Broadway’s Stage 42.
The Public Theater’s Public Works series (in which regular New Yorkers join together with professional actors in community-oriented theatrical projects) took a much deserved victory lap with an extended run of Shaina Taub’s festive pop musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
Affirmative action, teenage angst, elite private schools and well-meaning liberals became targets for satire in Joshua Harmon’s winning and wicked comedy, which was produced Off-Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater.