When it comes to winter theater, NYC offers niche holiday fare with everything from singing Santas (at the “Christmas Spectacular”) to naughty Nutcrackers (with risque cabaret from Company XIV). But there are also plenty of traditional shows opening on and off-Broadway. Here are our top picks.
Written by hotshot composer and lyricist duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Dear Evan Hansen” was a smash hit when it debuted off-Broadway this year. Part of its fast appeal is the timely nature of its message, which involves a high school’s reaction to the death of a student — and what one unpopular teenager (Ben Platt of “Pitch Perfect”) will do when he spots an unique opportunity to fit in. Like an episode of “Glee” with undertones of “Next to Normal,” the new musical touches on topics like suicide, social anxiety and how communities grieve. Opens Dec. 4; dearevanhansen.com
Maybe watching someone else’s family discuss politics can give you some pointers for the holidays? Richard Nelson returns to the Public Theater with a three-play cycle about “The Gabriels,” a New York family living in late 2016. The audience eavesdrops as they squabble, battle personal demons and discuss the presidential race. Nelson wrote each play in real time as the Clinton/Trump saga unfolded, leading right up to election night. Dec. 10, 11, 14, 17, 18; publictheater.org
It was bound to happen: Broadway finally gets its first a capella musical. “In Transit,” as the name suggests, is an ode to New York City on the move, via the subway. While underground, 11 strangers find their lives interlocking in ways they couldn’t have anticipated when they swiped their Metrocard at the turnstile. The upbeat score features vocal arrangements by Deke Sharon (“Pitch Perfect”) and composition by Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“Frozen”). The musical is directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall. Opens Dec. 11; intransitbroadway.com
Best known as Britain’s premier spy but no stranger to the New York stage, Daniel Craig heads uptown to take on one of Shakespeare’s most notorious villains, Iago, in New York Theatre Workshop’s “Othello.” The title role is played by a formidable David Oyelowo (“Selma”), joined by Rachel Brosnahan (“House of Cards”) as Desdemona. Only membership, benefit and lottery tickets are still available to this highly anticipated production, helmed by returning NYTW director and Tony Award winner Sam Gold. Opens Dec. 12; nytw.org
In a history-making production, Glenn Close returns to her Tony Award-winning role as Norma Desmond in the first Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard.” An adaptation of the 1950 film, the story follows a fading diva and the tragedy that ensues when her delusions of grandeur are propped up by an opportunistic hustler; its classic score includes “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye.” Directed by Lonny Price, the musical will feature the largest orchestra on the Great White Way and is scheduled to run for just 16 weeks. Close is joined by co-stars from her West End appearance last April, including Michael Xavier (Joe Gillis). Opens Feb. 9; sunsetboulevardthemusical.com
Extrapolated from a storyline in “War and Peace,” “Great Comet” is a breathtaking musical that blends Russian folk music, operatic showtunes and indie rock. It originated off-Broadway in 2012 and sold out in subsequent stagings, including inside a tent in Midtown. Broadway keeps the intimacy alive with onstage seating and immersive exposure to the actors and orchestra; they even hand out pierogies to mimic what used to be a full-on supper club. Josh Groban (Pierre) makes his Broadway debut against newcomer Denee Benton (Natasha) and her rogue suitor, original cast member Lucas Steele (Anatole). Now open; greatcometbroadway.com