The cold weather usually brings with it the requisite holiday shows to Broadway and beyond. There’s The Illusionists for those who want to be dazzled by magic. Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken are teaming up for a concert of holiday classics. And, of course, all the many only-in-New-York versions of The Nutcracker.
But this year, there’s a strong crop of new productions coming to Broadway and Off Broadway theaters that have nothing to do with jingle bells or Santa Claus. We rounded up the most exciting new productions heating up NYC stages this winter.
The Cher Show
Cher may have started her career sharing the spotlight with Sonny, but there’s been no one else who could keep up with her constant reinvention over the decades. Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks and Micaela Diamond share billing as stars of The Cher Show at the Neil Simon Theatre. The jukebox musical, on which Cher herself is a producer, works in 35 of her songs, both big hits and smaller numbers she’s glad are getting attention. Opens Dec. 3, thechershowbroadway.com
The humanitarian crisis of Middle Eastern refugees fleeing war and poverty trying to make it to Europe makes headlines only when a particularly gruesome incident happens. The Jungle is not that story. The hugely successful London production about a theater in the French migrant camp of Calais tells the stories of its inhabitants and their hopes of rebuilding the lives they lost over a night at the local Afghan Café. Inside Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse, audience members sit at wooden tables with the stage crossing through them revealing stories both devastating and boundlessly hopeful. Dec. 4-Jan. 2, 2019, stannswarehouse.org
The stage adaptation of Network needed a formidable but vulnerable actor to play the unraveling news anchor Howard Beale — and there’s none better in the business than Bryan Cranston. This thrilling and avant-garde adaptation at the Belasco Theatre owes its energy to director Ivo Van Hove, who once again uses cameras to supplement the action and bring the 1976 movie into the modern world. Guests can also opt for a seat onstage, where they’ll enjoy a four-course meal and cocktails during the show curated by former White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses. Opens Dec. 6, networkbroadway.com
We’re living in the age of the coming-of-age musical, and now it’s time for the most influential teen movie of the ‘90s. Screenwriter Amy Heckerling has turned her note-perfect Valley Girl adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma into Clueless The Musical, with the luminous Dove Cameron in the lead role of Cher. Still hopeless at love even as she counsels her friends in matters of the heart, Heckerling also composed the songs that now guide Cher toward her eventual spiritual awakening at the Pershing Square Signature Center. Opens Dec. 11 through Jan. 12, 2019, newyorktheatreguide.com
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s 1960 book about innocence lost is coming to Broadway, with the unlikely helmsman of Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of Atticus Finch (Jeff Daniels), a white attorney tasked with defending a black man charged with rape, a task arguably as fraught today as in 1936 when the event the book is based on happened in Alabama. Sorkin has plenty to work with from our own cultural moment, as the nation continues to confront the ongoing pain inflicted on black bodies and the repression of black voices. Dec. 13, tokillamockingbirdbroadway.com