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Culture fix: The 5 best shows on NYC's stages

Here’s a quick look at some of the shows everyone’s talking about — and whether that’s a good thing or not.

On Broadway

‘The Visit’

We love the idea of this new musical from Kander and Ebb, who brought us “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” It’s the adaptation of a play about the world’s richest woman returning home to exact revenge, cast with Chita Rivera in her final stage appearance, playing against Roger Rees—both Tony Award winners. But that was in another time. While it’s fun to note just how spry Rivera looks while shuffling through her old-lady choreography, both her voice and Rees’ have seen better days (as of last week, he’s on a medical hiatus). The show loses much of the original play’s dark humor in favor of too many song-and-dance numbers. The chorus is a hodgepodge of talent levels, making some bright solos gleam like pennies in the mud, but also just bringing more attention to the mud. The show is a slog, even at 100 minutes. Its five Tony nods are entirely sentimental. Open run; www.thevisitmusical.com

Off-Broadway

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‘The Way We Get By’

Amanda Seyfried and Tom Sadowski star in playwright Neil LaBute’s latest about a couple that shares a rocky “morning after.” It’s rockier than most, actually, and the secondhand embarrassment is palpable. Watching this play is like spending 90 minutes trapped in the most awkward moment of your life. It does heighten the jokes, though, because everyone is desperate to help cut the tension with laughs. Despite some decent twists and turns, plus a blessedly quick pace, the dialogue and situation fall just left of realistic. It’s your classic conceit play, for better or worse, although the biggest audience reaction comes when Seyfried casually takes off her top. That says it all. Through June 21; www.2st.com

Cabaret

‘Molly Pope Likes Your Status’

The West Village probably doesn’t need another brassy crooner who considers herself an “ascending gay icon.” That said, Molly Pope delivers an enjoyable show that blends pop with the occasional show tune (know your audience). The set list definitely keeps you guessing, and Molly Pope isn’t so polished that she seems to be playing to the spotlight. She feels present and accessible in the intimate upstairs venue at the Duplex, and that’s not always easy to come by in a world of paint-by-number brassy songstresses channeling Adele. Plus, they don’t all make out with strangers onstage. Whether Molly Pope is capable of reaching “gay icon” status, even on Christopher Street, remains to be seen, regardless, we love any headliner willing to match the audience drink for drink. June 12; www.mollypope.com

Arts

‘America Is Hard to See’

Last month, the Whitney Museum opened its doors at 99 Gansevoort. The inaugural exhibit, “America Is Hard to See,” spans all eight floors of the snazzy new building, divided into 23 shifts in our nation’s art history. It’s a little navel-gazey, if patriotism can be called that, but it’s also a wisely populist topic for the curious crowds that the move roused. The large exhibit is a foot-tiring trek, but there’s no intellectual strain. Avoid going on busy Fridays, when America won’t be all that’s hard to see—try wading through a four-deep crowd just to read a plaque much less really sink into a Rothko. When you need fresh air, visit the outdoor exhibit, “Sunset,” with patio chairs colorfully painted to resemble confetti. Through Sept. 27; www.whitney.org

 
 
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