The Public Theater has just finished its $40 million renovation to become an open, modern space where theatergoers or passersby can congregate for not only entertainment, but also food, drinks and conversation. Accompanying this landmark is a new set of shows to kick off the season — offering plenty of excuses to stop by and check out the transformed space at Astor Place. Here’s a look at what’s currently playing:
‘Sorry’ (Through Dec. 2)
As the third play in Richard Nelson’s four-part series, “Sorry” joins the Apple family on the eve of election night in 2012. Whether or not audiences have seen the previous shows (featuring the same cast each year), they’re swiftly caught up in the small and often sad dramas of one family living in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Politics concerning the polarized country are rivaled by personal battles woven in simple looks or outspoken sentiment as four siblings try to decide what’s best for their increasingly sick uncle.
‘The Twenty-Seventh Man’ (Through Dec. 9)
The tension is thick from the first beat of this play, adapted by Nathan Englander from his short story by the same name. In it, 26 of Soviet Russia’s top Yiddish writers have been incarcerated for unknown (or likely nonexistent) crimes under Stalin’s increasing paranoia and iron fist in 1952. But there is also an unknown 27th man in one particular cell, which is visited with voyeuristic integrity during the 75 emotional minutes of this tautly staged, not-to-miss play.
‘Giant’ (Through Dec. 16)
Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, this sweeping musical epic is a love song to the Texas of yore, with cowboys fighting oil barons and escalating racial tensions that threaten (or promise) to forever change the way of life for those in the Lone Star State — or as our hero calls it in song, “Heartbreak Country.” His love for his ranch competes only with what’s reserved for his displaced wife as Michael John LaChiusa’s lovely score carries through nearly three decades with the turbulent couple and the family that they create in the midst of fast-changing times.
Instead of heading out into the cold after a Public Theater performance, guests can now stay for dinner at The Library. Named for the building’s original use as the Astor Library (and welcoming “Public Library” references), this cozy facility pairs an intimate bar featuring curated cocktails with limited seating for diners who can choose from a menu thematically divided into Act I, II and III. There’s also a Curtain Call Menu for late-night bites. For reservations with your theater tickets, call 212-539-8777; learn more at www.thelibraryatthepublic.com.