Spring Arts Guide Picks: Theater

Julius Caesar

Performances begin April 10

The last time the Royal Shakespeare Company graced our shores, they brought five shows and an entire multilevel theater with them. This time around, they're packing just a bit lighter. Gregory Doran, the RSC's artistic director, will pull up to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater with the theatrical equivalent of a carry-on: some props, some costumes, and a single tragedy. This modern-dress version of Shakespeare's great political chiller is set in Africa and features an all-black cast as well as "live performances of contemporary West African music." BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, bam.org

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney

Performances begin April 30

Playwright Lucas Hnath knows theme parks. Growing up in Orlando, Florida, in the veritable shadow of Disney World, Hnath drank deep from the well of Walt, even attempting to manufacture rides in his backyard. But this new experimental script shows that the man who created the Happiest Place on Earth was one of the angriest and most resentful. For Soho Rep, Sarah Benson directs this elliptical biography that unites Mickey Mouse, King Lear, and murdered lemmings. Soho Rep, 46 Walker Street, sohorep.org

Somewhere Fun

Performances begin May 15

Where has Jenny Schwartz been? Somewhere Fun? Schwartz first appeared on theatergoers' maps in 2008 with God's Ear, a lyrical and occasionally musical meditation on the vagaries of relationships and family. In the aftermath of a tragedy, a husband and wife descended into a kind of absurdist nursery rhyme, as peculiar as it was moving. Now Schwartz reunites with director Anne Kauffman for her reappearance in the Off-Broadway atlas. Somewhere Fun tracks the 35-year friendship of New Yorkers Rosemary and Evelyn after their first meeting in Central Park. Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street, vineyardtheatre.org

The Golden Dragon

Performances begin May 8

Don't be surprised if you find yourself craving pad thai or beef with broccoli as you watch The Play Company's New York premiere of German scribe Roland Schimmelpfennig's play. And don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling sated by the time the drama's done. Schimmel-pfennig practices a spicy variety of magical realism. His latest is a take on globalization set in a Thai-Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant. The menu combines lovers, insects, flight attendants, and the promise of alternate worlds. Director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar serves it up to order. New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher Street, playco.org

Far From Heaven

Performances begin May 8

Composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie achieved a feat in 2006, transforming a documentary about ruins—domestic and personal—into the musical triumph Grey Gardens. Now they've reteamed (with the addition of book writer Richard Greenberg) to adapt Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes's wonderfully melodramatic film about a 1950s housewife who undergoes a social and amorous awakening with the help of her African-American gardener. Kelli O'Hara stars as Cathy Whitaker, a perfectly coiffed homemaker whose life (if not her hair) is disarrayed by revelations of her husband's sexuality. Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, playwrightshorizons.org

City Council Meeting

Performances begin May 9

Let it not be said that writer/performer Aaron Landsman lacks civic pride or a sense of civic duty. With director Mallory Catlett and designer Jim Findlay, he's been attending local municipal assemblies across the country, exploring "the poetry in bureaucracy, the architecture of power, and the comedy of procedure." Now, sponsored by Here, the triumvirate will bring their findings to a variety of locations in which they'll mock up a meeting and invite audience members to participate by watching, listening, reading testimony, and just maybe speaking their own minds. Various locations, here.org

Reasons to Be Happy

Performances begin May 16

Though a breach between playwright Neil LaBute and MCC Theater was recently rumored, the pair seem to be happy together again. How happy? They're celebrating with a sequel to Reasons to Be Pretty, the 2008 LaBute play that transferred to Broadway, about Greg, a slow-to-mature shift worker, and his circle of friends. Although that play ended with the wedding of his ex-girlfriend Steph, as the new one opens, Greg and Steph are attempting to make another go of it anyway. Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street, mcctheater.org

 
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