The 10 best shows to see in New York City this summer

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Poster for the musical Come From Away Photo: Twitter @Wecomefromaway

Throughout the summer, many of New York’s iconic stages sit empty. Dance companies and orchestras are traveling, and the opera takes a break before rumbling into its fall season.

But this year, many tourists will be coming to the city for the first time in years – or ever – and I don’t want them to fear: There is plenty of incredible theater to witness. As Bloomberg’s lifestyle and culture editor, I spend all year seeing shows across the city, and I am thrilled to recommend each of these dynamite productions, all of which will be on view at various times through Labor Day.

Join the audience of as many of these as you can – the theaters are air-conditioned! (And be sure to check mask policies. New York lifted its indoor performance mask mandate starting in July 2022, so the rules are not consistent across all productions.)

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Into the Woods

Where: St. James Theatre

When: Through Aug. 21

This stripped-down version of Stephen Sondheim’s dark fairy tale mashup ran for two weeks at City Center and was such a smash, it moved to Broadway. Who needs elaborate sets when you have a constellation of stars to fill the stage, including Phillipa Soo, Brian d’Arcy James, Joshua Henry, Gavin Creel and Patina Miller? Despite all that wattage, the show – and hearts – belongs to the wonderful Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife.

Titaníque

Where: Asylum NYC

When: Through Sept. 25

What if Celine Dion didn’t just sing the song for the movie Titanic? What if she was a player in the story? This is but one of the wild possibilities this unhinged production explores, mashing together Dion’s music, elements from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and a cacophony of other unexpected pop culture references. The biggest surprise in this madcap musical, however, is the lovely singing – particularly by Dion herself, played with a lunatic’s precision by Marla Mindelle.

A Strange Loop

Where: Lyceum Theatre

When: Ongoing

Critics cannot say enough about this stirring musical by Michael R. Jackson, the spiraling, seismic saga of a young Black queer artist writing a musical about a young Black queer artist writing a musical. It’s won the Pulitzer Prize, the 2022 Tony Awards for best musical and best book of a musical and plenty of other awards. But prizes and critical acclaim can’t quite capture how this sweet, sorrowful and triumphantly original work will make you feel.

Six

Where: Brooks Atkinson Theatre

When: Ongoing

Six, a joyously energetic pop concert about the six wives of King Henry VIII, is a perfect piece of entertainment. Its 90-minute run length ensures no notes are wasted, and none of the jokes are flabby. In fact, the only overweight wasteoid in the all-woman show is Henry himself, who never appears onstage and whom the women, after telling their own tragicomic stories through soaring songs, eventually learn to rise above. Do not miss these six.

Momix’s Alice

Where: The Joyce Theater

When: July 6-24

Perplexing, preposterous physical performance is the hallmark of the Connecticut-based Momix dance troupe, which is bringing a new production of the Alice in Wonderland story to Chelsea’s Joyce Theater. Momix is a perpetual audience favorite at the Joyce, and the production will offer plenty of awe and “aww”s for adults and kids alike.

Fela! The Concert

Where: Queens Theatre

When: July 16

I hadn’t known anything about Fela Kuti, the Nigerian singer and activist who helped popularize Afrobeat music around the world, until I saw the Broadway production of Fela! in 2009. But the show – and its politics and music – is one that jumps straight into your bones, with call-and-response rhythms, frenzied drumbeats, howling saxophone and guitar, and audience members dancing in the aisles. It’s back with some of the original cast, for a one-night concert at the Queens Theatre.

As You Like It

Where: Shakespeare in the Park

When: Aug. 10-Sept. 11

On a beautiful summer night, there is probably no greater experience than sitting at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as the sun goes down and the raccoons wander across the stage. This year the Public Theater’s beloved 2017 Public Works production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It will return to this marvelous setting, featuring music and lyrics by Suffs writer Shaina Taub, and a cast that includes professional actors and a merry brigade of amateur performers.

Wired by Kinetic Light

Where: The Shed

When: Aug. 25-27

The only troupe in this list that I haven’t seen perform is Kinetic Light, an arts ensemble of dancers with disabilities who will be bringing Wired to the Shed in late August. The program, which opened in Chicago, features the three members in wheelchairs as they fly through the air and spin across the floor, traced and encircled with light and barbed wire. After hearing the buzz about how it pushed boundaries and perceptions during its prior Chicago run, I can’t wait to see this.

Little Shop of Horrors

Where: Westside Theatre Upstairs

When: Ongoing

This plucky off-Broadway production has enjoyed an enviable string of Seymours – including Jonathan Groff, Jeremy Jordan, Gideon Glick, Conrad Ricamora, Skylar Astin – but that’s not the only reason Little Shop is still a must-see. Christian Borle is doing the work of 10 men as the dentist, and Tammy Blanchard and the urchins bring hilarious, slightly tweaked-out soul to the bizarre story. When I die, please sing Skid Row (Downtown) at my funeral, thanks.

Come From Away

Where: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

When: Through Oct. 2

Since it opened in 2017, the Canadian musical Come From Away has been a crowd-pleaser, with its rousing shanty songs and message of welcome. Centered on the tragedy of Sept. 11, the show nonetheless trumpets tolerance, generosity, hope, and faith in humanity. It will close this fall, and for much of summer, Tony nominee Jen Collela has returned to perform the role she originated. If you haven’t seen it, catch it before it ends. I suggest you bring your family. And tissues.

 

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