The best shows to see in New York City this summer including ‘Life of Pi’


The past few months have witnessed a deluge of new performance work across New York City, many of it absolutely wonderful. It’s a decadent time to see theater and dance – from such wildly inventive original musicals as “Here Lies Love” and “Shucked” to moving revivals such as “Parade” and “Sweeney Todd.”

The list below highlights shows that are coming up or have debuted since we did our last list in the winter. You can still see some of our favorites, including “Titanique,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Some Like It Hot,” “Kimberly Akimbo,” “& Juliet,” “Funny Girl” and “Six.”

Some of these productions have limited runs and will end soon, so start planning your summer of theater now. There’s plenty to see.

“Here Lies Love”

Where: Broadway Theatre

When: Begins June 20

A fashionable, striving dictator’s wife becomes a savvy political force in her own right, as chronicled in song. No, this isn’t Evita. It’s the return of “Here Lies Love,” a disco-inflected musical by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about the controversial Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos. It celebrates her bravura while examining a complicated legacy and her knotty relationships with her husband Ferdinand and the politician Ninoy Aquino. The 2013 hit at the Public Theater now comes to a Broadway theater radically redesigned to replicate the experience of a concert. – B.S

“Fat Ham”

Where: American Airlines Theatre

When: Through July 2

Playwright James Ijames won a Pulitzer Prize for daring to imagine a Hamlet that shatters the mold of the character. His “Fat Ham” is not simply groundbreaking because he places the action at a Black American family barbecue – though the setting does make way for feats of brilliance by the cast and set designer. Its revolutionary move is to turn Shakespeare’s misanthrope, who gloomily drags everyone down with him as he waits to die, into someone who wants to live – and let others do the same. The result is a revelatory joy. – C.R.

Life of Pi on Broadway. Publicity photo provided

“Life of Pi”

Where: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

When: Ongoing

Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martell, the staged rendition of “Life of Pi” brings to striking life the fable of a boy and a Bengal tiger lost at sea in a small lifeboat, fighting the elements (and one another) for survival. Told through innovative puppetry and spellbinding projections – sit in the mezzanine for the best view because some of the best visual effects appear on the floor – the Olivier Award-winning London show features some of the best theatrical magic on Broadway right now. – C.R.


Where: Nederlander Theatre

When: Ongoing

This spring, posters of cartoon corn sprouted across New York with hokey puns heralding a Broadway show that no one had heard of and no one wanted to see. Until everyone did. Fertilized by canny marketing, rapturous word-of-mouth and a bushel of Tony nominations, the goofy new musical “Shucked” has grown into a smash, thanks to catchy songs by Nashville hitmakers Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark, a so-stupid-it’s-smart script by Tony-winner Robert Horn, and a barn-burning performance by Tony-winner Alex Newell. – B.S.


Where: The Delacorte Theater in Central Park

When: June 8-Aug. 6

One of New York’s greatest summer experiences is a trip to the outdoor Delacorte Theatre to catch a free performance of Shakespeare in the Park. (Tickets are available by lottery; see here.) A highlight of this season is sure to be “Hamlet,” directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) and starring Ato Blankson-Wood (“Slave Play”) in the title role. Keep your eye out for friendly raccoons that tend to wander onto the stage. – C.R.

“Sweeney Todd”

Where: Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

When: Ongoing

Only Stephen Sondheim could turn a Victorian-era penny dreadful about a murderous barber into a sonically lush, psychologically shrewd modern classic. Only Josh Groban could portray the “demon barber” with such gentle vulnerability. And only Annaleigh Ashford could upstage him with her daffy, desperate take on the lovably sinister purveyor of human pies, Mrs. Lovett. The current Sweeney revival, directed by Hamilton’s Thomas Kail, is physically inventive and as deliciously disturbing as ever. – B.S.


Where: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

When: Ongoing

Director Michael Arden’s Tony-winning revival of composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s “Parade” arrives at exactly the right scale. The real life story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager who was put on trial in Atlanta in 1913 for a murder he didn’t commit, is one that’s both epic and domestic. And Arden’s staging, with its minimal sets and sly visual cues, lets Brown’s music – and stirring performances from Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond – soar unfettered. – C.R.

“Prima Facie”

Where: Golden Theatre

When: Through July 2

Emmy-winner Jodie Comer (a.k.a. Russian assassin Villanelle, in “Killing Eve”) took the West End by storm last year in this one-woman legal thriller about a brash English barrister who prides herself on defending men accused of sexual assault – until she becomes the victim of one and must then grapple with the legal system’s inability to adjudicate such crimes. In her Broadway debut, for which she just won a Tony, Comer delivers a tour de force of fierce intellect, emotional anguish and astounding physical stamina. – B.S.

“Like Water for Chocolate”

Where: Metropolitan Opera House

When: June 22-July 1

American Ballet Theatre interrupts its regularly scheduled parade of classics to present the New York premiere of “Like Water for Chocolate,” based on the beloved 1989 Mexican novel. The magical story about a woman whose emotions literally flavor her food is adapted for the stage by Christopher Wheeldon, the British choreographer known for romanticism and astute storytelling and who conquered Broadway by directing “An American in Paris” and “MJ, the Musical.” – B.S.

“Just for Us”

Where: Hudson Theatre

When: June 22-August 19

After a world tour and a string of sold-out off-Broadway runs, the comedian Alex Edelman brings his one-man show “Just for Us” to Broadway for an eight-week run. The autobiographical work draws on Edelman’s Orthodox Jewish upbringing and infiltration of a White nationalist group, which he recounts with blistering humor. The show joins Tom Stoppard’s epic play “Leopoldstadt” and the revival of Jason Robert Brown’s musical “Parade” in its timely exploration of antisemitism. – B.S.

“Days of Wine and Roses”

Where: Atlantic Theater Company

When: Through July 9

Based on the 1962 film, this world premiere musical follows a couple in 1950s New York as they spiral into alcoholism. Why watch such a downer? Because it boasts theater’s top talent: Broadway darlings Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James star as the tortured pair in a production helmed by Michael Grief (“Rent,” “Dear Evan Hansen”), with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, best known for the sumptuous “A Light in the Piazza,” which will get the “Encores!” treatment this summer at New York City Center. – B.S.

“The Light in the Piazza”

Where: New York City Center

When: June 21-25

Tony Award-winning actor Ruthie Ann Miles (“The King and I”) takes a break from Broadway’s “Sweeney Todd” to star in a brief revival of “The Light in the Piazza,” the lovely and wrenching musical that won six Tonys in 2005. Miles will play Margaret, whose lovelorn daughter Clara unknowingly harbors a heartbreaking secret. This gem – from City Center’s “Encores!” series, in which musicals from the past are resurrected for short, lightly staged runs – has New Yorkers in the know scurrying for tickets. – C.R.



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