Because a person can only sit through the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular so many times.
If you’re spending the holiday season near New York City, get into the spirit with these five crowd-pleasing plays and musicals that recently opened off-Broadway.
Cruel IntentionsJenny Anderson
A jukebox musical adaptation of the 1999 teen flick (a contemporary twist on Les Liaisons Dangereuses) is the perfect excuse to watch beautiful people belt irresistible ’90s pop jams. Constantine Rousouli and Lauren Zakrin lead the sexy cast as the scheming step-sibs, with Alex Boniello and Brian Muller providing boy-bandy comic relief as secret gay lovers. Semi-staged in a table-service club setting, it’s the hot night out you didn’t know you needed.
(le) Poisson Rouge through February 19.
Hundred DaysJoan Marcus
In this urgent and uplifting folk-rock musical memoir by the Bengsons, Shaun and Abigail wholeheartedly unfold how they got married just three weeks after meeting—and how their love was almost clipped before blooming by family baggage and the fear of death. Directed by Anne Kauffman with movement by SYTYCD fave Sonya Tayeh and a cool backup quartet featuring queer performer Jo Lampert, it has a soul that burns like its Edison bulbs.
New York Theater Workshop through December 31.
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls PlayJoan Marcus
Girl world is savage in Jocelyn Bioh’s delicious dramedy, set at an exclusive boarding school in 1986 Ghana. MaameYaa Boafo rules as Paulina, the school’s ruthless Regina George, whose minions revolt following the arrival of a fairer-skinned American beauty who threatens to steal her spot at the Miss Universe pageant. Directed by Indecent’s Rebecca Taichman, it might be the fetchest show you’ll see until the Mean Girls musical hits Broadway in March.
MCC at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through December 31.
Twelfth NightJoan Marcus
Celebrated for finding smart yet unfussy ways to make Shakespeare fresh and accessible, the inventive Fiasco Theater troupe tackles the Bard’s beloved crossdressing comedy, nimbly directed by company members Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld. Emily Young shines as our wide-eyed heroine, Viola, who, shipwrecked on the self-indulgent shores of Illyria, disguises herself as a boy and becomes romantically entangled with both a countess and a duke.
Classic Stage Company through January 6.
Who’s HolidayCarol Rosegg
In gay playwright Matthew Lombardo’s Seussian solo parody, directed by Carl Andress, Lesli Margherita is a hoot as infamous Whoville tyke Cindy Lou Who, now a middle-aged, bong-toking ex-con in a shabby trailer. Addressing her adults-only audience in naughty rhymed verse as she prepares to host a holiday party, Cindy Lou recalls how her life went downhill after that fateful night she met the Grinch. She totally stole my triple-sized heart.
Westside Theatre Upstairs December 31.