With Broadway premieres on pause before a spring bonanza that includes star-studded revivals of Angels in America and The Boys in the Band, the off-Broadway scene is brimming with bold and buzzworthy new works.
Get the scoop on five LGBT-inclusive shows that recently opened for limited runs.
America Is Hard to SeeT. Charles Erickson
Based on interviews with real people, Life Jacket Theatre Company’s admirable musical is set in Miracle Village, a Florida community for convicted sex offenders. The miracle here is how it makes us care. A standout in this uncomfortable story of rehabilitation and redemption, Ken Barnett kindles the most compassion as Chad, a former choir director who “flunked out of gay rehab” after an inappropriate relationship with a male student.
HERE Arts Center through February 24.
One Year Lease serves a winning complement to Battle of the Sexes with its shot-by-shot reimagining of the historic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Ellen Tamaki anchors the innovative ensemble’s dizzying spectacle as King, lobbed between her husband and secret girlfriend, but the high-energy fight for equality bounces into the sidelines, where spectators express disgust for our feminist heroine’s sexuality.
59E59 Theaters through February 25.
Draw the CircleRuss Rowland
We don’t hear from Mashuq Mushtaq Deen in his quietly affecting autobiographical solo show. Instead, we follow his gender transition through friends and family—including a struggling girlfriend and Muslim Indian immigrant parents—as portrayed by the likable writer-performer. Simply staged by Chay Yew with a spotlight on persistent anti-trans violence, it’s a potent reminder that the loved ones of trans people must also evolve.
Rattlestick Theater through February 18.
Fire and AirJoan Marcus
As engagingly erudite as ever, playwright Terrence McNally clearly relishes teaching audiences about Ballets Russes, the revolutionary dance company that ruled from 1909 to 1929. Despite no dancing and John Doyle’s humdrum direction, the bio-drama still dazzles with Douglas Hodge as Diaghilev, the petulant impresario obsessed with beautiful protégé-lovers Nijinsky (James Cusati-Moyer) and Massine (Jay Armstrong Johnson).
Classic Stage Company through March 2.
Toe PickPeter Yesley
Because I, Tonya only tells half the story. In Zackary Grady’s endlessly inventive and skate blade-sharp comedy, entirely transcribed from actual events surrounding the 1994 Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal, a gold medal-worthy cast channels more than 30 characters from Scott Hamilton to Surya Bonaly. With Grady and Preston Martin in drag as Harding and Kerrigan, it’ll whack you in the funny bone until you scream, “Why not?!”
Dixon Place through February 24.