Musicals steal the spotlight, but it’s been an uncommonly good season for crowd-pleasing straight plays with queer themes and big stars. Here’s the scoop on five buzzworthy shows that recently opened on the Great White Way.
A Doll’s House, Part 2
Playwright Lucas Hnath audaciously imagines a shrewd, surprisingly funny sequel to Ibsen’s scandalous 1879 masterwork, which ended when Nora Helmer walked out the door like Gloria Gaynor, leaving behind her kids and suffocating spouse. Naturalistic director Sam Gold directs a peerless cast ferociously led by Laurie Metcalf as the polemical protofeminist, who returns home after 15 years and sparks a spirited debate about marriage.
Golden Theatre through July 23.
The Glass Menagerie
Sam Gold also puts his spit-polish on this Tennessee Williams memory play, stripping it to its soul with a radically spare staging that’s illuminated by the pyrotechnic talents of Sally Field as smothering mother Amanda, The Normal Heart’s Joe Mantello as gay-coded narrator Tom, and disabled actress Madison Ferris as sister Laura. And as their gentleman caller, American Horror Story hunk Finn Wittrock is always welcome.
Belasco Theatre through July 2.
Lesbian playwright Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman’s haunting backstage drama exhilaratingly explores the true trajectory of Yiddish play God of Vengeance, which featured Broadway’s first lesbian kiss and was subsequently denounced as obscene in 1923. Katrina Lenk and Adina Verson genuinely shine as lovers among the passionate group of artists who ultimately risked everything to bring the controversial play to life.
Cort Theatre, open-ended.
The Little Foxes
A shady tale of greed and guile set in 1900 Alabama, Lillian Hellman’s 1939 dysfunctional family drama feels timelier than ever, thanks to Manhattan Theatre Club’s stately and scintillating revival. Seasoned pros Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon alternate in the plum roles of an abused alcoholic and her scheming sister-in-law, but their bravura performances make the character-swapping feel more like a gift than a gimmick.
Friedman Theatre through July 2.
Six Degrees of Separation
Significant Other director Trip Cullman helms an attractively assured revival of John Guare’s stinging 1990 satire about white liberal privilege. Allison Janney and John Benjamin Hickey dazzle as a rich Manhattan couple deceived by Paul, a young black scam artist—confidently played by Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins—who has sex with men. James Cusati-Moyer makes an indelible Broadway debut in the buff as a gay hustler.
Barrymore Theatre through July 16.