With so many major openings on Broadway behind us — Network ... Mockingbird ... Cher! — this is a good moment check out some intriguing Off-Broadway openings. Note that the dates here refer to the entire run, from first preview to closing performance.
♦ The Jungle, through Jan. 27. Following rave reviews in London (a co-production with the National Theatre and the Young Vic), The Jungle takes up residence in Brooklyn at St. Ann’s Warehouse, 45 Water St. The title refers to a refugee camp in northern France where people try, against huge odds, to build a successful community.
♦ Waiting for Godot (in Yiddish with English surtitles), extended through Jan. 27. Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, perhaps the most influential play of the 20th century, is presented in Yiddish with English surtitles. Which seems fitting, in an existential sense. What, finally, can you say to the cosmos other than oy vey? Presented by New Yiddish Rep at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th St.
There’s also a production in the wings of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (with English and Russian surtitles) presented by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. It opens Feb. 11 at Stage 42 (422 W. 42nd St., formerly the Little Shubert) after a successful run that just ended at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Directed by Joel Grey.
♦ Maestro, through Feb. 9. John Noble, the man with the amazing basso profundo voice who plays Denethor in Lord of the Rings and Sherlock’s father in Elementary, here plays Arturo Toscanini in a play with music — violins, viola, cello, piano, and trumpet — that follows the events of the legendary conductor’s life as he confronts fascism, refusing to perform in Germany or Italy. Presented by the Ensemble for the Romantic Century at the Duke Theatre, 229 W. 42nd St
♦ LaBute New Theater Festival, Jan 10-27. Playwright Neil LaBute, famous for enraging audiences, actors, and theater companies, will direct the world premiere of one of his three new one-acts, Unlikely Japan, starring Gia Crovatin (Billions). Also on the program, at the Davenport Theatre (354 W. 45th St.), is the world premiere of Great Negro Works of Art, and, in its New York premiere, The Fourth Reich. Brace yourselves.
♦ Merrily We Roll Along, Jan. 12-April 7. Fiasco Theatre Company at Roundabout offers this one for Stephen Sondheim fans (and we are legion). The subject of this show is show business and three old friends’ bumpy/grumpy friendship. Merrily is a musical with a checkered past. Since its premiere in 1981, which was a Broadway flop, there followed revision after revision, major production after major production. Its return to NYC is reason to rejoice. Playing at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St.
♦ Mies Julie, Jan. 15-March 10. That title is not a typo. It’s the South African spelling of August Strindberg’s famous title. Classic Stage Company’s adaptation by Yael Farber presents the private, fierce gender battle as a fierce racial battle in the highly charged arena of post-apartheid South Africa. Not recommended for children under 18.
This is half of CSC’s Strindberg repertory program, with The Dance of Death (Jan. 17–March 10) in a new version by Conor McPherson. It’s another ferocious, sexy gender battle, which in Strindberg is always a battle to the death. Both plays are at the Lynn F. Angelson Theater, 136 E. 13th St.
♦ Joan, Jan. 19-Feb. 16. Stephen Belber’s new play is about the life of a woman named Joan. Not much more information provided, but OK, be like that. Johanna Day stars at the Here Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave.
♦ By the Way, Meet Vera Sark, Jan. 29-March 3. Lynn Nottage’s residency at the Signature Theatre, 480 W. 42nd St., continues with this satire about race and the movie industry. This show should make a perfect companion piece to the current Nottage show at the Signature (through Jan. 13), Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, another satire about an ambitious young woman.
♦ The Sean O’Casey Season, Jan. 30-May 25. Irish Repertory Theatre’s ambitious 30th-anniversary season celebrates O’Casey by offering his Dublin trilogy in rep: The Shadow of a Gunman, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars. Adding to the dramatic festivities will be free readings of all of O’Casey’s other plays. The theater is at 132 W. 22nd St.
Equity strike targets “labs”
On Monday afternoon, the labor union representing theatrical performers announced a strike by its members against participation in developmental “labs” with Broadway’s commercial producers.
Actors' Equity declared the strike Monday after negotiations with the producer-led Broadway League failed to increase minimum salaries for such labs — where actors and writers test material for shows — or to secure a share of profits for lab participants.
Labs have been used to create blockbusters like The Cher Show, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hello, Dolly!, and Waitress, but the shows themselves are not targets of the strike. None of the Off-Broadway productions listed above are affected.