Expert Picks

The WSWD Playbill: NYC Theater in December

Our theater and performance experts pick the best onstage events of the month.

Gravity-defying magic; photo by Alexis Buatti-Ramos

Only NYC theater could upstage your family holiday drama. When you’re in need of a break from the dynamics, our theater experts David Cote and Ross Tipograph always have the perfect recommendation. From an intimate immersive show at the McKittrick (no, not Sleep No More) to a production of A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House Museum, here’s where you’ll want to snag a seat this month.

David Cote

One of the most seasoned voices in the NYC theater scene, this member of the New York Drama Critics Circle has previously appeared in the pages of The New York TimesThe Village Voice, and Time Out New York.

Jason Bishop: Believe in Magic, December 1–30
Add a little more magic to your holidays with the international award-winning illusionist, who was the youngest person to win the Magicians’ Alliance of Eastern States Stage Award. His dynamic sleight-of-hand tricks and “close-up” magic are captured live and projected onto LCD screens so you can scrutinize every detail. Some of his routines involve double levitation, plasma illusion, and op art. All this, plus he’s good with one-liners. New Victory Theater, 229 West 42nd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown

new york shows december 2017
Are you a believer?; Photo by Alexis Buatti-Ramos

A Room in India, December 5–20
Attention, fans of global stage artistry! It’s a rare visit by the French theatrical powerhouse Ariane Mnouchkine. The director, whose company, Théâtre du Soleil, develops epic pieces with large international ensembles, returns to the Armory with the story of a touring French theater company stranded in India without a director, “while the world around them falls into disarray.” The 35-member multinational cast will enact an example of Terukkuttu—a traditional form of theater practiced in South India. While our government tries to build walls and expel “illegals,” it feels good to see theater that makes borders vanish. Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue (between East 66th and 67th Streets), Upper East Side

Hanjo, December 7–9
Yukio Mishima was one of the more colorful (and controversial) playwrights of the 20th century. Bisexual, avant-garde, and obsessed with physical fitness, he and his private militia attempted a state coup in 1970, which was mocked by bemused soldiers. Immediately after, Mishima committed ritual suicide (seppuku) and was beheaded by a compatriot. This production is based on a 14th-century Noh play about a 40-year-old spinster painter who becomes obsessed with a beautiful geisha model, who herself is going mad from a faithless lover. The highly physical production by the daring SITI company is directed by Leon Ingulsrud. Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street (between First and Second Avenues), Midtown East

A Regular Little Houdini, December 12–31
Daniel Llewelyn-Williams performs this solo piece, set in the UK during the 1900s. A headstrong dockworker’s son becomes obsessed with Harry Houdini’s jaw-dropping feats and dreams of escaping his impoverished, working-class reality. The narration-heavy monologue is a mix of storytelling and historical presentation, inspired by the magician’s sensational visits to Newport, South Wales, in 1905 and 1913. 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues), Midtown East

A Christmas Carol, November 30–January 31
We all have a favorite cinematic (or animated) adaptation of the Charles Dickens holiday classic, but I suggest turning off the TV and heading out for a unique recitation/impersonation. John Kevin Jones portrays Dickens himself, performing his beloved tale of Scrooge and the Yuletide ghosts in the elegant double parlor of the landmark 1832 Merchant’s House Museum. Surrounded by 19th-century holiday decorations, flickering candles, and fancy period furniture, you can imagine yourself back in 1867, hearing the great author on one of his famous tours. It’s an hour long and based on Dickens’s own script. Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East 4th Street (between Lafayette Street and Cooper Square), Greenwich Village

new york shows december 2017
Taking it back to 1832

Ross Tipograph

Along with appearing inside the pages of The Fader and Time Out New York, this vibrant culture guru created the one-of-a-kind immersive theatrical experience 8Players.

Gemini Stars / Scorpio Stars, December 7–17
Queer and feminist performance group Pioneers Go East Collective presents this coming-out and self-identifying performance. Both dramatic and funny, the show uses multiple forms of storytelling, including YouTube vlogs, live music, live-streaming, and stage monologues. The Downstairs, 66 East 4th Street (between Second Avenue and Bowery), East Village

Leila Buck’s American Dreams & Arabian Nights, December 7 and 8
BRIC brings you into a show that melds “storytelling, dream sequences, music, and movement.” It’s an interactive, exploratory event that tackles the roots of a half-Lebanese woman in love with a Palestinian man. You’ll cross time zones and find your way through fact and fiction. BRIC House Artist Studio, 647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene

All Female Reboot, December 9
A courageous, tongue-in-cheek middle finger to every male movie fanatic who cringed at the idea of an all-female Ghostbusters movie. In this live comedy event, a troupe of female comedians dares you to witness a show taking a stab at remaking mostly male movies. On December 9, they take on Jaws—and I have no doubt who wins. The Creek and the Cave, 10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City

At the Illusionist’s Table, through January 14
An intimate immersive experience has arrived at the McKittrick’s upstairs space. In At the Illusionist’s Table, famed illusionist Scott Silven leads you through courses and drinks, while wowing you with “illusion, mentalism, and storytelling.” The show promises that “mysteries will materialize, and your dreams will be revealed.” Given that it has the McKittrick’s tested stamp of approval, it must be good. McKittrick Hotel, 530 West 27th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Chelsea

new york shows december 2017
Brooding by the candlelight

Our experience advisers can reserve you a seat at any of these limited engagements.