The theater scene in New York City is a constantly shifting poker table of joy and sorrow. Actors, writers, and directors stake their hopes and dreams (and salaries) on productions whose ultimate success rests on the arbitrary utterance of critics, while the rest of us just watch on the sidelines. I will now attempt to give a brief and in no way complete assessment of the shows that might be worth seeing this summer in New York.
Musicals are, as always, abundant on Broadway. Yes, Hamilton is great, but you probably cannot go see it. Fun Home is also fantastic. It is an extremely original musical, and for anyone who is interested in the study of theater, I would recommend it for the incredible way in which it combines a family tragedy with a musical. Bright Star and An American in Paris are both well-received, but I cannot personally vouch for them. Fiddler on the Roof is a great musical, to be sure, but I’ve heard that this production is a little lack-luster.
There are quite few plays on Broadway worth seeing right now, and I think this is in part due to Hamilton scaring musicals away from opening. Eclipsed, a play about women taken as captives during the Liberian Civil War, has received great reviews, and everyone I’ve talked to seems to feel the same as the critics. Eclipsed is also notable for being the first Broadway play with a cast and crew of all black women. The Humans, which critics have also lauded, is a family tragedy, but it manages to infuse a great deal of humor into the despair. The two Arthur Miller plays on Broadway, The Crucible and A View from the Bridge, are both excellent productions and classics of American theater. The production of Long Day's Journey into Night is fantastic (I disagree with the critics), but comes with a disclaimer: the show runs for three and a half hours of immense despair. You will have to trust that it really is a fantastic play.
Unfortunately, in terms of Off-Broadway plays, many of the best productions this season seemed to have passed on, but I still have a few recommendations. Oslo is a play coming to Lincoln Center, which I recommend not only because my dad will be in it, but also because it deals with an interesting subject: the Oslo peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Shakespeare in the Park is always worth seeing since it is Shakespeare and free. The plays for this year are an all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew and Trolius and Cressida, two of the Bard’s more difficult and obscure plays, but still worth seeing. There are, of course, many more shows than I can list here, but hopefully I have provided you with a few ideas.