What to See and Experience Live in New York This Spring
‘CYRANO DE BERGERAC’ There is no shortage of variations on Edmond Rostand’s 19th-century play “Cyrano de Bergerac,” in which the brilliant but big-nosed Cyrano writes beautiful love poems that his handsome but — let’s say, less brilliant — comrade Christian passes off for his own to impress Roxane, a woman whom Cyrano himself loves. Next up is the Jamie Lloyd Company’s “Cyrano de Bergerac,” adapted by Martin Crimp and directed by Lloyd, which will come to Brooklyn from a critically acclaimed run in London. It’s a slick, modern version, with Cyrano using rap and spoken word as his means of seduction. Starring as Cyrano is James McAvoy, who often seems to alter his very foundations—his voice and mannerisms, his energy, his whole physical presence—for a role. MAYA PHILLIPS
Previews begin April 5; opens April 14 at the Harvey Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music.
‘A CASE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD’ Samuel D. Hunter has built a rich oeuvre from fertile ground: the Idaho landscapes of his youth. His deceptively quiet plays (“Lewiston/ Clarkston,” “A Bright New Boise,” “Greater Clements”) explores faith, desire, sex and loss, in dialogue attuned to the rhythms of ordinary speech. The MacArthur Foundation acknowledged his ability to create “dramas that explore the human capacity for empathy and confront the socially isolating aspects of contemporary life across the American landscape.” This new play, directed by David Cromer, is again set in Idaho — and is perhaps the most intimate he has written. It has just two characters, men working to understand what the world does and doesn’t owe them. Though Hunter often prefers characters on what he calls “the losing end of American life,” he has promised that this new play is hopeful. ALEXIS SOLOSKI
Previews begin April 12; opens May 2 at Signature Theater, Manhattan.
‘WISH YOU WERE HERE’ The vagaries of postponements and rescheduling now give us two nearly simultaneous opportunities to discover the world of Sanaz Toossi, a young first-generation Iranian American playwright from Orange County, Calif. Hot on the heels of “English” (at the Atlantic Theater Company), which looks at a small group of Iranians preparing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, “Wish You Were Here” follows five young women in Karaj, a suburb of Tehran. (The actress Marjan Neshat appears in both shows.) They are about 20 when the play begins, in 1978, and we stay with them until 1991 as they navigate not only their friendship, but also their sense of home and belonging. A revolution is unfolding, followed by war with Iraq; life-changing decisions must be made. Toossi reunites with Gaye Taylor Upchurch, who directed last year’s audio version from the Williamsburg Theater Festival and Audible. ELISABETH VINCENTELLI
Previews begin April 13; opens May 2 at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan.
‘WEDDING BAND’ Alice Childress was a force to be reckoned with in the theater, even if she didn’t always get her due. After all, she would have been the first Black female playwright on Broadway if she hadn’t refused to compromise on her work. That would-be first was her play “Trouble in Mind,” which finally premiered on Broadway last fall. How fortunate we are to get her follow-up to “Trouble,” “Wedding Band,” a rarely produced play about an illicit interracial relationship in the South during World War I. Awoye Timpo directs this, only the second New York production, with modern race politics — including the Black Lives Matter movement — as the trouble in mind. MAYA PHILLIPS
Previews begin April 23; opens May 1 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Theater for a New Audience, Brooklyn.
‘THE BEDWETTER’ Sorry, “Urinetown,” you’re not the only musical about a certain bodily function anymore. Subtitled “Stories of Redemption, Courage, and Pee” Sarah Silverman’s 2010 memoir is frank, vulnerable and, of course, brutally funny. Chances are good these qualities will be present in this musical adaptation, since Silverman herself wrote the book with the playwright Joshua Harmon (“Prayer for the French Republic”), as well as the lyrics, with the composer Adam Schlesinger. The show is bound to be bittersweet: Schlesinger, who is best known for his scores for Broadway’s “Cry-Baby” and the TV series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” died of coronavirus complications in April 2020, around the time “The Bedwetter” was originally scheduled to premiere. ELISABETH VINCENTELLI
Previews begin April 30; opens May 23 at the Linda Gross Theater, Atlantic Theater Company.