See these new plays and world premieres on Broadway and off Broadway
Catch all-new shows by veteran theatre writers and new playwrights alike.
What do How I Learned to Drive, Lackawanna Blues, and Skeleton Crew have in common? Besides all making their Broadway debuts this year at the same venue, they had their world premieres off Broadway. New Off-Broadway plays regularly showcase limitless risk-taking, creativity, and excellence, and this year is no different. A couple of all-new plays are premiering directly on Broadway this spring, but there are plenty more at Off-Broadway theatres around the city to explore.
Some of this year's new plays share common themes, including intergenerational struggles, changing friendships, and self-discovery that happens inside a classroom. But with each playwright, and respective casts coming from different backgrounds, each story has its own unique perspective to offer. And what many of these stories have in common is a shared interest in the many different ways people can connect with each other and navigate the world together, whatever that looks like for them. Seeing the world through plenty of different playwrights' and characters' eyes is a great case for seeing more than one of these shows in New York!
Read more about the new plays on Broadway or off Broadway for the very first time — you could be part of the first audiences to see them before they potentially move to Broadway or thrive in productions all over the country. Many have limited runs, so don't miss out. If you're looking for even more new theatre to discover, check out our guide to new Off-Broadway musicals premiering this year.
New plays on Broadway
Multiple plays that have never been seen in New York are playing on Broadway this season. You can also catch a long-postponed show that made its Off-Broadway debut nearly four years ago and, after nearly shutting down for good due to the pandemic, is finally getting a full run on the Broadway stage.
Blow out your candles and make a wish for Birthday Candles tickets — or, you can just skip the wishing and buy them here. Playwright Noah Haidle makes his Broadway debut with this show after premiering it in Detroit in 2018, and Debra Messing in the starring role is the icing on the cake. She plays Ernestine Ashworth, who audiences follow from birthday to birthday over more than 80 years (in 90 minutes). As she bakes a single birthday cake the way her mother taught her, she tries to figure out what makes her life worthwhile, and the answer changes at every milestone. Get a taste of this heartfelt play about growing up when it starts up on March 18.
Martin McDonagh's dark comedy play is hanging out at the Golden Theatre from April 2. It's the mid-1960s in Britain, where hanging has just been outlawed. And all the local reporters want to know: What does the executioner think about this? At the town pub, Harry (the executioner) gets swarmed with reporters and pub regulars dying (pun intended) to hear his take on the situation. But amid them all is Mooney, a mysterious stranger from London with an entirely different motive for being there. After winning an Olivier Award for its 2015 world premiere in London and then making its Off-Broadway debut at Atlantic Theater Company, Hangmen played 13 Broadway performances in 2020 before the pandemic shut it down, presumably permanently. Maybe hangmen can't resurrect, but Hangmen sure can.
Motion to go to Studio 54 for a new Tracy Letts play — all in favor? The Pulitzer Prize winner for August: Osage County comes back to Broadway with another small-town drama, this time in the fictional Big Cherry. A town council meeting is underway, and the local government holds tight to certain histories and rules that aren't to be questioned — that is, until a newcomer shows up and does exactly that. Soon, everything the residents cling to unravels, and secrets are revealed. Parking permit debates and small-town gossip have never been so fun to watch. The Minutes is in session from April 2.
New plays off Broadway
The Off-Broadway world is a haven for new plays. Off-Broadway theatres give new playwrights space to experiment with new work in front of small audiences, and that little show you saw off Broadway might soon become the next Broadway hit. Here are the new Off-Broadway plays premiering this year at theatres across the city.
Prayer for the French Republic
Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award winner Joshua Harmon made his mark Off-Broadway with his works Bad Jews, Skintight (starring Idina Menzel), Significant Other, and plenty more, and he's now collaborating with The Band's Visit director David Cromer on an all-new work at New York City Center. Prayer for the French Republic follows one French Jewish family through five generations, all of whom face the same risk of safety as anti-Semitic hate gets passed down, too. The play is 3 hours and 15 minutes long (with two intermissions), so get comfy in your seat — there are decades' worth of history included, after all. But don't let the running time deter you from experiencing this deeply moving story, which plays until February 27.Get Prayer for the French Republic tickets now.
Tambo & Bones
Playwright Dave Harris presents an altogether fresh and incisive take on the show-within-a-show concept. The two title characters of Tambo & Bones discover that they're trapped in a minstrel show, and they devise a plan to escape, get revenge, and take back some of the money that they've thus far been denied, while the show's creators profited off their stories and images. Harris's play holds nothing back as it tests the limits of how Black people can embrace and perform their identity without it being commodified. Tambo & Bones is at Playwrights Horizons through February 27.
Iranian playwright Sanaz Toossi sets her new play inside a singular classroom in Iran, where four adult students can only speak English (hence the title) as they study for the Test of English as a Foreign Language. If you're a fan of languages and/or word puzzles, you'll enjoy how Toossi has her characters play word games and do show-and-tell exercises to prove their mastery over the language. But amid the whimsy, Toossi's play also explores an unexpected complication of learning English: how the students, thinking English would "complete" them, is actually making them feel torn between English and their native language and culture. English is at Atlantic Theater Company from February 4 to March 13.
Go on a sandy journey at sandblasted, 2019 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award winner Charly Evon Simpson's newest show about time, hope, waiting, and healing. Two friends, Angela and Odessa, are searching for something. They don't know what; it might not be real. But they come across Adah, a celebrity-turned-wellness-maven who acts as their guide and perhaps helps them find what they're looking for, or what they never knew they were looking for. sandblasted runs at the Vineyard Theatre from February 6 to March 6.
Exception to the Rule
Dave Harris is having a busy theatre season. After his play Tambo & Bones wraps up at Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout will produce another of his plays: Exception to the Rule, running from April 28 to June 26. This dramedy is set in Room 111 — a detention room — of the worst high school in an inner city, where six Black kids are stuck in detention, including one student who's never been there before. They all pass the time by flirting, chatting, fighting, teasing — and perhaps escaping, since there seems to be no end in sight. Harris riffs on the classic escape-from-detention trope, as that little room that confines the students is a stand-in for much bigger forces that disregard and punish Blackness.
...what the end will be
Three generations of Black, gay men live together in ...what the end will be. Described as "an exploration of pride, pain, and patience through the unflinching eyes of fathers and sons," the play explores what the intersections of these identities mean for each man and his life. Playwright Mansa Ra's (also known as Jiréh Breon Holder) work first appeared on the Roundabout stage in 2017; his other work Too Heavy For Your Pocket premiered with the company's Underground program for emerging writers. From May 12 to July 10, you have a chance to see his mainstage debut with a fully fresh new play about generational bridges and divides.
Though the title suggests otherwise, we're not keeping quiet about Clare Barron's new play, premiering right now! The Pulitzer Prize finalist for Dance Nation is back Off-Broadway directing her newest work, SHHHH, at Atlantic Theater Company until February 13. Barron stars in the show too, playing an ill writer, and Constance Shulman of Orange Is the New Black plays her sister the "Witchy Witch," a postal worker by day. The play is partly set at an anatomy museum, where delicious delights like tea and biscuits exist among the macabre. SHHHH is for anyone looking for a little weird, spooky, and tantalizing all at once.
Meet Sarah and Sandra, two Black women living over a century apart. Sarah is an enslaved woman who becomes a spy for the Union during the Civil War, and Sandra is a highly intelligent private university professor in the 21st century. Despite their differences in lifestyle, education, time period, and more, they find themselves facing many of the same struggles — namely, racial and gender biases that only compound each other. Another of Dominique Morisseau's plays, the story of the present-day working class Black experience Skeleton Crew, is on Broadway through February 20, and right afterward, on February 22, Confederates starts up at the Pershing Square Signature Center. It's impossible to miss her work this season, and you won't want to.
On Sugarland, the latest collaboration between award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris and award-winning director Whitney White, is a ritual, pageant, and play all at once. The Sugarland residents hold fast to their history, however painful — their trailer homes are filled with generations' worth of art and keepsakes, and they call on their dead once a day. The 12-year-old Sadie doesn't know as much about her history as she wishes — namely, any information about her mother — but she's got her own gift for connecting with the dead, and she's determined to use it to call on her matriarchal ancestors and find out more. Catch On Sugarland from February 3 to March 13.
A Case for the Existence of God
Grand philosophical ideas can arise anywhere — even in a small cubicle in Idaho. That is, if the two men in it ever figure out the elusive problem that is what the terms of a particular loan mean. This new play about human resilience has a divine creative team, with Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning Samuel D. Hunter as the playwright and David Cromer, a Tony Award winner for The Band's Visit, as director. And with a name like A Case for the Existence of God, this play is guaranteed to leave you thinking long after you exit the Pershing Square Signature Center. The play is running from April 12 - May 15.
Wish You Were Here
If you see English in February and crave even more of Sanaz Toossi's work, you're in luck — the live premiere of her play Wish You Were Here is at Playwrights Horizons from April 13 to May 22. Wish You Were Here was intended to premiere at the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival, but was ultimately released as a radio play when the in-person festival was canceled. Now, this story comes to the stage for the very first time. Wish You Were Here is the story of a circle of close girlfriends in 1978 Iran, whose friend group is flung apart as the Iranian Revolution is beginning. Whether each friend decides to emigrate or stay, they face a fraught search for normalcy and a stable home.
Take a break from your mystery novel or true crime podcast and get just as hooked on Sandra, a new one-woman thriller show. The titular character's best friend went on a trip to Mexico and never came back, so Sandra sets out to discover what happened. Her quest turns both romantic, as she falls into a love affair, and dangerous, as she starts to uncover what foul play might be afoot. Playwright David Cale and director Leigh Silverman earned a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show for their last collaboration, 2018's Harry Clarke, so Sandra is poised to be a successful debut as well — that's no mystery.
Here She Is, Boys
Theatre kids, this one's for all of you who've ever stood outside a stage door to meet a star, including NYC locals who usually avoid the tourist crowd. (The play's description has a "Beware of Tourists" warning, but non-NYC residents, don't let that deter you.) Stagedooring is exactly what Jeff and Judy are doing in Here She Is, Boys — the two friends are hoping to meet Idina Menzel after a performance of If/Then in 2015. They've been friends for decades, but the conversation they have while they wait alters their long-standing relationship for good — sorry, wrong Idina musical reference. Here She Is, Boys begins performances in April, with dates to be announced.
To My Girls
Speaking of friendships that change, JC Lee deals with that topic in To My Girls, albeit in a very different setting: a post-pandemic Palm Springs. A group of gay men all get away to the beach town together in order to catch up and have some fun after a long, dreary period of isolation and gloom. But a much-needed drink (or multiple) ends up helping unexpected truths slip, and the friends realize that how much the world and each other have changed. Can their friendship survive their vacation? You'll have to take your own trip to the Tony Kiser Theater between March 15 and April 24 to know.