What to see in New York in October

Check out our guide to must-see Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre in October 2021.

The Phantom of the Opera

Fall is underway and it's time to fall in love with some new theatre — or fall in love with your favorite shows all over again. All three Tony nominees for Best Musical are back on Broadway this month along with other highly anticipated returns, such as that of The Phantom of the Opera and Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, once again featuring Jeff Daniels and Celia Keenan-Bolger.

You can also catch new shows like the comedy Chicken & Biscuits or the thrillers Is This A Room and Dana H. Off Broadway, there is an equally diverse selection of theatre to discover, from the Shakespeare/fairy tale mashup Fairycakes to Sleep Hollow the Musical, perfect for the Halloween season. Check out our list of theatre to see in October 2021.

Returning Broadway Shows

All three Tony Award-nominated musicals from the 2020 Tony Awards are back open in October 2021: Best Musical winner Moulin Rouge! The Musical (which resumed performances in late September), as well as Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and Jagged Little Pill. This season also includes the return of events like Freestyle Love Supreme, the improvisational brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda where you can help create the show as it goes along.

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

The life of the titular rock 'n' roll icon is brought to rollicking life in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. From humble beginnings as a Tennessee church singer, Turner would go on to become a music industry trailblazer. Turner herself gave creative input to the show's choreography and characters, making Tina a certified hit in which Turner's energy and iconic sound shine through. Adrienne Warren took home the Tony for her performace as Tina, and she'll resume her star turn(er) in the role from October 8 through October 31.

Jagged Little Pill

Yet another Tony winner, Jagged Little Pill took home two awards at this year's ceremony, living up to the legacy of the five-time Grammy Award-winning album the musical borrows its title from. Alanis Morissette's hit songs including "Ironic," "You Learn," and "You Oughta Know" all feature in an original story (one of the show's Tonys was for Diablo Cody's book). Behind a veneer of perfection, the members of suburban Healy family are grappling with mental illness, addiction, and comfortability in their race and sexuality in a world that doesn't always make it easy. The musical restarts performances October 21.

Get Jagged Little Pill tickets now.

To Kill a Mockingbird

All rise and head to the Shubert Theatre for To Kill a Mockingbird, reopening October 5. Original cast members Jeff Daniels and Tony winner Celia Keenan-Bolger return to their roles as Atticus Finch and Scout Finch, respectively, in Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's classic novel. Atticus Finch remains a symbol of morality in the American literary canon, as a lawyer who defends an innocent Black man in court in pre-Civil Rights Movement Alabama.

Get To Kill a Mockingbird tickets now.

Freestyle Love Supreme

Lin-Manuel Miranda's improv hip-hop troupe is returning to Broadway on October 7 with its special Tony Award-winning show. The group takes audience suggestions for topics that form the basis of hip-hop, improvisational theatre, and musical performances, backed by a live keyboardist and beatboxers. Miranda himself is not one of the six full-time troupe members that perform every night, but he and other special guests have been known to pop up at random performances — you never know who you might see the night you go.

Get Freestyle Love Supreme tickets now.

Girl From the North Country

Besides Tina Turner, The Temptations, and Alanis Morissette, joining the ranks of musical icons on Broadway is Bob Dylan with Girl From the North Country, reopening October 13. Set in Dylan's hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, the show uses his music as the bedrock of an original story about a family who operates an inn there. It's the Great Depression, and spirits and finances are low, but the family and their guests all seek hope in each other as their worlds collide. Dylan's songs are arranged as both rousing group numbers and solos, underscored by music from 1930s instruments played live on stage.

Get Girl From the North Country tickets now.

Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations

Get ready for the return of The Temptations' music to Broadway on October 16. The cornerstone group of the Motown record label built an illustrious career that ultimately landed them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it wasn't an easy journey. Audiences will get a glimpse into the ups and downs of their career, including the internal conflicts that threatened to break the group apart, while rocking along to The Temptations' classic tunes such as "My Girl," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and "Cloud Nine."

Get Ain't Too Proud tickets now.

The Phantom of the Opera

The haunting tale of The Phantom of the Opera is back just in time for Halloween. The dark romance between the opera singer Christine Daaé and the titular Phantom, a disfigured man who lives in the Paris Opera's underground, has drawn audiences to the Majestic Theatre for more than 30 years. The Phantom of the Opera holds the record as the longest-running musical in Broadway history, and beginning October 22, the Phantom is once again there inside your mind — and your theatre.

Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.

New Broadway Shows and Off-Broadway Shows

With dozens of theatre openings in the coming months, it seems as though there are world premieres and Broadway premieres happening nearly every day. There's no shortage of new theatre to discover, with such diverse offerings as the musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire, the Broadway premiere of Thoughts of a Colored Man, and Off-Broadway plays from Wallace Shawn and Sarah Rose Kearns, adapting a Jane Austen novel. Check out all the new Broadway shows and Off-Broadway shows opening in New York this month.

Chicken & Biscuits

Norm Lewis and Michael Urie are among the stars of this hot and fresh Broadway comedy, which began performances in September. Douglas Lyons has cooked up a play centered on Beanetta Jenkins, who just wants to coordinate a smooth and perfect funeral for her late father. However, the rest of the Jenkins family doesn't make that easy — one relative flouts the dress code, one is a gossip, and one has his new boyfriend in tow for the first time. Notably, Zhailon Levingston, who directs the play, is the youngest Black director on Broadway in its history.

Get Chicken & Biscuits tickets now.

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Kenan Scott II provides a look into the hearts, minds, and lives of seven Black men in Brooklyn in Thoughts of a Colored Man. These men tell their stories onstage through a mix of slam poetry, spoken word, music, and dance, and in the course of one day, their lives intersect with each other's in various ways. With this production, beginning performances October 1, Scott and director Steve H. Broadnax II are making their Broadway debuts.

Get Thoughts of a Colored Man tickets now.

Dana H.

Lucas Hnath's Dana H., a real-life thriller, is playing Broadway from October 1. The play utilizes a recording of Hnath's mother, Dana Higginbotham, recounting her five-month stint in captivity after being kidnapped by a patient at the psych ward where she was employed. The recording is lip-synced and acted out by Deirdre O'Connell, making Dana H. a one-woman show told by two women. The play is being presented in repertory with Tina Satter's Is This A Room, which began performances in September. Like Dana H., Is This A Room premiered in Vineyard Theatre's 2019-2020 season before transferring to Broadway.

Get Dana H. tickets now.

Caroline, or Change

Sharon D. Clarke reprises her Olivier Award-winning performance as Caroline beginning October 8. Tony Kusher and Jeanine Tesori's musical includes an eclectic blend of folk, klezmer, gospel, blues, and Motown music in its score, reflecting the collision between a Jewish and a Black family in the show's plot. The titular Caroline works as a maid for the Gellmans, a wealthy Jewish family. The family's young boy, Noah Gellman, begins leaving change in his pockets for Caroline, and she hopes the money will be the start of a better life for her and her daughter. What begins as a selfless gesture, however, soon changes the relationship between Caroline and Noah and becomes a parable on greed.

Get Caroline, or Change tickets now.

Mrs. Doubtfire

The Hillards are on the way, dears, and will arrive on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on October 21. The new musical adaptation of the 1993 film retains the original storyline: Daniel Hillard, separated from his wife but still longing to see his kids, puts on an elderly woman's disguise and takes a job as their nanny to spend time with them. Rob McClure now stars in the role made famous by Robin Williams. Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, who also penned the 2015 show Something Rotten!, are back in musical comedy territory with Mrs. Doubtfire.

Get Mrs. Doubtfire tickets now.

Sleepy Hollow the Musical

The spooky month of October is the perfect time to venture into the Hollow — just don't let the Headless Horseman find you. As the legend goes, Ichabod Crane wandered into the Hollow 200 years ago and was never seen again. In the musical, Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel seek to unravel this mystery, and their journey is set to haunting melodies befitting of the ghostly town.

Get Sleepy Hollow the Musical tickets now.

Persuasion

Jane Austen's classic novel comes to life at the Connelly Theater. Anne Elliot broke off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a man of lower social standing, at a family friend's urging. Eight years later, he's become a respected war hero, and the former couple attempt to rekindle their love amid lingering unease about the way their engagement ended. Bedlam, the theatre company that previously adapted Sense and Sensibility for the stage, makes Austen's story overtly comic, with the characters navigating Regency-era social pressures to varying degrees of success. 

Get Persuasion tickets now.

Audible Theater: The Fever and And So We Walked

Audible Theater is mounting two productions at the Minetta Lane Theatre in October. The first is Wallace Shawn's 1990 play The Fever, about an American woman who is made to reckon with her own privilege when she visits a war-torn country. In addition to The Fever, which plays from October 8-24, Audible Theater will also present And So We Walked from October 28-30. DeLanna Studi shares the autobiographical story of her journey on the Trail of Tears, a trip she took with her father to better understand her family's identity and the Cherokee experience.

Get The Fever tickets and And So We Walked tickets now.

Fairycakes

An all-star cast including Julie Halston, Jackie Hoffman, Mo Rocca, Arnie Burton, Ann Harada, and more has come together for Douglas Carter Beane's Fairycakes beginning October 14. As eclectic as the cast itself is the variety of people they play, including Shakespeare characters and characters from classic fairytales. They meet in a magical forest and, as has been known to happen in both Shakespeare and fairytales, enemies become lovers and magic proves itself real.

Get Fairycakes tickets now.

The Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera is poised for a historic season. When the season began September 27 with Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up in My Bones, it marked the first opera by a Black composer to ever play the storied venue. Operas with performances in October include Met repertoire staples Turandot and La Bohème; Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, last performed seven years ago; Mussorgsky’s masterwork Boris Godunov, and the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which broke Met box office records when the opera premiered in the 2019-2020 season.

Get Turandot tickets, Boris Godunov tickets, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg tickets, La Bohème tickets, and Porgy and Bess tickets now. Fire Shut Up in My Bones tickets will be available on New York Theatre Guide soon.