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New York Theatre May 2021

What to see in New York in May

Here are our top picks of theatre to check out in May 2022.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

The month kicks off with Tony Award nominations on May 9 this year. It's the height of the theatre awards season — now that all this season's Broadway shows have opened ahead of the Tonys ceremony, it's campaign time, so keep an eye out for articles, subway ads, posters, and more featuring the hopeful honorees when you're online or walking around the city. But even though there aren't new Broadway musicals or plays this month, that doesn't mean there's any lack of theatre to see.

You can still catch performances of the Broadway shows that opened in April, as they're still running through May and beyond. There are also plenty of Off-Broadway shows opening anew, so why not check some of those out and go to a theatre you might not otherwise visit? Here are our picks for the Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre to see in May.

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POTUS POTUS played its inaugural performance on April 14, but the women of this show are still running the White House — that is, the Shubert Theatre — through August 14. Seven celebrity actresses play seven women working for a president whose public relations flub snowballs into an international crisis. It's up to those women to clean up his mess and save his career (again), not to mention the nation's foreign relations. The stacked cast features Lilli Cooper, Lea DeLaria, Rachel Dratch, Julianne Hough, Suzy Nakamura, Julie White, and Vanessa Williams. Where else outside D.C. will you see that many stars and get an inside glimpse into the White House all in one place?

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¡Americano! After a record-breaking run in Phoenix, Arizona, the new musical ¡Americano! is making its New York premiere at New World Stages. The show tells the story of Phoenix native Tony Valdovinos, who dreamed all his life of joining the U.S. Marines. On his 18th birthday, however, he discovers that he's an undocumented immigrant and can't enlist — so he pivots his focus to a new dream, a career in politics that allows him to advocate for immigrants like him. This joyful musical is filled with heart, energy, and Latin-inspired music.

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Our Brother's Son After nearly 30 years of being a medical doctor, Charles Gluck retired to become a playwright, so it's fitting that he writes medical dramas. His second play, Our Brother's Son, combines medical drama with family drama, as it centers on a middle-aged man who needs a kidney donation from one of his siblings. The siblings get tested to determine whether they're a match, and the tests reveal a deep family secret that rattles all the siblings. They're suddenly faced with an impossible choice: to protect themselves or to help their sibling in dire need. The show runs at the Pershing Square Signature Center through June 24.

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The Vagrant Trilogy Imagine if you knew how your decisions would affect your life before you made them. The main character of The Vagrant Trilogy doesn't have this psychic ability, but the audience gets to see how a major decision changes his life, no matter what he chooses. The first part of the trilogy sees a Palestinian scholar travel to London to deliver a lecture, only for war to erupt back home. Each of the remaining two parts shows how his life turns out based on what he decides to do next: either stay in London and live as a displaced refugee, or return home amid violence and upheaval. Through both outcomes, The Vagrant Trilogy shows the effects of losing the only home one knows. Mona Mansour's play is at The Public Theater through May 15.

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Fat Ham Hamlet gets a contemporary update in James Ijames's Fat Ham, which sets Shakespeare's classic story of revenge at a Southern cookout. This show is not exactly a direct adaptation — the Hamlet figure is Juicy, a Black, queer college student whose father's ghost asks him to get revenge on his uncle. Juicy, having read Hamlet at school, knows how the story is supposed to go from there. But as a young man fighting for his own liberation, he wonders if his quest has to end in tragedy for all involved, and whether there's another path to justice besides violence. Get ready to devour some juicy drama at Fat Ham, at The Public Theater from May 12 to June 12.

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Exception to the Rule Nobody wants to relive their days sitting in high school detention, but it's worth it at Dave Harris's Exception to the Rule, playing off Broadway at Roundabout Theatre Company through June 26. Set in detention at an inner city high school, the play sees six students chat, flirt, and fight to pass the time. They've been there before, so they have their routine, and they know all the unspoken rules. That is, except Erika, a straight-A student who's there for the first time. Together, they try to devise an escape plan, only to realize that it's much more than the classroom walls that keep them relegated to detention in a school system that wasn't made for them.

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...what the end will be Also at Roundabout, with performances from May 12 to July 10, is ...what the end will be by Mansa Ra. His play concerns three generations of Black, gay men living under the same roof, and they all have a different experience of being Black and gay in their own era. This play sheds light on generational differences and similarities, and the pride and pain that comes with sharing the difficulties of one's experience with one's fathers and sons.

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The Bedwetter Plenty of books are now successful stage shows, like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Wicked, and The Phantom of the Opera. The latest to make the jump is Sarah Silverman's memoir The Bedwetter, which she, playwright Joshua Harmon, and composer/lyricist Adam Schlesinger have adapted into a musical of the same name. A 10-year-old Sarah is the star of the show, in which she reveals all her dirty little secrets. You might guess one just by reading the title. Caissie Levy and Bebe Neuwirth also star in this world premiere at Atlantic Theater Company, which is filled with childlike energy and fun.

Check back for information on The Bedwetter tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

soft Donja R. Love's soft is making its world premiere at MCC Theater, with performances from May 12 to June 19. In Mr. Isaiah's classroom at a correctional boarding school for boys, he tries to "plant flowers" in his students' imaginations and teach them that their softness is a valuable part of them, despite how often the world tells them they must always be hardened and tough. But he suddenly struggles to teach that lesson when one of his students commits suicide.

Check back for information on soft tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

Dreaming Zenzile Following a reading in New Jersey, the new musical Dreaming Zenzile is receiving its world-premiere production at New York Theatre Workshop from May 17 to June 26. Dreaming Zenzile is about the life of Grammy-winning South African musician Miriam Makeba; the show takes its title from her own birth name, Zenzile. At her final concert, her ancestors appear to take her through the memories associated with each song she plays, and the audience goes on that journey with her. The audience at Dreaming Zenzile gets to see Makeba go on a journey of reconciliation with her past as she reaches the end of her career.

Check back for information on Dreaming Zenzile tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

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