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Tour the city with these Broadway shows set in New York

From Hamilton to Funny Girl to New York, New York, these shows aren't just performed here — they tell real and fictional stories of NYC past and present.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

If you can make theatre there, you can make it anywhere. There’s a story on every corner in New York, so it’s hardly a surprise that this multifaceted, multicultural metropolis is the setting for so many plays and musicals. That’s always been the case. Tales of New York as diverse as the city itself and can be found in everything from Wonderful Town to Hair to In the Heights.

And the New York City shows keep on coming. Kander and Ebb’s New York, New York is the latest Broadway show that unfolds on the streets of NYC. The musical announces its location right there in the title: a town so nice (and flowing with creative juice), they named it twice.

New York, New York joins a host of other current and upcoming shows with the same address. Together, they paint a diverse portrait of New York past and present. Read on to discover all the New York-set shows you can see now, and then come on, come through to see them in the city where they belong.

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New York, New York

NYC was abuzz with optimism and opportunities after World War II – a fitting setting for a story about young people looking to make their mark. Loosely based on the 1977 Martin Scorsese film about a pair of aspiring performers, the show features a new story by David Thompson and Sharon Washington that expands the field of characters.

The show does, however, preserve John Kander and Fred Ebb hits from the film, including the famous title tune and “And the World Goes Round.” New songs by Kander and Lin-Manuel Miranda also appear in the show.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical covers the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s Founding Father who gazes at you from $10 bills. Early on, the show celebrates NYC as Hamilton’s future wife, Eliza Schuyler, steps on stage with her sisters. They sing, “History is happening in Manhattan, and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world.”

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Funny Girl

NYC is the center of the showbiz galaxy, which sets the scene for this rags-to-riches-to-reach-for-tissues story of vaudeville star Fanny Brice, a role originated by Barbra Streisand in 1964 and now played by Lea Michele.

The show by Jule Styne (music), Bob Merrill (lyrics), and Isobel Lennart, whose book has been revised by Harvey Fierstein, unfolds in and around New York before and after World War I. We follow Fanny from humble roots to her rise as a queen of the Ziegfeld Follies to brief marital bliss. Like Brice’s life, her city bursts with wall-to-wall drama.

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A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical

This bio-musical about pop superstar Neil Diamond weaves in more than 25 tunes from his catalog – and New York City is all over them. “Well, I’m New York City born and raised,” an older Diamond, played by Mark Jacoby, sings while performing “I Am... I Said.”

We see a young Diamond, played by Will Swenson, recall writing songs as a 15-year-old kid in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Later, he breaks through at the Bitter End music club in the West Village.

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The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window

Lorraine Hansberry's lesser-known work, starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan through July 2, is rooted firmly in Greenwich Village. The entire show takes place in a 1960s apartment there, following a couple whose marriage crumbles under the weight of their political ideals. There are also references to other neighborhoods — the title character's sister-in-law is from upscale uptown — but the Village is most prominent, as it's where Hansberry and her own husband once lived and engaged in political activism.

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Good Night, Oscar

The television industry has deep roots in NYC, and that figures significantly in this play by Doug Wright starring Sean Hayes. The action takes place in 1958, when pianist and author Oscar Levant first appeared on Tonight Starring Jack Paar. (The play retools it as the first night Paar's broadcast went live from L.A. instead of NYC.)

Levant’s sharp wit and unfiltered take on his personal issues made him magnetic to audiences. He also had his own strong connection to Broadway: He conducted orchestras, wrote music for various shows, and was a close friend of iconic Broadway composer George Gershwin.

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Merrily We Roll Along

Big city, big dreamers. Three New York artists with grand plans for the future form the core of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s 1981 bittersweet musical, returning to Broadway for the first time beginning September 19. Told in reverse order, the show begins in mid-1970s Los Angeles and rewinds two decades, when Frank (Jonathan Groff), Charley (Daniel Radcliffe), and Mary (Lindsay Mendez) meet. They envision the future while on an NYC apartment building rooftop — before their ambitions and friendship fall apart.

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Anthony Rapp's Without You

Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Rent is a New York musical through and through. That show tells the story of bohemian East Village artists living through the AIDS crisis, and it began at New York Theatre Workshop in the same neighborhood before going to Broadway and across the globe.

Anthony Rapp, who originated Rent's role of aspiring filmmaker Mark Cohen, went from slinging coffee to starring on Broadway. He recalls the life-changing experience, the tragic death of Larson, and his own mom’s death in this one-man theatrical memoir featuring Rent music and his own tunes.

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Days of Wine and Roses

The creators and a star of The Light in the Piazza reunite for a story streaked with darkness. A hard-drinking couple played by Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James battle for sobriety in 1950s New York. Composer-lyricist Adam Guettel and writer Craig Lucas adapted the show from JP Miller’s 1962 film, which was set in San Francisco, and original 1958 teleplay. Michael Greif directs the Atlantic Theater Company world premiere beginning May 5.

Check back for information on Days of Wine and Roses tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

I Can Get It For You Wholesale

New York neighborhoods are their own little worlds. The Garment District in 1937 is the backdrop for this musical comedy about an ambitious shipping clerk clawing his way to the top of the industry. Jerome Weidman wrote the show’s book, based on his novel, and the songs are by Harold Rome. Trip Cullman directs this Classic Stage Company production starring Santino Fontana and Judy Kuhn that begins this fall.

Check back for information on I Can Get It For You Wholesale tickets on New York Theatre Guide.

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