It’s almost April, do you know where your Broadway mega-shows are? Cate Blanchett and Hedda Gabler got things off to a smash start, and the rest of the big guns are revving up: Tarzan, Lestat , Julia Roberts in Three Days of Rain, Ali MacGraw and Julianna Margulies in Festen…and more. We’ll spare you (and ourselves) the wallet strain and the eye-rolling – there are plenty of worthy littler shows crying out to be seen.
First there’s Seven.11.Convenience Theatre, a collection of seven new eleven-minute plays and musicals set in 7-11s and dealing with the realities of being an immigrant in America. It sounds like the mother of all gimmicks, sure, but this is the production’s fourth annual incarnation – it’s an audience- and critic-pleaser with a solid, diverse cast and creative team. The plays range from Rehana Mirza’s "Bombay Screams" to Elizabeth Emmons’ "Undone" to Jackson Loo’s "Kung Fu Hustle" and look like they’ll be just as engrossing as in years past.
Kraine Theater // 85 E. 4th St. // March 30-April 16, Thurs.-Sun. 8pm, Sun. also 2pm // Tickets via Smarttix
Another intriguing internationally-flavored offering is Freak Winds, by and starring the Australian Marshall Napier. In it, an insurance salesman is taken in by a Sydney couple during a nasty storm. It’s a great opportunity for him to make his pitch, but a) they’re not interested and b) something seems to be very dark and wrong about their world. Or maybe it’s just the salesman flipping out in the wake of his Mercedes being crushed by a tree. In any case, it seems like a promising thriller.
Arclight Theater // 152 W. 71st St. // Through Apr. 22, shows Mon., Wed.-Sat. 8pm, Sat. 3pm, Sun. 7pm // Tickets via Theatermania
The WorkShop Theater Co.’s current “play in process” is a revival of Martin Sherman’s Messiah, which is based on the true series of events set in motion in the 1690s when a man named Sabbatai Sevi roamed throughout the Jewish world gaining fame and infamy by claiming that he was the Messiah and provoking a wave of religious fanaticism both for and against him. Shows about religion aren't too frequent, and especially these days a topic like this deserves a hearing.
WorkShop Theater // 312 W. 36th St., 4th floor // March 30-Apr. 1 and 4/4-4/8, all shows 8pm // Call 212-695-4173, Extension 4, to reserve seats
This week only, Collaborative Arts Project 21’s conservatory is presenting Barry Keating and Stuart Ross’ new musical Starmites, about a shy teenage girl whose favorite comic book’s website world comes alive and drags her into it so that she becomes a superhero leading the Starmites (the “guardian angels of Innerspace”) against the evil forces threatening the galaxy. Now that we think about it, a number of internet and video games could be ripe for theatrical adaptation; this might be the wave of the future.
The Shop // 18 W. 18th St., 6th Floor // Wed.-Sat. 8pm, Sat. & Sun. 3pm // Tickets
Finally, Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter, our pick of the week, which has been playing for awhile and is not as off-off as these others, but which you should see anyway; Rapp was once a little guy, a budding playwright, and we love that he’s made it big. The show actually has a budding playwright as its central character: Matt, who’s insecure, neurotic and brilliant, and who in the first act is in Amsterdam with his arrogant college pal Davis, who pays for a hooker for Matt, except she instantly falls for Davis, and in the second act shows up looking for him the next year in NYC. Rapp's writing is superbly multilayered, and the three actors do it great justice, particularly Christopher Denham in a quietly riveting performance as Matt; the whole thing keeps you guessing and unable to judge the characters in a way that’s deliciously disturbing.
Barrow St. Theater // 27 Barrow St. // Tues.-Sat. 8pm, Sun. 7pm, Sat.-Sun. also 2pm // Tickets via Telecharge // photo by Christopher McLallen