September 5-7, free, 8:00
The Public Theater’s high-profile outdoor summer season might have come to a close when King Lear starring John Lithgow and Annette Bening ended its run on August 17 (following on the heels of Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe in Much Ado About Nothing), but there’s more free Shakespeare to be had this weekend when the Public Works community initiative program brings The Winter’s Tale to the Delacorte. Last year, the project was initiated with a musical version of The Tempest, directed by Lear deBessonet, choreographed by Chase Brock, and with music and lyrics by Todd Almond; that same trio is back with the Bard’s mysterious romance, featuring a wide-ranging cast that combines professional actors with members of community organizations from all five boroughs. “We believe that theater has a specific role to play; it always has,” Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis says in the above promotional video. “It’s a democratizing impulse, it’s an empowering impulse, it’s a participatory impulse, and what we’re trying to do is spread the glory of that so that everybody in the city has the chance to have that experience.” The musical, which will have some two hundred people onstage in total, stars Almond (Girlfriend, Melancholy Play) as Antigonus, Christopher Fitzgerald (Wicked, Young Frankenstein) as Autolycus, Isaiah Johnson (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Merchant of Venice) as Leontes, Lindsay Mendez (Wicked, Dogfight) as Hermione, and David Turner (Arcadia, Sunday in the Park with George) as the Clown, along with men, women, and children from the Children’s Aid Society, the DreamYard Project, the Fortune Society, the Brownsville Recreation Center, and Domestic Workers United. In addition, there will be group cameos by Sesame Street, the New York Theatre Ballet, DanceBrazil, Rosie’s Theater Kids, the Shinbone Alley Stilt Band, the Staten Island Lions, and AATMA Performing Arts. The show runs September 5-7, and free tickets are available the same day in Central Park and through the Public’s online virtual ticketing lottery or by advance donation of $75.
French Institute Alliance Française and other locations
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
September 8 - October 20, free - $35
One of the best multidisciplinary arts festivals every year, FIAF’s Crossing the Line is back for its eighth season, featuring another exciting lineup of dance, theater, music, installation, exhibitions, and hard-to-describe events. Cocurators Lili Chopra, Simon Dove, and Gideon Lester explain it thusly: “This year’s edition of Crossing the Line brings together fifteen extraordinary international artists and companies, each of them offering unique perspectives on the world we all share. We invite New Yorkers to explore their meticulous and deeply considered work, both the familiar and the unknown, and find inspiration, provocation, and pure pleasure.” Hosted by the French Institute Alliance Française and taking place there as well as several other locations, CTL offers numerous opportunities to “find inspiration, provocation, and pure pleasure.” Palais Galliera director Olivier Saillard gets seven former supermodels to open up in Models Never Talk, a world premiere at Milk Studios. Trajal Harrell continues his Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church with a week of special performances at the Kitchen. Justin Vivian Bond is joined by special guest Miguel Gutierrez for the one-night-only Love Is Crazy, consisting of songs and stories about love and romance.
Patti Smith, her daughter, Jesse, and Soundwalk Collective examine the death of Nico in unique ways in Killer Road at FIAF. Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin and German visual artist Julius von Bismarck use motion-sensor technology and lighting to delve into physics in Quantum at BAM Fisher. Jessica Mitrani and Pedro Almodóvar regular Rossy de Palma pay tribute to Nellie Bly in Traveling Lady at FIAF. The audience is encouraged to participate in Aaron Landsman’s free Republic of New York: Perfect City Discussions at Abrons Arts Center. Fernando Rubio’s Everything by My Side is a fifteen-minute rotating performance on seven beds in Hudson River Park. The works of French choreographer Xavier Le Roy will be re-created at MoMA PS1. Prune Nourry’s “Terracotta Daughters” exhibition at 104 Washington St. challenges gender roles in China and the world. Julie Béna’s site-specific “T&T Consortium: You’re Already Elsewhere” at the FIAF Gallery puts visitors into a fantastical setting. The star of the festival is Japanese electronic artist Ryoji Ikeda, whose Park Avenue Armory installation “The Transfinite” dazzled New York back in 2011; the mathematical mastermind will present the immersive, multimedia Superposition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a gallery exhibition at Salon 94, and “Test Pattern [Times Square],” which can be seen on nearly four dozen screens in Times Square as part of the “Midnight Moment” program each night in October from 11:57 pm to midnight. CTL is also one of the most affordable festivals, with nothing costing more than $35, so you have no excuse not to check out at least a few of these ultracool events.
Scott Organ’s Phoenix, a play about a one-night stand that gets rather complicated, has been extended for four more performances at the Cherry Lane through August 28, and we have a pair of tickets to give away to this poignant one-act drama. Julia Stiles stars as Sue, a traveling nurse who has set up a meeting with James (James Wirt) to let him know that there has been an unexpected result of their previous coupling. What follows is a verbal cat-and-mouse game as they each try to figure out who they are and what they want out of life — and whether there is any kind of future for them together. (You can find out more about the show here.)
TICKET GIVEAWAY: There are only a few nights left to see Phoenix, which concludes its limited engagement at the Cherry Lane on August 28, and twi-ny has a much-coveted pair of tickets to give away for free. Just send your name, daytime phone number, and favorite play with the name of a city in the title to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, August 25, at 3:00 to be eligible. (Yes, that’s today.) Please also include two preferred dates to see the show. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; one winner will be selected at random.
Conceived during a New York City writing workshop, writer-director Kim Ehly’s semiautobiographical Baby GirL became a hit in South Florida and has now come north for the eighteenth annual New York International Fringe Festival, where it plays its last of five performances on August 24 at noon at the Kraine Theater. That’s not a typo in the title; Ehly wants to emphasize the “L” in LGBT, a community she has been part of for many years. Baby GirL is about a young woman sharing her compelling, and very funny, story about being adopted, coming out as a lesbian, and going in search of her birth mother, ranging from 1968 to 1995. Christa Meyers is delightful as Ashley, easily gliding between re-created scenes from her life and speaking directly to the audience as her character explores her sexuality and family history; it’s easy to see how she recently played Vanda in a Cleveland production of Venus in Fur. (An unfortunate distraction, however, was that Meyers slowly sweat through two gray shirts during the show; hopefully the costume designer has since adjusted her wardrobe so the focus can remain where it belongs, on her splendid performance.) The other seven members of the uniformly strong cast all portray multiple roles, including Amy Bizjak as Ashley’s adoptive mother and birth mother, Joe Wissler as her adoptive father and husband of her birth mother, Samuel Floyd as various men in her life, and Nori Tecosky as her current girlfriend and other women, in addition to Jessica Farr and Noah Levine, but it’s Lucy McMichael who nearly steals the show, playing a series of mostly bitter and cranky old ladies; after a few of them, just her mere appearance onstage as a new character gets much-deserved laughs. A production of Ehly’s Fort Lauderdale-based Kutumba Theatre Project, BabyGirL might not delve too deeply below the surface, but it has an inviting, charming warmth that is just right for the Fringe.
September 1-14, buy one ticket, get one free
Tickets are now on sale for the summer edition of Broadway Week, which runs September 1-14 and offers theater lovers a chance to see new and long-running shows for half-price as well as have an opportunity to pay a $20 fee to upgrade to better seats. Twenty-one shows are participating, but they’re already starting to sell out, with the most popular selections being Cabaret and The Lion King. Among the other choices are Pippin, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Kinky Boots, If/Then, the rebooted Les Misérables, Matilda the Musical, Motown the Musical, and such longtime mainstays as Wicked, Jersey Boys, Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, and Mamma Mia! In addition, tickets are available for a few promising shows in preview, the Broadway debut of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth, starring Michael Cera and Tavi Gevinson, Donald Margulies’s The Country House with Blythe Danner, and a revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s You Can’t Take It with You, featuring James Earl Jones, Rose Byrne, and Elizabeth Ashley. You can look all you want, but the two-for-one list does not include The Book of Mormon, unfortunately.