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The Very Best of NYC Theater

Fun Home, Women or Nothing, Lady Day and more

Oct 17 is the date for the opening night performance of Fun Home, a new musical based on out cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about her quirky childhood growing up in a funeral home, and her relationship with her troubled, closeted father. Judy Kuhn stars; Lisa Kron has written the book and lyrics. The show will be at the Public Theater through Nov 4.

Women or Nothing is a new off-Broadway comedy about a lesbian who sleeps with a man so she and her partner can have a baby. Things get pretty complicated when the mother of one of the three shares a startling secret. Fargo director Ethan Coen penned the play, which is now enjoying a world premiere at the Linda Gross Theater through Oct 6.

Billie Holiday was the Whitney Houston of her day—unbelievably gifted yet cursed with an unstable personal life. Openly bisexual, the jazz singer dealt with drug addiction, racism, imprisonment and domestic violence before dying at 44. A new show now attempts to recreate the powerful experience of seeing Billie Holiday live. Lady Day—which takes its title from Holiday’s well-known nickname—illustrates the singer’s efforts to pull off a successful comeback. Starring Tony- and Grammy-award winning Dee Dee Bridgewater, the show includes more than 25 Holiday classics, Already a success on the London and Paris stages, Lady Day arrives at Times Square’s Little Shubert Theatre for an open-ended run beginning Sep 19.

Like Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin was an amazingly skilled singer whose star shone bright before a too-soon end. But now, Janis lives again in the new show, A Night with Janis Joplin. Starring Mary Bridget Davies, it features Joplin classics like “Me and Bobby McGee.” Davies has received praise wherever the show has been produced.  The Washington Post says she “produc[es] a version of the Joplin screech that starts somewhere around the singer’s ankles, wends its way up into the back of her throat and shoots off into the farthest reaches of the theater.” Catch the magic yourself at the Lyceum when A Night with Janis Joplin begins in previews Sep 20.

These days, the trend in theater is to turn beloved films into crowd-pleasing shows. No surprise then that Broadway’s doing it again, this time with Tim Burton’s Big Fish. Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert star in this theatrical version of the memorable 2003 film which told the story of Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who amazes all with his stunning tales. But are they too good to be true? The musical, directed by Susan Strohman, is currently in previews, officially opening Oct 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Billy Crystal’s one-man show 700 Sundays broke box office records when it first played on Broadway back in 2004. It will return to Broadway starting Nov 5 at the Imperial Theatre. 700 Sundays—so named for the short amount of time the actor was able to spend with his late father—features Crystal playing the many folks who influenced him as a young boy. If you are looking for a funny show with plenty of heart, it might just be the ticket.

Film star Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean) is now making his anticipated Broadway debut with Condola Rashad in Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet. This production—which marks the first time the show has been performed on Broadway in over 30 years—puts the classic play in a contemporary setting, with a sensual undercurrent running throughout. With its timeless theme of loving who you want despite society’s disapproval, Romeo and Juliet is the perfect show for gay theater fans. It opens Sep 19 at the Richard Rodgers Theater, and continues through Nov 24.

Can a movie star survive if she is forced to live like a regular person? Find out in Me and Jezebel, which tells what went down when Bette Davis spent a month at playwright Elizabeth Fuller’s home. This off-Broadway revival will also feature poems by Davis in the lobby, and Davis’ own clothes and jewelry will be in the production. And in a neat gender-bending twist, Davis is played by male actor Kelly Moore. Catch it at The Snapple Theater Center now.

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