You gotta believe that 2019 is off to a rousing start. On Broadway, “The Cher Show” is more than a jukebox musical: It’s the apotheosis of the dynamic entertainer whose six-decade-career and tumultuous life fly by in a fast-paced two and a half hours. Off-Broadway, there are entertainments galore for adults now that the kids are back in school after the holidays, while a host of new plays at festivals around town excite and intrigue.
DRESSED TO KILL
Let it never be said of singer/actress/icon Cher that she doesn’t know how to put on a show. And “The Cher Show,” the new Broadway biomusical about and produced by the “goddess warrior,” is no exception. It’s a blast: dramatically, musically and visually. Especially visually. Bob Mackie, Cher’s fashion guru throughout her career on TV and the concert stage, is the show’s costume designer. And when Mackie and the diva collaborate, more is definitely more. The onstage fashion parade takes audiences from the 1960s to today and includes 683 (!) costumes, meaning there’s a costume change every 35 seconds. But this stat will really blow your mind, as it did mine: Mackie has embellished the cast’s outfits with 6,499,000 feathers—surely a Broadway record and so-Cher. Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St., 877.250.2929
FOR ADULTS ONLY
New York University’s Skirball Center in Greenwich Village gives a crash course in avant-garde theater and international performance art this month. No homework required.
• Canada’s Cirque Alfonse seasons its feats of derring-do with eccentricity (all the guys sport bushy, mountainmen beards) and cheeky humor in the New York premiere of its latest chef d’oeuvre, “Barbu Electro Trad Cabaret,” Jan. 3 and 4.
• “Briefs: The Second Coming” from Down Under is an all-male, gender-bending burlesque cabaret/circus. Think: dancing, juggling, tumbling, trapeze, and lots of drag, lip-synching innuendo and nudity, Jan. 6 and 7. Naughty, but nice.
• “Gatz” from New York-based Elevator Repair Service is hardly the CliffsNotes version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” No, it’s a marathon, eight-hour, word-for-word reading and dramatization of the entire novel, with two intermissions and a dinner break, Jan. 23-Feb. 3.
• The Public Theater’s annual Under the Radar Festival, Jan. 3-13—a curated selection of nearly two dozen new and experimental plays and performances from the U.S. and abroad—never ceases to amaze. Highly anticipated this year is “HEAR WORD! Naija Women Talk True.’ Originating from Nigeria, but with a timely and universal message, the mix of song, dance and multigenerational stories celebrates resilient women who resist, challenge the status quo, overcome obstacles (both social and personal) and triumph.
• Six mainstage productions and 11 special events comprise Origin Theatre Company’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival, Jan. 9-28. This is the only festival dedicated exclusively to producing plays by contemporary Irish playwrights, wherever they may currently reside (even America). On the bill are plays about rugger during The Troubles, and a lesbian relationship in the immediate aftermath of Ireland’s 2015 Gay Marriage Referendum.
• The Brooklyn-based Exponential Festival, Jan. 4-Feb. 3, showcases NYC artists working in experimental performance. Expect the unexpected in venues all across the borough.