Ask me what play I’m most looking forward to seeing this month and, without hesitation, I’ll say Claire van Kampen’s “Farinelli and the King.” The plot is drawn from life: Borderline loony and insomniac Philippe V of Spain finds comfort and healing in the dulcet tones of Italian castrato Farinelli. Playing these two mentally and physically wounded soul mates are British actors Mark Rylance and Sam Crane. Crane is new to me, but Rylance … he can do no wrong, whether in the theater (three Tony Awards!), on TV (“Wolf Hall”) or in the movies (an Oscar for “Bridge of Spies” and perhaps another one for “Dunkirk.” Students of acting, and anyone else who wants to get up close to a masterful performance, should consider buying a ticket for a special onstage seat.
| “Farinelli and the King,” Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St., 212.239.6200, www.farinelliandthekingbroadway.com
THE DOCTOR IS IN
When I spoke on the phone to singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, he was walking to rehearsals for the hit Broadway musical “Waitress,” in which he stars through Jan. 28, 2018. What prompted the two-time Grammy Award winner to take on the challenge of his first extended role as Dr. Pomatter, the romantic lead? “I thought that dramatic roles would come to me in my 50s [he just turned 40], when I had more life experience and more facial hair,” he said. ”So, when Sara [Bareilles, writer of the show’s songs] asked if I would consider the gig, I felt uncomfortable, which was a sign that I should do it.” Always one to say yes to life, Mraz summed up his new adventure this way: “If it goes really bad, I’m going to want to do it again to redeem myself. If it goes really great, I’m going to want to do it again because it went really great.” It’s going great. | “Waitress,” Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St., 877.250.2929, www.waitressthemusical.com
Truth is, we New Yorkers don’t get to see live theater from abroad as often we would like. Certainly not on the grand scale of Théâtre du Soleil’s “A Room in India (Une chambre en Inde),” which has its North American premiere here this month. Under the visionary direction of Ariane Mnouchkine, whose 1978 film ‘Molière” is required viewing for every theater buff, the Paris-based company of 35 multinational actors performs a story about a touring theater troupe stranded in India following a European terrorist attack. Timely to be sure, with issues of religious extremism, climate change and gender equity addressed. But thrillingly exotic, too, with interludes of terukkuttu, an ancient and elaborate form of theater practiced in South India. | “A Room in India (Une chambre en Inde),” Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave., 212.933.5812, Dec. 5–20, 2017, www.armoryonpark.org
BROADWAY AT THE PIERRE
The monthly cabaret series at New York’s five-star Pierre hotel welcomes members of the cast of Broadway’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2013, “Kinky Boots,” to the Two E Lounge for an an evening of songs and stories from the show, as well as other popular tunes. The performance date is Dec. 11 at 8 pm. Tickets start at $75. For reservations, call 212.940.8113 or email TwoE@tajhotels.com. And be sure to wear your high-heeled shoes! | The Pierre, Two E Lounge, 2 E. 61st St., www.thepierreny.com/dining/twoebar