Theater Weekend: 5 Plays To See On Broadway And Off

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No one has the time to see all the New York theater they'd like to see, and let's be honest: If you could afford even a fraction of it, you'd probably still be relaxing in your summer villa on the Tuscan coast. Since most theater lovers will see, at best, one or two shows in any given week, the International Business Times weeded out the washouts to spotlight the best new options on the boards this weekend.    

Chaplin

You have to hand it to the producers of "Chaplin," the much-hyped Broadway musical about the life and times of the silent-film legend. They could have taken the easy way out and cast a bankable but completely incompetent celebrity in the title role. (No doubt Jeremy Piven is available.) But instead they held out for a performer with chops, someone who truly embodies the brilliant physicality that is Charlie Chaplin. The relatively unknown actor Rob McClure stars as the scrappy British thesp who emerges from the underbelly of the Victorian theater world to become one of the icons of early Hollywood. The show has music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis and a book by Curtis and three-time Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan ("Annie," "The Producers," "Hairspray"). If you can get a ticket this weekend, waddle your way in.

Currently in previews. Opens Sept. 10. Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street. Get Tickets.

An Enemy of the People

This years-in-the-making revival is the latest effort from the Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC), one of the few nonprofit theater companies that mount Broadway productions. Doug Hughes adapts and directs Henrik Ibsen's classic tale of a town doctor who discovers that the water being used at local baths is toxic. Instead of being hailed a hero for his discovery, the doctor soon learns that the community will stop at nothing to silence him. As it turns out, the baths are the town's main source of revenue -- bummer. The British writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz co-adapts, and if Ibsen being the father of modern theater isn't enough of a reason to see this play, consider that MTC's recent track record includes "Next to Normal" and the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning "Clybourne Park." Not too shabby.

Performances begin Sept. 7 at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street. Get Tickets.

Fly Me to the Moon

New this week at 59E59 Theaters is this dark comedy from Northern Ireland's premier playwright, Marie Jones. The story centers on two care workers who look after a lonely old man, one whose greatest loves are Frank Sinatra and horse races. On the day he dies, his horse finally comes in, leaving his two care workers with a mouth-watering dilemma that might just help them make ends meet. Off-Broadway's 59E59 is the best place in the neighborhood to see theater. Of course, Upper East Siders have already discovered it. Have you?

Opens Sept. 5. 59E59, 59 East 59th Street. Get Tickets. 

The Why Overhead

The popular off-Broadway playwright and prolific arts blogger Adam Szymkowicz returns with a new workplace comedy about what happens when the boss of a call center goes out of town, leaving a group of lonely employees to discover just how desperate they are for human interaction. The play, a production of Zootopia Theatre Company, is directed by Matthew J. Nichols, and apparently you don't have to work at a call center to relate to it.

Through Sept. 23 at Access Theatre, 380 Broadway. Get Tickets.    

Cougar the Musical

You knew it was only a matter of time. And who better than a diva in training to give it to you? Written by actress/performer/comedienne Donna Moore, "Cougar" features three voracious but disillusioned women who develop a taste for -- what else? -- hot, young men. As they unleash their inner cougars, they somehow manage to discover self-love and empowerment in the process. The cast features three "fabulous-over-forty" actresses and one "multi-talented boy toy." He would have to be, wouldn't he?

Open Run at St. Luke's Theatre, 308 West 46th Street. Get Tickets.

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