Theater to See Near N.Y.C. in September: ‘Ulysses,’ ‘The Pianist’ and More

Headlines about the theater industry’s troubles have been easy to find lately: layoffs, closures, shrinking audiences and seasons. The good news? There’s still a lot of theater out there.

Philadelphia Fringe Festival

Fringe theatergoing is a crapshoot; that’s pretty much a rule. But there is adventure to be had in plotting your way through hundreds of events, almost all of them uncurated. Circus, dance, comedy, cabaret, kids’ fare and more are part of the 27th year of this festival. Ticket prices are low, and offerings include a handful of digital shows. Sept. 7-24 at various locations in Philadelphia;

‘The 12’

The playwright Robert Schenkkan, a Pulitzer Prize winner for “The Kentucky Cycle,” dips into musical theater as the book writer of this show, with music by Neil Berg and lyrics by both of them. The Tony Award winner John Doyle directs this tale, which unfolds among the terrified disciples of Jesus, who have gone into hiding in the chaotic aftermath of his and Judas’s deaths. Sept. 8-Oct. 29 at the Goodspeed, East Haddam, Conn.;


During the pandemic shutdown of in-person theater, when the playwright Paula Vogel championed underproduced plays by staging them virtually, this linguistically inventive drama by Eisa Davis got her full-throated support, and a high-profile digital production. Here is a chance to see it live, in a McCarter Theater Center-Berkeley Repertory Theater co-production. Set in a mostly white California town in 1955, it tells the story of a clairvoyant multiracial teenager who grew up there, and whose world finds new dimensions with the arrival of a Black girl from the South. The play was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2007, when Vogel was on the jury. Sept. 13-Oct. 7 at the McCarter Theater Center, Princeton, N.J.;

‘Lunar Eclipse’

A deftly nuanced, easily knowing depiction of marriage won the playwright Donald Margulies the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for his domestic comedy “Dinner With Friends.” Now he returns to that territory with this new play, starring Karen Allen and Reed Birney as a long-wed couple having drinks on their Midwestern farm, watching a lunar eclipse on a summer night. James Warwick directs the world-premiere production. Sept. 15-Oct. 22 at Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, Mass.;


Not even Elevator Repair Service, the venerable experimental troupe best known for “Gatz,” a marathon-length enactment of the full text of “The Great Gatsby,” is heedless enough to stage the whole of James Joyce’s run-on, epic masterwork about Leopold Bloom’s daylong odyssey through Dublin. Directed by John Collins, the company’s artistic director, this world-premiere production instead samples chunks from each of the novel’s 18 episodes, letting them erupt in all their verbosity, vulgarity, vivacity and — it is Joyce, after all — opacity. Co-directed by Scott Shepherd, who is also part of the seven-actor ensemble, it has an entirely reasonable projected running time: two hours and 15 minutes. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 at the Fisher Center at Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.;

‘The Pianist’

This new play with music retells the story of the musician and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose 1946 memoir of surviving the Holocaust as a Polish Jew in Warsaw was the basis for the Roman Polanski movie “The Pianist.” The director Emily Mann has adapted Szpilman’s book for the stage, with an original score by Iris Hond. Sept. 26-Oct. 22 at New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, New Brunswick, N.J.;


When a murder case is so notorious that it’s commemorated with a children’s rhyme, enduring curiosity about it is almost guaranteed. Cross that with the trans-Atlantic success of “Six,” and you arrive at this production: a Lizzie Borden rock musical with an all-female cast. Written by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt, and directed by Lainie Sakakura, this show promises “to explore the historical record.” Sept. 29-Oct. 22 at TheaterWorks Hartford, Hartford, Conn.;

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