If you, like my family, have made plans to head to New York this December but have not planned far enough ahead to, say, buy tickets to a Broadway show, you’re in luck: there are plenty of others like you who are spontaneous theatergoers. Well, fly-by-night patrons in search of available, affordable, AND quality tickets need not worry about getting last pick, a la an unfortunate dodgeball game or holiday dinner behind greedier and more robust relatives.
EW’s stage team has highlighted seven shows (four Broadway, three Off Broadway) that you should — and more importantly can – still get tickets to upon your visit these next few weeks in December. They’re sensational shows, only made better by the fact that you don’t necessarily have to wait in the cold at TKTS or book months in advance to enjoy the experiences that people may still be fond of next year. (Also, stick around EW.com next week for our editor’s Top 10 stage picks of 2013!)
Big Fish (EW’s Grade: B+)
You only have a few more weeks to catch this extraordinarily inventive and heartstring-tugging love letter to the grand traditions of musical theater (with the production values of 2013 thrown in, of course) before it closes December 29. Two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz is utterly mesmerizing, as are the supporting cast (like the dynamite Kate Baldwin, whose name you’ll be hearing more and more) and an old-fashioned score by Andrew Lippa that will have you humming for days.
Twelfth Night/Richard III (EW’s Grade: A-)
Two of this year’s hands-down best productions are director Tim Carroll’s all-male Shakespearean plays, starring Tony winner Mark Rylance in two master performances (as the fluttery Olivia in Twelfth and the conniving Richard III in, well, Richard III). These Shakespearean classics are made incredibly accessible to the mass audience, even without a major familiarity to the Bard. Lucky for you, each performance sells around 250 seats for just $25.
Buyer and Cellar (EW’s Grade: A-)
Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie shines in this one-man show about an actor who finds himself working in the underground mall of one Barbra Streisand. Urie’s turn at Off Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre has a little something for everyone, and it’s simply one of the giddiest, most entertaining stage performances to see this year. Working knowledge of Streisand not required.
After Midnight (EW’s Grade: A-)
The golden age of jazz comes to life — nay, it jumps, leaps, twirls and bursts — in this glittery musical revue set in Harlem’s famous late-night music halls. Psych’s Dule Hill leads the proceedings alongside a stunning group of dancers and vocalists. Plus, you can’t miss Fantasia Barrino, the first in a rotating roster of special guest stars who, quite simply, stop the show. (Come February 11, k.d. lang joins the company.) General rush opens every morning with the box office, offering two tickets per person for $37 (cash only).
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (EW Grade: A)
Jefferson Mays turns in a tour-de-force comic performance in this brand new Broadway musical, which tells the story of a dumpy nobleman (Bryce Pinkham, an endearing gem) who will inherit a fortune if he kills his eight distant relatives (Mays, playing every single one). It’s madcap musical madness at its finest, and it’s one of this year’s most charming new productions.
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (EW Grade: A-)
Imagine a small, scandalous subsection of Tolstoy’s classic novel War and Peace, an immersive dining/drinking experience wherein the actors perform the show around and, in some cases, with you, and an electropop opera score that is surely the only one of its genre blasting Off Broadway this year. You get Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, a truly innovative show that has to be experienced to be believed.
Peter and the Starcatcher (EW Grade: B)
After a Tony-winning run on Broadway, this wild prequel to Peter Pan has moved Off Broadway at New World Stages, where it’ll end its magical run on January 12 after almost two years alive on the New York stage. Before it tours to your hometown, see the off-Broadway production, which is infused with as much wonder and comedy as you’d ask for in a show with such a creative pedigree (director Alex Timbers is one of Broadway’s most promising recent talents).