As covered in my last column, the 2010-2011 Broadway season started with a bang thanks to Brief Encounter, A Life in the Theatre, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. But a big second wave of Broadway openings — La Bête, Lombardi, Driving Miss Daisy, The Scottsboro Boys, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, The Pee-wee Herman Show, and Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles — has now washed up alongside off-off-Broadway queer highlights like MilkMilkLemonade, Electra in a One-Piece, and Miss Coco Peru Is Still Alive!
Set during the mid-’80s explosion of the AIDS epidemic, the first New York revival of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Angels in America has already sold out through February 20 at Signature Theatre’s Peter Norton Space, where both parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, run in repertory. Despite the epic play’s fantasy sequences and some effective scenic projections, there’s a divine simplicity to Michael Greif’s staging that allows the glorious text and cast — especially Zachary Quinto, reconnecting with his So NoTORIous gay roots, and a sassy yet substantive Billy Porter — to shimmer, but HBO’s 2003 adaptation still packs more emotional punch. Signature’s Kushner season continues March 22 with iHo: The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures at the Public Theater and April 19 with a revival of The Illusion at the Peter Norton.
If you’re a fan of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the ’80s Saturday-morning TV show starring Paul Reubens as a lovably maniacal man-child, then The Pee-wee Herman Show might be the smartest mindless fun you’ll ever have on Broadway. Hot off a sold-out Los Angeles engagement earlier this year, this campy, crowd-pleasing homage to classic children’s variety shows is actually an updated version of the 1981 West Hollywood cult sensation that was filmed for an HBO special. All your favorite characters and catchphrases are back at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre through January 2, but 2010 Pee-wee rocks an abstinence ring and gets postcards from prison pals. Nowadays the quip “Why don’t you marry it?” inspires Magic Screen to list the states in which two females can legally marry, and Quinceañera’s Jesse Garcia costars as Sergio, a handyman who wires the playhouse for its first computer.