Homer's epic poem gets a searing, achingly relatable retelling that condemns mankind's bloodlust by giving Trojan warriors a contemporary context -- including "close friends" Achilles and Patroclus. Out actors Denis O'Hare and Stephen Spinella alternately perform this one-man tour de force; I saw True Blood's quirky O'Hare, who created the piece with director Lisa Peterson, and I'll fight to defend that it's his finest work to date.
New York Theatre Workshop, through April 1.
Based on Stephen King's novel, the 1988 musical version of Carrie was Broadway's bloodiest flop. The original authors have teamed with Altar Boyz director Stafford Arima and MCC Theater for a tastefully subdued revamp starring Molly Ranson as a telekinetic misfit and Marin Mazzie as her religious mom. This camp-free antibullying PSA takes itself very seriously, but you're all gonna laugh at Corey Boardman as a questioning jock.
Lucille Lortel Theatre, through April 22.
Set in a lady's boudoir into which the audience peers as if through one-way mirrors, Red Bull Theater's deliciously manic revival of Jean Genet's 1947 revenge fantasy stars Ana Reeder and Jeanine Serralles as disgruntled housemaids and kissing sisters who engage in dangerous role-playing games to vent contempt for their mistress. This grandiose affair borders on drag -- apropos since the gay playwright originally wanted men in the roles.
Theatre at St. Clement's, through April 1.
Rated P for Parenthood
A game and peppy cast of four -- Courtney Balan, Chris Hoch,
David Josefsberg, and Joanna Young -- tackle childrearing in a pandering yet largely resonant series of musical and comic vignettes that recall revues like Motherhood Out Loud and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. The brisk show's heavy on cheese and maternal humor, but the men get to stretch in an inspired sketch about gay dads raising three horny straight sons.
Westside Theater, open-ended.
If you can survive the space-invading audience participation, there's much to enjoy in this otherworldly musical for fans of Blue Man Group and Glee's Dalton Academy Warblers. Serving geisha-faced realness and perfect harmonies in the guise of aliens who must refuel their spaceship with musical energy, these Israeli YouTube sensations please the crowd with a cappella medleys of more than 70 hit songs from Queen to Celine.
New World Stages, open-ended.
In Elevator Repair Service's brilliantly bizarre six-and-a-half hour epic, which has returned after a hit 2010 engagement, a random low-rent office employee (Scott Shepard) starts to read aloud from an old copy of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's arguably homoerotic 1925 novel. Gradually, his motley coworkers inexplicably begin to mirror the novel's plot until they're all exhilaratingly embodying the characters in period costume.
Public Theater, through May 6.
Cowritten and directed by Josh Matthews, David Crabb's freakishly funny one-man show is entertaining enough to convert people who hate solo shows. Candidly recounting his adolescence as a gay outcast who embraces goth culture in small-town Texas, Crabb proves himself a masterful raconteur, skillfully re-creating indelible characters like his annoyingly supportive mother, awkwardly struggling father, and a foulmouthed gal pal.
Axis Theatre, closed March 10.
The Bachelorette's Leslye Headland scores with her relatable comedy about young assistants working for an abusive boss whom the audience never sees. A Devil Wears Prada without Meryl Streep may not sound like much fun, but out director Trip Cullman ensures that we always feel the tyrant's hot breath on the necks of a fine cast that includes Yank! cutie Bobby Steggert. It's also worth noting that Headland used to work for Harvey Weinstein.
Playwrights Horizons, closed March 11.
I Heart Alice Heart I
Writer-director Amy Conroy and codeveloper Clare Barrett shine as aging lesbian couple Alice K. and Alice S., childhood friends who now cohabitate in Dublin. Cleverly told in a faux docu-theater style, this quietly touching two-hander explores a shared personal history that includes infidelity and cancer, but the actresses have a genuine chemistry that makes even the most mundane relationship issues feel extraordinary.
Irish Arts Center, closed March 17.
The Mountaintop's Katori Hall transcends familiar black theater tropes in her gritty, biting drama about the fiery residents of a dilapidated Memphis housing project awaiting government relocation, including Cookie (Joaquina Kalukango), a 13-year-old rapper who spits like Nicki Minaj. A borderline satire of underclass manners, the drug dealers let gay-panic insults fly when Cookie's articulate father returns from a tour of duty in Iraq.
The Pershing Square Signature Center, through March 25.
The Lady From Dubuque
David Esbjornson's eye-opening revival of Edward Albee's metaphysical 1980 flop begins with an uncomfortable party game led by Laila Robins as Jo, an acerbic host dying of cancer. Characters address the audience in this surreal meditation on mortality and denial, but the play takes an unnerving, otherworldly turn when the great Jane Alexander (A Question of Love) arrives as an unexpected guest with an elegant male companion.
The Pershing Square Signature Center, through April 15.
Romeo and Juliet
Inspired by Italian neorealist films of the 1940s, Tragedians of the City and Northwest Passage co-present a passionate all-male production of Shakespeare's tragedy with shrewd direction by Anya Saffir and sparkling new music by Cormac Bluestone. Free of extraneous drag and anchored by superb performer John Early as Juliet, the stripped-down production offers a refreshing take on the text that feels both timely and classic.
Chernuchin Theater at the American Theatre of Actors, closed March 17.
Returning to the space where he helmed Our Town, out director David Cromer lends his exquisite touch to Nina Raine's family drama. Deaf actor Russell Harvard is immensely affecting as Billy, a deaf lip-reader and center of calm in a hearing family that yells but rarely listens. When a newly empowered Billy learns sign language and joins "the deaf community," his skeptical father likens his self-marginalization to coming out as gay.
Barrow Street Theatre, through June 3.
Enjoy smart but soapy Downton Abbey-style drama in Joyce Hokin Sachs's engrossing docuplay about the love triangle between charming mountaineer George Mallory (Christian Pedersen) and Bloomsbury group artists Vanessa Bell and actively homosexual Duncan Grant (Hollis McCarthy and Michael Gabriel Goodfriend) in 1923. Extra kudos goes to the handsome gents, who bravely bare all in one of the smallest theaters in town.
59E59 Theaters, through March 31.
Promising playwright Begonya Plaza uneasily stars in her heady but half-baked drama as Carlotta, a journalist who travels to Barcelona to divorce Andres, her Spanish husband, and write an article on Saint Teresa of Avila. In a second-act shocker, Carlotta reveals that she's fallen in love with her vapid editor and traveling companion, Becky (Linda Larkin, voice of Aladdin's Jasmine), sending Andres into a rage full of antigay rhetoric.
Cherry Lane Theatre, through April 1.