The City Center Encores! series offers something very special in Stairway to Paradise (May 10-14), a collection of numbers and sketches from 50 years of Broadway revues and musicals, including such songs as "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" "Manhattan," "This is the Army," "Suppertime," and "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan." Kristin Chenoweth, Kevin Chamberlin, Christopher Fitzgerald, and Ruthie Henshall head the starry cast; Jerry Zaks directs.
From May 3 through July 1, the annual Brits Off Broadway festival is in residence at 59E59 Theaters. Among the intriguing offerings: Memory, which links the events of the Holocaust with the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles, about the meteoric rise and even more spectacular fall of the legendary actor/director; and Rabbit, in which the battle between the sexes is played out in a bar.
The New Victory Theater presents the music and dance theater troupe Ragamala (May 4-13). Under the artistic direction of Ranee Ramaswamy and starring Aparna Ramaswamy, the company blends the ancient art of Bharatanatyam with contemporary dance and a soundscape that incorporates Taiko drumming, modern a cappella singing, and traditional South-Indian chanting to tell tales rich with images of lush landscapes, colorful creatures, and powerful emotions.
The Public Theater serves up Passing Strange, a commissioned piece in which singer-songwriter-performance artist Stew tells the story of a young black bohemian who charts a course for "the real" through sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Zak Berkman's Beauty On The Vine (Clurman Theatre, through June 3), inspired by a chance encounter with rocker Courtney Love, is a romantic fable about the power of the human face in an age of extreme plastic surgery. Mother Load (Sage Theater, through June 16) is an exposé of the cutthroat world of competitive parenting in NYC.
If interactive theater -- or plastic -- is your bag, you'll want to check out Dixie's Tupperware Party (Ars Nova Theater, through June 17), in which a fast-talking gal from an Alabama trailer park throws an old fashioned Tupperware Party filled with outrageous tales and free giveaways.
The Irish Repertory Theatre presents a revival of Gaslight, a.k.a. Angel Street (May 9-July 8). In this Victorian melodrama by Patrick Hamilton, a man slowly drives his young wife insane by coldly accusing her of petty aberrations cleverly arranged by himself. Charlotte Moore directs a cast that includes Brian Murray, Laura Odeh, David Staller, Laoisa Sexton, and Patricia O'Connell.
The Second Stage Uptown Festival kicks off with the black comedy The Butcher of Baraboo (May 24-June 30), directed by Judith Ivey, and starring Debra Jo. Rupp, Ashlie Atkinson, and Michael Countryman, while the company's main stage hosts Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, a reimagination of the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice through the eyes of the heroine, with contemporary characters, surprising plot twists, and arresting visual effects (May 30-July 8).
Also at month's end: the Classical Theatre of Harlem presents (The Blood) Elektra, an adaptation of Sophocles' tragedy, with Zainab Jah in the title role (May 25-June 24); Donna Mitchell, Elizabeth Norment, and Jed Orlemann star in Randall David Cook's sexual drama Fate's Imagination, all about a former talk show host who runs for the White House (Players Theatre, May 25-June 17); and the Roundabout Theatre Company brings Stephen Lang's award-winning solo show Beyond Glory to the Laura Pels (May 25-August 19) .
If you'd like to continue your evening's entertainment after taking in a show on or off Broadway, consider Don't Quit Your Night Job, which has moved to the Ha! Comedy Club on Restaurant Row (West 46th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues) following a downtown run Joe's Pub. In this after-hours revue, a rotating core company including Todd Buonopane, Matt Cavenaugh, Jennifer Cody, Jordan Gelber, Nancy Opel, and Donna Vivino is joined by celebrity guests for loads of hilarity and frivolity.