Theater News

The Civilians Take on AI and Hershey Felder Plays Chopin in Upcoming 59E59 Season

The theater complex on East 59th Street has announced its fall season.

Hershey Felder played Chopin in an earlier version of Monsieur Chopin at the Geffen Playhouse. He will reprise his performance at 59E59.
(© John Zich)

The fall season at 59E59 will kick off with a new play by the Civilians, the investigative theater company behind Pretty Filthy and last season’s The Unbelieving. Artificial Flavors is created, directed, and hosted by Steve Cosson, and parts of the show will be generated live by the latest artificial intelligence program and immediately performed by the actors. A press release describes the show as “a fascinating evening of barely-controlled chaos.” It begin previews October 22 ahead of an official opening October 27. Performances are scheduled through November 19 in Theater B.

November 19 will also be the opening night of Hershey Felder’s Monsieur Chopinin which Felder plays the Polish piano virtuoso transplanted in Paris. Seated at the keys to play some of the composer’s greatest hits, Felder has previously portrayed Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein at 59E59. Monsieur Chopin is set during a piano lesson just days after the February revolution that ousted France’s last king (and only constitutional monarch) Louis Philippe. Previews begin November 16 with a run scheduled through December 24. Joel Zwick directs in Theater A.

Happenstance Theater will present Adrift: A Medieval Wayward Folly November 29-December 24 (opening December 5). The show will feature characters from Hieronymus Bosch painting and tarot cards brought to life in a tapestry of live music, physical comedy, and puppetry. Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell co-direct in Theater B. 

Next year starts off with a new musical downstairs in Theater A. New Light Theater Project, in association with Calliope Stage, will present The Greatest Hits Down Route 66. Previews start January 13 ahead of an official opening night on January 23. It tells the story of a family road trip in the summer of 1999 set to the music of Carl Sandburg’s American Songbag, an eclectic 1920s anthology of American folk songs. Sarah Norris is slated to direct. Performances are scheduled through February 18.

Upstairs in Theater B, ACT II Playhouse, in association with Bud Martin, will present Beverly Johnson: In Vogue, about the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue. Johnson co-wrote the play with Josh Ravetch, who also directs. The play promises to dish about, “her unimaginable tumultuous relationships, the truth about Bill Cosby, and her involvement in the #MeToo movement.”

In the coming months, Theater C will host a series of new shows including No.11 Productions’s Pair (November 3-18), Liz Richardson’s Unconfined (December 6-22), and Alice Jankell The Sweet Spot (January 11-27).

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Closed: November 18, 2023

In Vogue

Performances begin: January 9, 2024

The Greatest Hits Down Route 66

Performances begin: January 13, 2024

Artificial Flavors

Closed: November 19, 2023

Monsieur Chopin

Final performance: December 24, 2023

The Sweet Spot

Performances begin: January 11, 2024