Below is my full, ongoing list of media and events I'm most looking forward to. To put something good on my radar, please get in touch. List updated May 17, 2019.
NYC: 🎭 Socrates (The Public Theater, closes June 2) — Tim Blake Nelson directs, but what I’m most looking forward to is seeing Michael Stuhlbarg in the cast. More info.
NYC: 🎭 Continuity (Off-Broadway, Closes June 9) — A world premiere play by Bess Wohl, directed by Rachel Chavkin. More info.
NYC: 🎭 Octet (Off-Broadway, closes June 23) — Writer-composer Dave Malloy and director Annie Tippe have created a masterpiece with this show, which they call a “chamber choir musical.” Surprisingly for that description, it’s all about how the internet has changed our lives, and even more surprisingly for that subject matter, it is thoroughly substantive and nuanced. Not surprisingly at all, these creators (and the astounding cast) have created something breathtaking and challenging. This show is an absolute must-see. More info.
NYC: 🎭 Burn This (Broadway, closes July 14) — A steamy play featuring Adam Driver and Keri Russell would be on my radar in any circumstance, but in this case, the pairing may placate my eagerness to see them return for Episode IX later this year. More info.
NYC: 🎭 What the Constitution Means to Me (Broadway, closes July 21) — An astonishing production about how the United States Constitution is both the root of the deepest problems in the country as well as, potentially, its savior. More info.
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📺 Barry (Sundays @ 10 p.m., HBO) — The first season of Barry was a comedy about what it means to kill (both people and onstage). The second season has continued the excellence we saw last year. This is one of the tightest, most intense (and also hilarious) seres on television. Season 2 trailer.
NYC: 🎭 Hadestown (Broadway) — A show that transcends poetry and becomes prophesy. Its first act culminates in the stirring and striking song, “Why We Build the Wall,” a song which, surprisingly, dates back to at least composer Anaïs Mitchell’s 2010 concept album, so its powerful resonance with post-2016 American politics is more a reflection of the show’s prophetic cultural critique than any knee-jerk political reference. That critique has more to do with industry, capitalism and environmental justice than partisan politics or presidential Twitter theatrics. More info.
📺 PEN15 (Hulu) — A brilliant series that is both a hilarious comedy about puberty as well as a thoughtful drama about family, culture and relationships. Trailer.
NYC: 🎭 Tootsie (Broadway) — I have adored Santino Fontana since I first saw him on Broadway in Cinderella and then heard him in Frozen. Now, he'e starring in a new musical based on one of my favorite film comedies, with a score by David Yazbek (The Band's Visit, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and I am delighted to report that the show has met my impossibly high expectations. I cannot remember a musical ever making me laugh harder or longer, and the show is also surprisingly thoughtful. It is a poignant musical comedy for the #MeToo age, on top of being a vehicle for great performances — not only by Fontana, but all of his co-stars. Lilli Cooper (as Julie), Sarah Stiles (as Sandy), Andy Grotelueschen (as Jeff) and Reg Rogers (as Ron) are all absolutely delightful.
🎬 Avengers: Endgame (In theaters) — A fitting conclusion to a 22-film series that has remained shockingly coherent and good over its decade of existence. Plus, when I want to re-watch the whole series, I now have two ways of doing so.
NYC: 🦕 Dinosaur safari experience (Closes Nov. 3, The Bronx Zoo) — Apparently this will be a shuttle ride around with some enormous animatronic dinosaurs to see and that sounds like very much My Thing ™. More info.
📖 Exponent II Spring 2016 issue (Magazine) — The Mormon feminist publication Exponent II is now offering a certain issue from the archive for free viewing online. The magazine writes, “Due to increased interest in the Spring 2016 issue of Exponent II, which examined the November 2015 Exclusion Policy, we have decided to make the entire issue available online for free. You can access it through the link below. We hope that this document will serve as record for history in how this policy harmed individuals and families.” Read for free.
NYC: 🎭 Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish (Off-Broadway) — Directed by Broadway legend Joel Grey and translated into Yiddish by Shraga Friedman, this production has received rave reviews. I hope it is a beautiful examination of faith and tradition in the face of modern progressivism, and I’m eager to see it. More info.
📺 Fosse/Verdon (Tuesdays @ 10 p.m., FX) — I would be thrilled to see any series tackle the story of iconic theater artists Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, but with Lin-Manuel Miranda as executive producer and a cast that includes Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell (and Norbert Leo Butz!) I am so pleased with this show. It has tackled fascinating subject matter with creativity. I’m looking forward to seeing the show through to its conclusion.
🎬 Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé (Netflix) — Beyoncé has created a film that appears to be an epic amalgam of autobiographical documentary and footage of her famous Coachella performance. Trailer.
🎬 Long Shot (In theaters) — Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron star in this romantic comedy set in the world of American politics.
NYC: 🎭 Oklahoma! (Broadway, closes Jan. 19, 2020) — Since I first started loving musicals, I have identified as a sort of anti-Rodgers-and-Hammerstein musical fan. I have always been more drawn toward productions involving bloodthirsty plants, frank discussions of disease — anything with an edge. And yet, I adored the somewhat updated version of Cinderella in 2013, and now, it seems this production of Oklahoma! — a show credited with being the first modern musical — has all the edge I would ever want. It’s officially recommended only for teenagers and adults for its “mature content,” even though not a word of the book or songs have apparently been changed. This review from The New Yorker has me paying attention. Maybe I have been a fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein all along. More info.
🎬 See You Yesterday (On Netflix) — Director Stefon Bristol has worked with Spike Lee and I cannot wait to see his debut about time-traveling teens.
📺 Saturday Night Live (New episode May 18 @ 11:30 p.m., NBC) — Paul Rudd hosts with musical guest the DJ Khaled.
🤣 Movies, Musicals, and Me (UCB Hell’s Kitchen, Next show: May 20 @ 10:30 p.m.) — This was one of the best things I have seen so far at UCB. It’s created by Al Fallick, Clark Baxtresser and Pierce Siebers, with Fallick and Baxtresser on stage performing along with special guest performers. Fallick plays a conceited Broadway star named Halpert Evans, and the night plays like a revue of classic Broadway tunes, only they are all original parody songs of pretend musicals based on real movies. This time, with special guests Etai Benson (The Band’s Visit), Pomme Koch (The Band’s Visit), Tiffany Mann (Be More Chill) and Hannah Solow (Rumpleteaser). More info.
NYC: 🎭 Moby-Dick preview (Tickets go on sale May 20; Performances July 26 and 27) — Before the next musical from Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin opens in Boston Dec. 3, excerpts from it will be performed with a live orchestra under a giant whale at the American Museum of Natural History. The musical: Moby-Dick. The performance will be 90 minutes long. Tickets cost $120. More info.
NYC: 🎭 Much Ado About Nothing (Public Works’ Shakespeare in the Park, opens May 21, closes June 23) — More info.
NYC: 📚 Controversial Classics Book Club (Roosevelt Island Library, May 22 @ 5 p.m.) — Official description: “If you can answer yes to these questions, you just might have what it takes to be a member of this club. Do you enjoy or are you interested in reading classic works of literature? Have you been called a troublemaker? Are you open-minded and find no subject to be taboo? Join the Roosevelt Island Library's Controversial Classics Book Club. The first meeting will be to select the books we will discuss in the future.” More info.
NYC: 🎬/📚 Singin’ in the Rain on 16mm (Webster Library, May 23@ 4 p.m.) — The classic musical will be projected on 16mm film reel, borrowed by the Library for Performing Arts’ Reserve Film and Video Collection. More info.
🎬 Aladdin (In theaters May 24) — I was obsessed with the 1992 animated version, and while I was not hot on the Broadway version, and I cannot get excited to see see Will Smith take on the Genie character, I can't not to look forward to this. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman gave us some of their best work on this score, after all.
🎬 Booksmart (In theaters May 24) — Received great buzz at SXSW this year. The directorial debut of Olivia Wilde. More info.
NYC: 🎵 Shaina Taub at Joe's Pub (Music, May 28, 29, 31, July 16) — Shaina Taub's musical take on Twelfth Night last summer at the Public was an absolute dream. Her voice — both her singing voice and her activist voice — are powerful. I can't wait to see her perform live again.
🎬 Always Be My Maybe (In select theaters May 29, on Netflix May 31) — Ali Wong and Randall Park co-star in (and co-wrote) this romantic comedy. More info.
📺 When They See Us (On Netflix May 31) — A series created, written and directed by Ava DuVernay, based on the story of the Central Park Five. Trailer.
🎬 Black Mirror (New episodes on Netflix June 5) — I’ve enjoyed all the previous episodes of this series (although I missed the choose-your-own adventure one). Excited to see what mind-bending ideas they come up with for Season 5. Trailer.
📺 The Tony Awards (June 9) — The American Theatre Wing will award the 2019 Tony Awards. More info.
🎬 Men in Black: International (In theaters June 14) — The cast for this one has me very excited: Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson leading, with Rebecca Ferguson and Kumail Nanjiani involved as well. Sounds good to me!
🎬 Toy Story 4 (In theaters June 21) — Oh boy. From the outside, the cloud over this particular Pixar movie has been visible from miles away. Originally directed by disgraced* Pixar chief John Lasseter, the film has seen multiple writers (including Rashida Jones, who left the studio citing creative differences and pointed criticisms about the culture at Pixar). I thought the film would be cancelled, but seeing as it's going forward, I sincerely hope it lives up to the high bar the first three films have set for these characters.
*Wondering how disgraced can a man be if he can get picked for a top executive position at another animation studio mere days after his extended (paid) leave at Disney and Pixar? #MeToo.
NYC: 🎭 Moulin Rouge! The Musical (Broadway, previews begin June 28, opens July 25) — The film Moulin Rouge is one of my favorites because of how cinematic it is. So I’m less enthused about a stage version, but I’m intrigued. It will reportedly feature pop songs featured in the movie, as well as more recent additions. Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo star. More info.
🎬 Yesterday (In theaters June 28) — A man discovers only he can remember the Beatles. Trailer.
NYC: 🎵 David Yazbek in concert (Music, July 1) — Apparently the composer of Tootsie and The Band’s Visit has a regular thing at 54 Below. And one time he brought on fellow composer Anaïs Mitchell. How have I not already been to this? More info.
📺 Stranger Things 3 (Premieres July 4, Netflix) — I have to say, I'm pretty obsessed with this poster. Excited to see what's next for these kids.
🎬 Spider-Man: Far From Home (In theaters July 2) — Wait...didn't he die?
📺 Emmy nominees announced (July 16) — The Television Academy will announce the nominees for the 2019 Emmy Awards. More info.
🎬 The Lion King (In theaters July 19) — I share Andrew Todd's skepticism that Disney's new photo-realistically animated Lion King will come close to the vibrancy of the original version's animation style. But I'm curious to see how it turns out, and the vocal cast is 🔥.
🎬 Midsommar (In theaters Aug. 9) — From A24 and writer/director Ari Aster (Hereditary), this looks to be another piece of horror cinematic art. Also starring The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper! More info.
🎬 Where’d You Go, Bernadette (In theaters Aug. 9) — I was interested in this when I heard the book was a fun read, but when I found out that Richard Linklater is directing, the deal was sealed. I'm in.
NYC: 🎭 Hercules (Public Works’ Shakespeare in the Park, opens Aug. 31, closes Sept. 8) — I was not surprised to see that Disney’s Hercules would make the leap from screen to stage, but I was very surprised to see where the new musical adaptation will make its debut: the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Works' Shakespeare in the Park program. Free tickets for a brand new Disney musical? Wow! I will definitely be standing in line early in the morning for this. More info.
🎬 It: Chapter Two (In theaters Sept. 6) — I really enjoyed the first chapter of this take on Stephen King's horror tale, and although I haven't read the book, I think how the filmmakers are handling the flashback structure — with two different films made of two different casts — is smart.
📺 The Emmy Awards (Sept. 22, FOX) — The Television Academy will award the best of TV. More info.
🎬 Joker (In theaters Oct. 4) — Joaquin Phoenix is a great actor, and I'd like to see what his take will be on the iconic villain. (And mostly, I'm just glad Ben Affleck's Batman will be nowhere to be found.)
🎬 Jojo Rabbit (In theaters Oct. 18) — Dubbed "an anti-war satire" by Taika Waititi, this is the single upcoming film I am most excited to see. Pictured above.
🎬 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (In theaters Oct. 18) — I gotta say, I was not feeling the news that Tom Hanks had been cast as Fred Rogers. Hanks is a great actor, but his reputation as the nicest dad in Hollywood is one I've long struggled to accept. (Though I've tried.) I just cannot picture Mr. Rogers screaming "You! Are! A! Tooooy!" at Henrietta Pussycat or King Friday XIII. Where was Mark Rylance in this casting call? But when I realized the film is being directed by Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Diary of a Teenage Girl), all my worries melted away, and now I'm very curious about this.
📺 Rick and Morty (Returns November, Adult Swim) — Much to the delight of chicken-nugget-eating eighth graders everywhere (and myself, a fan of bold animation sci-fi comedy), Rick and Morty Season 4 is coming. Trailer.
📺 Disney Streaming Service (Launches Nov. 12) — The back catalogue on this thing will be tantalizing, but it's the planned original content that has me most. A live-action Star Wars series with a Game of Thrones-level budget! Some fun Marvel shows! Also: Ilana Peña (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) has a series called Diary of a Female President about a Cuban-American middle school girl’s journey to becoming the future president of the United States (sounds amazing). More info.
🎮 Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (Available Nov. 15) — A new single-player story game set in the Star Wars universe. At the Star Wars Celebration convention in April, several details were announced, including that the game will not involve a multiplayer mode (thank the maker), the story centers around young Jedi Cal Kestis (played by Cameron Monaghan), who goes into hiding after Palpatine’s Jedi extermination order from Episode III, along with his trusty droid BD-1, voiced by (and I’m very, very into this) the one and only Ben Burtt. One notable thing about this game: By my count, it’s the first major Star Wars property to come out since Disney bought Lucasfilm whose main protagonist is a white man. To be honest, I still feel like Star Wars has enough of those, so I hope the rest of the cast is more diverse. Trailer.
🎬 Frozen 2 (In theaters Nov. 22) — I saw the first one more than a half-dozen times in theaters opening weekend alone in 2015. Will the sequel fill me with the same unquenchable thirst? And will Santino Fontana return as Hans? Why does everything I love always eventually cut Santino Fontana?*
*I'm looking at you, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
🎬 Knives Out (In theaters Nov. 27) — Rian Johnson's next project after The Last Jedi (which I thought was a Star Wars masterpiece) is a small heist movie. I am iiiinnn!
Boston: 🎭 Moby-Dick (Opens Dec. 3, closes Jan. 12, 2020 at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Mass.) — The next musical from Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin. More info.
🎬 Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (In theaters Dec. 20) — Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but she's no Star Wars. Disney, thank you for bringing Christmas back for me this year. Trailer.
📺 The Good Place (Returns fall 2019, NBC) — Season 4 has been officially picked up, and I can't wait to see where this heavenly television program goes next.
🎬 Clemency (Release date TBD) — I was fortunate to catch this film by Chinonye Chukwu at the New Directors New Films festival in New York City. It won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Alfre Woodard stars as a prison warden who has overseen 12 executions, and the toll that job has taken on her life. The film is exceptionally moving as an examination of the human nuances of the political question of capital punishment. It is one of the first essential films on 2019. More info.
🎬 Klaus (On Netflix in 2019) — Former Disney animator Sergio Pablos directs this Christmas movie, and the gorgeous hand-drawn animation featured in the trailer has me very excited.
🎮 More Marvel's Spider-Man? — The end of 2018 and the start of 2019 will for me, always be dedicated to Spider-Man. The stunning and perfect Into the Spider-Verse animated film made me believe anyone can put on the mask, but the PS4 game makes me feel like I actually am Spider-Man. I have now logged many (many) hours playing Insomniac's remarkable game, swinging around Manhattan, fighting crime and constantly getting distracted by all the real-life landmarks in the open world of the city — including a handful of places right around where I real-life live. The (satisfyingly written) story has several cliffhangers that make me hopeful there will be more, and I am dying for more DLC — or better yet, a sequel to be announced. It probably won't be coming for another several years if it does, but I will be on the edge of my seat the whole time until then.
📺 Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Return date TBD, NBC) — After saving the show from cancellation, NBC has renewed the series for a seventh season. Nine-Nine!
📺 Superstore (Return date TBD, NBC) — This show somehow gets better and better, and holy wow did it get real in its last episode of its most recent season. I’m so glad it has been renewed so we can see where it goes — but also, part of the gut-punch of the Season 4 finale was in how real it was, and there’s no plot device that can easily solve that. The show excels at vibrant, current social commentary.