Broadway may have its fair share of serious pieces, but for every production of Chekhov or Eugene O’Neill there’s at least one comedy waiting in the wings to make you smile.
‘Present Laughter’: Starring Kevin Kline, the 2017 revival of Noël Coward’s “Present Laughter” showcases the leading man at his best, winning a Tony Award for his portrayal of an aging, egotistical and womanizing actor faced with a slew of unexpected visitors and all kinds of interpersonal drama.
‘Company’: Witty and acerbic yet full of heart, Stephen Sondheim’s Company tackles the emotional journey of a single man who’s not quite sure if he’s ready for love and marriage. Two versions of the musical are available for streaming, including the 2011 concert edition starring Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Hendricks, Stephen Colbert and many other familiar faces from stage and screen; the 2007 Broadway revival stars Raúl Esparza. Both iterations tell a quintessential New York story, but with a universal sentiment.
‘Candide’: Based on Voltaire’s novella of the same name the 2005 production tells the story of a chaotic quest for love, happiness and a better understanding of the world. The Leonard Bernstein-scored comic operetta with lyrics by, among others, Richard Wilbur and Stephen Sondheim, sparkles with performances by Patti LuPone and Kristin Chenoweth.
‘Elaine Stritch at Liberty’: Known for her sass and slightly jaded joie de vivre, the late Elaine Stritch bares her soul during her one-woman show at the Old Vic Theatre in London, sharing anecdotes and songs from her 50-plus years in showbiz.
‘Jay Johnson: The Two & Only’: Part stand-up and part school lesson, "Jay Johnson: The Two & Only" features the comedian and storyteller interweaving tales from his own life with comedy, history and ventriloquism with the help of his puppet Bob. While Johnson is famous for his skills as a ventriloquist, he may be best known for his long-running role on the TV show “Soap.”
‘The Man Who Came to Dinner’: Two-time Tony Award winner Nathan Lane proves to be an insufferable houseguest who overstays his welcome in this production of the classic comedy made famous by the 1942 film starring Bette Davis. Fans of “Modern Family” may know Lane as Pepper Saltzman, and viewers of “American Crime Story” or “The Good Wife” may recognize him as well. Even if Lane doesn’t look familiar, his voice should ring a bell. He plays Timon in Disney’s “The Lion King.”
‘Twelfth Night’: “Twelfth Night” presents multiple love stories that have gone awry thanks to mistaken identities, gender-bending characters, tomfoolery and general misunderstandings. This BBC adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy is placed during the English Civil War and was originally televised in 1980.
‘Old Hats’: Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s 2016 production of their slapstick extravaganza features old-school physical clowning combined with tech-enabled sound effects and projections. Musical interludes from singer Shaina Taub give your body a break from otherwise nonstop laughter.
‘Much Ado About Nothing’: This musical contains the markings of many a Shakespearean comedy: flirtatious banter, miscommunication, deceit, a fool and a wedding or two. Come for the jokes, stay for the depictions of gender roles and familial power dynamics.
‘The School for Scandal’: Fresh from the Enlightenment era comes a play not too different from an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Gossip, rumors and money all get in the way of true love and contentment in high-society London.
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