The Best Performing Arts Talks & Shows Coming to NYC This Spring

By Alison Durkee

New York’s performing arts scene is one of the greatest in the world—and as the weather gets warmer and spring blooms, now’s the perfect time to get out and discover everything it has in store. Take in performances, special events, and behind-the-scenes talks at these upcoming talks and events.

The original set of Oklahoma! Photo by Teddy Wolff.Spring is the busiest time on Broadway, as scores of shows book their opening nights for just before the Tony Awards deadline. Check out new musical offerings like Tootsie, Beetlejuice, and a new stripped-down revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!—or take in a play like Glenda Jackson’s revival of King Lear or Hillary and Clinton, in which Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow taking on the former first couple. Downtown performance artist Taylor Mac will also be on-hand to speak about his new Broadway outing as a playwright, Titus Andronicus sequel Gary, at a conversation April 22 at the Drama League.

Theater lovers can also hear on April 22 from the creators of a hotly anticipated Off-Broadway production, as the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process series continues with a look at Atlantic Theater Company’s The Secret Life of Bees. Over in Brooklyn that same day, a group of playwrights will offer their looks not at a future production, but at the future itself, as BAM hosts a reading of the America 2024 short plays recently published in T Magazine. Look back on a past Broadway masterpiece on May 2 at the 92nd Street Y, where they’ll be discussing Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and the “Off-Broadway experiment.” To get a new perspective on classic shows, meanwhile, head to Symphony Space on April 25, where their week-long Project Broadway series will include a “Re-envisioning the Role” event that considers how classic musical theatre roles are being re-interpreted through a modern lens.

Music lovers will also find plenty to enjoy this spring. Take in some classical music with upcoming orchestral performances by the New York Chamber Players Orchestra (April 23), New York Baroque (May 2), and The Orchestra Now (May 2), or enjoy other upcoming concerts by the Latin-influenced Bohemian Trio (April 21) and Barnard College’s celebration of women and music May 18. On May 4, travel back in time to discover Leonardo da Vinci’s history as a musician, as Dr. Michael Eisenberg shines a light on the inventor and artist’s little-known musical background. For a look at more recent musician, meanwhile, hear from musician Moby and his struggles as an artist as he appears in a conversation on the power of failure May 20.

St. George’s Night Uprising in Estonia, April 23, 1343.

Caveat in Brooklyn will be offering a full slate of live events this spring, including storytelling events looking at “sheroes” of the past (April 24) and a nostalgic look back at events that happened On This Day (April 23). On May 1, Caveat will take a scientific look at scary stories and the psychology behind why we invent them. Science and the arts will also be combined at Columbia University on May 1, where an ongoing workshop series on the neuroscience of improvisation will explore the approaches scientists use in studying creativity.

Another science-based topic to get the artistic treatment this spring is the environment, as talks and events spotlight how the arts can be linked to the natural world – particularly in the face of climate change. Look back at the history between environmental activism and folk music at the New-York Historical Society, where they’ll be exploring this relationship in the movement to protect the Hudson River April 22. Other events will directly use art as a tool in environmental justice: Caveat’s Eco Trippin: Earth Night will use music and comedy to discuss modern ecology (April 22); the activist orchestra The Dream Unfinished will use classical music as a platform to discuss climate justice (April 21); and an April 25 Funeral for a Tree will incorporate live music in its tribute to the trees that are killed in order to create toilet paper. Environmentalists can also take part in artistic festivals paying tribute to the natural world: the April 21 Earth Love Festival (above) will include artistic installations, soundscapes, “dance party empowerment,” and more, while the May 11 Procession for Climate Solutions will feature a 6-hour procession and site-specific performances to highlight sustainability solutions in the East Village and Lower East Side.

Other upcoming artistic events will tackle political issues beyond the environment. One of the first events coming to Hudson Yard’s newly-opened artistic hub The Shed will be a one-night-only lecture with Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley (May 10), in which he’ll discuss protest and resistance in conjunction with poetry. On April 25, a cabaret performance will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in conjunction with the New York Public Library’s current exhibition, which will highlight the exhibition’s themes of political activism, love, nightlife, and the queer press. As immigration continues to come under attack from the federal government, a June 12 event at the Public Theater will defy the White House by celebrating immigration at This Alien Nation, where immigrants will share tales about their lives.

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