Five Broadway Shows You Need To See Now

It’s that post-Tony Awards week when people are buzzing about the winners for the past year. While industry accolades are a nice thing to receive, plenty of deserving shows, performances and talent often do not get their proper due. Following is a list of five shows you need to see, regardless of whether or not they took home a Tony.

THE BOOK OF MORMON — Even before it won a boatload of Tony Awards, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s The Book Of Mormon was an instant hit, comedically chronicling the mission of two naïve, newly anointed Mormon elders in war-torn Uganda. (“Africa is not like The Lion King!”) Yes, it’s sacrilegious. Yes, it’s profane. Yes, it’s full of cursing. But it’s not as anti-religious or anti-spiritual as you’d think, and that’s where it’s strength lies. Not only is it one of the funniest shows to hit Broadway in years, but you’ll remember a lot of the songs long after you leave, which is a rarity these days.

THE NORMAL HEART — Larry Kramer’s semi-autobiographical account of the dawn of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Manhattan in the early Eighties is one of the most powerful dramas you will ever experience on Broadway. It will infuriate, inspire and emotionally decimate you as its antagonistic journalistic protagonist stirs things up at City Hall and beyond, desperately trying to warn both the gay community and the world about a major public health disaster on the way. It won three Tonys, for Best Revival Of A Play, Best Featured Lead Actor (Benjamin Lee Hickey) and Best Featured Actress (the amazingly intense Ellen Barkin). The show also marks the Broadway debut of Barkin and three popular television actors, Luke MacFarlane, Lee Pace and Jim Parsons. The show ends July 10th, so seek out seats now.

GHETTO KLOWN — No Tony noms? For shame, people! John Leguizamo’s outrageously funny, raunchy and emotionally intense one-man show showcases his rise through the entertainment industry, battling his personal and professional demons and dealing with the decline of his relationship with his father. It will take you through plenty of highs and lows and even a few squirm-inducing moments as he recounts tales of love, life on the set, familial discord and less than flattering portrayals of Hollywood icons. A past Emmy and Obie Award winner, Leguizamo is a profound talent, and this proves it. Ghetto Klown closes July 10th, so grab tickets ASAP.

BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO — Starring Robin Williams as the personification of a caged tiger slain by an American soldier at the play’s opening, this surreal story finds him haunting the decimated city of Baghdad during the current Gulf War. As the casualties slowly mount, and human ghosts join his lonely wanderings, a powerfully dark and divisive portrait of the city, its inhabitants and its occupiers emerges. Williams’ sardonic performance in this drama, which ruminates over the human costs of war, is equally matched by the excellent cast, particularly Hrach Titizian as the evil, goading ghost of Uday Hussein. Nominated for three Tonys, the show shutters July 3rd, so catch it while you can.

JERUSALEM — After delivering a bizarre comic performance (and possibly the longest rambling monologue ever) in La Bête, Mark Rylance (Tony winner here for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play) returns to Broadway in this tale of an middle aged alcoholic and former daredevil grappling with threats of eviction, violence from an angry stepfather seeking his lost daughter, estrangement from his wife and son and indulging the ragtag group of outcast teens who imbibe his booze and drugs. Beyond the mirth that masks the pain is a deadly serious examination of British dreams, class warfare and intolerance. You may not make sense of all of it by the climax of its three-hour span, but the larger-than-life finale delivers an emotional wallop. Jerusalem‘s run has been extended through August 21st.

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