Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Contrary to popular belief, some of the best plays and musicals are actually performed Off-Broadway. In fact, a number of Tony-winning performances are played out first on smaller stages around the country before they’re brought to the Great White Way.

RC has compiled six new shows from the NYC to the ATL that we think will have theater goers talking all throughout the New Year. Some of them include Broadway veterans like Phylicia Rashad and Norm Lewis while others will feature a few TV/film stars like Tessa Thompson and Colman Domingo.

Check them out below and see you at the theater!

SMART PEOPLE:  1/26-3/6 at Second Stage Theatre NYC

The quest for love, achievement and identity is universal, but what role does race play in the story of our lives? On the eve of Obama’s first election, four Harvard intellectuals find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics in this provocative and funny new play by Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly), helmed by Kenny Leon (The Wiz Live), the Tony Award-winning director of the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.  Starring Creed actress Tessa Thompson.

DOT by Colman Domingo 2/4-3/13 at Vineyard Theatre NYC

Family matriarch Dotty and her three adult children gather for the holidays with more than exchanging presents on their minds. As Dotty struggles to navigate life with dementia, her children fight to balance care for their mother and care for themselves. A testament to the enduring bonds of family, this hilarious and moving new play by The Butler’s Colman Domingo grapples unforgettably with aging parents, midlife crises, and the heart of an inner city neighborhood. Directed by Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.

American Buffalo: 2/9-3/6 Southwest Arts Center ATL

This is the play that put David Mamet on the map as a major American playwright when it appeared on Broadway in 1977, winning the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play.

Set in an urban junk shop, three small-time crooks make plans to rob a man of his coin collection, including what they believe to be an extremely valuable “Buffalo nickel.” However, as the night goes on, motivations change, loyalties squirm and shift and paranoia rises to generate heart-pounding drama.  Starring Neal Ghant and Garrett Gray and directed by John Dillon.

CABIN IN THE SKY: 2/10-14 City Center NYC

Originally produced in 1940, Cabin in the Sky followed Porgy and Bess in celebrating African-American music and dance traditions. The musical tells the story of “Little Joe” Jackson, a charming ne’er-do-well who dies in a saloon brawl and is given six months on earth to prove his worth to the Lord’s General (Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis) and his long-suffering wife Petunia (Tony Award winner LaChanze), while resisting the temptations of the Devil’s Head Man (Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper). Vernon Duke’s score — which features the jazz hit “Taking a Chance on Love”– will be restored to its original glory for Encores!  Directed by TV and film actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

HEAD OF PASSES: 3/15-4/17 Public Theatre NYC

Tarell Alvin McCraney, MacArthur Genius Award-winning playwright of the acclaimed The Brother/Sister Plays, returns to The Public with an astonishing, deeply moving new drama about family, acceptance and the power of faith. At the mouth of the Mississippi River, Shelah’s family and friends have come to celebrate her birthday and save her from a leaking roof. But in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job, unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah (Phylicia Rashad) must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s greatest challenges. Directed by Tina Landau and also starring Francois Battiste, Kyle Beltran, and J. Bernard Calloway.

Born For This – The BeBe Winans Story: 4/13-5/15 Alliance Theatre ATL 

From Charles Randolph-Wright, director of Motown the Musical, and six-time Grammy Award-winning icon BeBe Winans comes a hilarious and heart-warming journey toward self-discovery. Detroit natives BeBe and CeCe Winans, youngest siblings of the Winans family dynasty, experience the ultimate in culture shocks when invited to join Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord Network television show. The Winans teenagers become not only television celebrities, they also become like adopted children of the Bakkers, integrating TV evangelism in Pineville, North Carolina. As BeBe and CeCe encounter fame, fortune, and even a young Whitney Houston, BeBe must learn to balance his desire for success with his true calling. A new American musical starring Juan and Deborah Joy Winans as the young BeBe and CeCe!

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