Visual artist, performer, and gay stage icon Chris Tanner brings true-life tales, and, in his words, “humiliating stories of the sexual awakening of a nerdy art queen,” to the stage in Football Head. Tanner sings and tells the stories, accompanied on the stage by three doo-wop singers and collaborator Lance Cruce. The show is first and foremost about his family, intermingled with shame, guilt, and celebration thrown in for good measure.
La MaMa, East Village, begins June 20, tickets $10-$18
This musical is called Bike Shop, and it’s about—you guessed it—a bike shop. Liz Barkan plays Bobby, a bike messenger grappling with the heavy weight of having accidentally murdered a young girl while delivering a package. After the accident, Bobby holes up in her family-run bike shop, opened by her Irish immigrant grandmother back in 1936. Characters—all played by Barkan—file in and out of the store: Bobby’s father, a Vietnam vet; her uncle, a self-proclaimed Rabbi; and a mysterious man, a fellow messenger who helps Bobby get back on her bike.
Theater for the New City, East Village, begins June 20, tickets $15
Interactive and immersive, Play/Date isn’t really a show as much as an experience: it takes place at a lounge (Fat Baby in the Lower East Side), where the audience can either sit or meander while they watch performers move around the bar and perform a series of short plays. Sure, the plays’ subject—New York dating—has been beaten to death. But Play/Date is less about the stories and more about the interaction between the audience and the actors. Did we mention you’re encouraged to drink while you watch? Sold.
Fat Baby, Lower East Side, previews begin June 22 @ 8:15 p.m., tickets $30-$85
Back for a limited-engagement encore, Clown Bar is a dark-comedy-slash-whodunit about a clown searching for the answers to his brother’s murder. The show is critically acclaimed, and every bit as weird as it sounds. The audience is encouraged to wear full clown regalia to the performance; they’ll get free shots of “extra funny” if they do. We haven’t seen the show, but there’s a “Fight Director” in the crew credits, and that’s all we need to know.
The Box, Lower East Side, June 21, June 28, & July 5 @ 7:30 p.m., tickets $25-$45
For the second year, Planet Connections, an eco-friendly arts organization, presents its One-Acts for a Cause Gala. Four renowned playwrights—Israel Horovitz, Erik Ehn, Winter Miller, Wendy MacLeod—have written one-act plays that bring attention to hunger and homelessness in New York City. All proceeds from the show benefit City Harvest, a New York-based food rescue organization. Show-goers are encouraged to bring canned food to donate to City Harvest.
East 13th Street Theater (Classic Stage Company), East Village, June 22 @ 7:30 p.m., tickets $50-$75
Written by Brooklyn playwright and New Mexico native Ariel Stess, I’m Pretty Fucked Up is a play about three high school friends who skip class to take a road trip into the New Mexico mountains. The action cuts between the friends and their freedom on the road, and the school, where teachers and students are dealing with an emergency lock-down.
Clubbed Thumb, Soho, June 18-22 @ 8 p.m., tickets $15-$18
The Comic Book Theater Fest, back for the first time since its 2011 debut, will offer live adaptations of classic 3D comics (complete with “3D space glasses”), live readings of DMC comics (about vigilante justice in ’80s NYC) and of Michael Bay’s horrible Ninja Turtles script, plus plays about comic-book artists, superheroes (including one who develops her powers by overdosing on acai supplements), and comic-book artists who become superheroes. In one production, Matthew Thurber adapts his own comic about a werewolf president, with 19th century Bowery melodrama as his inspiration. There’s a lot going on here!
The Brick Theater, Williamsburg, June 3-29, ticket prices vary