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25 QUESTIONS FOR A JEWISH MOTHER When we think of the Jewish mother, we think guilt trips, matzoh ball soup, and constant kvetching. Jewish lesbian comedian Judy Gold challenges this stereotype with her new play. Gold is known for her lightning-fast, sometimes caustic sense of humor, and when it comes to big laughs, this show doesn’t disappoint. The best moments, however, come when she puts it all on the line and tries a little tenderness, going behind the laughs of her trademark Jewish mother joke to investigate what makes her Jewish mother tick, and to discover, “How I fit into the world of Jewish motherhood.” Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th St. $25 at 212-868-4444. Through Mar. 10. (Winnie McCroy)

Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life In 1993, when Broadway veteran Chita Rivera was slated to star as Aurora in “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” some feared she was too old for such a vigorous role. Now, against all odds, she’s back on Broadway with her own show, “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life,” a full-throttle celebration of her half-century career. Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. $56.25-$101.25; 212-239-6200. (David Kennerley)

The Color Purple Spousal abuse. Rape. Incest. Murder. Not exactly the stuff of which Broadway musicals are made. At least not musicals that expect to recoup their investment. But in bringing “The Color Purple” to the stage, at a cost of $10 million, lead producer Scott Sanders knew better. He assembled a crack creative team that was able to amplify the uplifting themes from the landmark 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker—faith, overcoming adversity, finding self-love—and turn the doleful epic into a toe-tapping, knee-slapping feel-good fest. But is the package just a bit too tidy? Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway. $26.25 - $101.25 at 212-239-6200. (David Kennerley)

THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED In his new play, Douglas Carter Beane delivers a stinging rebuke to the shallowness of our culture. Mitchell (Neal Huff), a fading, pretty boy movie star, is a closeted homosexual. He falls in love with a callboy, Alex (Johnny Galecki), who in the meantime falls in love with Mitchell, though he also has a relationship with Ellen (Zoe Lister-Jones), a party girl who has been seeing an older man because he’s rich. How each character comes to terms to what level of prostitution they will sink is juxtaposed against some of the wittiest writing about Hollywood, the New York social scene, and personal relationships seen in a long time. Scott Ellis directs his wonderful company with an equal level of precision. Second Stage, 307 W.43rd St. $42-$65 at 212-246-4422. (Christopher Byrne)

MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION Prostitution, it seems, is just the thing on stage this season. This play written by George Bernard Shaw portrays a society that literally forces women into being sex workers. Dark though the subject matter is—and truer than most would want to admit—Charlotte Moore has directed a precise and fascinating production that deftly balances Shaw’s drawing room comedy styling and biting social commentary. Even in the dark, talky second act, Moore keeps the play buoyant and energetic, which Shaw seems to intend in the script, so that the horror of the situations of all the characters can be more fully felt. Central to this production is Dana Ivey as Mrs. Warren. She delivers a passionate and focused performance that easily covers the full range of the character. The Irish Repertory Company, 132 W. 22nd St. $45, $50 at 212-727-2737 (Christopher Byrne)

THE ODD COUPLE Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick give command performances in this classic comedy. Expect no surprises as the stars fight it out as two co-habitating, very different characters, the anal-retentive versus the common slob. It is charming though—particularly in the performances by Brad Garrett as Murray the Cop, Lee Wilkof as Vinnie, and Olivia d’Abo and Jessica Stone as the Pigeon sisters. Brooks Atkinson Theatre 256 W. 47th St. $60-$100 at 212-307-4100. (Christopher Byrne)

RFK It was, Jack Holmes said, “a standard agent’s question.” This was 10 or so years ago. “This agent said, ‘Who do you remind people of?’ and I hemmed and hawed and then she said, ‘Well, you remind me of Robert Kennedy.’ I said, ‘That’s strange, I’m thinking of writing a play about him.’ As soon as I said it I walked out of her office, walked down the street, and said to myself, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do that.’” Written and performed solo by Jack Holmes, directed by Larry Moss. Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St. $30-$55 at 212-307-4100. Through Feb. 26. (Jerry Tallmer)

SWEENEY TODD Rich in storytelling, gripping in intellectual scope, and performed by a superlative cast, this quintessential 20th century musical, with book by Hugh Wheeler and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, has been reconceived for today’s world. Intimate, gripping, and more darkly disturbing than previous productions, it is political theater of the first order in the guise of a seat-edge storytelling experience. The Eugene O’Neill Theater. $35-$100 at 212-239-6200. (Christopher Byrne)

The Trip to Bountiful Real compassion is so intensely life-affirming that one wonders why we don’t see more of it in our world. Instead, we see self-serving and posturing masquerading as humanity and wonder why it rings so false. As the cliché goes, “actions speak louder than words.” This is just one of the themes that radiate warmly through the lyrical and satisfying production of “The Trip to Bountiful” mounted by the Signature Theater Company. Set against the backdrop of Houston in 1953, Horton Foote’s play is a story of transition in the years just after World War II, when increased mobility and a changing economy shifted the notion of family forever. Peter Norton Space, 555 W. 42nd St. $55; 212-352-3101. Through Feb 19. (Christopher Byrne)

ZOMBOID The downtown avant-garde theater guru Richard Foreman has been churning out original pieces on an annual basis since he founded his own company, the Ontological-Hysteric, in 1968. It is only fitting then, for such a complicated playwright­/producer/­director/ sound and light artist, that he be permitted to “take a break.” Thus is the subject of Foreman’s new piece “Zomboid!”—an exploration of what people go through when their minds are “taking a break. Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Mark’s Church, Second Ave. at 10th St. Through Apr. 9. $23-$28/$17 for students; 212-352-3101 or theatermania .com. (Nick Feitel)

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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