Speedy Shows to See This Season

By Barbara Bellesi

You love a good show, but the idea of spending hours in an uncomfortable seat in a crowded theater is less than enticing. Stage producers agree, which is why there is a growing number of shorter plays and musicals, many of which have even ditched intermission. Here are five Broadway and off-Broadway shows that clock in under two hours – perfect for a leisurely afternoon or evening in the city.

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“In Transit”

Circle in the Square Theatre

235 West 50th Street

New York, NY 10019


The New York City subway is the setting of this new musical from the creative minds behind “Frozen” and “Pitch Perfect.” An a cappella score flows through the intersecting lives of 11 New Yorkers who are all trying to find their way to love, happiness, and success in the big city. The musical has the creative backing of some major figures of Broadway and Hollywood: Academy Award-winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“Frozen”) and James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth wrote the book, music, and lyrics. Deke Sharon (“Pitch Perfect” and “The Sing-Off”) arranged the vocals, while three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall serves as director and choreographer. (95 minutes, no intermission)

“A Dog Story”

Davenport Theatre

354 West 45th Street

New York, NY 10036


Not all musical comedies have gone to the dogs, but this one has. “A Dog Story” is a new musical directed by Justin Baldridge about Roland, a lawyer looking for love. When his best friend Guy suggests a dog as the ideal chick magnet, Roland gets a puppy named Cupid. Roland’s thrilled when Cupid leads him to Blair, a pretty businesswoman, but not so much when he meets Miranda, a dog trainer who seems to tolerate puppies but not their owners. Will Roland ever find the love of his life, or has it already given him a lick in the face? With the book by Eric H. Weinberger and music and lyrics by Gayla D. Morgan, this play will have you “sit” and gladly “stay” for a while. (90 minutes, no intermission)

“When It’s You”

Clurman Theatre

Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street

New York, NY 10036

World premiere; opens February 17


The Keen Company presents the world premiere of Courtney Baron’s play, which reflects on the hot-button topic of gun violence in our society. Ginnifer is a 37-year-old woman who has moved back to her hometown to settle her late mother’s estate. There, she learns her old high school boyfriend was the perpetrator of a mass shooting. Already beset by personal struggles, Ginnifer must now deal with the gossip and rumors surrounding her relationship with the shooter, as well as consider her place in society as a single woman. (70 minutes, no intermission)

“NEWSical the Musical”

The Kirk Theatre

Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street

New York, NY 10036


If you like poking fun at celebrities and other newsmakers, then you’ll love “NEWSical the Musical.” Described as “‘Saturday Night Live’ meets ‘Laugh-In’ meets ‘The Nightly News’ meets Broadway,” this show serves up plenty of laughs at the expense of news and pop culture headlines. The show’s sketch lineup changes often, which allows for repeat viewings as well as plenty of opportunity for guest stars. In addition to the existing company of actors, guest performers have included “Saturday Night Live” alum Cheri Oteri, Broadway’s Andrea McArdle, and Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton. (80 minutes, no intermission)

“Gazillion Bubble Show”

New World Stages

340 West 50th Street

New York, NY 10019


Looking for family-friendly options? “Gazillion Bubble Show” is fun for kids of all ages. Spoiler alert: There are a lot of bubbles in this show! Prepare to have your opinion of soap and water changed forever as you become entranced by interactive bubble artistry punctuated by amazing laser and light shows. You and the entire family will be blown away by this lofty production, which has been featured on TV alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, and David Letterman. (60 minutes, no intermission)

Less Time, More Tonys

Don’t confuse shorter run times with lower-quality plays and musicals. A show without intermission often means there’s a compelling enough storyline to keep you transfixed by the characters, not the concession stand. It’s a move that has paid off big at the Tonys in the past two years. Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” directed by Joe Mantello with a nonstop runtime of 95 minutes, won the Tony for Best Play in 2016. And audiences won’t soon forget “Fun Home,” the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, whose performance was a tidy 100 minutes and won the 2015 Tony for Best Musical. While both of these shows have closed, they paved the way for future concise creations.

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