17 Great Things to Do in New York

Things to do in NYC.
Photo: Maria Baranova/© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc/Marco Borggreve

1. See New York, New York
“Top of the heap.”
Martin Scorsese’s flop 1977 musical is more than a bit abrasive. The director set out to make a splashy, MGM-style musical with the corrosive psychological underbelly of a, well, Scorsese film. I saw it on opening day, loved the long set piece in which Robert De Niro’s saxophonist seduces Liza Minnelli’s torch singer, and fled after an hour and a half when I couldn’t take more screaming and slapping. Then I walked back in and watched the rest — standing up. It’s a fascinating failed experiment, capped by Minnelli’s introduction of the titular Kander-Ebb song — originally meant to be ironic.
—David Edelstein
Metrograph, January 31 to February 6.

Pop Music
2. See The Loud Experience
More than 25 years of Loud Records.
Seminal rap label Loud Records was a force in the ’90s, thanks to the vision of co-founders Steve Rifkind and Rich Isaacson and a roster that included heavyweights like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, and Three 6 Mafia. The collective will celebrate its rich history with a show featuring Wu, Fat Joe, Beatnuts, dead prez, tributes to the fallen rap legends Prodigy and Big Pun, and more. —Craig Jenkins
Radio City Music Hall, January 30.

3. & 4. See A Pink Chair (In Place of a Fake Antique) and The Wooster Group
Double your Wooster, double your fun.
The Wooster Group revives its affecting “encounter” with the (deceased) director Tadeusz Kantor in the reenactment of one of his eerie, death-haunted pieces, I Shall Never Return. Archival film of the Kantor production and the Wooster’s own reproduction of the Polish original jostle in a weird, lopsided waltz. To really Wooster it up, you should also see the exhibition about the group, with film and images from its own archive. —Helen Shaw
NYU Skirball Center, through February 2; Carriage Trade, 277 Grand Street, 2nd fl., through January 26.

5. See Katarina Riesing
A sheer visionary.
Sizzling segments of the human body are seemingly zeroed in on from a lover’s point of view or by someone regarding themselves with rapture, wonder, and disgust at the fleshiness of it all. In Katarina Riesing’s “Razor Burn,” figurative snippets of body stockings, pantyhose with gaping holes, and other underwear enliven painting’s possibilities of being enticing, utterly uncanny, and odd, yet still formal. Darkly wise and rudely allusive. —Jerry Saltz
Asya Geisberg, 537B West 23rd Street, through February 15.

Classical Music
6. Hear Benjamin Hochman and Friends
Poetry, love letters, and the songs they become.
A few hundred miles and the First World War separate the two pieces in this program: Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, a surreal mini-monodrama about a moonstruck naïf, and Janácek’s Diary of One Who Disappeared, a tragedy-soaked song cycle of young love. —Justin Davidson
92nd Street Y, January 24.

7. See Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey
A completist’s exhibition.
This new exhibit presents artifacts from the obsessive director Stanley Kubrick’s deep research into his pioneering sci-fi epic and the film’s lengthy production process, which involved the creation of revolutionary F/X, costumes, and makeup (remember those apes?). —Bilge Ebiri
Museum of the Moving Image, through July 19.

8. See Bill Traylor
The art of former slave Bill Traylor came to light through the efforts of numerous small galleries and dedicated collectors and fellow artists. Here, the large collection of the late William Louis-Dreyfus (father of Julia) being sold at a megagallery to benefit, in part, children in Central Harlem is a beautiful sight. —J.S.
David Zwirner gallery, 34 East 69th Street, through February 1.

9. See La Damnation de Faust
Only four, spare presentations.
Robert Lepage’s 2008 production of Berlioz’s quasi-opera was so high tech and forward looking that the Met may never stage it again. Instead, it’s performing the piece in concert dress, facing front — just that wild, wizardly score sung by Elina Garanca and Bryan Hymel. —J.D.
Metropolitan Opera, opens January 25.

Classical Music
10. Hear Jörg Widmann
A warm welcome.
The 46-year-old composer-conductor-clarinetist, who’s in residence at Carnegie Hall this season, launches his year by doing all three with the International Contemporary Ensemble, careening through chamber works that show off his energy, wit, and playful reverence for the past. —J.D.
Zankel Hall, January 28.

11. Go to The Exponential Festival
The deep fringe of New York theater-making gets its Brooklyn showcase in this far-flung festival, which contains radical dance double bills at Parallel, a vital smorgasbord evening (on the 25th), an immersive choose-your-own-adventure show in an actual (and secret) box store, a noir-sci-fi thriller at the Doxsee Theater in Sunset Park, and a solemn solo piece by Kareem Lucas, in which he stages his own funeral at the Brick. If you’ve ever felt the wild pioneering days of the theater scene were over, these impassioned, experimental artists will make you clutch your pearls again.—H.S.
Various locations, through February 3.

12. See I Walked With a Zombie
A horror pioneer.
Director Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked With a Zombie crossbreeds Jane Eyre with voodoo. It’s a mesmerizing drama that nevertheless sends the occasional chill up your spine. It’s being shown as part of a series programmed by French director Bertrand Bonello, whose Zombi Child starts its theatrical run at the Quad January 24. —B.E.
Quad Cinema, January 22.

13. & 14. See Janet Sobel and Pearl Blauvelt
Two self-taught visionaries.
If the art world bestowed medals for art-community service, dealer-gallerist Andrew Edlin would merit a silver star for his unflagging commitment to undersung, outsider artists. Here, two massive talents hold forth: Janet Sobel, a visionary figurative painter of almost abstract conglomerations of circus colors, reveals an artist in need of a museum survey; Pearl Blauvelt gives us penciled scenes of exquisite detail, observation, and love. —J.S.
Andrew Edlin Gallery, 212 Bowery, through February 22.

Classical Music
15. Hear Bang on a Can
At the People’s Commissioning Fund Concert.
The mother of avant-garde collectives showcases a half-dozen composers, young, old, and dead — including Iceland’s Hildur Guðnadóttir, who won a Golden Globe for her Joker score. —J.D.
Merkin Hall, January 28.

Classical Music
16. Hear American Symphony Orchestra
Not typically Ludwigian.
Beethoven would have turned 250 this year, and the ASO, led by Leon Botstein, takes a typically contrarian approach, performing not-Beethoven-at-all but composers who bore the sometimes painful marks of his influence, from close musical kin Spohr and Liszt to the more distantly related Russian modernist Galina Ustvolskaya. —J.D.
Carnegie Hall, January 31.

17. Go to New York Review Books
Celebrating 20 years of smart books.
The New York Review of Books’ side gig, a publishing operation, is 20 years old. Edwin Frank, Marlon James, Leslie Jamison, and Colm Tóibín will read selections of work from NYRB by Josep Pla, Renata Adler, Elizabeth Hardwick, and others.
92nd Street Y, January 27.

*A version of this article appears in the January 20, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

17 Things to Do in New York City Over the Next Two Weeks