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‘Bike Shop’ Sings Cycling’s Praises on the Stage

Elizabeth Barkan in Bike ShopTheater For The New City Elizabeth Barkan as Bobby in “Bike Shop.”

Who knew cycling could be so liberating — and devoid of controversy?

In “Bike Shop,” a one-woman musical showing at The Theater for the New City, Bobby, a bike messenger and mechanic, sings odes to the freedom of the streets. For her, the bicycle is an escape — even a vehicle for feminine liberation.

Set in 1993, this bit of cycling nostalgia takes place in a purer time, before every hipster had a neglected fixed gear hanging in his loft, new bike lanes led to lawsuits, business owners blamed cycling for declining customers and passersby won’t even stop a brazen bike thief.

The songs are campy and catchy, and the writing often amusing to the biker-friendly audience. However, non-cyclists likely won’t find the storyline of two-wheeled redemption as touching.

A charming Elizabeth Barkan, the show’s creator and star, plays Bobby, who works at her family’s bike store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her grandmother, also played by Ms. Barkan, opened the store 30 years prior. The final character onstage is an Uncle Rabbi, and at times the exertion required of the multiple rolls and onstage cycling while singing seems to wear the star of the show down. Occasionally Ms. Barkan would start a song strongly, but by the end had lost her momentum.
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‘Once’ Heads Uptown, ‘An Iliad’ Opens Downtown

“Once,” the well-received musical that recently ended its run at the New York Theatre Workshop, is headed for Broadway, but the cast hasn’t left the East Village far behind: A video posted to YouTube shows a photo shoot and hootenanny at Swift Hibernian Lounge. If you missed the show’s local run, tickets for the Broadway reprise, starting Feb. 28, can be purchased here.

And if you’d rather keep it local, the New York Theatre Workshop’s next production, “An Iliad,” opens Feb. 15. The adaptation of Homer’s classic, by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, will feature Mr. O’Hare (“True Blood,” “American Horror Story”) and Stephen Spinella (“Angels in America”) in alternating performances. More information here.