Best Theater Performances this Summer

By Della Hasselle on July 5, 2012 7:36am 

NEW YORK CITY — New Yorkers hoping to see stars such as Mikhail Baryshnikov or Cate Blanchett may not have to travel farther than their backyards this summer as companies from around the world make appearances on New York stages starting on July 5.

The Upper West Side's Lincoln Center Festival, for example, has a broader roster than ever, with the Sydney Theatre Company performing Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya," or Druid Theater Company's "Plays by Tom Murphy," for as little as $25 a ticket.

"We can bring in, during the summer, works that reflect a larger picture of what New York is," director Nigel Redden told DNAinfo.com New York about the festival, which lasts until Aug. 5.

"Interestingly, in this year's festival, we're doing plays that involve some very high-profile personalities."

Blanchett is likely to excite theater-goers during the festival when she plays Sonja in "Uncle Vanya," and the legendary Baryshnikov is set to dazzle in the Dmitry Krymov Laboratory's "In Paris."

One of the most highly anticipated companies at this year's Lincoln Center Festival, however, is the National Theatre of Scotland, featuring Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming in a rendition of Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Cumming plays both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth — as well as every other character in the play — as a mentally ill man suffering a psychotic break. The one-man show transforms the Shakespearean play from the countryside of Scotland to a green-tiled psychiatric ward, in which Cumming is the lone patient.

"The story is about desire, and ambition, and the supernatural — story elements that everyone can relate to," Cumming said in a video interview on the Lincoln Center website.

Here's DNAinfo.com New York's list below of must-see companies that are performing in the city this summer.

PUBLIC THEATER

This summer marks a special anniversary for the acclaimed Public Theater company, as the beloved Shakespeare in the Park turns 50 years old.

The half-century of free Shakespeare in Central Park performances will be celebrated with "As You Like It," June 5 to 30, directed by acclaimed theater artist Daniel Sullivan, and "Into the Woods," July 23 to August 25, directed by Timothy Sheader.

"Into the Woods" features Amy Adams, and both plays appear at the program's permanent stage at the Delacorte Theater.

"These plays, explosive and lyrical, raw and sophisticated, by young artists and masters, are a rich expression of the huge range of theater that finds a home at The Public," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis.

"We mix artists and we mix audiences, creating a community that is as rich as America itself. In this season, where we are revitalizing our building, our lobby will be the most exciting place to be in New York," he said.

When and where: The shows will take place from June 5 to 30 and July 23 to Aug. 25 at the Delacorte Theater, located at Central Park West and West 81st Street, or Fifth Avenue and East 79th Street.

NEW YORK CLASSICAL THEATRE

New Yorkers with a sense of adventure will not want to miss the New York Classical Theatre's annual "roving play" performance in Manhattan this summer, where bystanders become active participants in Shakespearean and other classical plays.

This year, the company will put on a production based on "Twelfth Night," turning the classic Shakespearean play into a story based in New York in the 1900s.

The play will be performed in Battery Park until July 22 as part of Downtown's River to River Festival, which will also feature Company SJ's "Act Without Words II," by Samuel Beckett.

The Shakespearean comedy intersperses a story of mistaken identities and fooled lovers with the scenic waterway of New York Harbor serving as a backdrop for the storyline.

“The turn of the 20th century was a magical time of excitement and possibility here in New York City, and that perfectly parallels this story of self-reinvention and new beginnings,” said New York Classical Theatre founder and artistic director Stephen Burdman, in a release.

"This is my 25th year as a director, and I wanted to present this play, which includes some of Shakespeare's greatest poetry, as a "love letter" to the city that has provided me such a rewarding artistic home."

When and Where: The shows will run until July 15 at Battery Park.

PRIMARY STAGES

Primary Stages, the resident company of hit theater 59E59, will present three plays by Pulitzer-winning dramatist Horton Foote starting July

Directed by Pam MacKinnon, "Harrison, Tx: Three Plays by Horton Foote" will explore dark comedy in the works "Blind Date," "The One-Armed Man" and "The Midnight Caller."

The play "explores the humor, darkness, and romance of the people of the titular town," according to the 59E59 site.

Other plays featured at 59E59 Theater this summer include "Hell: Paradise Found," a story by the University of Alabama about a dead lawyer who feels a strong desire to go to hell because he thinks its a much better alternative to staying in heaven.

Ends up, other residents of hell are determined to stand in his way, including Shakespeare, Sinatra and Mother Theresa, according to the site.

Finally, "East to Edinburgh 2012" returns to 59E59 before they head over to England for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

East to Edinburgh 2012 features 12 shows, including "Dirty Barbie and Other Girlhood Tales," by Dee Dee Stewart, and "Dead Man's Cell Phone," by Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl.

When and Where: The shows will take place from July 10 to Sep. 15 at 59 East 59th Street.

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