Concerts and rooftop movies might be popular summer entertainment mainstays in the city, but the long days and muggy air also promises a wealth of new theater productions. Check out the list of plays you can catch this summer. From puppets, to comedians, to Shakespeare, there is something for everyone.
Shakespeare in the Park Now in its 57th year, Shakespeare in the Park has become a true New York summer tradition. For eight straight weeks, the Public Theater, now a cultural institution, will alternate between the productions Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well at Delacorte Theater in Central Park. But as tradition would have it, those dedicated to catching a performance will also have to dedicate themselves to standing in line. Free tickets are passed out at 1 P.M. on the days of performances, but lines form as early as 6 A.M. On specific days, tickets will be passed out in various locations across the five boroughs, and as an alternative, those willing to try their luck can submit a request for tickets online. All performances begin promptly at 8 P.M.
NY Laughs' Laughter in the Park For nine Sundays this summer, a revolving cast of hard-working and charmingly self-deprecating comedians will perform two hours of standup as part of this free outdoor comedy series. Former SNL writer Leo Allen along with Comedy Central favorites Vanessa Hollingshead and Christian Finnegan promise to delight joggers, dog walkers and captive audiences alike in parks across Manhattan from Central Park to Tompkins Square Park. The series is hosted by NYLaughs, a non-profit with the sole mission of bringing New Yorkers closer to tears (or wet underpants) through the power of laughter. Laughter in the Park kicks off June 12th and lasts until August 21st.
SummerStage Theater The arbiter of free summer outdoor entertainment, Summer Stage, has commissioned six different performances in seven parks across the city. Since taste can be as diverse as the city itself, programmers promise a play for all types. Theater buffs will enjoy "Sangre," a remake of Federico Garcia Lorca's classic "Blood Wedding," children are sure to get a kick out of the dancing puppets in the family-friendly musical "Tuden's Trumpet" and just about everyone will be dazzled by "Indomitable: James Brown," a homage to the musical, cultural and political impact of the Godfather of Soul. Pull out your park blanket and lawn chairs in time for the first performance on June 17th, and keep them on hand until the festival ends on September 2nd.
Royal Shakespeare Company Festival The people behind the Lincoln Center Festival continue to top themselves in their pursuit to provide their audience with exceptional work and the biggest productions. This year the festival, along with the Park Avenue Armory, in association with the Ohio State University, will present an epic selection of Shakespeare performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company of England. The six-week residency will perform five Shakespeare plays - "Julius Caesar," "Romeo and Juliet" "As You Like It," "King Lear" and "The Winter's Tale" inside a specially constructed theater built to resemble their Stratford-upon-Avon home. For those looking for something a bit less traditional, The Lincoln Center Festival will also be putting on the Irish play "The Silver Tassie" and "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" based on the Japanese novel "Kinkakuji." The festival kicks of July 6th with "As You Like it" with performances lasting until August 14th. Tickets are going fast and range from $40 to $200.
New York International Fringe Festival This festival dominates theaters when it blows into town like a whirlwind in the midst of the heavy August heat. Now in its 15th year, this independent festival has retained is crown as king supporter of emerging performance from around the world. Run off the sweat of it's 2,000 volunteers and 2 full-time employees who put on an astounding 1,200 performances, the festival is a true feat of passion and hard work. Though the performances can sometimes be of wildly varying quality, they never fail to be original or surprising. And like all good festivals, the Fringe Festival caters to every taste. FringeJR and FringeHigh offer programming for children and teens, while FringeAL FRESCO remembers its summer and holds its programming outdoors on street corners. Be prepared to be wowed August 12th to the 28th. Tickets for each performance cost $15.
Uptown Series Scubs-star Zach Braff is among the emerging playwrights that will present their plays for the first time at this festival put on by Second Stage Theatre. Although Braff has an already well-establish acting career in place, the same is not true for the rest who may just be hoping the festival gives them the boost they need to get noticed. Michael Mitnick will put on his play "Sex Lives of our Parents" along with Anna Kerrigan's The Talls," a coming of age tale set in the 70s. Braff's comedic play, "All New People" begins June 28th. Tickets prices range from $64 to $79.