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Summer in New York: Theater shows and festivals

RECOMMENDED: Summer in New York guide

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Photograph: Tom Donoghue

Duo Vector, Spiegelworld

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Rendering of Lincoln Center's new Claire Tow Theater

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Photograph: Joseph Moran

Delacorte Theater

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Amy Adams
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Shine—A Burlesque Musical at the New York International Fringe Festival 2011

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Photograph: Lisa Tomasetti

Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh in Uncle Vanya

RECOMMENDED: Summer in New York guide

Empire

Critics' pick

The glitzy, glam and quirky summer tradition known as Speigeltent continues with a tent pitched a pastie's toss from Times Square. Empire will feature a rotating roster of international burlesque and circus acts, including Rubbish Bag Lady, Moondog, Polka Dot Woman and Carrot Man. No, we haven't heard of these weirdos either, but we expect to very soon. If you've never visited a spiegeltent—surrounded by beveled mirrors and plush red booths—head on down, order a drink and enjoy the cabaret.

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Until Sun Sep 2

Slowgirl

Critics' pick

To inaugurate its swell new rooftop venue, Lincoln Center Theater presents the world premiere of Greg Pierce's drama about a young woman who seeks refuge with her reclusive uncle in the Costa Rican jungle. Looming in the background is a horrific accident that the girl escaped. Anne Kauffman directs the production. Pierce is definitely one to watch; in addition to this very high-profile debut, he's currently collaborating with composer John Kander for work-in-progress musical The Landing.

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Until Sun Aug 5

As You Like It

Tickets are free (two per person) and may be picked up only on the day of performance after 1pm at the Delacorte Theater. A limited number of tickets are also distributed via online lottery; see website for details. Director Daniel Sullivan returns to the Delacorte Theater—where he's had remarkable success with Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream and other notably fresh takes on Shakespeare. This new staging of the Bard's beloved pastoral romantic comedy stars Lily Rabe as the witty and pretty Rosalind, Oliver Platt as the clown Touchstone and Stephen Spinella as the mordant Jaques, he of "seven ages of man" fame.

Into the Woods

Critics' pick

Tickets are free (two per person) and may be picked up only on the day of performance after 1pm at the Delacorte Theater. A limited number of tickets are also distributed via online lottery; see website for details. Normally, New Yorkers expect one or two Shakespeare classics presented free in Central Park, but for Stephen Sondheim, we'll make an exception. In keeping with musical fare as part of Shakespeare in the Park (such as Hair a few seasons ago), the Public offers a new mounting of Sondheim and James Lapine's enchanting, witty and touching spin on classic fairy tales. This alfresco staging comes from English director Timothy Sheader, who road-tested it in 2010 at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London. The American cast is to die for: Donna Murphy as the Witch and the adorable Amy Adams (The Muppets) as the Baker's Wife.

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Until Sat Sep 1

The New York International Fringe Festival

That grinding, slouching-to-Bethlehem noise you hear grumbling up from lower Manhattan is the sound of thousands of theatergoers’ bellies digesting their yearly Fringe binge. This festival of 200 frantically repping companies includes straight-up dramas, solo comedies and the requisite quota of musicals with unlikely subjects. Sort through the offerings at fringenyc.org.

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Until Mon Aug 27

Uncle Vanya

One of the tougher tickets in this year's Lincoln Center Festival is sure to be Sydney Theatre Company's production of the Chekhov classic. Cate Blanchett plays the bewitching but bored Yelena, who becomes the love object of both disillusioned country drudge Vanya and cynical doctor Astrov. The production, which came to Washington, D.C., last year, is staged by the bold Hungarian director Tamás Ascher.

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Thu Jul 19 - Sat Jul 28

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