Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

New plays, musicals and revivals are busting out all over New York this summer. Use our guide to keep up with the big openings and festivals.

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Summertime, as the Porgy and Bess song goes, and the living is easy. Or rather, it is if you're not in the cast or crew of the dozens of new shows opening in the next few months. New York theater never sleeps, even during the hazy and hot weeks, when people cool themselves on rooftop bars, beaches or in air-conditioned movie houses (see the summer in New York link below). There's so much to see in the summer of 2013, from the free tradition of Shakespeare in Park to surprise early-season fare on Broadway and the many exciting festivals Off-Off Broadway.

RECOMMENDED: Complete summer in New York guide


We've singled out 20 of the many summer theater offerings. Click through the slide show below for details and links to buy theater tickets. Happy summer theatergoing!

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Nobody Loves You
    Whip-smart playwright Itamar Moses takes on reality-TV tropes in this new musical with tunes by Gaby Alter. A philosophy graduate student successfully auditions for a dating show in order to re-woo an ex-girlfriend. The talented and appealing cast includes Leslie Kritzer, Lauren Molina and Rory O'Malley.

  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Somewhere Fun
    Jenny Schwartz's third play displays her usual penchant for elliptical, musical language in the service of metaphysical noodling. Here, two old New York chums (Kate Mulgrew, Kathleen Chalfant) meet by chance on the street and set off a chain of morbid (and funny) associations. Anne Kauffman directs, brilliantly.—David Cote

  • Photograph: Joseph Moran

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Venice
    Citizens rise up to rescue their city in a new dystopian-future musical by Eric Rosen and Matt Sax, presented by the Public Lab at the bargain price of $15. Rosen directs a cast that notably includes Jennifer Damiano, Claybourne Elder, Uzo Aduba and Leslie Odom Jr.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Rantoul and Die
    The unpredictable Amoralists present Mark Roberts's play about a marriage on the rocks. Jay Stull directs; the cast comprises company members Derek Ahonen, Sarah Lemp, Matthew Pilieci and Vanessa Vaché.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    The Comedy of Errors
    Tickets are free (two per person) and may be picked up only on the day of performance after 12pm at the Delacorte Theater. A limited number of tickets are also distributed via online lottery; see website for details. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater are the rare actors who can boast both sitcom face recognition and extensive cred as Shakespearean actors. Now their fans get twice the fun as the Public's beloved Shakespeare in the Park series presents the Bard's clever farce, in which two pairs of identical twins end up in double jeopardy. Daniel Sullivan's delightful cast also includes Emily Bergl, Jonathan Hadary, de'Adre Aziza, Becky Ann Baker, Robert Creighton and Heidi Schreck.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Frankenstein Upstairs
    After taking audiences to a dystopian sci-fi future in last year's The Honeycomb Trilogy, Brooklyn geek-theater scribe Mac Rogers returns to the present with this horror story about a lesbian couple in Dumbo and their creepy upstairs neighbor. Longtime Rogers collaborator Jordana Williams directs a cast of four.

  • Photograph: Joseph Moran

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    The Designated Mourner
    Wallace Shawn's unnerving and unforgettable piece returns to New York, 13 years after playing at an abandoned men's club near Wall Street. Three interlaced monologues (performed by the 2000 cast of Shawn, Deborah Eisenberg and Larry Pine) tell of an unnamed country's purge of liberal intellectuals. As before, André Gregory directs.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Buyer & Cellar
    Michael Urie, a performer of enormous charm and warmth, plays a twig on the bonfire of Barbra Streisand's vanity in Jonathan Tolins’s giddily funny solo play, set in the basement mall of her Malibu dream house. If you read between the one-liners, Tolins has smart things to say about conspicuous consumption and inspiration. (Stars are to be wished upon, not touched.)—Adam Feldman

  • Photograph: Carol Rosegg

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    The Two-Character Play
    Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif star in Tennessee Williams's long, rarely performed 1975 metatheatrical pièce à clef—a rewrite of the 1971 flop Out Cry—about brother and sister actors backstage on opening night of a show that blurs into their lives. Gene David Kirk directs.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    The Explorers Club
    Nell Benjamin—best known as the coauthor of musicals (including Legally Blonde and Sarah, Plain and Tall)—branches into historical comedy with this tale of a 19th-century English men's club shaken by the possibility of a female member. The promising cast, directed by Marc Bruni, includes Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Steven Boyer, Carson Elrod, David Furr and John McMartin.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    The Ice Factory
    In the helter-skelter of summer festivals, the cool curatorial heads of the Ice Factory always provide a welcome breeze. This year's edition skews toward works devised collectively by companies including the Assembly, the Mad Ones (pictured), CollaborationTown and Built for Collapse.

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
    David Morse plays a white-collar criminal trying to reconnect with his family after serving time in prison in the premiere of a drama by Steven Levenson (The Language of Trees). Scott Ellis directs a cast that also includes Christopher Denham and Sarah Goldberg.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Choir Boy
    Red-hot scribe Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) sets his latest piece in an all-black, all-male prep school, where one student (played by Jeremy Pope, pictured) is driven to make his choir the best. Trip Cullman directs the work, which sounds tantalizingly like Glee with gospel tunes.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    First Date
    Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Krysta Rodriguez (Smash) try to hook up in this new musical about the pleasures and agonies of the blind date. Gossip Girl writer Austin Winsberg provides the book, while the bouncy tunes are by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Bill Berry of Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre directs.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Forever Tango
    Choreographer-director Luis Bravo brings his sizzling dance spectacular back to Broadway, with a cast of hot-tempered hoofers scuffing up the boards at the Walter Kerr. Renowned Latin vocalist Gilberto Santa Rosa accompanies the terpsichorean tumult.

  • Photograph: Tsukasa AOKI

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Shun-kin
    Novelist Jun'ichiro Tanizaki (1886–1965) provides the narrative and tonal inspiration for this new piece by the spellbinding English troupe Complicite. Mingling movement and Bunraku puppetry, director Simon McBurney and a Japanese cast tell stories of love, cruelty and erotic obsession.

  • Photograph: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Let It Be
    If the 2010 Fab Four tribute Rain didn't satisfy you, here's a new incarnation of the Beatles on the Great White Way. Direct from London's West End, this concert employs video projections and "3-D sound" to chart the group's rise from its Liverpool roots to global stardom, touching on dozens of hits along the way.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Encores Off-Center: Violet
    City Center's Encores! program, beloved for its deluxe concert versions of past Broadway musicals, branches into the Off Broadway catalog in its new summer series. Among the offerings is a one-night staging of Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's touching Violet, which won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical in 1997. Two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster leaves her trademark perk behind to play a shy woman traveling through the South in search of a miracle cure for her facial disfigurement.

  • Photograph: Joseph Moran

    Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    Love’s Labour’s Lost
    Tickets are free (two per person) and may be picked up only on the day of performance after noon at the Delacorte Theater. A limited number of tickets are also distributed via online lottery; see website for details. Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, the team behind the historical mindblower Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, reunite for a zany musical version of Shakespeare's comedy, in which a king and his lords try to give up the company of women. Colin Donnell, Daniel Breaker, Patti Murin, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe are among the merry players in this free Shakespeare in the Park offering.

  • Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

    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 187 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.

Summer theater in New York: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

Nobody Loves You
Whip-smart playwright Itamar Moses takes on reality-TV tropes in this new musical with tunes by Gaby Alter. A philosophy graduate student successfully auditions for a dating show in order to re-woo an ex-girlfriend. The talented and appealing cast includes Leslie Kritzer, Lauren Molina and Rory O'Malley.


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