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The 10 best shows on Broadway and beyond to see this summer

Find the best 10 summer theater events on Broadway and Off, great plays, musicals and festivals for all tastes

Photograph: Maiko Miagawa and Nobuhiko Hikichi
Takarazuka Chicago

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 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. There’s so much to see in the summer, from the free tradition of Shakespeare in Park to international spectacles at Lincoln Center Festival, Tony Award-winning Broadway shows closing soon and groundbreaking festivals Off-Off Broadway.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC

Best shows on Broadway and beyond to see this summer

1

Cats

When Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running cash cow (er, cat) returns this summer, the lucky lord will have three Broadway musicals running at once (alongside The Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock). Based T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and featuring new and tweaked numbers, the revival will test audience's appetite for '80s megamusicals. And leg warmers.

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Neil Simon Theatre , Midtown West Until Saturday December 30 2017
2

Men on Boats

If Lin-Manuel Miranda can tell colonial American history through hip-hop, Jacklyn Backhaus can re-create the 1869 Powell expedition down the Colorado River without a single cis-male actor. A ten-person ensemble (including downtown stars Hannah Cabell, Birgit Huppuch and Kristen Sieh) rides the wild current in this irreverent and anachronistic adventure.

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Until Sun Aug 21
3

Troilus and Cressida

Recommended

Daniel Sullivan directs a too-rare production of Shakespeare's epic dark comedy, a lampoon of the Trojan War so modern in sensibility that there's no record of it being performed before the turn of the 20th century. The cast features Andrew Burnap and Ismenia Mendes as the title's war-crossed lovers; John Douglas Thompson, David Harbour, and Bill Heck and Alex Breaux are among the principal combatants.

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Until Sun Aug 14
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4

Ice Factory Festival 2016

Recommended

In the helter-skelter of summer theater festivals, the cool curatorial heads of the Ice Factory always provide a welcome breeze. This year’s lineup of plays and multimedia performances includes work by Charles Mee, Eliza Bent, Hook & Eye Theater and Piehole.

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Until Sat Aug 13
5

Small Mouth Sounds

Recommended

Bess Wohl’s luminous new play, set at a new-agey silent retreat, is as entertaining as it is transcendent. In Rachel Chavkin's wonderfully detailed production, the excellent ensemble speaks volumes with a long look or the frantic unwrapping of candy. Wohl isn’t afraid to let the ridiculous rub up against the sublime.

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Until Sun Oct 9
6

Takarazuka Chicago

Even if you consider yourself an expert in Broadway or movie musicals, you won't be prepared for the Japanese phenomenon known as takarazuka. In this flamboyant tradition, an all-female cast puts on the razzle-dazzle with extravagant song-and-dance adaptations of song-and-dance classics. Here they take on Kander & Ebb's tale of jazz-age murder and fame.

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Until Sun Jul 24
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7

The Merchant of Venice

The formidable English actor Jonathan Pryce takes on one of Shakespeare's most controversial figures: vengeful moneylender Shylock. This Shakespeare's Globe production comes to New York with original cast intact, including Pryce's daughter, Phoebe, playing rebellious Jessica.

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Until Sun Jul 24
8

Golem

Recommended

English neo-expressionist theater troupe 1927 returns to New York with its visually stunning adaptation of the Jewish myth. Using live and pre-recorded animation, music and ingenious stage pictures, the company re-invents the story of inert matter brought sinisterly to life. The result is a sly multimedia commentary on the digital revolution.

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Until Sun Jul 31
9

New York International Fringe Festival

As Broadway and Off Broadway take breathers before the fall, August means just one thing for New York theater: the Fringe Festival. This year’s 20th edition includes 200 offerings by various theater and dance companies, each of which gets just five or six chances to show its stuff.

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