After 30 years, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s One-Act Play Festival is still going strong, with options ranging from the economy to a showdown between a nun and her most rebellious student. If unproven talent gets you down, the E.S.T. Festival is for you during the summer months.
May 22 through June 27, E.S.T., 549 W. 52nd St., at 10th Ave., 212-247-4982, www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org
Thank You for Being a Friend
If Bea Arthur’s death has still got you bummed, try some communal healing at this musical parody about roommates Blanchette, Dorthea, Roz and Sophie, and their feud with next-door-neighbor Lance Bass over his loud, outdoor gay sex parties. Last time that happened to us, we had to move. Thanks, Lance!
(May 24 through July 12, The Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4th St., betw. 2nd & 3rd Aves., 212-352-3101, www.horsetrade.info
An examination of green card marriages set against the backdrop of film noir (complete with cameos by femme fatales and private dicks), Strangers combines live music and video to explore how people live in our paranoid age, and how everyone wants something else.
May 28 through June 13, The Ontological Theater, 131 E. 10th St., at 2nd Ave., 212-352-3101, www.ontological.com
Hudson Warehouse’s Shakespeare in the Park
This summer, give Central Park a break and check out Hudson Warehouse’s sixth season in Riverside Park, where it will be presenting The Tempest (June), Hamlet (July) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (August).
June through August, Riverside Park, W. 89th St. at Riverside Dr., www.hudsonwarehouse.com
The Antidepressant Festival
If you find the summer heat depressingly oppressive, give The Antidepressant Festival a try. Its nineteen shows are guaranteed to provide “instant and medicated happiness,” and ticket prices are much less than paying for enough booze to pass out turning and sweating through your sheets.
June 5 through July 4, The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Ave., at Union St., Brooklyn, 212-352-3101, www.bricktheater.com
Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe
The Classical Theatre of Harlem presents an original adaptation of Moliére’s Tartuffe, the name has changed a bunch, but we’re sure now that it’s Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe. Instead of taking place uptown at the Gatehouse in West Harlem, it’ll be on Theatre Row. Expect the original work, by Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner, to be full of interesting twists and turns: It’s set during the apex of the Harlem Renaissance and inspired by the work of Father Divine.
June 12 through July 19, The Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., betw. 9th & 10th Aves., 212-868-444, www.classicaltheatreofharlem.org.
Heart of the City
Oscar-nominee Melissa Leo Frozen River hits the boards this summer in a “quintessential New York tale” about finding love on the Brooklyn IRT, young artists trying to survive the asphalt jungle and the correct way to make a matzo ball.
June 11 through 29, Theatre at 30th Street, 259 W. 30th St. (at 7th Ave.), 212-242-9113, www.heartofthecityplay.com
Songbird Ashanti eases on down the road as Dorothy in this R&B version of The Wizard of Oz (remember Diana Ross in the film version?). For the third year in a row, Encores! presents a limited engagement of a Broadway show that has all the charm of summer stock, plus mountains more talent.
June 12 through July 5, NY City Center, 130 W. 56th St., at 6th Ave., 212-581-1212, www.nycitycenter.org
Pebble-and-Cart Cycle: One-Line Tragedies
Conceived and directed by Polina Klimovitskaya, these one-line tragedies featuring puppets are the first half of a six-part cycle that combines folk legends, animal archetypes, and religious rites to reveal the “theater of inner conflict.”
June 16 through 25, Dixon Place, 161 Chrystie St., at Delancey St., 212-219-0763, www.dixonplace.org
The Comedy of Errors in Central Park
The scrappy little Boomerang Theater Company offers free Shakespeare in Central Park as well. This year it’s more comedy by the Bard.
June 20 through 28; July 11 through 19,
Central Park, enter park at W. 69th St. & Central Park West, www.boomerangtheatre.org
Barefoot in the Park
Sure, the Neil Simon comedy was just revived on Broadway and hasn’t aged all that well. But seeing the show staged in the tiny (and deliciously air-conditioned) MTS theater (and with an extra $5 for anyone who runs through the newly re-opened Washington Square Park) is perfect for a hot summer night when thinking too hard isn’t an option.
July 9 through July 26, Manhattan Theatre Source, 177 Macdougal St., at E. 8th St., 212-501-4751, www.thetheatresource.org
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
For the 16th summer in a row, The Drilling Company offers up a fun, low-rent version to Shakespeare in the Park. This year, their parking lot attendants will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure for Measure. So pull up a hubcap and crack open a 40.
July 9 through Aug. 15, The Parking Lot, at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Sts., 212-877-0099, www.drillingcompany.org
If you don’t have the budget for big sets, use the monuments the city gives you. Last summer Gorilla Rep presented a beautiful version of Hamlet just outside the Cloisters. This July it returns to Ft. Tryon Park’s Pinegrove with a new take on Joan of Arc penned by Robert Ackerman. Then, in August, playwright Laura Lynn MacDonald has created a new adaptation/translation of Ibsen’s wild fairytale Peer Gynt—complete with masks and puppets—on and around Central Park’s Spirit Rock.
July & August, www.gorillarep.org
East to Edinburgh Festival
Attention to direction is all in this festival—these shows are trying to reach the Edinburgh Fringe Festival means everything. This year includes a rock version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in case you can’t get enough Shakespeare between Memorial and Labor days.
July 14 through Aug. 2, 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., at Park Ave., 212-279-4200, www.59e59.org
Tally Ho!, or Navigating the Future
This kid-friendly musical—about a young bank teller’s adventures in high finance—is part of Theater for the New City’s annual summer street theater tour. This year it starts at Morningside Park and will continue in other parks and playgrounds throughout the five boroughs.
(Aug. 2 through Sept. 13, various parks & locations, 212-254-1109, www.cityparksfoundation.org)