The Summer’s Five Hottest Shows

Written by Doug Strassler on . Posted in Arts & Film, Arts Our Town, Arts Our Town Downtown, Arts West Side Spirit, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, Special Sections, Summer Guide, Theater, West Side Spirit.


School may be out, but the hardworking kids in the New York theater scene still have homework to do this summer. Below, a list of the five most anticipated events of the 2012 summer season.

 

Harvey

Hot on the heels of last year’s debut in The Normal Heart, two-time Emmy winner Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) returns to the stage in this revival of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic. Parsons is Elwood P. Dowd, the role immortalized on screen by James Stewart, a middle-aged man whose best friend is a 6-foot-tall rabbit. Is Harvey real or a figment of Elwood’s imagination? You’ll have to head over to the Studio 54 Theater to find out. Co-stars include Larry Bryggman (Doubt), Tracee Chimo (Circle Mirror Transformation), Jessica Hecht (A View from the Bridge), Carol Kane (Wicked), Charles Kimbrough (TV’s Murphy Brown) and Rich Sommer (TV’s Mad Men).
In previews now, runs June 14-Aug. 5; $37+. Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., roundabouttheatre.org

 

Democracy 

This June-long event, running at Williamsburg’s Brick Theater, is dedicated to the idea of putting on a summer theater festival of the people, by the people and for the people in this election year. Eight candidates will campaign against each other in a series of public appearances for the title of “President of the Brick.” The elected official will be given reign over The Brick for two weeks next January and will be entrusted with curating all Brick programming during this time period. Shows include works from Matthew Freeman, Eric John Meyer, Jeremey Catterton, Zack Calhoun and Roger Nasser. Attendance is mandatory, as all voters must cast their ballot in person.
May 31-July 1; $15. The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, bricktheater.com.

 

Uncle Vanya

Some of New York’s finest actors have signed on to this world premiere reimagining of the Chekhov classic about a visiting professor and his alluring younger wife at Soho Rep. The winning team of director Sam Gold and writer Annie Baker (The Aliens, Circle Mirror Transformation) have recruited a top-notch ensemble that includes Reed Birney, Maria Dizzia, Georgia Engel, Peter Friedman, Matthew Maher,  Rebecca Schull, Michael Shannon, Paul Thureen and Merritt Wever. Take note: a June 19 benefit performance will include a post-show vodka reception with the cast and creative team.
Opens June 7; $0.99-$40. Soho Rep Theatre, 46 Walker St., sohorep.org.

Sovereign

The conclusion to Mac Rogers’ Honeycomb trilogy is off-off-Broadway’s answer to The Return of the King, and not just because of the similarities in the title. This play, part of Gideon Productions in collaboration with the BFG Collective at the Secret Theater, will confirm the fates of the characters we’ve come to love in Advance Man and Blast Radius, particularly Ronnie (Hanna Cheek), now a hardened governor lording over a slowly rebuilding human race and her defiant brother Abbie (Stephen Heskett). Rogers’ trilogy, directed by Jordana Williams, has offered so many surprising turns, it’s hard to predict where this tale will end—but incredibly exciting at the same time. It’s safe to say that by now, the Secret is out.
June 14-July 1; $15-$18. The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd St., Long Island City, www.gideonth.com .

 

Into the Woods

The second of this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park entries (following As You Like It) is this James Lapine-Stephen Sondheim favorite, in a production based on the acclaimed 2010 staging at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, London. Woods was just mentioned this week on Glee as the most vocally demanding of Sondheim’s canon—so why revive this tale of what happens to fairy tale characters after their happy ending? With three-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams onboard as the Baker’s Wife, two-time Tony-winner Donna Murphy to play the Witch and current Tony nominee Jessie Mueller (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever) playing Cinderella, why wouldn’t you?
July 23-Aug. 25; free. Delacorte Theater in Central Park, accessible via 81st St. & Central Park West or 79th St. & 5th Ave., shakespeareinthepark.org.

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