This summer, the theater offerings are heating up on and Off-Broadway.
While the warmer months typically call for a Great White Way cool-down, with few shows opening and Off-Broadway companies taking a midseason rest, this summer does offer some intriguing new shows. Both Shakespeare and Disney are coming to Central Park, while rock musicals inspired by Meat Loaf and Lizzie Borden are set for the big stage.
‘Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune’
Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald has joined two-time Oscar nominee Michael Shannon for a Broadway revival of Terrence McNally’s 1987 two-hander romance about an intimate encounter between a middle-aged short order cook and a waitress. The production coincides with McNally’s recent 80th birthday.
Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St., frankieandjohnnybroadway.com. Now in previews.
Shakespeare in the Park/Public Works
The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park season consists of free productions of the popular romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” and the political drama “Coriolanus”. They will be followed on Aug. 31 by a stage version of the 1997 Disney animated musical “Hercules” as part of the Public Works series, in which hundreds of everyday New Yorkers join professional actors in massive musical pageants.
Delacorte Theatre, Central Park, publictheater.org. “Much Ado About Nothing” is now in previews.
Jackie Sibblies Drury’s experimental race relations drama “Fairview,” which was produced last summer by Soho Rep. and recently won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is receiving an encore run by Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn.
Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, tfana.org. Performances begin June 2.
‘Rock of Ages’
After running nearly six years on Broadway and receiving a much-maligned, misconceived film version, the 1980s hair band jukebox musical “Rock of Ages” will receive a special 10th anniversary production this summer at New World Stages, the Off-Broadway venue where it was first seen in New York.
New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., telecharge.com. Performances begin June 19.
As part of its annual series exploring Off-Broadway musicals of the past, City Center will present an updated version of the 1977 revue “Working”, the experimental 1965 musical “Promenade” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Road Show”, which premiered at the Public Theater in 2008 to a muted reception.
City Center, 131 W. 55th St., nycitycenter.org. “Working” begins performances on June 26.
Baz Luhrmann’s wild, epic 2001 film musical will come to Broadway with a score similar to the film (containing a wide variety of pop songs from recent decades) and a cast that includes Karen Olivo (“West Side Story”), Danny Burstein (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and Aaron Tveit (“Next to Normal”).
Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th St, moulinrougemusical.com. Performances begin June 28.
‘Broadway Bounty Hunter’
Songwriter Joe Iconis (whose sci-fi teen comedy “Be More Chill” is currently on Broadway) strikes again with “Broadway Bounty Hunter,” a musical comedy inspired by 1970s exploitation films, starring Annie Golden as a struggling actress who finds a new line of work as a bounty hunter tasked with capturing a South American drug lord.
Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow St., broadwaybountyhunter.com. Performances begin July 9.
Lizzie Borden, who was famously tried for the 1892 ax murders of her father and stepmother and acquitted, will now have her story retold as a rock musical, with a cast including Shannon O’Boyle (“Kinky Boots”), Ciara Renée (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”) and Eden Espinosa (“Wicked”).
Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., lizziethemusical.com. Performances begin July 19.
‘Sea Wall/A Life’
Following its premiere earlier this year at the Public Theater, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge will play Broadway in a double bill of thematically linked monologues which delve into issues of physical and emotional trauma, death and dealing with the unknowable.
Hudson Theatre, 141 W. 44th St., seawallalife.com. Performances begin July 26.
‘Bat Out of Hell’
Although a national tour got called off at the last minute, this new musical inspired by Meat Loaf’s three-part album of the same name — incorporating songs such as “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” “Bat Out of Hell” and “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)" — is set to play a limited run in New York.
City Center, 131 W. 55th St., nycitycenter.org. Performances begin Aug. 1.