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Here are highlights at lauded out-of-town theatres in Hudson Valley, the Berkshires and beyond
While there are still plenty of productions to see in New York over the summer, this is the season when regional theatre really heats up. The Northeast proves to be a mecca for talented artists to revive old chestnuts and debut new works. So peg your next sojourn to one of these worthy shows.
Barrington Stage Company – Pittsfield, MA
Approximately three hours away from Midtown Manhattan by car, this multi-stage venue is known for presenting top-notch productions of contemporary plays and revivals of beloved musicals.
A Doll's House, Part 2
Runs July 12-28
Even if you caught Lucas Hnath's Tony-nominated sequel to Henrik Ibsen's 19th-century classic on Broadway last year, it's worth heading up to Mass. for this well-cast production. Stage vet turned TV star Laila Robins (Homeland, Quantico, Deception) plays Nora, who returns to the family she abandoned 15 years earlier. But is she there to stay? Christopher Innvar (Steven Spielberg's The Post) is her husband and beloved character actress Mary Stout (Jane Eyre on Broadway) is the profanity-spewing nanny who gives Nora WTF for.
West Side Story
Runs August 3-September 1
Composer Leonard Bernstein and director-choreographer Jerome Robbins would have both turned 100 this year. Barrington pays tribute to these legends with a mounting of their greatest collaboration: West Side Story. While Robert La Fosse is recreating Robbins' iconic dances on numbers such as "America," "Cool," "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "Tonight," this revival of the Romeo and Juliet-inspired tuner features ethnically correct casting, with the Puerto Rican characters all played by Latinx performers. That's very 21st century.
Well Intentioned White People
Runs August 16-September 9
Presented on Barrington's recently renovated St. Germain Stage, Rachel Lynett's racially charged world premiere focuses on a teacher of color who is goaded into planning a "diversity day" at her overwhelmingly white university. An insightful satire of how liberal activism can go awry.
Bay Street Theater – Sag Harbor, NY
Enhance your Hamptons trip by seeing a show at this venerable theatre, which is approximately two hours away from Midtown Manhattan by car or the Hampton Jitney.
Through July 22
Peter Morgan's Tony-nominated docudrama recreates a series of real-life interviews that took place between former POTUS Richard Nixon and struggling British journalist David Frost. Harris Yulin, who's been acting on Broadway (The Diary of Anne Frank, Hedda Gabler) and in Hollywood (Scarface, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) since the '70s, stars as the disgraced president under the direction of Sarna Lapine, who helmed the recent revival of Sunday in the Park With George with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Runs July 31-August 26
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's iconic bio musical about Argentina's controversial first lady Eva Perón is given an intimate production on Bay Street's thrust stage, so the audience is always close to the action. Considering the last Broadway mounting of this Tony-winning tuner had a tepid reception, this is wonderful chance to revisit this rarely revived classic.
Berkshire Theatre Group – Berkshires, MA
About a three-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan, the Berkshire Theatre Group was founded in 2010 when the Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Colonial Theatre merged. The company presents classics and contemporary works on four stages in two nearby towns: Stockbridge and Pittsfield.
Through August 11
Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot's groundbreaking celebration of '60s counterculture may be turning 50, but the rock musical feels totally timely as we watch a brand-new generation of activists come of age. Hair's songs champion sexual liberation, racial equality and world peace, all things we're still fighting for, so the tuner's revolutionary message is as urgent as ever.
The Petrified Forest
Runs August 2-25
Robert E. Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning Depression-era play hasn't been seen on a professional New York stage since the '40s. But what makes this mounting even more of an event is that it's directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn (Proof). Set at an Arizona diner in the middle of nowhere, this explosive drama brings a disparate group of down-on-their-luck folks together as they're held hostage by a fugitive.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival – Cold Spring, NY
Approximately 75 minutes from Midtown Manhattan by car and easily accessible via Metro-North, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival mounts classics and twists on old favorites. All shows are performed in an open-air theatre tent.
The Heart of Robin Hood
Through August 25
Playwright David Farr brings a feminist slant to the familiar tale. Maid Marian must teach both the villainous Prince John and the titular thief about right and wrong in this romp, sure to be a rollicking good time for audiences of all ages.
Through August 26
Off-Broadway director (Water by the Spoonful) and HVSF artistic director Davis McCallum helms the first installment in Shakespeare's Henriad. This is the first time the company has mounted this history play about politics and privilege, and it features gender-blind casting with Julia Coffey as the titular king.
Powerhouse Theater – Poughkeepsie, NY
Since 1985, Vassar College and New York Stage and Film have collaborated on this annual summer festival, which incubates new works at various stages of development. Roughly two hours from Midtown Manhattan by car, Powerhouse is also accessible via Metro-North.
Runs July 13-15
A new musical that grapples with the insidiousness of fake news and the dangerous overlap between entertainment and journalism sounds totally of this moment. And yet this tuner is set in the glossy world of print media in 1995! Check out a workshop of this in-progress show by Tony-winning songwriter Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County) and playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman (Evolution, Knickerbocker). Longtime Brown collaborator, Daisy Prince (yup, Hal's daughter), directs.
Runs July 19-29
Tony winner Alice Ripley and Tony nominees Raúl Esparza and Lauren Worsham star in this musicalization of the eponymous Virginia Woolf novel. Playwright Lisa Peterson (An Iliad) and songwriter David Bucknam premiered this chamber piece about six lifelong friends almost 30 years ago Off-Broadway. Now Peterson revisits the show with additional tunes by Adam Gwon (Ordinary Days).
Shakespeare & Company – Lenox, MA
This venerable company brings the Bard's work to life through top-notch productions and education programs. In fact, this is where Shakespeare in the Park regular Hamish Linklater got his start (thanks to his mom, a founding member).
Love's Labor's Lost
Runs July 10-August 18
One of Shakespeare's less frequently done romantic comedies is performed alfresco at the lovely Dell-Outdoors at the Mount. This witty coming-of-age tale is particularly fitting for the season, as it focuses on the joys and frustrations of summer love.
As You Like It
Runs August 9-September 2
Shakespeare's comedy is staged in the Roman Garden Theatre space, which opened just last year. This intimate outdoor venue easily becomes the magical Forest of Arden, where a motley cast of kooky characters fall in love.
Williamstown Theatre Festival – Williamstown, MA
About a three-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan, this Tony Award-winning fest is known for attracting big-name celebrities to star in both revivals and new works. Sometimes the productions transfer to New York: Martyna Majok's Cost of Living premiered at Williamstown two summers ago before moving Off-Broadway and winning the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, so you may be checking out the next big thing.
Runs July 19-August 1
Director Rachel Chavkin made an auspicious Broadway debut with Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Now the Tony nominee helms another romantic tuner about early 20th century Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka. Broadway regular Eden Espinosa stars as the titular artist who falls for her prostitute muse played by Tony nominee Carman Cusack (Bright Star).
July 25-August 4
In this new foodie comedy by Theresa Rebeck (Smash), a local chef is tempted to expand his restaurant into an empire, but at what cost? Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God) directs a cast that includes Broadway regular Krysta Rodriguez (Spring Awakening).
Catch Emmy-nominated Handmaid's Tale star Samira Wiley in this politically charged tale about a South African footballer (Alfie Fuller) torn between her new life in London and the community she left behind. Written by Jen Silverman, whose next play Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties starts previews Off-Broadway next month.
Top image: Kayla Foster with company of Berkshire Theatre Group's Hair. Photo by Emma Rothenberg-Ware.
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