I know what you’re thinking when you hear summer theater. Flimsy sets thrown up overnight. Miscast undergraduates. And yet another overdone chestnut of the American theater. But I can assure you, times have certainly changed.
While Manhattan slows down as producers begin to prep for the fall season, things at regional theaters and summer festivals across the United States begin to heat up as New Yorkers escape the concrete jungle for long weekends of fresh air, rest, relaxation, and, of course, theater. It’s true that I, like everyone else, can’t wait for the 2014-2015 Broadway season, but I honestly could not be more excited for some of this summer’s offerings at The BerkshireTheatre Group (BTG), the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF or the greatest theater acronym of all time), Goodspeed Musicals, and the American Repertory Theater (ART). With Broadway stars, first-rate directors and creative teams, and premieres of both new plays and musicals – this is not your mama’s summer stock.
This summer, I have or will have seen the following productions throughout New England. Let me know what else I should add to the list!
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at the Berkshire Theatre Group running through July 19. Gregg Edelman as Fredrik Egerman and the lovely Kate Baldwin as the Countess Malcolm bring Broadway star power to this simple yet lovely revival in Pittsfield, MA.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at Goodspeed Musicals through September 12. Believe it or not, I’ve never seen FIDDLER onstage. Sacrilegious, I know! I loved film adaptation so much, I vowed to avoid a stage production until I knew I could see it done properly. Growing up in Central Massachusetts made fulfilling this pledge more difficult than you would expect. Nothing says ‘tradition’ like fake beards warn by Catholic school boys performing in high school mounting. Always a fan of the Goodspeed’s work, I will finally be seeing this American classic on stage in this special 50th anniversary revival.
LIVING ON LOVE at the Williamstown Theatre Festival from July 16 to July 26. Looking forward to seeing Kathleen Marshall tackle a new comedy and guide opera star Renee Fleming through her first straight role. And let’s face it, the eight year old boy in me is also excited to see ‘my girl’ Anna Chlumsky on stage as well!
THE VISIT at Williamstown Theatre Festival playing from July 31 to August 17. I’ve been dying to see this production for years. I can’t wait to see what happens when my favorite composing and lyricist team adapt one of my favorite plays into a musical. With Chita Rivera, Roger Rees, and Jason Danieley, this regional premiere should easily be one of the Berkshires’ hottest tickets this summer.
FINDING NEVERLAND at the ART (or Broadway East) playing from July 23 to September 28. Harvey Weinstein certainly has good taste in movies. Let’s see if his success in Hollywood follows him to Broadway. Equipped with a director with the golden touch, a brand new score since follwoing its disappointing UK premiere, and a starry cast awaiting a Great White Way transfer, the Loeb should be crawling with producers seeing if the show is living up to Harvey’s hype.