Features NYCNYC Features Published 25 June 2018

Exeunt NYC Recommends: Summer

As the summer festivals begin and things quiet down on Broadway and Off, we have some theatrical treats to keep you busy around town and out-of-town.

Exeunt Staff

Peter Pan (Photo: Maria Baranova)

Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan (Bard SummerScape/Fisher Center) (June 28-July 22): Getting to Bard can be a little bit of a hassle with trains and taxis (though they have a bus that goes there directly from NYC on certain days). I schlepped up there for Daniel Fish’s reinterpretation of Oklahoma! and it was well worth the journey (I haven’t stopped yammering about that show for three years and it will FINALLY be at St. Ann’s Warehouse this fall). But I’m betting Christopher Alden’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan will be another show worth a trip north. Celebrating Bernstein’s centennial this will be a rare performance of this Broadway score from 1950 (that production starred Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff!). It is being described as an “off-kilter” and “intimate” 90-minute chamber production starring trans and nonbinary performers including Erin Markey as Wendy and Peter Smith as Peter Pan.  Choreographer Jack Ferver will be Tinker Bell. With these singular artists, I suspect the endeavor will be very special indeed. (Nicole Serratore)

Corkscrew Theater Festival (Paradise Factory) (July 10-August 5): Summer is a great time of year to experience fresh voices in theater. The second annual season of this festival promises a diverse slate of new works—featuring ghosts, yogis and mermaids, respectively— from early-career artists, a majority of which are women or trans. (Jordan Teicher)

Gone Missing (Encores! Off-Center at New York City Center) (July 11-12): Gone Missing was my introduction to the late, great Michael Friedman. I don’t remember what lead me to the cast recording at a very vulnerable time in my young adulthood, but I was instantly captivated by Friedman’s ability to be hilarious and devastating while almost impossibly succinct. His voice was sparkling; that’s the best way I can describe it. These two performances of Gone Missing are a tribute to Friedman from his colleagues at Off-Center, where he was the artistic director until his sudden death from AIDS last year. I can think of no better way to celebrate the genius of this man than to dive into his work with a stellar ensemble featuring Taylor Mac and Susan Blackwell. (Lane Williamson)

Rehearsal photos of Gordon Landenberger & Theda Hammel in Marie and Bruce (Photo: Knud Adams)

Marie and Bruce (JACK) (July 12-28): Knud Adams has been directing a lot of experimental performance and theater lately with artists such as Eliza Bent and Trish Harnetiaux. His next project is Wallace Shawn’s 1978 play. Described as a “reimagining,” this will not be a straight-forward take on this dark play about a wife who swears she will leave her husband.  It will star two multidisciplinary artists who will also act as designers for the show, Theda Hammel and Gordon Landenberger. Produced by comedian John Early and Allie Jane Compton, it stars Early’s former Ars Nova Showgasm co-host Hammel. I’m curious about this unusual approach involving designer-performers and getting to know these artists better. (Nicole Serratore)

Lempicka (Williamstown Theatre Festival) (July 19-August 1): Between Hadestown and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Rachel Chavkin may well be the most interesting director of musicals currently working. This summer she heads to Williamstown, Mass., to helm the world premiere of Lempicka, which chronicles the life and art of Russian painter/Parisian émigré Tamara de Lempicka. Set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and the Roaring Twenties, Lempicka features a score by Matt Gould (Invisible Thread) and stars Carmen Cusack, Eden Espinosa, and Andrew Samonsky. The show sounds like it has major New York potential, but in the meantime, it should be worth the scenic trip up to Berkshire County. (Cameron Kelsall)

The Beyoncé (A.R.T./New York Theatres) (July 27-August 18). The winsome Eliza Bent turns her ingénue persona and flair for word play on a Chekhov short story, “The Fiancée,” in this Adjusted Realists production. Bent recently explored her own coming-of-age story reflected against race and identity in 2018, in Aloha, Aloha or When I Was Queen. This twist on Chekhov’s story of provincial dreams and ambition promises more of Bent’s wry, quirky self-examination. (Molly Grogan)

Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties (MCC) (August 16-September 23): Jen Silverman’s plays are usually fierce, spiky tales that are both darkly funny and pulsing with more dangerous emotions. (Her recent collection of short fiction, The Island Dwellers, shares the same qualities.) It’s perhaps uncharitable to say that I’d cheer for whatever MCC chose to replace its canceled Neil LaBute piece, but Silverman, directed by longtime collaborator Mike Donahue, is an inspired choice. The play, who’s complete title is Collective Rage: A Play In 5 Betties; In Essence A Queer And Occasionally Hazardous Exploration; Do You Remember When You Were In Middle School And You Read About Shackleton And How He Explored The Antarctic?; Imagine The Antarctic As A Pussy And It’s Sort Of Like That, focuses, as you might guess, on five women named Betty, and in its London premiere earlier this year, it was described by one journalist as “unashamedly queer, feminist, and intersectional.” (Loren Noveck)

I Was Most Alive with You (Playwrights Horizons) (August 31-October 14): The latest play by Craig Lucas features a cast of hearing actors (including legend Lois Smith) and a “shadow cast” of D/deaf actors simultaneously performing in American Sign Language. That staging promises a unique experience, but Lucas’s premise – about an individual’s struggle with faith after tragedy – should make for a moving theatrical journey in and of itself. (Cameron Kelsall)

Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine