11 Shows to See Around the Country This Summer | Playbill

Regional News 11 Shows to See Around the Country This Summer

This summer, why not take a theatre road trip? Playbill has mapped out the perfect schedule for you.

Summer is the time for going to the beach and taking long, leisurely walks outside. But when you're trying to escape from the heat, why not take refuge in a theatre? Whereas in past seasons, the summer was a dark time for theatres, it seems like the best new shows are premiering all year round now. 

From compelling new plays to exciting interpretations of classic musicals to big Broadway-bound shows, there's plenty to see around the country. So if you're traveling this summer, here are some shows you should check out.

Malika Samuel and company of By the Queen Gabe Palacio

New York

By the Queen at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (Through August 31)

If you're missing Shakespeare in the Park in New York this summer (because of the renovations), then hop on a Metro North train for an easy ride up to Garrison, New York, for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Located on a hill overseeing the picturesque Hudson Valley, we guarantee your breath will be taken away as you see the performers come up from the hill to begin the show. A highlight of the programming this summer is By the Queen, which is written by Tony-nominated director Whitney White. It retells the War of the Roses through the eyes of Princess Margaret. And it's also a disco party. Good thing this theatre sells cocktails!

Visit HVShakespeare.org.

Photos: By the Queen at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

Alex Humphreys and Cameron Loyal in South Pacific Diane Sobolewski


South Pacific at Goodspeed Musicals (Through August 11)

Do you really need to see another production of South Pacific? Well, you might because imaginative director Chay Yew is behind this version for Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut. Here, Lt. Cable is played by Cameron Loyal (formerly of Bad Cinderella). Having a Black actor sing "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" promises to be a revelatory experience, a some enchanted evening, if you will.

Visit Goodspeed.org.

Photos: Goodspeed Musicals' South Pacific

Kristin Chenoweth in rehearsal for Queen of Versailles


The Queen of Versailles at Emerson Colonial Theatre (July 16–August 25)

Kristin Chenoweth in a new Stephen Schwartz musical. We don't need to say more really. But if you need more info, this Broadway-bound musical is about real-life socialite and beauty queen Jacqueline "Jackie" Siegel, whose very rich husband tried to build a 90,000-square-foot house in Florida—and the hijinks that ensued because of the Great Recession. If you're in Boston, stop by the Colonial to get an early look at this Broadway-bound musical.

Visit QueenOfVersaillesMusical.com.

Isaac Powell, Charlotte MacInnes, and company of Gatsby Julieta Cervantes

Gatsby: An American Myth at American Repertory Theater (Now through August 3)

Speaking of Broadway-bound musicals about rich people with dubious morals, the other Great Gatsby musical is playing in the Boston area. This one is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok and features music by Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine. Rachel Chavkin directs the production which, by early reports, is markedly darker in tone than the current Great Gatsby on Broadway. If you've seen one Gatsby, might as well see the other one for comparison.

Visit AmericanRepertoryTheater.org.

Photos: Gatsby at A.R.T.

Latrice Royale


Little Shop of Horrors at the Ogunquit Playhouse (August 22–September 21)

Why see Little Shop in Maine when you can see it Off-Broadway, you may be thinking. Sure, but the New York City version doesn't have Latrice Royale (of RuPaul's Drag Race) as Audrey II. Now that's a voice that can convince us to feed the plants. Plus, it's going to be a very exciting summer in Ogunquit, Maine. Kathleen Turner will be singing "Liaisons" as part of that theatre's production of A Little Night Music. And in September, the theatre will world premiere the My Best Friend's Wedding Musical (featuring the music of Burt Bacharach). We think that's a great reason to head north.

Visit OgunquitPlayhouse.org

Carolee Carmello Conor Weiss

Washington, D.C.

Nine at the Kennedy Center (August 2–11)

You should have heard how the Playbill staff screamed when the Kennedy Center announced the casting for its production of the Tony-winning musical NineSteven Pasquale, Carolee CarmelloShereen Ahmed, Elizabeth Stanley, Lesli Margherita...We'll see you on the Amtrak!

Visit Kennedy-Center.org.

J. Harrison Ghee Liz Lauren


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil at Goodman Theater (Through August 4)

Are you a real musical theatre fan if you don't travel to see a new Jason Robert Brown musical? Especially one starring history-making Tony winner J. Harrison Ghee? The new musical Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is currently running in Chicago, with its eyes on Broadway. Co-written by Taylor Mac, the musical follows a real-life murder case. It also stars Tom Hewitt and Sierra Boggess.

Visit GoodmanTheatre.org.

Photos: Rehearsals for the Goodman Theatre's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Nuwan Hugh Perera and Louis Maskell in The Lord of the Rings Pamela Raith

Lord of the Rings at Chicago Shakespeare (July 19–September 1)

Calling all Ringers! The Lord of the Rings musical is finally getting its long-awaited U.S. premiere. Based on the production from U.K.'s Watermill Theatre, this hobbit-spirited writer is curious how a three-book trilogy has been condensed into a 2.5-hour musical. But getting to Chicago is vastly easier than Mount Doom, so this show is a must-attend for any J.R.R. Tolkien fan.

Visit ChicagoShakes.com.

Photos: The Watermill Theatre's The Lord of the Rings

Jeanna de Waal and Corbin Bleu in Mary Poppins at the MUNY Julie A. Merkle


Anything Goes at the Muny (August 19-25)

If you're in the Midwest in Chicago, might as well drive over to Missouri to the famous Muny theatre and it's beloved outdoor amphitheatre. If you want to see Broadway's brightest doing musicals outdoors, then the Muny is the place to go. This summer's roster is no exception, with Jessica Vosk starring in Waitress and Jordan Donica recently in Les Miz. But we're most excited for Anything Goes, starring Jeanna de Waal as Reno Sweeney and leading an all-star cast that includes Ann Harada, Adrianna Hicks, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and more. Don't miss the boat!

Visit MUNY.org.

Eulogy from Darkfield Heather Gershonowitz


Darkfield at Denver Center for the Performing Arts (July 11–August 11)

If you want something a little more off the beaten path, and happen to be in Denver, then stop by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. This summer, the theatre (which houses Broadway tours as well as originally created plays and musicals) is presenting Darkfield, plays which takes audiences inside a real shipping container. The Playbill staff were lucky to experience this in Edinburgh last summer, and we're still talking about it.

Visit DenverCenter.org.

Sasha Velour performs at A Tectonic Cabaret benefiting the Tectonic Theater Project Santiago Felipe


Velour: A Drag Spectacular at La Jolla Playhouse (August 13–September 8)

RuPaul's Drag Race winner Sasha Velour is premiering her newest show in La Jolla, California, this summer. This new show will chart the rise of the popular drag queen, as well as explore the history of drag. Co-written with Tectonic Theatre Project's Moisés Kaufman, this show promises to be epic—if anything, the costumes alone will be fabulous. 

Visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org.

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