Theatre Under the Stars, Part Two: A Guide to Outdoor Productions in New York

By Carey Purcell
August 7, 2013

The weather is cooling off (a little), and back to school specials are already being advertised, but summer isn't over yet. A few weeks of warm weather remain, and so do some golden opportunities to see theatre while enjoying the sun or starshine. 



Whether theatregoers are in the mood for some swashbuckling swordfights from the 17th centry or real-life unsolved murders from 1975, these shows can be enjoyed al fresco throughout August.

Click through to see Part Two of Playbill.com's roundup of outdoor theatre in New York.

Fringe Al Fresco

Theatregoers can catch a new, cutting-edge show in the great outdoors while attending FringeAL FRESCO, the outdoor performances of the New York International Fringe Festival. This summer's offerings include A Game Without A Name, a mythical origin story in modern verse and Tartuffe, a reimagining of Moliere's classic comedy which sets the famed hypocrite in modern-day Brooklyn. Performances are staged Aug. 17-25 at First Street Green Cultural Park. A full performance schedule can be found by visiting fringenyc.org

Summer on the Hudson

The annual outdoor arts and culture festival that takes place in Riverside Park includes the Children's Performance Series, featuring music, storytelling and theatre for young audiences. Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights perform Aug. 8 and puppeteers from the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater can be seen Aug 15. Visit nycgovparks.org for more information. 

Live IN Theater

This immersive theatre company takes murder-mysteries back where they began: the streets of the city. These productions place the audience right in the center of the action, blending the make believe with actual historical — and unsolved — murders. Aspiring crime-solvers can attend The Ryan Case 1873 or The Lombardi Case 1975, where participants are encouraged to help figure out whodunnit. A performance schedule and more information can be found by visiting liveintheater.com

 Shakespeare in the Park

Founded by Joe Papp in 1962, Shakespeare in the Park has long been a tradition of theatregoers, with more than five million people attending the performances. The original musical adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and a book by Alex Timbers, will be performed through Aug. 18.

Performances are held at the Delacorte Theater (accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West, or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue). Tickets are distributed two per person at noon every day. Additionally, a virtual lottery can be entered online at shakespeareinthepark.org.

Click here to read our survival guide to waiting in line for Shakespeare in the Park.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

If you prefer the works of the Bard in a more urban setting, a production of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot might be the show for you. The Drilling Company’s free shows have been performed in a municipal, working parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets for the past 20 years. At times the action is staged around a parked car, and other times the performances stop while the audiences move their chairs to make room for cars. Audience members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and arrive early to secure good seats — at least for the moment. In a case of art imitating life, the company is performing Richard III through Aug. 17. More information can be found at shakespeareintheparkinglot.com.

Hudson Warehouse

Calling themselves “the other free Shakespeare in the Park,” Hudson Warehouse’s summer season of classic works of drama features The Three Musketeers in August. Performances take place Thursday-Sunday at 6:30 PM through Aug. 25 and are held at the North Patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park (West 89th Street and Riverside Drive). Tickets are not required; instead, audience members are invited to sit on the steps and benches of the monument. More information can be found by visiting hudsonwarehouse.net.

Summerstage

This annual series of performance art that tours the five boroughs will feature a hip-hop musical adaptation of King Kong, written by Randy Weiner and Alfred Preisser. This production revisits the larger-than-life gorilla, framing it around a story about hip-hop music. King Kong will be presented in five public parks July 30-Aug. 22. Read Playbill.com’s previous coverage of the show here. They also feature the "fantastical love story" Diablo Love through Aug. 24. For more information about SummerStage, including a full calendar of events, visit cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/.

Hip to Hip Theatre Company

Hip to Hip Theatre Company, which draws its name from Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors, tours 12 different Queens County Parks in the summer, performing two different works by Shakespeare — one comedy and one tragedy. This summer audience members can catch Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Tempest. Performances run in repertory July 24-Aug. 18. They will also moonlight Newport Green in Jersey City and conclude with gala performances in Southampton's Agawam Park. Performances are free, and no tickets are necessary. More information can be found at hiptohip.org.