The annual Lincoln Center Festival — which in 2012 brought us Cate Blanchett in the Sydney Theatre Company's stunning production of Uncle Vanya — returns this month with Jean Genet's 1947 thriller The Maids. Blanchett, who last year picked up her second Academy Award for Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," is back as one of the murderous maids. She is joined by the French star Isabelle Huppert, best known hereabouts for her performance in the 2001 motion picture La pianiste ("The Piano Teacher"). Blanchett and Huppert will cast their macabre spell for two weeks at City Center, Aug. 6–16.
Over at the Delacorte John Lithgow continues his run in Shakespeare in the Park's King Lear. Annette Bening, Jessica Collins and Jessica Hecht play the Lear daughters, under the direction of Tony-winning director Daniel Sullivan, who returns for his eighth stint at the Delacorte. Performances under the stars continue through Aug. 17. This month at 54 Below begins with the star who inaugurated the cabaret beneath Cabaret — the Roundabout revival currently in residence at Studio 54, that is. Patti LuPone completes her two-week engagement of The Lady with a Torch with two performances Aug. 1 and a final show Aug. 2.
Then comes the unique talent of singer-songwriter Nellie McKay with A Girl Named Bill: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton, Aug. 5–9. Tipton was a piano-playing jazz man who, upon his death at the age of 74, was discovered to be a woman. One can't quite imagine what McKay will come up with, but it is likely to be incisive and fascinating.
Paulo Szot, the Tony Award–winning star of South Pacific rounds off the month with two performances, Aug. 29–30. Szot will sing standards from the American Songbook along with Brazilian and jazz classics.
Bookending the month at 54 Below (Aug. 2 and 22) will be The Skivvies, the comedy-pop pairing of Lauren Molina (she played Johanna-with-cello in the John Doyle Sweeney Todd) and Nick Cearley (of All Shook Up). They sing eccentric mashups and parodies with big smiles and, as their name suggests, little clothes. Many have joined the pair onstage, including Laura Benanti and Andrew Rannells, and we're waiting to see what guests August will bring.
Entertainment of a different sort is on offer Aug. 3, with Têtê-à-Têtê with Jim Brochu & Stephen Schwartz. The latter, of course, is the composer and lyricist of Wicked and Pippin. Brochu, of Zero Hour, will interview Schwartz about his prolific career.