10 Free and Outdoor Events for NYC Theatre Lovers This Summer

Special Features   10 Free and Outdoor Events for NYC Theatre Lovers This Summer
Gather your friends and get planning.
Delacorte Theatre
Delacorte Theatre Tammy Shell
CTH&#39;s <i>Three Musketeers</i>
CTH's Three Musketeers

The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Three Musketeers
Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale of friendship, courage, and adventure gets a fresh face—and Afro-Caribbean aesthetic—in an all-new staging from The Classical Theatre of Harlem. CTH presents Catherine Bush’s stage adaptation in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater through July 30.

Broadway in Bryant Park
In case you need another excuse to spend your lunch outdoors, the most popular shows on and off Broadway are performing their biggest hits for free on the stage in Bryant Park every Thursday between 12:30 and 1:30 PM. The popular series, presented by 106.7 LITE FM, runs through August 10. Shows which have participated so far are A Bronx Tale, Anastasia, Kinky Boots, Beautiful, School of Rock, Groundhog Day, Wicked, and Phantom of the Opera.

The radio station also offers Broadway in the Boros in locations throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

Flip through highlights from earlier performances:

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’s Henry VI Part 3
The Drilling Company’s free Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series returns with a production of Henry VI Part 3 in the Clemente Parking lot at La Plaza in the Lower East Side. The characters in Shakespeare’s violent tale of Medieval war will be dressed in suits to reflect the conflicts between Republicans and Democrats today. “This is the best play in the canon to reflect our current political polarization,” says director Hamilton Clancy. Performances run July 27–August 12.

Bryant Park’s Twelfth Night
The Drilling Company is also presenting a limited run of Twelfth Night in Bryant Park for three performances only. The music-filled comedy is also set in contemporary times. Performances run July 28–30 at varying times.

Annaleigh Ashford and Alex Hernandez Joan Marcus

Shakespeare in the Park
The Public Theater continues its summer tradition of free Shakespeare in the Park with the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Lear deBessonet and choreographed by Chase Brock. Among the cast are Annaleigh Ashford as Helena, Phylicia Rashad as Titania, Kristine Nielsen as Puck, Danny Burstein as Nick Bottom, Kyle Beltran as Lysander, and Bhavesh Patel as Theseus. The popular comedy continues through August 13 in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater.

SummerStage, New York City's largest, free outdoor festival, presents an eclectic mix of events across all five boroughs, from Broadway to the avant-garde, opera, hip-hop, film, circus, and everything in between. Highlights from this year’s lineup include a concert with Regina Spektor in Central Park (July 27), excerpts from A Bronx Tale in Crotona Park (August 3), performances by poets and performing artists Staceyann Chin, Ntozake Shange, and Sarah Kay in East River Park (August 9), a performance piece from NYC-based dance company SBB in East River Park (10), playwright and singer-songwriter Stew’s musical homage to James Baldwin in Marcus Garvey Park (August 15), and an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater documentary screening in Central Park (August 16).

The Metropolitan Opera’s Summer HD Festival
From August 26 through September 4, the Metropolitan Opera House is offering free outdoor screenings of nine productions in Lincoln Center Plaza. Among the titles to be projected this year are Rigoletto, La Traviata, Ingmar Bergman’s acclaimed film adaptation of The Magic Flute, and—over the course of two nights—Tristan und Isolde.

The Battery Dance Festival
The Battery Dance Festival returns downtown for its 36th year. New York’s longest-running free public dance festival never fails to draw large crowds who come to see some of the city’s best dancers perform against the breathtaking backdrop of the New York Harbor at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City. Performances run August 13–18.

Naked <i>Hamlet</i>
Naked Hamlet

Naked Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Following last year’s popular staging of The Tempest, Torn Out Theater’s Naked Shakespeare returns with an all-male (and partly nude) Hamlet. The production will celebrate body freedom and draw on Shakespeare’s famous tragedy to explore assumptions about the naked male form. Performances are in Prospect Park’s Music Pagoda August 10–13 only.

Lincoln Center’s Free Outdoor Events
Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors festival kicked off July 26, presenting a mix of free live music concerts, spoken word and dance, all under the stars. The line-up includes a performance from Paul Taylor Dance Company, Heidi Latsky’s performance installation On Display, a concert with Dionne Warwick, a tribute to composer Pauline Oliveros, and Nosotros Festival, a one-night-only music and poetry event featuring essential voices from Latinx communities.

These events get busy, so make sure to arrive in advance and nab a good spot. With food trucks and a bar, there’s plenty to keep you busy while you wait.

Also check out Hudson River Park’s free outdoor concerts, sing-a-long screenings, and sunset events.


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