Summer is upon us, and with it comes plentiful options for viewing the pleasures of the the-eatre al fresco. But where to begin? Options range from highbrow (Shakespeare in the Park, you say?) to...not-so-highbrow (Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, anyone?). We've rounded up a handful of your best bets this summer, no matter where you fall on the culture continuum.
Shakespeare in the Park, Central Park
Shakespeare In The Park
The big daddy of them all. The Public Theater's annual summerlong celebration of the Bard at Central Park's Delacorte Theater sees two (oftentimes star-studded) productions every season—this year, it's Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well. Tickets are free, but plan to camp out in line for several hours if you want in. (Or, try registering for tickets online and the stand-by line, which forms at the Delacorte before each show.)
Delacorte Theater in Central Park, near 81st Street and Central Park West, full schedule here.
For a still-popular but less difficult ticket, try Summerstage, run by the City Parks Foundation. Summerstage is hosting twenty nights of theater in seven parks around the city the summer, all for free. There's a good mix of new and classic productions this summer, ranging from the musically-inclinedIndomitable: James Brown to the kid-friendly Tunde's Trumpet, and Greek classics Oedipus and Seven Against Thebes.
Various parks across the city, see full schedule and location list here.
The New York Classical Theatre
New York Classical Theatre
With a mission to present classics in nontraditional settings (sometimes in multiple places for one show), the Classical Theatre has a reputation for some of the most visually unique productions anywhere in the city, and audiences are invited to watch rehearsals for free. This summer's productions include The School for Husbands by Moliere and Henry V, whose performance includes a trip between Battery Park and Governors Island.
Various locations, see full schedule and information here.
Queens Theatre in the Park
For a more modern spin, head of to Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the Queens Theatre's summerlong production of A Jew Grows In Brooklyn, Jake Ehrenreich's musical comedy, which played for a year on Broadway. It's playing Thursdays through Sundays from July 28-August 21.
Claire Shulman Playhouse / Main Stage, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, $39.50-49.50, full schedule here.
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (Lee Wexler)
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
For those who prefer their Bard in a less format setting, check out the 20th season of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, an "intrepid, bare-boned and often gloriously ingenious adaptations of the classics." This year they're tackling The Comedy Of Errors, moving the comedy of mischance and mistaken identity to a modern pizzeria in Little Italy, and it's yours to enjoy for free.
July 7-23, Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Sts, Thursdays - Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Yes, the New York International Fringe Festival puts on more than 1,200 independent performances over the course of two weeks, and not all of them are outside. But FringeAL FRESCO offers a handful of shows—this year, see Not My Problem and Inside, Not Looking Out—in the great outdoors, at venues like Washington Square Park, Hudson River Park, and the Westbeth Courtyard.
August 12-28, various locations and times, see full schedule and details here.