Uptown, Downtown Stages

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:00

Summer Theater in the City

Can't get away to the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor or the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires this Summer? Well sweat not (or as little as possible), because you can enjoy some excellent, inexpensive (free to $25) Summer theater right here in the city through the rest of August.

Shakespeare in the Park's second free Summer production, a musical version of Love's Labour's Lost brought the Bard to the big borough reuniting Obie Award winner Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson)with two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher). The duooffers up a fresh and unexpectedly madcap celebration of true love and coming of age in an evening of song, sonnets and Shakespeare featuring Daniel Breaker (Shrek) and Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live) at the head of a cast of more than twenty very exuberant players.

In "Summer Shorts 2013," the seventh annual festival of new American short plays from both established and emerging writers, is once again being presented in two Series of three one-act-shorts at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street between Park and Madison Avenues), with a ticket price of $25 (members $17.50).

"Series A" kicks off with a peek intoan actor's psyche during the audition process, then moves on to an imaginary take on some very real political running-mates and ends with an imaginative retelling of a classic fairy tale.

Good Luck (in Farsi) by Neil LaBute (Reasons to Be Happy) concerns two young actresses, one still struggling along without an agent, and the other fresh off of a cancelled television series. As both wait to audition for the same part, they while away the time alternately sharing audition tips and trying tosabotageeach other's chances.

Lucas Hnath (A Public Reading of An Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney) presents a different kind of audition in About A Woman Named Sarah. The eponymous Sarah and her husband Todd travel for a job interview with a man named John and his wife Cindy?sound familiar?

Ending "Series A" is Breaking the Spell, by Tina Howe (Coastal Disturbances), a comic spin on Sleeping Beauty, wherein a king (Michael Countryman) hopes to revive his sleeping daughter not with the traditional Prince's kiss, but through various Prince's musical stylings.

"Series B" presents an emerging playwright, a screenwriter who loves the stage and a seasoned comedy writer who give us a blind date scenario, the reunion of three college friends and finally an elderly couple, haunted by their former spice.

In Marian Fontana's Falling Short, a struggling freelance writer meets a struggling actor over "Asian soul food" and far too much to drink, but in vino veritas, as their defenses fall away.

Change, by Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy), reunites three old friends - a married couple and their reprobate druggie college buddie, Jordan. Will they go to pot or (God forbid!) even something stronger?

And finally for "Series B," Alan Zeibel (700 Sundays) delivers Pine Cone Moment, in which Harry and Bunny, an elderly couple, find themselves haunted by their late spouses while planning a late-life trip to Disneyland. Among the spice, Camille Saviola is a most corporeal spectre as Harry's jealous late wife.

For the more adventurous New Yorker, the "17th Annual New York International Fringe Festival" runs through August 25th in some 20 downtown venues from East 14th Street to the West Village and from Tribeca down to the LES in such varied theaters as The Players, The Kraine, Theatre 80 and the recently renamed Lynn Redgrave Theater.

There are 185 shows from 13 countries including Spain, Sweden, Italy, Japan, Holland and Australia) and 17 states from California to Ohio and Utah to Missouri. Last year's attendance topped 75,000, making the NYIFF, the fifth largest annual New York event after the Tribeca Film Fest and the New York City Marathon.

Go to FRINGENYC.ORG for a complete list of schedules and venues and be sure to plan ahead - it's a bit daunting but very rewarding, especially when you're among the first to discover the next Urinetown, or Silence. Actors who have performed in the past included Mindy Kaling, Michael Urie and Bradley Cooper.

Topics this year range from Jack the Ripper's victims (The Unfortunates) to an evening with Tennessee Williams (En Avant), from Whitman (Like Poetry) to Jack London (Sex Love and Revolution) and include 'gumboot dancing' from the mines of South Africa's Jo'burg' (Ndebele Funeral), stripping in a cold climate (Naked in Alaska), 50 celebrity impressions (The TomKat Project), a cowboy musical (Cowboys Don't Sing) and last, but not least, renegade clowns with a semi-automatic (Clown Play).

When in doubt about what to see, click on the Fringe site's photo and check out the descriptions and locations, then close your eyes, pointandget a ticket to whichever show your finger lands on - you can't go very wrong and you just might go right. Final warning: Don't be late, there's almost never late seating.

Shows to Check Out the Last Weekend of FringeNYC

-The TomKat Project: Yes, a parody of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' relationship- tickets available for showtimes from Wednesday to Saturday at The Players Theater

-Waiting for Waiting for Godot: Two stage hands waiting around backstage at a production of Waiting for Godot. Tickets available for Wednesday-Sunday at the Kraine Theater

-Antony and Cleopatra: Infinite Lives: A taste of the Shakespeare play, complete with an Egyptian ex-patriot and modern scenes of the revolution in Tahrir Square. playing Sunday at the Lynn Redgrave Theater

-Rubble: Simpsons writer Mike Reiss brings us a comedic look at life and death from the point of view of a man trapped under rubble after a California earthquake. Playing Thursday the 22nd, Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th at The Players Theater

-Ex-Machina: A dystopian farcical comedy set in an IPhone factory in China- showtimes Wednesday the 21st, and Friday the 23rd at Teatro LATEA.

Tickets and full show listings are available at fringenyc.org; all tickets are $18 at the door.