Summer theater preview: 14 shows to see

Steven Pasquale and Kelli O'Hara, in "Far From Steven Pasquale and Kelli O'Hara, in "Far From Heaven" at Williamstown Theatre Festival, bring the production to Playwrights Horizons. (July 19, 2012) Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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The Caucasian Chalk Circle (in previews, opens Thursday). The increasingly essential Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St., turns from Chekhov and Sondheim to Bertolt Brecht with this new production of his 1944 parable about a peasant woman who finds a baby. Christopher Lloyd stars, with new music by Duncan Sheik, who crossed over from indie pop with the smashing musical "Spring Awakening." Tickets are $65. 212-352-3101, classicstage.org.

The Cherry Orchard Festival (Thursday through June 9). This new international arts festival presents a brief but intriguing inaugural season. John Malkovich stars as Casanova Thursday through next Sunday in the U.S. premiere of "The Giacomo Variations" at New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St. Tickets are $35-$135 for the drama based on scenes from Mozart's "Don Giovanni," with chamber orchestra. And June 6-9, Israel's Gesher Theatre presents "Enemies, A Love Story," based on the novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer. (In Hebrew, with English and Russian translation on headphones.) Tickets are $45-$135 at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street. 212-721-6500, cherryorchardfestival.org for information.

Far From Heaven (in previews, opens next Sunday). This eagerly awaited new musical, adapted from Todd Haynes' 2002 movie about the roiling darkness beneath a serene marriage, stars Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale. The book is by Richard Greenberg, whose current hit, "The Assembled Parties," is up for a best play Tony, and the rest of the creative team (director Michael Greif, composer-lyricist Scott Frankel and Michael Korie) wrote the remarkable "Grey Gardens." Tickets are $80 at Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St. 212-279-4200, playwrightshorizons.org

3 Kinds of Exile (in previews, opens June 11). John Guare, best known for such woozily brilliant serious comedies as "Six Degrees of Separation" and "The House of Blue Leaves," actually takes the stage as co-star in his new drama about Eastern European artists living in the West. Neil Pepe, artistic director of the Atlantic Theater, stages the world premiere. Tickets are $70 at the theater, 336 W. 20th St. 866-811-4111, atlantictheater.org

Reasons to Be Happy (in previews, opens June 11). Neil LaBute, the dark star of American drama, returns to his home base at MCC Theater to direct his premiere, which revisits the four characters in his 2008 drama "Reasons to Be Pretty." Jenna Fischer ("The Office") is part of the cast that includes Josh Hamilton and Fred Weller (whom theatergoers know from "Take Me Out" and "Glengarry Glen Ross," but cable America knows from "In Plain Sight"). Tickets are $69-$89 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St. 212-352-3101, mcctheater.org

The Comedy of Errors (previews begin Tuesday, opens June 18). The Public Theater kicks off its 51st season of free Shakespeare in Central Park with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater among the clowns, lovers and identical twins -- separated at birth, of course -- in this popular comedy. Daniel Sullivan, responsible for much memorable Shakespeare, including the monumental "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino, directs. Check publictheater.org for information on free tickets.

The Designated Mourner (previews begin June 21). Theatre for a New Audience and the Public Theater join forces for the first New York revival of Wallace Shawn's wondrously upsetting trio of monologues about the hardening of a once-liberal unnamed country. The play -- the first of Theatre for a New Audience's irresistible-sounding celebration of Shawn and André Gregory -- is directed by Gregory (Shawn's fellow diner in the 1981 movie "My Dinner With André") and stars the playwright-provocateur and his spiritual collaborators Larry Pine and Deborah Eisenberg. Tickets are $86.50. 212-967-7555, publictheater.org

The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin (previews begin Thursday, opens June 27). Steven Levenson, whose "The Language of Trees" had its premiere at the Roundabout Theatre's vibrant little Black Box space, moves upstairs to the larger Off-Broadway Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St., with his new drama about a businessman who returns from a prison sentence for white-collar crime to find a very different family. David Morse and Lisa Emery star and Scott Ellis ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood") directs. Tickets are $71-$81. 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org

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Lincoln Center Festival (July 6-28). This summer's international festival, spanning six venues and artists from 10 countries, includes "Monkey: Journey to the West," a music-theater work based on a Chinese folk tale; "Sinéad O'Connor: The Gospel Sessions"; and John Malkovich's direction of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." For a calendar of events, locations and prices, visit lincolncenterfestival.org.

Encores! Off-Center (July 10-27). City Center's Encores! series of semi-staged musical revivals experiments this summer with a trio of seminal Off-Broadway musicals. Jeanine Tesori ("Caroline or Change") is artistic director for the season, which begins with Marc Blitzstein's historic 1937 labor milestone "The Cradle Will Rock" (July 10-13), followed by one performance of Tesori's 1997 "Violet" starring Sutton Foster (July 17) and the Gretchen Cryer-Nancy Ford 1978 womanpower musical "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road" (July 24-27). All are at New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St. Most tickets will be $25. 212-581-1212, nycitycenter.org

Let It Be (begins previews July 16, opens July 24). Another Beatles clone biography concert comes to Broadway, this time to the St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St. from London's West End. Tickets are $30-$135. 212-239-6200, letitbebroadway.com

First Date (begins previews July 9, opens Aug. 4). A new 90-minute musical-comedy about a blind date, described as "the most dangerous human endeavor in existence," comes to Broadway's Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St., after a premiere in Seattle. Tickets are $35-$137. 212-239-6200, firstdatethemusical.com

Love's Labour's Lost: A New Musical (begins previews July23, opens Aug. 12). The second half of the Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park is a musical adaptation described as "The King and his best buds decide at their five-year college reunion to swear off the joys of women." Updated book and direction is by Alex Timbers, score is by Michael Friedman, best known as the adventurer who created "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson." Visit publictheater.org for ticket information.

Romeo and Juliet (previews begin Aug. 24). Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers cross a different path in this modern update that brings race into the family feud. Orlando Bloom morphs from "The Lord of the Rings" to making his Broadway debut as Romeo, with rising theater star Condola Rashad as his Juliet. David Leveaux directs. Tickets are $95-$155 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St. 877-250-2929, romeoandjulietbroadway.com

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Good Television (in previews, opens June 4). Things unravel behind the scenes of a reality TV show called "Rehabilitation" in Rod McLachlan's premiere at the Atlantic Stage 2.

Somewhere Fun (in previews, opens June 4). Jenny Schwartz, playwright of the haunting "God's Ear," explores the reunion of old friends (one played by the remarkable Kathleen Chalfant) in this drama at the Vineyard Theatre.

The Tutors (in previews, opens June 5). New York temps run a friendship-finding website in this new play by Erica Lipez, part of Second Stage Theatre's thriving summertime Uptown Series.

Sontag: Reborn (in previews, opens June 6). Moe Angelos adapts and performs in this dramatization of Susan Sontag's early journals at New York Theatre Workshop.

Venice (begins previews Tuesday, opens June 13). New futurist musical at the adventurous Public Lab fuses hip-hop and rock in a fallen city in the not-so-distant future.

Toy Theater Festival (June 14-23). This 10th annual international festival at St. Ann's Warehouse promises "great small works" dedicated to the rediscovery of the lost Victorian theater form.

A Kid Like Jake (begins previews next Sunday, opens June 17). Lincoln Center Theater's rooftop LCT3, home of last year's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Disgraced," introduces Daniel Pearle's play about privileged parents with a challenging 4-year-old.

The Two-Character Play (previews begin June 10, opens June 19). Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif star in this revival of Tennessee Williams' play-within-a-play about brothers and sisters at New World Stages.

The Explorers Club (begins previews Tuesday, opens June 20). A prestigious 19th century London club considers admitting a woman in Nell Benjamin's play at Manhattan Theatre Club.

Nobody Loves You (previews begin June 20). A philosophy student gets cast on a TV dating show in this new musical with book and lyrics by Itamar Moses and score by Gaby Alter at Second Stage Theatre.

Buyer and Cellar (begins previews June 18, opens June 24). Michael Urie plays a struggling actor who takes a job in Barbra Streisand's basement in this hit by Jonathan Tolins, a transfer to the Barrow Street Theatre.

Choir Boy (previews begin June 18, opens July2). Tarell Alvin McCraney looks at a black prep school for boys -- and the boy who might not fit -- in this premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage II.

Storyville (previews begin July 15, opens July 23). Jazz musical about 1917 New Orleans, with a book by veteran playwright Ed Bullins and music by Mildred Kayden, opens at the York Theatre Company, 54th Street east of Lexington Avenue.

Murder for Two (previews begin July 10, opens July 25). One actor plays the detective, the other plays all the suspects and both play the piano in this new musical at Second Stage Theatre's Uptown Series.

Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play (previews begin Aug. 23). Anne Washburn's comedy with music, at Playwrights Horizons, time-travels forward to watch a new civilization stumbling into its future.

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