Think summer theater on Long Island and Bellport's Gateway Playhouse or Hamptons-chic Bay Street Theatre comes to mind. While those two professional companies continue their current seasons into September, open-air venues beckon with a diverse selection of theatrical experiences.
MULFORD BARN REP THEATER
WHEN | WHERE "Electricity" 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday; "Wife" 7:30 p.m. p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Mulford Farm, 10 James Lane, East Hampton, in repertory through Sept. 4
INFO theatermania.com, 866-811-4111
Theater in a barn? It's not outlandish to Long Island theatergoers. Gateway once performed in a barn, which still stands as a wing to its 600-seat theater. The East Hampton barn at Mulford Farm -- between Guild Hall and the Home Sweet Home museum -- dates back to 1721. With doors open wide, a breeze wafted through on opening night of Charles Busch's 2000 Broadway comedy.
"We were looking for ways to bring more people to our farm museum," says Maureen Bluedorn, chairwoman of its theater committee. When Guild Hall's John Drew Theater closed for renovations four years ago, "we decided it would be a good time to put on a show." First, came Halloween entertainment. Following summers brought the "Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," "Sylvia" and "All in the Timing."
This summer's choice, running in repertory with "Miss Electricity," a family show, is a departure. "Allergist's Wife" contains adult language and situations -- including three-way sex and less-than-polite talk of regularity. Bring the kids to "Miss Electricity" instead.
The Busch cast includes three Actor's Equity union members. "We wanted to make it professional," says Bluehorn, "but at a reasonable price." The barn seats about 50. Sightlines to the small stage area make it advisable to arrive early for a front-row seat. Stage lighting hangs incongruously from rough-hewn rafters. Picnicking is encouraged on the 3 1/2-acre grounds, dotted after dusk with fireflies and candlelit lanterns.
INFO $15; arenaplayers.org, 516-293-0674
Shakespeare under the stars has been a summer staple from New York to New Zealand. For 15 years, Arena founder-director Frederic De Feis has presented his Shakespeare Festival, one tragedy and one comedy, in a unique setting -- the cobblestone courtyard of the Spanish-revival mansion at Centerport's Vanderbilt Museum. Last month, Romeo climbed to the clock tower balcony in pursuit of Juliet before the Montague-Capulet swordfight on the staircase presaged the lovers' doom. This month, love's true course is altered by mistaking the word "noting" for "nothing."
Seating is provided. But metal folding chairs on a hard, uneven surface make cushions or lawn chairs almost imperative. Through a passageway to the rear, a view of Northport Harbor shows why William K. Vanderbilt chose this location for his summer "cottage." It's a romantic picnic spot. Dusk falls by intermission -- enhancing the intrigue ahead.
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Morgan Park, Landing Road and Germaine Street, Glen Cove
INFO morganparkmusic.org, 516-671-0017
No, you won't find this title in the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire. The cabaret show written by director David Auxier, who also emcees, is a mashup of Broadway show tunes and G&S favorites. The title is a wordplay on a lyric from "The Mikado": "I've got a little list." The idea is to show the Brit pair's influence on modern musical theater, including the "patter song" legacy found in "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little" in "The Music Man."
Cabaret under the stars? Why not? Morgan Park's free Summer Music Festival stage comes with a view as impressive in its way as that of Rockefeller Center's legendary Rainbow Room. Sunset views of Glen Cove Harbor and opulent Sands Point across the way evoke "The Great Gatsby." You're at the party, but it's not catered. So bring a picnic and lawn chair or blanket.