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EntertainmentLong IslandTheater

Under the stars, all the Island's a stage

Actors play in

Actors play in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," on Friday night at the Vanderbilt Museum Mansion in Centerport as part of the Arena's Players Shakespeare festival in the courtyard. (July 11, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Danielle Finkelstein

It's summertime, and outdoor theater is easy: The lighter side of Shakespeare, lush romantic musicals, singing and swinging comedies - they all play out under the stars on a Long Island stage.


THE BARD HOLDS COURT

What fools these mortals be!

Foolishness is confined to the stage in Arena Players' rendition of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Mortals who attended a July 4 performance behaved quite sensibly. For 15 years, Frederic De Feis has directed Shakespeare in the courtyard of the Spanish Revival Vanderbilt mansion where, in summers past, Romeo ardently climbed the stairs to Juliet's yonder clock tower perch. As the sun sets and the moon rises, you'd swear the heavenly orbs are moving to the director's cues.

"Outdoors is the cool thing about it," said Melissa Amarianos of Holtsville, who brought a new friend - Zachariah Cowen of Dayton, Ohio - she met at a party.

"I'm very happy she suggested it," said Cowen, sipping wine and munching strawberries.

Picnickers enjoy a rich-man's view of Northport Harbor, glimpsed from the sloping lawn outside the courtyard's back entrance.

No fools these mortals be.

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Fridays and 7 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 29, at Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport

GOOD TO KNOW Although folding metal chairs are set up, bring a lawn chair for comfort. (No rain location.)

INFO $15, arenaplayers.org, 516-293-0674


HOT SHOTS, HIGH NOTES

Kevin Harrington has loved outdoor theater since his parents first took him to see Guy Lombardo at Jones Beach in 1970. Since 1983, Harrington and his wife, Phyllis, have been bringing theater to parks across Long Island. Plaza Theatricals' specialty is classic musicals with a big sound. "We travel with a 27-piece orchestra," Harrington says. "But we need to be flexible with sets to adapt to either a 60- or 28-foot stage."

Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun" was an easy choice this summer. It's the sesquicentennial of Annie Oakley's birth. Harrington remembers seeing it at the beach when he was 9.

WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Morgan Park, Germaine Street at Landing Road, Glen Cove

GOOD TO KNOW Although you can hear the music from anywhere in the park, arrive early to check out the view of Long Island Sound. Picnics welcome but no alcohol. (Rain location: St. Patrick's Parish Hall, Pearsall Avenue)

INFO Free, plazatheatrical.com, 516-599-6870


A SMASH, WEATHER OR NOT

Pat Zaback, founder and artistic director of BroadHollow Theatre, has trimmed her outdoor venues to one. The vagaries of weather and the cost of moving BroadHollow's intricately designed sets from one of the company's two indoor theaters makes it a gamble. But she says her actors "love" working the Chapin Rainbow Stage for Huntington's Summer Arts Festival: "Air-conditioned dressing rooms - and they can walk to restaurants downtown." BroadHollow performs Mel Brooks' Tony-winningest musical comedy "The Producers" later this month.

Zaback recalls perfect nights, such as one for "South Pacific" when a breeze blew the tenor's hair in a certain way while he sang "Some Enchanted Evening."

"You can't direct a moment like that," she says.

WHEN | WHERE 8:30 p.m. July 31 at Heckscher Park, Huntington

GOOD TO KNOW Arrive an hour early and enjoy a picnic supper. Fair-weather Saturday night musicals may draw 5,000 theater fans. You'll want a sightline that's not behind a tree. (No rain location.)

INFO Free; broadhollow.org, 631-581-2700 ("The Producers" plays indoors in Elmont through July 25; tickets $14-$25.)

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