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Theater preview: From ‘Cats’ revival to all-female ‘Shrew’

Jonathan Pryce is Shylock in Jonathan Munby's production

Jonathan Pryce is Shylock in Jonathan Munby's production of "The Merchant of Venice" from Shakespeare's Globe. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

AN ACT OF GOD (in previews, opens June 6) This is not a reprint, though you’re right if it sounds familiar. Last year at almost precisely this time, Jim Parsons was in previews to star as, well, the King of the Universe, in this comedy said to be written by the “creator of, well, everything.” Now Sean Hayes, who starred in the San Francisco and Los Angeles productions of David Javerbaum’s irreverent comedy, is here for the second coming. Joe Mantello (“The Humans”) again directs. Tickets are $79-$149, Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, anactofgod.com

WAR (in previews, opens June 6) Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, the extraordinary young playwright whose “Gloria” was just named a Pulitzer finalist, explores sibling tension and historic surprises in a comatose mother’s hospital room. Charlayne Woodward is part of the cast for this premiere at the tiny, adventurous Claire Tow. Tickets are $30, LCT3 at Lincoln Center Theater, 212-239-6200, lct.org

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY UNIT AT MEMORIAL SLOAN-KETTERING CANCER CENTER OF NEW YORK CITY (in previews, opens June 7) With such a title, who could resist? MCC Theater’s latest premiere stars Lisa Emery and Beth Behrs (of CBS’ “2 Broke Girls”) in Halley Feiffer’s tragicomedy about two people whose nasty divorce is compounded when their mothers share a hospital room. Tickets are $49-$69, Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St., 212-352-3101, mcctheater.org

CONFUSIONS and HERO’S WELCOME (in previews, open June 8 and 9 respectively, then play in rep through July 3) British master of comic sadness and structural machinations Alan Ayckbourn returns to his intimate New York home base with his Scarborough company and two plays, which he also directs, as part of the annual Brits-Off-Broadway series. Tickets are $70, $100 for both, 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., 212-279-4200, 59e59.org

SHINING CITY (in previews, opens June 9) Matthew Broderick goes Off-Broadway to star in this revival of Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s haunting play about a man, a therapist and the ghost of his dead wife. Tickets are $24-$70, Irish Rep, 132 W. 22nd St., 212-727-2737, irishrep.org

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK (“The Taming of the Shrew” is in previews, opens June 13, “Troilus and Cressida” begins previews July 19, opening Aug. 3) The Public Theater’s much-loved free Shakespeare in Central Park begins with an all-woman “Shrew,” directed by Phyllida Lloyd (“Mamma Mia!,” “Mary Stuart”), with a formidable cast that includes Cush Jumbo, Janet McTeer and LaTanya Richardson Jackson. Casting has not been announced for director Daniel Sullivan’s production of “Troilus.” Check publictheater.org for information on how to snare tickets.

ENCORES! OFF-CENTER (July 6-July 30) For three years, Jeanine Tesori, artistic director and Tony-winning composer of “Fun Home,” has been inventing adventures for this young summer Off-Broadway offshoot of the Encores! series of semi-staged revivals. For her final year before going off to create more of her own shows, Tesori opens July 6-9 with “Runaways,” the 1978 musical about troubled teens by Elizabeth Swados, who died last winter. From July 27-30 comes “Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” the 1979 show by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman (“Little Shop of Horrors”). And in between, on July 16, is an “Off-Center Jamboree!,” that is, a concert with Sutton Foster, Jonathan Groff and others, with Tesori on the piano. Tickets are $25-$115, New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St., 212-581-1212, nycitycenter.org

OSLO (previews begin June 16, opens July 11) Bartlett Sher, whose magnificent productions of “South Pacific” and “The King and I” have made legends at the Lincoln Center Theater, moves downstairs to the company’s Off-Broadway space to direct J.T. Rogers’ drama about the secret meetings that led to the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays are part of the commanding cast. Tickets are $77 before July 11, $87 after, Mitzi E. Newhouse, Lincoln Center Theater, 212-239-6200, lct.org

LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL 2016 (July 13-31) This summer’s annual international fest includes such highlights as Tony-winner Jonathan Pryce in a production of “The Merchant of Venice” from Shakespeare’s Globe, an all-female, all-Japanese production of “Chicago” and Molière’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” from Paris’ celebrated Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord that attempts to recreate what Louis XIV saw at its premiere. For venues, prices and many other attractions, visit lincolncenterfestival.org

MOTOWN (previews begin July 12, opening TBA) They said they’d be back — and they meant it. When the show closed its run on Broadway in January, 2015, iconic soul entrepreneur Berry Gordy said his biographical jukebox musical would return someday. With productions now in London and on American tour, director Charles Randolph-Wright’s staging is back for what is being billed as a limited run. Tickets are $97-$147, Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St., 877-250-2929; motownthemusical.com

PRIVACY (previews begin July 5, opens July 18) Daniel Radcliffe and Rachel Dratch are part of an intriguing world premiere by James Graham and director Josie Rourke inspired by the revelations of Edward Snowden and the pressures of our technology-driven culture. This is a coproduction with London’s Donmar Warehouse, where Rourke is artistic director. Audiences will be asked to keep their cellphones on. No kidding. Tickets are $80, Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., 212-967-7555, publictheater.org

CATS (previews begin July 14, opens July 31) Now and forever is right. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical based on T.S. Eliot’s children’s book ran nearly 18 years before going to feline heaven — and, in fact, all over the world. Now the smash returns in Trevor Nunn’s original production, but with new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (“Hamilton”). Let the memories begin . . . again? Tickets are $59-$149, Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St., 877-250-2929, catsthemusical.com

AND KEEP IN MIND . . .

HIMSELF AND NORA (June 6, Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane) This new musical centers on the relationship between James Joyce and his muse, a chambermaid.

THE PURPLE LIGHTS OF JOPPA ILLINOIS (June 7, Atlantic-Stage 2, 330 W. 16th St.) Wildly prolific playwright Adam Rapp explores what happens when two teenage girls arrive at the home of a Kentucky man with a past.

INDIAN SUMMER (June 8, Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St.) A city kid meets a tough guy while spending the summer with his grandfather in a Rhode Island beach town in Gregory S. Moss’ serious comedy.

LIBERTY: A MONUMENTAL NEW MUSICAL (July 4, 42West, 514 W. 42nd St.) Imagine a beautiful French immigrant — described, uh, as “statuesque” — who arrives in our harbor to become a country’s symbol.

SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS (July 13, Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.) Bess Wohl’s drama involves vows of silence at a retreat and the tension created by wordlessness.

ENGAGEMENTS (July 28, Second Stage Uptown, 2162 Broadway) Kimberly Senior, director of the Pulitzer-winning “Disgraced,” stages Lucy Teitler’s new play about a drunken night when a young woman tries to discourage the engagement of her best friend.

MEN ON BOATS (Aug. 1, Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St.) Playwright Jaclyn Backhaus creates what’s described as a “joyfully anachronistic retelling” of the 1869 expedition to chart the Colorado River.

LAYOVER (previews begin in early August, opening TBD, Second Stage Theatre, 307 W. 43rd St.) Leslye Headland (“Bachelorette”) puts strangers on a delayed flight on a snowy Thanksgiving night.

— LINDA WINER

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