The surge in the popularity of musicals has transformed the summer theatrical landscape. Everything from Aladdin to 42nd Street to Hedwig and the Angry Inch is holding forth across the region, along with world premieres such as Big Red Sun.
There’s lots of non-singing theater, too: summer Shakespeare, the powerful Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau, Arsenic and Old Lace down the Shore, the Philadlephia Women’s Theatre Festival, and the PlayPenn readings in town. Here’s what’s up on area stages.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (June 10-July 1, Matthews Acting Studio). The Princeton Festival features this broad musical comedy, in which wily slave Pseudolus and a bunch of Romans roam the streets of Rome. (609-258-2787, princetonfestival.org)
Aladdin (June 13-July 1, Academy of Music). If a genie could give you three wishes, one might be to see this colorful production, with tunes and laughs for all ages. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Nice Work If You Can Get It (June 13-24, Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven). The Surflight is having a 2018 season even more packed than last year’s reopening lineup. Following Nice Work are Jesus Christ Superstar (June 26-July 15), The Wedding Singer (July 17-Aug. 5), Saturday Night Fever (Aug. 7-26), and Bright Star (Aug. 28-Sept. 9). (609-492-9477, surflight.org)
Skeleton Crew (June 13-July 15, People’s Light, Malvern). Auto workers fight for survival as the manufacturing sector fades. Written by Dominique Morisseau, one of the country’s most sought-after playwrights. (610-644-3500, peopleslight.org)
Disney’s Newsies (through June 16, Axelrod Performing Arts Center). This community theater in Deal Park, N.J., just five minutes from Asbury Park, also has Disney’s High School Musical on tap (July 29-Aug. 5) (732-531-9106, axelrodartscenter.com). The summer 2018 lineup at other community theaters on or near the beach includes Pippin (July 26-28) and Oliver! (Aug. 24-26), presented by the Our Gang Players at Barnegat High School in Barnegat (609-597-0553, ourgang.org). In the OC, the Ocean City Theatre Company presents A Chorus Line (July 10-13) and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Aug. 7-10), both with the Ocean City Pops Orchestra. (609-398-1118, oceancitytheatrecompany.com)
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (June 13-Aug. 5, DeSales University, Center Valley). A diverse, imaginative summer begins with the musical Ragtime (June 13-July 1) and then Twelfth Night (June 21-July 15). Family theater includes Alice in Wonderland (through Aug. 4) and Shakespeare for Kids (July 25-Aug. 4). The stage version of Tom Stoppard’s Shakespeare in Love (July 11-Aug. 5) and the noble Richard II (July 19-Aug. 5) will run in repertory performed by the same cast, and Bardolators can also look forward to All’s Well That Ends Well (July 19-Aug. 5). (610-282-9455, pashakespeare.org)
SolowFest 2018. (June 14-24, various locations). Forty experimental works all over Philadelphia focusing on solo performance, from “walking sculptures” to dance to short plays. (solowfest.com)
Big Red Sun (through June 17, 11th Hour Theatre Company). World premiere of this musical about a young man traveling the land, searching for the truth about his father and himself. (267-987-9865, 11thhourtheatrecompany.org)
Fun Home (through June 24, Arden Theatre Company). Musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical novel about family, identity, and secrets that change everything. (215-922-1122, ardentheatre.org)
Soul Harmony (June 20-July 1, Uptown! Knauer PAC, West Chester). Musical saga of R&B and rock-and-roll pioneer singing group the Orioles. (610-356-2787, uptownwestchester.org)
At Wit’s End (through June 22, Cape May Stage). Erma Bombeck opens the company’s usual summer, followed by Neil Simon’s Chapter Two (June 27-Aug. 3), and James Goldman’s Lion in Winter (Aug. 8-Sept. 14). (609-770-8311, capemaystage.org). Also in Cape May, the East Lynne Theatre Company’s summer plays celebrate women, with On the Sunny Side of the Street (June 13-July 21) and Arsenic and Old Lace (July 25-Sept. 1). (609-584-8598, eastlynnetheater.org). Elaine’s offers dinner theater, starting with Zombie Beach Party (through mid-July) (609-884-1199, elainescapemay.com). And at the Aerodrome at the Cape May Airport terminal building, playwright/businessman Bill Sterritt presents Calliope Rose – A Mythological Comedy (July 15-Aug. 21). (323-793-2153, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Don’t Dress for Dinner (through June 24, Lantern Theatre Company). Marc Camoletti is having a renaissance around here, and this bedroom/kitchen/living room farce is among his naughtiest. (215-829-0395, lanterntheater.org)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (through June 24, reTheater/Ruba Club). Braden Chapman of RuPaul’s Drag Race stars in this 20th anniversary performance at the NoLibs ballroom theater. (retheater.org)
Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn (through June 24, Philadelphia Artists Collective). A wild melodrama in the Victorian style. Love, revenge, murder, a villain to boo and hiss. (philartistscollective.org)
Red Bike (through June 24, Simpatico Theatre). A bicycle, an accident, and a changed point of view. Among other reasons to see Red Bike: It’s Philly-born playwright Caridad Svich’s first full production in her hometown. (267-437-7529, simpaticotheatre.org)
Camelot (through June 24, Act II Playhouse, Ambler). The Lerner and Loewe classic has now had its run extended. Act II’s summer slate then continues with Tuesdays with Morrie (July 10-29). (215-654-0200, act2.org)
Chicago (June 29-July 22, Broadway Theatre of Pitman). This satire on 1920s crime and corruption keeps enjoying its ninth, 10th, and 11th lives. (856-389-2057, thebroadwaytheatre.org)
42nd Street (June 29-Aug. 4, Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope). We forget that when brave Peggy Sawyer steps off the bus in Manhattan hoping for a Broadway life, that bus is direct from Allentown! This popular musical is a hymn to the great Dubin and Warren songbook. With plenty of hoofing. (215-862-2121, bcptheater.org)
The Last Five Years (through July 1, Eagle Theatre, Hammonton). Edgy musical in which a man and woman fall in and out of love. She tells her story backward, he forward. (609-704-5012, eagletheatre.org)
Last of the Red Hot Lovers (through July 1, Montgomery Theatre, Souderton). Neil Simon’s paean to failed adventures in adultery. (215-723-9984, montgomerytheater.org)
On the Exhale (July 12-28, Theater with a View, Sycamore Hill, Pottstown). Martín Zimmerman’s tale of a woman facing the specter (and the political issue) of gun violence – and how we’re all involved. Outdoors on summer nights in beautiful surroundings. (484-925-1547, theaterwithaview.com)
Much Ado About Nothing (July 13-29, Delaware Shakespeare Festival, Rockwood Park, Wilmington). Beatrice and Benedict run after and away from each other in this classic romp. Directed by Barrymore-winner Bi Jean Ngo. (302-415-3373, delshakes.org)
PlayPenn readings (July 17-19 and July 23-29, the Drake). Six playwrights, selected from hundreds of applicants nationwide, will sweat over their scripts at PlayPenn all summer. Why not see some free readings of their work? (215-242-2813, playpenn.org)
Broadway by Request (July 21-28, Gateway Playhouse, Somers Point). The Gateway fills its summer season with old and new. Following the Broadway showcase are Lovely, A Musical Comedy (Aug. 9-12); and Make Room for Vicky (Sept. 7-9). (609-653-0553, gatewaybythebay.org)
Mamma Mia! (through July 22, Walnut Street Theatre). ABBA’s quest for world domination continues — and the rest of us will sing and dance along! (215-574-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org).
Twelfth Night (July 25-29, Clark Park). Jack Tamburri brings a diverse, accessible, glam-rock production of the popular Shakespeare comedy to West Philly for five summer nights.
Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival (Aug. 1-5, Music Theatre Philly). Five world-premiere plays by women. This year’s theme: mothers. (phillywomenstheatrefest.org)