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Summer Theatre Preview

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The thought of Young Jean Lee on Broadway is enough to boggle the mind. The forty-three-year-old playwright is one of downtown’s most trenchant, least crowd-pleasing talents, whose stubbornly genre-resistant work melds identity politics, Dadaist humor, and metatheatrical mind games. “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven” (2006) was a self-excoriating satire of Asian-American stereotypes. “Untitled Feminist Show” (2011) explored gender expression using six nude actors and minimal text. “Straight White Men,” which played at the Public Theatre in 2014, is a kind of topsy-turvy inversion of a naturalistic drama, written by someone who is neither a straight white man nor a naturalistic playwright. Second Stage brings it to the Helen Hayes this summer (starting previews June 29), with direction by Anna D. Shapiro and a cast that combines Broadway star power (Armie Hammer, Josh Charles, Tom Skerritt) with Lee’s avant-garde milieu (the transgender performance artist Kate Bornstein).

Other summer fare is easier to categorize. The Public’s free Shakespeare in the Park series, at the Delacorte, returns with a tragedy and a comedy. First, Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs “Othello” (previews begin May 29); the Nigerian-British actor Chukwudi Iwuji takes the title role, and Corey Stoll, who played Brutus in last summer’s hot-button “Julius Caesar,” is Iago. Then, starting July 17, Oskar Eustis and Kwame Kwei-Armah stage a musical version of “Twelfth Night,” with songs by Shaina Taub. The production originated as part of the Public Works series, which brings together professional actors (including Nikki M. James, as Viola) and community members from recreation centers, military-family support groups, and other organizations.

Who’s that walking down the street? Those may be the clacking heels of “Pretty Woman” (starting July 20, at the Nederlander), a musical adaptation of the 1990 movie, with songs by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell. Samantha Barks, who played Éponine in the film version of “Les Misérables,” steps into the Julia Roberts role, with Steve Kazee (“Once”) as her playboy. More nostalgia comes to Broadway in “Head Over Heels” (June 23, Hudson), which uses songs by the Go-Go’s to tell a story about a kingdom trying to stop a prophecy from coming true. (Spoiler: that never works.)

Off Broadway, a slew of notable playwrights return. In “Skintight,” by Joshua Harmon (“Significant Other”), Idina Menzel plays a newly divorced woman whose father is dating a twenty-year-old man (May 31, Laura Pels). Jordan Harrison (“Marjorie Prime”) débuts “Log


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