Jessica Hecht stars in
A Streetcar Named Desire
(© Tristan Fuge)
Jessica Hecht stars in
A Streetcar Named Desire
(© Tristan Fuge)
Come summer, Boston audiences tend to head for the hills -- the Berkshires, that is. The Williamstown Theatre Festival is off to a strong start with A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Jessica Hecht and Sam Rockwell (June 22 - July 3), and Jon Robin Baitz's Three Hotels (June 29 - July 24), in which Steven Weber and Maura Tierney play former Peace Corps volunteers now caught up in corporate chicanery.

Barrington Stage Company has paired two knockout female leads for Guys and Dolls (June 15 - July 16): proven comic genius Leslie Kritzer as Adelaide, and meteoric up-and-comer Morgan James as Sister Sarah Brown. The show is flanked by a Vadim Feichtner/Jeremy Desmon revue, Surviving the Avalanche (June 10-12), about the challenges of modern life, and Lee Blessing's mother-on-mother drama Going to St. Ives (June 16 - July 10).

Shakespeare & Company has several stages firing: Shelagh Stephenson's sororal comedy The Memory of Water (June 16 - September 4) overlaps with As You Like It (June 24 - September 4), featuring Merritt Janson as Rosalind, and Goldoni's The Venetian Twins (June 29 - August 27). Meanwhile, the Berkshire Theatre Festival kicks off with Michael Weller's countercultural classic, Moonchildren (June 28 - July 16), directed by Karen Allen; the young seekers include Joe Paulik and Miriam Silverman.

For those gravitating instead to the sea, Cape Ann offers a couple of attractions. Charles Shaughnessy stars in My Fair Lady at the North Shore Music Theatre (June 7-19). Gloucester Stage has two productions in the works: Alan Ayckbourn's Living Together, featuring Lindsay Crouse (June 9-26), and The Most Happy Fella (June 30 - July 17).

If you're planning to fan out across the Cape and Islands instead, consider the historic Cape Playhouse, which embarks on its 84th season with An Evening With Lucille Ball: Thank You For Asking!, starring Suzanne LaRusch and directed by Lucie Arnaz (June 13-16), and Douglas J. Cohen's noir-farce musical, No Way to Treat a Lady! (June 27 - July 9), with Josh Grisetti and Judy Blazer. The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre presents the New England premiere of Martin McDonagh's A Behanding in Spokane (June 1 - July 2). The Payomet Performing Arts Center brings back Kevin Rice's Hopper's Ghosts (June 30 - July 16), a sellout from last summer featuring Martin Laplatney and Laura Esterman.

The Art House in Provincetown has a packed schedule this summer, starting with Snail Road, a new musical by Zoe Lewis, directed by Donna Drake (June 2-12), and, running all summer, Seth Rudetsky's hilarious/instructive tutorials in two formats: Seth's Big Fat Broadway Show (June 23 - September 3) will feature his trademark "deconstructions," and Seth Rudetsky's Broadway at the Art House (June 23-September 4) series will showcase special guests, starting with Jackie Hoffman.

The Vineyard Playhouse on Martha's Vineyard presents Stephen Belber's Tape (June 2-18), starring Ugly Betty's Michael Urie, followed by Coming2Terms (June 23 - July 9), a new play by Bill C. Davis about the fine line between friendship and romance. Amy Stiller stars in the Theater Workshop of Nantucket production of The Book of Liz by Amy and David Sedaris (June 29 - July 23).

And all is not shuttered in Boston! The newly Latino-tweaked revival of West Side Story, presented by Broadway Across America at the Colonial (June 14 - July 9), should keep downtown on its toes. Plus, the fringes are asimmer as always. Two world premieres are slated for the Boston Center for the Arts: Liars & Believers, helmed by Jason Slavick, offers a Biblically inspired rock musical, Song of Songs - a LoveRomp (June 2-18), and Company One welcomes PigPen's family-friendly fable The Mountain Song (June 10-25), which earned the Overall Excellence Award at last year's New York International Fringe Festival. At the tiny Factory Theatre, Heart & Dagger Productions mounts the local premiere of Joshua Conkel's 2009 off-off-Broadway hit MilkMilk Lemonade (June 20 - July 9), the heartwarming story of a dreamy, gender-questioning farm boy (Joey C. Pelletier) under the thumb of his brass-tacks Nanna (Mikey DiLoreto).