Aurélia Thierrée in Aurélia's Oratorio
(© Richard Haughton)
Aurélia Thierrée in Aurélia's Oratorio
(© Richard Haughton)
The summer diaspora is in full swing: for the most part, theater has fled the torpid city for breeze-cooled parks and country retreats. The American Repertory Theatre, however, has retained a family-pleaser for vacation fun: a reprise of Aurelia's Oratorio (July 22-August 2), the nouveau-cirque romp created by Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter. Tours in town include Rent at the Colonial Theatre, with original stars Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp (July 1-26); Steve Solomon in My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm in Therapy at the Cutler Majestic (July 23-August 2) and Jersey Boys at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre (July 23-September 26).

Company One is taking advantage of the lull to mount After the Quake, adapted from Haruki Murakami stories by Frank Galati, at the Boston Center for the Arts (July 17-August 15), while fledgling company New Exhibition Room offers a free production of Shh! -- an exploration of censorship -- at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre (July 9-25). In the outdoor arena, Apollinaire Theatre Company presents alternate English and Spanish versions of Jean Cocteau's The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower at various settings in Chelsea (July 8-25). The upstart Orfeo Group has taken over Brighton's Christian Herter Park to put on The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), while Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's The Comedy of Errors, on Boston Common, features top funnymen Larry Coen (of Gold Dust Orphans fame) and the ART's Remo Airaldo as the twin Dromios (July 31-August 16).

Another ART stalwart, Karen MacDonald, appears with Ken Baltin in Neil Simon's The Last of the Red Hot Lovers at Gloucester Stage (July 2-19), where Nancy Carroll will briefly reappear as Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking (July 12-13). Next up: David Hare's The Breath of Life (July 23-August 2), with Carroll again, plus Paula Plum. Waltham's Reagle Players have scored yet another headliner for their professional/community endeavors: Lee Meriweather in the title role of Mame (July 16-25).

For the next two months, the Berkshires are where it's at, theatrically. The Williamstown Theater Festival kicks in with A.R. Gurney's Children (July 1-12), in an A-list-cast production -- Judith Light, Katie Finneran, James Waterston, Mary Bacon -- that recently played Westport Country Playhouse. At the smaller Nikos Stage, Nicholas Martin directs Knickerbocker (July 8-19), Jonathan Marc Sherman's comedy about impending parenthood, starring Brooks Ashmanskas, Peter Dinklage, Bob Dishy, and Annie Parisse. Sam Shepard's True West, with Nate Corddry and Paul Sparks as the sparring brothers, claims the Main Stage (July 15-26), and the premiere of Noah Haidle's What Is the Cause of Thunder?, a spoof of daytime television starring Betty Gilpin and Wendie Malick, slips into the Nikos (July 22-August 2). Main Stage again: Dylan Baker directing the aforementioned Finneran and Waterston, alongside Jessica Hecht, Edward Herrmann, Dana Ivey, Andrea Martin, John Rubenstein, and Marian Seldes, in George Kelly's long-neglected 1920s showbiz farce The Torch-Bearers (July 29-August 9).

Barrington Stage Company presents Bill Nelson's All Male Revue, touted as a musical analog to David Sedaris (July 31-August 1); Glen Berger's Underneath the Lintel, with Glynis Bell as a librarian on a mission (July 8-26); and Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth, starring Charles Shaughnessy, familiar as the dad on The Nanny (July 16-August 1). Shakespeare & Company cranks into full gear with Othello, with John Douglas Thompson reprising his award-winning turn in the title role (July 3-September 6); Twelfth Night (July 25-September 5); and a non-Bard contender, the U.S. premiere of Devil's Advocate, a drama by Donald Freed about Manuel Noriega's quest for asylum within the Vatican (July 30-August 16). Berkshire Theatre Festival makes way for Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue (July 21-August 8), starring Stephen DeRosa and Veanne Cox.

Out on the Cape, Ryan Landry's avid fans are looking forward to his portrayal of Oscar Wilde in Counter Production's Gross Indecency (July 24-August 22). The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre's Julie Harris Stage veers mainstream with Noises Off, helmed by Academy Award-nominated director John Hancock (July 1-August 1), and the ramshackle Harbor Stage stays edgy with Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild (July 15-August 16). The Cape Playhouse is counting on two reliable hits with Sleuth, starring Malcolm Gets (July 6-18) and Forever Plaid (July 20-August 1).

Across the Sound, the Vineyard Playhouse presents Walking the Volcano, a "short play progression" on the '60s generation by Jon Lipsky (July 15-August 8) and an outdoor Taming of the Shrew (July 22-August 9). Nantucket's Seaside Shakespeare counters with A Midsummer Night's Dream on the beach (July 12-28), plus the pastiche Wit and Wisdom of Will's Women (July 17-18). Judith Ivey will play Ann Landers in The Lady with All the Answers, pre-Off-Broadway (Bennett Hall, July 26), as preface to the second annual Nantucket Comedy Festival (July 28-August 1), which will also feature comic Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me) doing standup.