Musical seekers have something mighty curious in store this hot month. It's Too Close to the Sun at the Comedy (July 16-September 5), in which Ernest Hemingway relives the last year of his life. Whether he sings a farewell aria just before inserting that firearm in his mouth remains to be seen. The composer is John Robinson, who co-authored the lyrics with librettist John Trippini; the musical is adapted from a play by Ron Read. Those out for the more tried-and-true should be happy in Regent's Park at the Open Air, where the Jerry Herman-Michael Stewart Hello, Dolly! is on offer (July 30-September 12). Olivier Award winner Samantha Spiro is Dolly Gallagher Levi, Allan Corduner is Horace Vandergelder, Josefina Gabrielle is Irene Molloy, and Stephen Mear choreographs. Something also a bit more conventional but hardly dull is the Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty Once on This Island. Sharon D. Clarke plays a peasant who falls for someone presumably far above her station. The melodies never stop, nor do the clever lyrics.
Two racy shows will transfer from the King's Head to the West End's Arts Theatre beginning July 7: Naked Boys Singing and F**king Men. Both works, which will play in repertory, are directed by Phil Willmott. At the Tricycle, where they always want to vent exciting political commentary, David Kramer will unveil his musical Koos Sas: Last Bushman of Montagu, about a notorious South African murder, with the author also directing.
The new play of the month bids fair to be Hanif Kurieshi's adaptation of his fiery political novel The Black Album at the National's intimate Cottesloe (July 14-October 7), featuring music by Sister Bliss. More rejoicing should occur when the stupendous Mark Rylance surfaces at the Royal Court in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem. Also look into Stella Feehily's Dreams of Violence at the Soho (July 9-August 8), directed by the always-ahead-of-the-curve Max Stafford-Clark. Remember Spike Milligan? Those who do know he was one of the celebrated Goons and a laugh a minute. Spike Milligan's Adolph Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (July 22-August 22), at the Hampstead, is adapted by Ben Power and Tim Carroll from Milligan's original. At the always-worth-checking-out Bush, playwrights Zawe Ashton, James Graham, Joel Horwood, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Michelle Terry team up under Anthea Williams' direction on Suddenlossofdignity.com (June 29-August 15). They'll turn audience members' embarrassing moments into theater fare. Sounds like fun, except maybe for those whose tales get told.
For much of this month the Almeida is going very socially conscious. The performance piece Last Seen (July 8-12) examines the subject of people who go missing. The American Capitalism Project (July 16-19) looks at the title's topic from various unexpected angles. Or Nearest Offer (July 24-25), by Tanya Roeder, views forced selling when financial duress hits. In The Golden Hour (July 29-31), Michael Bloom probes the baby-dealing market. It's quite a four-week frame, too, in the Young Vic performing spaces. David Harradine puts up Brilliant (July 15-18), a multimedia show aimed at the three-to-five-year-old set. Clare Bayley's drama, The Container (July 15-30) is about immigrants hoping to smuggle themselves into England via, yes, containers. Sarah Kane's 90-minute monologue 4:48 Psychosis (July 21-August 1) is revived. Then, Alecky Blythe's The Girlfriend Experience, a click at the Royal Court last year, comes back, July 24-August 15.
Families hunting for something else entertaining should find it in We're Going on a Bear Hunt, which comes to the Duchess (July 8-August 16) from the Hackney Empire. Sally Cookson directs, and adapts the work from Michael Rosen's book.