Musical lovers get a pair of treats and a bonus this month. The first, at the Open Air, is the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine Into the Woods (August 5-September 9). For this one, the creators cleverly ran a series of fairy tales together to make universal psychological points. Hannah Waddington, who can be marvelous, is one of the topliners.
The second musical grace note is State Fair at the Trafalgar Studios (August 3-28). It's the stage adaptation of the 1945 and 1964 movies for which Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II provided a score that included the 1945 Oscar-winning song, "It Might as Well Be Spring." As Hammerstein wrote, it's a grand night for singing.
The tuner bonus is Whoopi Goldberg. A producer of the Broadway-bound Sister Act, she steps into the role of Mother Superior (August 10-31), while Sheila Hancock vacations. Goldberg, of course, had the main role in the 1992 film, which had songs but wasn't officially a tuner.
On the new plays roster, Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park at the Royal Court (August 26-October 2) examines changes in American racial attitudes over a wide period and refers rather slyly to Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. Sophie Thompson is one of the cast members directed by Dominic Cooke.
There's also The Drawer Boy, making its London bow at the Finborough (August 10-September 4). Canadian playwright-actor Michael Healey's involving work takes place on a rural farm, where the two elderly occupants welcome a young stranger. Showing up at this same Finborough on Sundays and Mondays (August 15-30) is Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood, a modern spin on Nathaniel Hawthorne's tale of early American betrayal, The Scarlet Letter. Also look at Bubba and Luvvie at Islington's King's Head (through August 8), a two-hander that's gathered terrific reviews.
The Globe opens director Christopher Luscombe's treatment of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in rep (August 14-October 2). This is the romp in which a couple of sly ladies put Falstaff (played by Christopher Benjamin) in his place.
A new play that's aimed at a young audience is The Red Helicopter at the Almeida (August 6-7). It's set in 2072, when London has been almost completely evacuated and is produced by the Young Friends of the Almeida Lab.