Al Pacino in rehearsal for Merchant of Venice
(© Nella Vera)
Al Pacino in rehearsal for Merchant of Venice
(© Nella Vera)
Al Pacino makes his return to the New York stage as Shylock in the free Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Daniel Sullivan and running in repertory with Michael Greif's staging of The Winter's Tale (both performing at the Delacorte Theater, June 9-August 1). The repertory company for the plays also features such notable actors as Linda Emond, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Bill Heck, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Byron Jennings, Hamish Linklater, Jesse L. Martin, and Lily Rabe.

Kate Burton, Boyd Gaines, Bobby Steggert, and Brenda Wehle star in A.R. Gurney's latest, The Grand Manner, at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theatre (beginning June 2). The play is a love letter to the great stage actress Katharine Cornell (played by Burton). Meanwhile, the theater's LCT3 series at the Duke on 42nd Street features On the Levee (June 14-July 10), a play with music inspired by the Great Flood of 1927 in Greenville, Mississippi.

Lee Blessing's latest play, When We Go Upon the Sea, which imagines George W. Bush on the eve of his trial for war crimes, comes to 59E59 Theaters as part of Americas Off Broadway. Also part of the festival is Charles Smith's Freed (June 11-July 3), the true story of an ex-slave who was the first African-American to attend college in the Midwest, 40 years before the end of slavery.

Mike Burstyn stars in The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene's world premiere musical The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer (Baruch Performing Arts Center, through June 27), about a beloved folk hero and compassionate jester who battles injustice armed only with his wits. Also at Baruch is a return engagement of Platanos & Collared Greens (June 12-July 31), about a mixed-race romance.

Robert Cuccioli, Jodi Stevens, and Donald Corren star in Dietrich and Chevalier: The Musical (St. Luke's Theatre, beginning June 5), charting the real-life love story of the legendary Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier. In other musical news, Dan Goggin directs the 25th anniversary revival of his popular musical comedy Nunsense (June 15-July 18), at the Cherry Lane Theatre, which is where the show debuted back in 1985. At the Cherry Lane Studio, The Playwrights Realm presents Christopher Wall's Dreams of the Washer King, (June 4-26), in which a quartet of characters revisit one life-changing event.

Major cabaret engagements include Sutton Foster at the Café Carlyle (June 15-26), Nellie McKay at Feinstein's at the Regency (June 1-12) and Karen Oberlin at the Oak Room (June 1-19).

Austin Pendleton helms Order (Kirk Theater, June 6-26), which centers on a former philosophy teacher who is possessed by a creature claiming to be an ancient entity of power and hunger. Also in the Theatre Row Complex is Modotti (Acorn Theatre, June 8-July 3), about the photographer, silent film actress, activist and communist subversive, Tina Modotti. And in the Clurman is Reflections of a Heart (June 11-27), based on the true story of a highly decorated African-American WWII veteran whose 1946 beating and subsequent blinding by police, ignited a heated civil rights battle in South Carolina and around the nation.

June is Gay Pride month, with LGBT-related shows including transgender performer Bianca Leigh's play with music A Night at the Tombs (Bowery Poetry Club, June 24-August 5), Joe Marshall's gay sex comedy A Night in Vegas (Bleecker Street Theatre, open-ended), and Madeleine George's lesbian drama The Zero Hour (Walkerspace, June 22-July 10). Also of interest may be Steve Swift in Sister Myotis's Bible Camp (Abingdon Theatre, June 11 - July 4), in which Swift brings his popular YouTube character to the stage.

The Peccadillo Theatre Company presents the seldom seen Another Part of the Forest (Theatre at St. Clement's, June 3-July 3), Lillian Hellman's "prequel" to The Little Foxes, which depicts the early days of the notorious Hubbard family. Another rare staging is of Hallie Flanagan and Margaret Ellen Clifford's Can You Hear Their Voices?, being presented by Peculiar Works Project in a site-specific staging at A Pop-Up Space in Noho, June 3-27. The piece dramatizes the effects of a drought that struck Arkansas in 1931.

Summer festival season begins with the 2010 World Science Festival (June 2-6) and The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (June 3-27), both of which perform in multiple locations, as well as the Too Soon Festival (June 5-27), at the Brick and the short play festival, BritBits 7 (June 9-18), at ManhattanTheatreSource.

Additional June shows of note include Ex.Pgirl's Paris Syndrome (HERE Arts Center, June 3-19); Steven Levenson's Seven Minutes in Heaven (also at HERE, June 3-20); The Amoralists Theatre Company's Amerissiah (Theatre 80 St. Marks, June 3-28); Threads Theater Company and International Arts Movement's Babette's Feast (Space 38/39, June 16-26); and The Octoroon: An Adaptation of The Octoroon Based on The Octoroon, at PS 122 (June 16-July 3).