Randy Harrison in Amadeus
(Photo © Kevin Sprague)
Randy Harrison in Amadeus
(Photo © Kevin Sprague)
The strawhats are warmed up and flexing their muscles this month. Williamstown Theatre Festival kicks things off with Anything Goes (July 5-16), starring Sharon Lawrence, Matt Cavenaugh, and Malcolm Gets on the Mainstage, and Cusi Cram's latest, Lucy and the Conquest (July 12-13), about a failed TV actress skulking back to Bolivia, on the smaller Nikos Stage. Up next are Tennessee Williams' steamy Sweet Bird of Youth (July 19-30), with Margaret Colin as the past-her-prime Princess; and Judging Amy star Amy Brenneman in the late John Belluso's A Nervous Smile (July 26-August 6), about the challenges of parenting a severely compromised child.

The Berkshire Theatre Festival is underway with Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, with Queer As Folk's Randy Harrison as the juvenile genius and Jonathan Epstein as his arch-rival Salieri (through July 8), and Terrence McNally's 1960s portrait-of-a-rebel Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? (through July 22). They'll be followed by Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances (July 11-29), with Annie Parisse as a privileged, off-beat photographer dallying with a dishy lifeguard (Jeremy Davidson); and The Pilgrim Papers (July 28-August 26), a new era-leaping political satire by Stephen Temperly, the author of Souvenir.

Barrington Stage follows up Galt MacDermot's musicalization of William Saroyan's The Human Comedy starring Debby Boone (thrrough July 15) with the BSC Youth Theatre production of Fame (July 19 - August 13). Also on deck is David Lindsay-Abaire's domestic comedy Wonder of the World (July 20 - August 5). The Berkshires are also a magnet for Bard-lovers: Shakespeare & Company in Lenox offers an all-in-the-family Hamlet (July 1-August 27), with founder Tina Packer as Gertrude and her son Jason Asprey as the indecisive Dane, and The Merry Wives of Windsor (July 13 - September 2).

All is not dormant in the big city during the dog days. The big event is Commonwealth Shakespeare's annual free-for-all on the Boston Common; this year, it's The Taming of the Shrew (July 22-August 13) with Jennifer Dundas and Darren Pettie as the warring would-be lovers. The outdoor Publick Theatre has The Beard of Avon and Copenhagen running in repertory. In Chelsea, the populist TheatreZone presents Ionesco's Rhinoceros (July 12-29) alternately in Spanish and English, in various local parks.

Indoors, the American Repertory Theatre presents a pre-Broadway run of Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! (July 12-August 6). Company One introduces Boston to Stephen Adley Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariat (July 14-August 5) at the Boston Center for the Arts. Also at the BCA, BTW Unbound 2006 (July 9-16) scoops the cream from Boston Theatre Works' yearly quest for fresh scripts. Boston Playwrights Theatre hosts the Queer Soup company in Jess Martin's latest lesbian dramedy, My Yolanda Love (July 6-22). Meanwhile, the popular musical Golf gets a run at Boston's Cutler Majestic Theatre (July 12-August 5).

Out in the 'burbs, the North Shore Music Theatre wraps up a terrific season of musicals with Singin' in the Rain (July 4-30), complete with waterworks. Gloucester Stage resumes with Nancy Carroll in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days (July 6-16), and caps the month with a series of celebrations honoring departing artistic director and founder Israel Horowitz. The festivities include Judith Ivey performing her one-woman show, Women on Fire (July 24), Robert Klein in a reading of Arthur Miller's All My Sons (July 30), and Jill Clayburgh and her daughter Lily Rabe, plus local fave Paula Plum, reading Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig (August 1).

The Cape Playhouse in Dennis on Cape Cod is mounting a stellar 80th season, including the Kander and Ebb musical The Rink, with Leslie Uggams and Janet Metz (July 3-15); Guys and Dolls (July 17-29), with Jarrod Emick, Jason Graae and Liz Larsen; and The Beard of Avon (July 31-August 12), featuring Juliet Mills as Queen Elizabeth.

In Provincetown, the professional Provincetown Rep and community-based Provincetown Theatre Company have now merged as the New Provincetown Players (try to keep track, now!). Their latest venture is Streakin', a Musical Flashback to the 1970s (through July 23). On July 3, Norman Mailer and family, plus surprise guests, will put on a benefit reading of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, to be followed by a party chez the Mailers. Meanwhile, The Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre runs Adam Rapp's adults-only Red Light Winter (July 20-August 12), Rebekah Maggor 's Shakespeare's Actresses in America (July 24 - August 29), and a new kids' play, Xenia Hedgehog's Academy of Etiquette for Naughty Boys and Girls in Nine Convenient and Easy Lessons (July 9 - August 30).

Out on Martha's Vineyard, the Vineyard Playhouse is honoring a pair of longtime summering playwrights: Robert Brustein, with Spring Forward, Fall Back (July 5-22) and Jules Pfeiffer with Knock, Knock (July 26-August 12). Their outdoor Shakespeare selection is Much Ado about Nothing (July 19-August 12). Theatre Workshop of Nantucket mounts a professional production of Michele Lowe's dark comedy The Smell of the Kill (through July 15).