Special Reports

20 Theater Ideas for Summer Travelers

Liz Callaway, Heath Calvert, Patrick Cassidy, Shirley Jones, Carson Kressley, Beth Leavel, Phylicia Rashad, and Cathy Rigby are among the stars shining on stages across the country.

Phylicia Rashad and Tory Kittles in 
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
(© The Horne Brothers)
Phylicia Rashad and Tory Kittles in

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

(© The Horne Brothers)

Summer is a time when many choose to escape the city in which they’re living to visit relatives or just go on vacation. New York is an obvious choice for theatergoers from all over the world, but there are theaters in every corner of the U.S. producing unique and exciting work. Here are 20 examples, listed in alphabetical order to allow you to easily find your summer destination.

Ashland, Oregon

Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the oldest and largest professional non-profit theaters in the United States, is presenting a unique musical experience with Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella (through November 3) by interweaving three of theater’s best-known stories — by Euripides, Shakespeare, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, respectively — into one theatrical piece.

Atlanta, Georgia

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, True Colors

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company is dedicated to presenting the finest in African-American theater, so it’s not surprising they’re presenting the world premiere production of Todd Kreidler’s stage version of the Oscar-winning 1967 film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (through July 29), about a couple who have some issues with the prospect of their daughter marrying a handsome, successful doctor, starring Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad and TV star Tory Kittles. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner plays at Georgia State’s Rialto Center.

Beverly, Massachusetts

Annie, North Shore Music Theatre

Those who can’t wait for the revival of the beloved musical to open on Broadway this fall can visit the Boston area and take in the North Shore Music Theatre’s production of Annie (through July 29). Lauren Weintraub stars as the spunky Depression-era orphan who must survive the shenanigans of the awful Miss Hanigan (Jacquelyn Piro Donovan) to find happiness with the rich Daddy Warbucks (Raymond Jarmillo McLeod) – and her faithful dog, Sandy.

Boulder, Colorado

Women of Will, Colorado Shakespeare Festival

Women of Will, The Complete Journey (through August 12) is not just a must-see for lovers of the Bard. This unusual five-part exploration of the creative evolution of William Shakespeare’s consciousness is told through his depiction of women, and features the renowned Tina Packer in the cast.

Charleston, South Carolina

Porgy and Bess, The Footlight Players

The Footlight Players’ upcoming production of Porgy and Bess (August 3-19), George and Ira Gershwin’s glorious American opera about a physically deformed man who falls in love with an unhappy, drug-addicted woman, holds special significance since the show takes place in Charleston’s own fabled Catfish Row.

Chicago, Illinois

Eastland, Lookingglass Theatre

Visitors to the Windy City can learn about a little-discussed part of the area’s history by watching Eastland (through August 19), the critically acclaimed new musical about the sinking of the title cruise ship in 1915, which resulted in the death of over 800 people.

Cincinnati, Ohio

George M!, The Showboat Majestic

This professional summer stock theater floating in the Ohio River is presenting the patriotic musical George M (through July 29), which tells the life story of American musical theater giant George M. Cohen, who brought us classic summer favorites such as “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan
(© Craig Schwartz)
Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan

(© Craig Schwartz)

Kansas City, Missouri

Peter Pan, Kansas City Starlight Theatre

Tony Award nominee Cathy Rigby stars as the boy who wouldn’t grow up in this touring production of Peter Pan (July 24-29), the timeless family-friendly musical filled with magical moments, scary pirates, frolicsome fairies, and plenty of acrobatics.

Los Angeles, California

Intimate Illusions: #1 Magic Show in LA, Beverly Wilshire

World-renowned magician Ivan Amodei stars in Intimate Illusions: #1 Magic Show in LA (open run) at the famed Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The show meticulously reproduces the after-party atmosphere of Amodei’s performances for celebrity clientele and combines world-class magic and story-telling, with wit, humor, and incredible live music.

Matunuck, Rhode Island

9 to 5, Theatre by the Sea

This popular summer stock theater continues its fifth season with Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick’s musical 9 to 5 (through August 11), about three working women who decide to turn the tables on their chauvinistic boss, starring Jan Leigh Herndon and Maggie McDowell.


Edward Wattsand Stephanie Rothenberg 
in Roman Holiday
(© Michael Brosilow)
Edward Watts
and Stephanie Rothenberg

in Roman Holiday

(© Michael Brosilow)

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Roman Holiday, The Guthrie Theater

The world-famous Guthrie is presenting the world premiere of the musical Roman Holiday (through August 19), based on the iconic and ultra-romantic film starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck (with Stephanie Rothenberg and Edward Watts stepping into their shoes), and which also features the unforgettable tunes of Cole Porter.

Nashville, Tennessee

The Nutty Professor, Tennessee Performing Arts Center

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is presenting the world premiere of a musical stage adaptation of the classic 1963 film The Nutty Professor (through August 19), featuring a score by Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes, and which is being directed by the film’s star, the legendary Jerry Lewis.

Ogunquit, Maine

Damn Yankees, Ogunquit Playhouse

The Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ classic musical Damn Yankees (July 25-August 18), starring Emmy Award winner and erstwhile Queer Eye for the Straight Guy co-host Carson Kressley as the Devil (aka Mr. Applegate), has a revised book by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro which focuses on the real-life rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Call Me Madam, Lyric Theatre

It’s only appropriate that Lyric Theatre is producing Irving Berlin’s delightful musical Call Me Madam (July 24-28), since the show was inspired by Oklahoma City’s own international socialite and ambassador Perle Mesta (here called Sally Adams and played by Tony Award winner Beth Leavel). Come see the hostess with the mostest on the ball! Call Me Madam will be presented at the Civic Center Music Hall.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Sunset Boulevard, Pittsburg CLO

Pittsburgh CLO’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard (July 24-29), based on the 1950 film, provides a sweeping score as it tells the story of washed-up silent movie star Norma Desmond (played by Tony nominee Liz Callaway), who’s ready for her comeback – and her close-up.

Sacramento, California

The Music Man, California Musical Theatre Music Circus

This production of Meredith Willson’s award-winning musical The Music Man (July 31-August 5) will feature stage and screen star Shirley Jones, who played Marian Paroo in the 1962 film version of the musical, as Mrs. Paroo and her son Patrick Cassidy as Harold Hill, the traveling salesman/con-artist who tries to scam the town of River City of its hard-earned money.

San Francisco, California

Beach Blanket Babylon, Club Fugazi

Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon (open run), the longest running musical revue in theater history, follows Snow White on a journey to find Prince Charming during which she encounters an ever-changing line-up of pop culture characters.

Heath Calvert in 
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
(© Scotty Beland)
Heath Calvert in

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

(© Scotty Beland)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Tosca, Santa Fe Opera

There is plenty of culture in the Land of Enchantment, especially at the Santa Fe Opera, which is presenting Puccini’s fantastic opera Tosca in repertory (through August 24), starring soprano Amanda Echalaz in the demanding title role.

St. Louis, Missouri

Pirates! (or, Gilbert & Sullivan Plunder’d), The Muny

Pirates! (or, Gilbert & Sullivan Plunder’d) (July 30-August 5), is a new version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular operetta The Pirates of Penzance, set in the Caribbean, and full of adventure and non-stop entertainment.

Washington D.C.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Studio Theatre

The perfect theater addition to a summer vacation in the nation’s capitol is Studio Theatre’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (through August 5), Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman’s irreverent musical which imagines President Andrew Jackson (played by Broadway’s Heath Calvert) as a rock star — and questions how important it is to be a great leader when you’re already hot and popular.

Featured In This Story

Women of Will

Closed: August 12, 2012


Closed: November 3, 2012

9 to 5

Closed: August 11, 2012

The Nutty Professor

Closed: August 19, 2012

Eastland: A New Musical

Closed: August 19, 2012

Call Me Madam

Closed: July 28, 2012

Porgy and Bess

Closed: August 19, 2012

Sunset Boulevard

Closed: July 29, 2012

The Music Man

Closed: August 5, 2012

Damn Yankees

Closed: August 18, 2012


Closed: July 29, 2012

George M!

Closed: July 29, 2012

Peter Pan

Closed: July 29, 2012


Closed: August 24, 2012