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Summer Stages: BWW's Top Summer Theatre Picks - NYC!

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New York Musical Theatre Festival:  July 9-29 at various midtown venues (http://www.nymf.org)  Rumors of the death of musical theatre have been quickly squashed once a year ever since the New York Musical Theatre Festival, a/k/a NYMF, first hit town in 2004.  Over 300 musicals later, 70 of which have gone on to major New York and/or regional productions, NYMF has become an annual celebration for those who appreciate interesting scores and adventurous writing over extravagant production values.  Tickets are inexpensive and each venue hosts several different shows daily, so it's easy to spend the day discovering the wide variety of musicals in the works.

Love Goes To Press:  May 26 – July 22 at The Mint Theater (http://minttheater.org)  Founded in 1992, The Mint Theater Company has earned an award-winning reputation for rediscovering once-popular plays, primarily from the first half of the 20th Century, and mounting outstanding revivals that prove them to be "worthy, but neglected."  This summer, they give us a look at Love Goes To Press, the first playwriting effort by war correspondents Martha Gellhorn and Virginia Cowels; a comedy about their experiences in the male-dominated field during World War II.

Sideshows By The Seashore:  Various dates and times through mid-September at Coney Island (http://www.coneyisland.com/sideshow.shtml)  Affectionately known as the Freak Show, Sideshows has been keeping the great tradition of carnival entertainment alive for over 25 years.  During peak summer weeks shows are continuous throughout the day, so stop by anytime, buy a ticket at the door and be thrilled and amazed by the man who chews glass, the human blockhead, sword swallowers, snake charmers and other wild wonders.

The Fantasticks: Open run at the Jerry Orbach Theatre at the Snapple Theatre Center (http://www.thefantasticks.com)   In May of 1960 a young, unknown kid named Jerry Orbach walked onto the stage of a tiny theatre on Sullivan Street and sang a brand new song called "Try To Remember."   The show didn't get the best of reviews, but producer Lore Noto had faith in Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's simply produced but highly theatrical tale of young love and The Fantasticks became a New York theatrical institution, running for nearly 42 years before the high cost of real estate condemned the Sullivan Street Theatre to be torn down and replaced with condos.  I became a Snapple drinker for life when the company opened two new Off-Broadway spaces in the theatre district and re-mounted a replica of the original production of The Fantasticks in a theatre modeled after the musical's original home and named for its original star.

2012 undergroundzero festival:  June 29-July 29 at various venues (http://www.undergroundzeronyc.org)  Even if you're a Broadway baby through and through it's always healthy to get a little experiment in your theatre-going.  Since 2007 the undergroundzero festival, a cooperative of independent artists and international companies who are invited to create whatever they like, has been stretching the limits of contemporary dance, theatre and performance.  Tickets are inexpensive and many events are free.  This year's festival includes an outdoor public installation/performance celebrating John Cage's one hundredth birthday, a live play broadcast on the Internet about the stranglehold technology has over public privacy and a discussion of the future of the National Endowment of the Arts with members of the NEA 4.

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Michael Dale After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.