Drama, musicals, comedy, satire, musicals, Shakespeare, farce, musicals, gospel, and … musicals. From South Broad Street to the Shore, from Rose Valley to Center Valley, this summer will be rich with theater, boosted by a reinvigorated beach scene that finds the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, N.J., back in the footlights.
Buddy serenades audiences in both New Hope and Center City. Another tuneful Kimmel Broadway series comes to town. Will and company kick up their heels at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Local gems include HIR, Rabbit Hole, and Tommy and Me. The list below isn't everything, but it's a lot.
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (through June 17, Bucks County Playhouse; June 24-July 9, Kimmel Center) So here we go! A powerhouse last year for the Bucks County Playhouse, Buddy returns there for a full run. Then everybody leaps in the van and rumbles down to South Broad Street to continue the rock-and-roll and mayhem. (Bucks County Playhouse: 215-862-2121, bcptheater.org; Kimmel Center: 215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Uncle Vanya (through June 18, Quintessence Theatre Company). Thwarted ambition, thwarted loves, a certain gun, and classic Chekhov. (215-987-4450, quintessencetheatre.org)
Man of La Mancha (through June 25, McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton). The adventures of the Knight of the Woeful Countenance and his long-suffering sidekick, Pancho. (609-258-2787, mccarter.org)
HIR (through June 25, Simpatico Theatre Company). A woman is set free to help a child transition — and to dismantle the patriarchy. (215-568-8079, simpaticotheatre.org)
The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord (through July 2, Lantern Theater Company).Three great men, together in the afterlife, compare notes on the life of a fourth great figure, Jesus. (215-829-0395, lanterntheater.org)
Fun Home (June 13-18, Forrest Theatre). The Broadway hit, based on Alison Bechdel's memoir, has redefined the family musical genre. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Mother Emanuel (June 14-25, New Freedom Theatre). This documentary play, based on the lives of the nine who died at the 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shootings in Charleston, S.C., is studded with sumptuous gospel music. (888-802-8998, freedomtheatre.org)
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Another full summer, starting with the star-studded Evita (June 14-July 2), the Webber/Rice classic about Che, Evita, and a country looking for an identity – and a leader to adore. The rest of the summer is similarly eventful: Hound of the Baskervilles (June 21-July 16), The Three Musketeers (July 12-Aug. 6), and, of course, two major Shakespeare productions, the sparkling As You Like It (July 20-Aug. 6) and the sweeping, noble Troilus and Cressida (July 26-Aug. 6). (610-282-9455, pashakespeare.org)
Always, Patsy Cline (June 15-July 2, Media Theatre). From a fangirl's perspective, the life and hits of the gifted Americana singer.
Rosemary Clooney & Friends: Come on-a My House (June 15-25, Bristol Riverside Theatre). A celebration of the singer and her times, with plenty of great tunes. (215-785-0100, www.brtstage.org)
Cape May is again a destination, not just for surf, sun, and food, but also for stage. The Cape May Stage is stuffing its summer with music and comedy: Billy Bishop Goes to War (through June 23), The Tale of the Allergist's Wife (June 28-Aug. 4), and The Gin Game (Aug. 9-Sept. 22). And the East Lynne Theater in Cape May offers the musical Will Rogers' U.S.A. (June 14-July 22) and the Eugene O'Neill comedy Ah, Wilderness! (July 26-Sept. 2).
Broadcast: The Musical (June 23-25, 11th Hour Theatre Company). A folksy chamber musical about the history of radio, the mass medium of the 20th century. (267-987-9865, 11thhourtheatrecompany.org)
Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven. Welcome back, Surflight, "Broadway on the Beach," returning after a few years dark. For its comeback summer, it's putting its best foot forward with a full season of musical offerings. We begin with Footloose (June 23-July 9) and dance away to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (July 11-23), Newsies (July 25-Aug. 13), Hairspray (Aug. 15-27), and Million Dollar Quartet (Aug. 29-Sept. 10). (609-492-9477, surflight.org)
Titanic (July 7-30, Broadway Theatre of Pitman). It was sad when the great ship went down – but it went down loving, singing, and dancing. (856-384-8381, thebroadwaytheatre.org)
Fiddler on the Roof (July 11-14, Greater Ocean City Theatre Company, Ocean City.) Tevye the milkman and his daughters face a changing world. (609-399-6111, oceancitytheatrecompany.com)
Wicked (July 26-Aug. 27, Academy of Music). Which witch is which, and which witches switched? Inventive, clever, spectacular, Wicked is this generation's Wizard of Oz, from the other side. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Tommy and Me (Aug. 3-20, Theatre Exile/FringeArts). This popular Philly play about sportswriter Ray Didinger and his idol, Eagles wide receiver Tommy McDonald, returns for a summer run. (215-218-4022, theatreexile.org)