Mermaids, masqueraders, slow dancers, blasphemers, shy rock ‘n’ rollers, men of constant sorrow, and feuding families (two sets of them!)—this summer in New York certainly won’t lack for ecstatic examples of outdoor performance. Sure, you could stay inside your air- conditioned apartments with your chilled Pellegrino and your stack of Netflix, but that’s hardly why you moved here. So fold up a blanket, pour pinot grigio into that empty Gatorade bottle, douse yourself in Bug Off, and enjoy the panoply of plein air events. We’ve provided a highly subjective list of the best music, dance, drama, and parades from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY
River to River Festival
Wall Street and Broad Street (free)
The River to River Festival gets its feet wet with a few excerpts from Martha Graham’s 1936 piece Chronicle. The company will offer the selections Steps in the Street and Prelude to Action. The financial district may not seem like the most opportune locale to stage a piece calling for resistance to power and fascism, but we’re certain the all-female cast will impress the suit-and-tie crowd. This year’s River to River also features performances by Animal Collective and the New Pornographers, as well as other music, dance, and films. rivertorivernyc.com
ROMEO AND JULIET
June 5–July 8
Shakespeare in the Park, Delacorte Theater,
West 81st Street and Central Park West (free)
Having loved Lauren Ambrose as the tart-tongued little sis on Six Feet Under, we’re sure we’ll fall for her as the doomed heroine of Shakespeare’s tragedy. She’ll be playing opposite Public Theater regular Oscar Isaac as Romeo and the delightful Camryn Manheim as the nurse, in this production directed by Michael Greif and featuring music by hipster composer Michael Friedman. The season will continue with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Daniel Sullivan.
TELEVISION+APPLES IN STEREO+DRAGONS OF ZYNTH
Central Park Summerstage, Rumsey Playfield
West 69th Street and Fifth Avenue (free)
Live television isn’t very good (especially now that Saturday Night Live sucks again), but live Television should be very good. Punk rockers Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine will reunite for this show (and a series of other tour dates), 30 years after they released their first and best-known album, Marquee Moon. They’ll be joined by the affable Colorado popsters Apples in Stereo. Now, if we could only add TV on the Radio, what a bill that would be!
“BIG BAND SWING!: BATTLE OF THE BANDS”
Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center Plaza
Broadway and West 66th Street (price TBA)
To kick off Midsummer Night Swing, Lincoln Center’s month-long offering of dance lessons and live music, two big bands will engage in a ferocious struggle for the audience’s affec-tions. David Berger and the Sultans of Swing (known for their Duke Ellington arrange- ments) will joust with George Gee and his 17-member Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra. The dance floor may not run with blood (no one wants their dance shoes ruined!), but we expect vicious, vivacious combat. Come early for the lessons; stay for the tuneful war. lincolncenter.org
Celebrate Brooklyn, Prospect Park Bandshell
Prospect Park West and 9th Street (free)
Ralph Stanley may sing that he’s a man of constant sorrow, but witnessing the 80-year-old folk-and-bluegrass musician in concert is apparently a happy experience. Though best known these days for the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, he’s been making a joyful noise for more than 55 years. He’ll emerge from his rural Tennessee home to play this show, one of the few highlights in a rather lackluster edition of the concert series, which also includes Ani DiFranco, Joan Osborne, and the Hold Steady. brooklynx.org/celebrate
Surf Avenue and West 10th Street (free)
With the grimy charms of Coney Island finally slated for redevelopment, the Mermaid Parade may never be the same, if it continues at all. This year’s Mermaid Parade, the 25th, will be presided over, as always, by King Neptune and Queen Mermaid, and will feature burlesque stars, live bands, and plenty of non-professionals who have decided to spend the day garbed in sequins and tulle, disguised as sea creatures, sea goddesses, even the Cyclone.
CAT POWER+BUILT TO SPILL
McCarren Park Pool
Lorimer Street, between Driggs and Bayard
Ticket price TBA
With McCarren Park Pool soon to transform from a pleasantly decrepit concert venue in a former municipal pool back into a regular old municipal pool, this may be the last summer to enjoy live shows here. The complete schedule hasn’t yet been announced, but it will be hard to top this double bill. If Cat Power’s Chan Marshall is not perhaps The Greatest, as her latest album proclaims, her live shows have extraordinarily improved. And Built to Spill should provide amiable, articulate support.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
Municipal Parking Lot Ludlow and Broome (free)
“To houses both alike in dignity,” reads the opening line of Romeo and Juliet. The two
outdoor houses where the show will play this summer—Central Park’s Delacorte Theater and a Lower East Side municipal parking lot—aren’t exactly alike in dignity, but these productions, by the Drilling Company, are often a delight. Director Tom Demenkoff’s production of the tragedy features two war- ring theatrical families on the skids. Expect plenty of red on the asphalt before the night is through. The season will conclude with Much Ado About Nothing, set during Fleet Week. drillingcompany.org
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC IN THE PARK
Great Lawn, Central Park (free)
Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman styles herself “no ordinary diva.” And indeed,
few honest-to-goodness divas sport Afros and nose rings and confess a fondness for the songs of Jem and the Holograms. But Brueggergosman will perform a more traditional repertoire in this concert conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, including arias by Puccini and Weber. The program also includes Ravel’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Strauss’s tone-poem “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks,” a romp about a trickster hanged for blasphemy. newyorkphilharmonic.org
HOWL ON THE ROAD
Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Lincoln Center
Broadway and West 66th Street (free)
They’ve got the beat. Or the Beats, at any rate. This summer, Lincoln Center Out of Doors has taken “The Summer of Love: Celebrating the Spirit of the ’60s” as its premise. Even though Ginsberg’s Howl was written in the ’50s, this event will prove a centerpiece of the festival, a multimedia event that celebrates the look, sound, and literature of the ’60s. Uptown will transform itself into the East Village with music, dance, and art installations.
BROOKLYN WEST INDIAN CARNIVAL
Eastern Parkway and Grand Army Plaza (free)
Maybe you can’t afford a ticket to Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitt’s, and Jamaica (and in the middle of summer, why would you want to?), but Brooklyn brings the islands to you in the form of this annual carnival. Costumes, beads, dancers, and steel-drum bands line Eastern Parkway, while stalls heap up roti, jerk chicken, and callaloo. The highlight may be not the actual parade itself, but the 2 a.m. “j’ouvert” the night before, when well-wishers gather on the street to mock and cheer the festivities to come. wiadca.com