Summertime and boro theater choices are easy

By Ron Hellman

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy – “Porgy and Bess”

Whether or not your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’, check out Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of this ballad on YouTube, and put yourself in the mood for some summer fun.

The good news is that this is the time of year when several theater festivals take place; the downside is that they’re mainly not happening in Queens. Across the river in Manhattan you can attend the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival and the Strawberry One-Act Festival, among others, at various locations and at modest prices.

In our borough the community theaters take the summer off, although they tend to hold auditions now for plays that will be performed in the fall. There may be more activity in Long Island City, the booming area sometimes known as Manhattan East, but it has yet to reach my screen. Speaking of screens, my favorite LIC venue, the Chain Theatre, will hold its annual film festival in August.

Queens Theatre with its three stages keeps busy all year-round, with the possible exception of the two weeks when the US Tennis Open takes over the park (Flushing Meadows-Corona). From July 18 to 27, QT presents the World’s Fair Play Festival, 10 original 10-minute plays inspired by the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs. And later this month the Latino Cultural Festival returns.

A group that I would like to hear more about, the Black Spectrum Theatre, located in Roy Wilkins Park, is hosting its 12th annual St Albans Jazz Festival on July 19. The Killing Kompany, which performs original comedy-mystery dinner shows in the metropolitan area, makes a Queens appearance on Sept. 12 at Riccardo’s in Astoria. Before summer ends, the Queens Council on the Arts, announces its first Queens Art Intervention, on Sept. 20, a series of outdoor “happenings” all over the borough. If you have an idea for an Art intervention, register with QCA no later than Aug. 1. Questions: call 347-201-2186.

Last but not least, courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation, public funding, and the Hip To Hip Theatre Co., two plays by William Shakespeare – an early comedy, “Two Gentleman of Verona” and his late romance/fairy tale “Cymbeline” – will tour in repertory in 12 parks in Queens from July 23 to Aug. 17. Those of you put off by reading Shakespeare, as our recent high school graduate and summer office temp Amanda was, not to worry. When you see his plays performed, it’s a whole different story, and you may become a fan for life.

Hip To Hip was founded in 2007 by Queens-based actors Jason and Joy Marr and has been growing steadily. To date it has produced 12 of the 38 plays in the Shakespearean canon, and in addition to Queens has branched out to such exotic locales as Jersey City and Southampton. One half hour before each performance of this season’s plays will be a fun interactive workshop for children of all ages called “Kids & The Classics.” If you want to catch the shows at my favorite park, Crocheron in Bayside — a shout out to all my fellow tennis players — “Two Gentleman” is on July 24, and “Cymbeline” on Aug. 7, both starting at 7 p.m. Otherwise, access the rest of the schedule. And, by the way, it’s all free!

Contact Ron Hellman at RBHOFC@gmail.com.