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Notes from New York: Summer season heats up with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rupert Grint, and maybe Miss Saigon

Now the awards dust has settled the stars have arrived for summer in the city but, before it gets too sweltering, we enjoy a little outdoor Shakespeare

Jake Gyllenhaal will make his Broadway debut in Nick Payne's Constellations
© David Gordon

Even though the summer is already heating up in New York City (both literally and theatrically), Broadway and off-Broadway fans are still cooling off after awards season. The Drama Desk Award winners were led by A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, whose star, Jefferson Mays, tied with Hedwig and the Angry Inch's Neil Patrick Harris for the Outstanding Actor in a Musical award. TheaterMania was there to get Mays' and Harris' first reactions.

The very next week, Harris was behind the podium yet again, when the first-time Tony nominee became a first-time winner. The evening's other exciting wins included Harris' costar Lena Hall, set designer Beowulf Boritt, and Audra McDonald, who made history by winning her sixth performance Tony — more than any other actor.

TheaterMania's Tony night coverage included red carpet interviews, exciting winners' circle photos, and a roundup of the press room's 8 most outrageous moments. The festivities continued going strong long after the event at Radio City was over, and so did TheaterMania. We partied late into the night with the theatre's crème de la crème and stayed up even later to tell you what it all means.

After all the awards, we took a brief moment to kick back with Laura Benanti (Drama Desk host and portrayer of Baroness Schraeder in NBC's The Sound of Music Live!), who really wants to play pretty much any role at all in the upcoming Peter Pan Live!. The levity didn't last long, however. Soon we were gearing up for the release of Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of Broadway's Jersey Boys, filming video interviews with actors John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Erich Bergen, and Michael Lomenda.

Big Broadway announcements have also been keeping the theatre community on its toes, with stars like Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Kristine Nielsen, and Tony Yazbeck set to return to the stages of the Great White Way. Jason Robert Brown, whose musical The Bridges of Madison County recently ended its Broadway run, is set to spring back with the premiere of his new show Honeymoon in Vegas (starring Tony Danza) to play at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre this winter. Sadly, Neil Patrick Harris will not be extending his run in Hedwig, but The Book of Mormon's Andrew Rannells will be stepping into his heels beginning on 20 August.

Meanwhile, the already announced Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's It's Only a Play continues to one-up itself in the casting department. The Nathan Lane- and Matthew Broderick-led play will now also star Megan Mullally, Stockard Channing, and F. Murray Abraham. Plus, the production will also host the just-announced Broadway debut of Harry Potter star Rupert Grint. Hollywood favorite Jake Gyllenhaal has also announced plans to make his Broadway debut. He'll appear in the American premiere of Nick Payne's Constellations, which first played at the Royal Court Theatre in 2012. And London's revival of Miss Saigon is another English favourite rumored to be helicoptering its way across the Atlantic.

Anticipation for the coming season is also mounting in the non-Broadway theatre worlds, with current Broadway star James Franco making his stage directorial debut in Robert Boswell's The Long Shrift at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. Even further from Broadway, Diane Paulus directs the world premiere of the new musical Finding Neverland, starring Jeremy Jordan of TV's Smash and Laura Michelle Kelly of Broadway's Mary Poppins. Incidentally as this chapter of Jordan's life begins, an old chapter, that of Broadway's Newsies, is closing.

New York theatre's most entrenched and beloved summer tradition is almost certainly Shakespeare in the Park, the Public Theater's summer season of plays performed at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This year, the venue is presenting King Lear starring John Lithgow, and Much Ado About Nothing with Delacorte veterans Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater. At Much Ado's opening night, TheaterMania spoke to favourites including Bryan Cranston and Brian Stokes Mitchell about NYC's tradition of free outdoor Shakespeare and this amazing early summer weather.

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