Summer isn't exactly known for its wealth of outstanding theater, but there are certainly new delights and old standbys that you won't want to overlook. Before the autumn onslaught of openings, here's a guide to what you should definitely catch this season plus a look at what's closing soon, just in time to prioritize your must-see list.

"Jesus Christ Superstar"

Closes July 1

Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic rock opera will soon put away its whips, ropes, pleather corsets, crucifixes and palm fronds. If this show had half the sex and violence that sentence suggests, we have a feeling it'd still be running come fall.

"The Columnist"

Closes July 8

We enjoyed this intellectual trot through the turgid political territory of the 1960s. But after two extensions, it's time for biographee Joseph Alsop to again retire to the annals of journalistic history. And sure, John Lithgow deserves a rest, too.

"Anything Goes"

Closes Aug. 5

Although Sutton Foster is no longer at the helm of this impressive homage to Cole Porter, you still have time to catch the quick-paced farce about two love trysts gone awry on the high seas and marvel at the breathtaking choreography by director Kathleen Marshall.



Closes Aug. 5

If you thought you'd seen the height of his eccentrics on "The Big Bang Theory," you'll be pleasantly surprised by the new level of endearing quirkiness Jim Parsons reaches as Elwood P. Dowd, a man with a 6-foot invisible rabbit friend named Harvey. Magical realism and pop psychology converge with many winks.

Top pick: Shakespeare and Sondheim in the Park

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"As You Like It"

Closes June 30

"As You Like It" is plue pleasure: It successfully blends the chaos, romance, humor and, of course, gender-bending that define the best of Shakespearean comedies. Stalwart Lily Rabe is a plucky Rosalind, while Oliver Platt offers an endearing fool. Music by Steve Martin amplifies the show's charm. And the creative team knocks it out of the park as well, so to speak, with director Dan Sullivan and set designer John Lee Beatty.

"Into the Woods"

Closes Aug. 5

If there were ever a show in Central Park worthy of waiting outside all day, it would be this one. Stephen Sondheim's superpopular "Into the Woods" breaks the tradition of summer's standard outdoor fare and will surely also bring out some of the longest lines and most ruthless lottery lists in the history of the Delacorte. Stars include Amy Adams, Denis O'Hare and Donna Murphy.

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