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When those balmy few months we’ve awaited and cherish arrive in the Great Northwest, I relish the prospect of watching actors cast their theatrical spells in the great outdoors. But I don’t mind heading indoors some evenings, for enticing, rewarding plays and musicals. Here are five favorite troupes and venues:

Wooden O: This hardy wing of Seattle Shakespeare Company has some of the most beautiful scenic backdrops around, as the troupe tours polished classical tragedies and comedies to Seattle’s Volunteer Park, Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island, and other public parks in the region. This summer: “Julius Caesar” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” (

Intiman Theatre at Cornish Playhouse at Cornish Playhouse: This long-established company now operates exclusively in summer, and returns this year to an epic drama it first produced 20 years ago: the Pulitzer Prize-honored, two-part “Angels in America: A Fantasia on Gay Themes” by Tony Kushner. Set during the onset of the AIDS-HIV crisis in the 1980s, the production will feature an all-star Seattle cast. (201 Mercer St., Seattle;

5th Avenue Theatre: The elegant, historic downtown showplace operates year-round, and this summer hosts a tour of Broadway’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” the Queen rock musical, “We Will Rock You,” and more. (1308 Fifth Ave, Seattle;

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Bard on the Beach: Summer is travel time, so don’t miss some top out-of-town venues. In tents above English Bay, Vancouver B.C.’s excellent summer Shakespeare festival showcases Canada’s classical acting talent. This summer’s bill includes “The Tempest,” and an award-winning play about Will of Avon, Bill Cain’s “Equivocation.”(

Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Nestled in the picturesque town of Ashland, Ore. The three-stage venue offers indoor and outdoor, classical and modern fare, and this year an open-air version of Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale musical, “Into the Woods.” (

Misha Berson:

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