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Summer Wimps, Listen Up! It's Time for a Jolt of Live Theater 

Imagine it is now the first week of September and you're wondering how the summer disappeared so fast. "Where did it go?" you mewl. "It seems like the Fourth of July was just yesterday!"

Well, July 4 is right now and it's time for you to grow a pair, my friend. Summer is here and you need to step up and make it memorable so you won't be all weepy and whiny come Labor Day.

One way to do that is to peel your sweaty thighs off that plastic lawn chair and go see some theater. Just pick the shows you want to see, and avoid that dreaded autumnal regret.

Romeo and Juliet

You should actually bring your lawn chair with you when you take advantage of the free theater provided by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival. They'll be performing R&J outdoors at Peace Park in Coventry Village from July 18 to 20; at Market Square Park at West 25th and Lorain on Aug. 1; and at Lincoln Park in Tremont on July 25 to 27 and Aug. 2 and 3. If there's big rain, most sites have an indoor alternative nearby, and the show goes on!

cleveshakes.com.

Twelfth Night | Henry IV, Part I

Want more Shakespeare? Well, pack a picnic basket and head off to the Ohio Shakespeare Festival, set beside the glorious outdoor lagoon at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron. After your nosh, you can enjoy one of old Will's golden comedies: Twelfth Night, running now through July 20. Then treat yourself to the rarely produced Henry IV, Part I from July 31 through Aug. 17.

714 North Portage Path, Akron, ohioshakespeare.com.

If musicals are more your thing, there are several to choose from during these lemonade days.

Starmites | Oliver!

Never heard of Starmites? Well, join the crowd. But we hear it's a futuristic, comic-book musical for the whole family that was nominated for six Tony Awards. It runs now through July 19 at Porthouse Theatre on the Blossom Music Center campus. Then you can revisit Oliver! at Porthouse from July 24 to Aug. 10. 1145 West Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-672-3884.

The Wedding Singer | Sunset Boulevard

It's the year of musicals based on films at Mercury Summer Stock at Notre Dame College, and Norma Desmond is ready for her close-up in Sunset Boulevard (July 11 to 26). Then it's a tune-fest based on Adam Sandler's The Wedding Singer (Aug. 1 to 16).

1857 South Green Rd., South Euclid, 216-771-5862, mercurysummerstock.com.

The Frogs

It's Aristophanes by way of Sondheim at Cain Park, in a musical retelling of the ancient Greek satire on the value of the arts in a world beset by war. The show runs July 31 to Aug. 17.

14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-3000, cainpark.com.

Million Dollar Quartet

Elvis, Johnny, Carl and Jerry Lee are jammin' again downtown from July 8 to 27 on Playhouse Square.

1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000, playhousesquare.org.

Young Frankenstein

The Mel Brooks musical comedy Young Frankenstein ("That's Fron-kon-steen!") stomps through Lakewood's Beck Center from July 11 to Aug. 18.

17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,

216-521-2540, beckcenter.org.

Hair

Make a nest for birds in your Hair at Blank Canvas Theatre from Aug. 29 to Sept. 13.

1305 West 78th St., 440-941-0458, blankcanvastheatre.com.

Not a musical fan? Consider these plays:

Arcadia

Featuring a brilliant script by Tom Stoppard, this time-traveling journey through math, sex and more plays at Mamai from July 17 to Aug. 3.

2592 West 14th St., 216-382-5146, mamaitheatreco.org.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Nurse Ratched is back at Blank Canvas Theatre in this adaptation of Ken Kesey's signature novel, July 18 to Aug. 2.

1305 West 78th St., 440-941-0458, blankcanvastheatre.com.

Amazons and Their Men

The life of Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's documentarian, is at the center of this raucous piece produced by convergence-continuum, Aug. 8 to 30.

2438 Scranton Rd., 216-687-0074, convergence-continuum.org.

Ride

Two roadside fruit stand workers go ga-ga over a car at None to Fragile Theater, Aug. 15 to 30. 1835 Merriman Rd., Akron, 330-671-4563, nonetoofragile.com.

That adds up to 15 shows, plus three more free plays at the Oberlin Summer Theater Festival (67 North Main St., Oberlin, 440-775-8169, oberlinsummertheaterfestival.com). See all you can and, come September, go ahead and mock any of your friends who stayed planted in their hammocks.

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