Public Works’ Musical Adaptation of “As You Like It”: Free Shakespeare in the Park

The 60th anniversary of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park series was memorable. It opened with risk and ended with a reward. The first of the two productions for summer 2022 was Richard III, directed by Robert O'Hara and starring Danai Gurira in the title role. It seemed to be the summer of Richard III, and the choices made by The Public's version and other productions worldwide (notably in Canada and the UK) were the source of many conversations, press articles, and hot debates.  In contrast, it's hard to imagine anything but praise for the delightful, exuberant modern musical

Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park: Richard III

It’s important, if not essential, for theatre makers to be ambitious and take risks. Equally crucial, especially in today’s climate, is considering diversity and inclusion when casting. However, when a production tries to tick all the boxes at once, that can muddle the play’s message. The latter is the unfortunate result of the production of Richard III, directed by Robert O’Hara and starring Danai Gurira in the title role. Though the efforts and intentions were admirable and excellent performances were given by all, throwing in everything and the kitchen sink made the show fall short of its possible impact by presenting

“Richard III” – Shakespeare in the Park

This summer, the Public Theater is celebrating the 60th season of Shakespeare in the Park, and it is one of the events that makes living in New York City a privilege. The first of the plays presented this year is the history play, "Richard III." Cards on the table right up front, "Richard III" is my favorite Shakespeare play, and the Wars of the Roses is a period in history I studied at some length. In short, I am an enthusiast, and readers deserve to know from whence these remarks come. Above all, this play is about power, its uses and mostly

Fat Ham at The Public Theater: Succulent Joy Triumphs Over Tragedy

  For a play premiering on Memorial Day weekend, what could feel more festive than a family gathering at a backyard barbecue served with a side of Shakespeare, a heaping portion of pop culture references, simmered in family drama, seasoned with violence and a dash of glitter to taste? Ay, there's the spice rub! Shakespeare's plays have had many adaptations and updated versions that take creative licenses with the Bard's works and themes. A favorite choice is the tale of the brooding, tragic prince with intense and questionable family dynamics. The Guardian recently published a piece examining the obsession that dramatists of stage and

Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) Presents ‘Timon of Athens’

  The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) approximates that the Bard wrote Timon of Athens and King Lear between 1604-1606.  Lear is a masterpiece about dysfunctional families, abuse of power and neglecting the elderly.  Timon is a "problem" play Shakespeare co-wrote with Thomas Middleton offering neither redemption nor emotional satisfaction. Though Timon might pose problems in a required rote humanities class and repertory justification, the rise and fall of a historic figure from Plutarch provides a cautionary tale: what happened to Timon can happen to anyone, the moral being the rich stick to their own kind.  Not exactly the perfect benefit night offering.  Since the protagonist lives in frivolous, dangerous times, the

DruidShakespeare: Richard III at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival

Aaron Monaghan as Richard III. Photo: Richard Termine

  DruidShaekespeare's Richard III  is a bruising experience, which is as it should be.  The Irish troupe's contribution to the tenth anniversary season of Lincoln Center's White Light Festival  (playing thru November 23rd at John Jay College's Gerald W. Lynch Theatre), absolutely fulfills the festival's mission of looking and listening without distraction for greater understanding.  Shakespeare never hides Richard's ambition and watching it played out in the ugliness The War of the Roses created makes it inevitable. Director Garry Hynes has the perfect Richard in Aaron Monaghan.  No one would ever mistake him for a weakling, but when things don't go his way his voice becomes high pitched like a

Mobile Unit’s THE TEMPEST at The Public Theater

The stormy start to May has served as a fitting setting for the debut of The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, that washed up on its home shores near Astor Place after a three-week, 17 stop tour to correction facilities, homeless shelters, libraries and community centers across all five boroughs of New York City. The Mobile Unit really puts the “public” in The Public Theater, whose prestigious productions continue to sell out, garner audience and critical praise and conquer both the commercial (anyone heard of a little historical musical about a dead politician called Hamilton?) and

The Mobile Unit’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The PUBLIC Theater

Though some of the fantastical fairies and magically made-up men and women may have hung up their glittery wings and cast off their gilded lids and long lashes on November 1st, the true enchantment continues through November 17th at the Public Theater with The Mobile Unit’s playful production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This costumed comedy of trickery is the perfect treat for the post-Halloween season. And, thanks to the mission of The Mobile Unit (a reinvention of the “Mobile Theater” originally founded in 1957 by Joe Papp) that art should be free and accessible to everyone -- the

Desperate Measures at New World Stages

It’s a rare thing when all of the elements come together perfectly to create true theatrical magic. One of the most recent examples of that kind of kismet is a delightfully riotous romp called Desperate Measures, now playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages after its multi-award winning (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Off Broadway Alliance) and numerously extended run at the York Theater last year. The plot, which examines how justice is served and manipulated, is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure. The setting is the Wild West where Johnny Blood (Conor Ryan) waits in jail with a drunken,

Mobile Unit: Henry V at The Public Theater

At any given moment in a theatrical season, it is likely there is a Shakespearean production being performed in both major and minor theatres and cities across the English-speaking world. The Bard’s relentless staying power is undeniable. But how do modern companies keep the work fresh and relevant, particularly the Histories, many of which are set in times, places and about people which seem to bear little significance on contemporary life in America? One simple answer is that at the root of all of these stories lie rich, complex and utterly human characters whose grappling with their struggles and delights in their

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