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Public Theater announces 2015 Shakespeare in the Park Season

by Photo of Natalie Sacks

Sam Waterston leads ‘The Tempest,’ with ‘Cymbeline’ following at the Delacorte.

Public Theater announces 2015 Shakespeare in the Park Season

The original Shakespeare in the Park was founded in 1954 by Public Theater founder Joseph Papp as the New York Shakespeare Festival. His mission: to present free public performances of Shakespearean plays. Since 1961, the festival has called Central Park its home, in an outdoor amphitheater known as the Delacorte.

After last year's enjoyable season, featuring Shakespeare favorites Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear, the Public has clearly chosen to shake it up a bit with this year's selections. The Tempest is another play that is often produced on major Shakespearean stages, having kicked off the Globe Theatre's 2013 season in London, but it is also one of the more morally ambiguous comedies. 

The Tempest

After his brother usurps his throne as the Duke of Milan, the magician Prospero flees to a deserted island, where he takes his revenge on all of the men who have wronged him, from his brother Antonio and King Alonso of Naples to the monstrous Caliban, without the slightest hindrance from either friend or foe. It is a production full of music and of sorcery, with many opportunities for high-budget spectacular effects.

But the talk of the town isn't the play itself, but rather the choice for its Prospero: Sam Waterston, or as we better know him, Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy of Law & Order. Waterston has a strong classical theater background as well, of course, having won a Drama Desk Award for Joseph Papp's production of Much Ado About Nothing back in 1973 as well as the 1994 Tony for Best Actor in a Play for Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Since Law & Order finally wrapped up in 2010, Waterston has more recently been starring in Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, but will we really be able to see our favorite ADA as a bitter and vengeful Italian sorcerer at the Delacorte this summer?

Cymbeline

Opening on July 27 is the more unusual choice of play, the Shakespearean fairy tale Cymbeline. Princess Imogen’s fidelity is put to the royal test when her disapproving father, Cymbeline, banishes her soul mate. Featuring all the typical tropes, from cross-dressing and Roman battles to poison and faked deaths, this whirlwind tale is a both dark and enchanting story about the conquering power of love.

Both plays are in good directorial hands, with Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Romeo and Juliet, Our Lady of Kibeho, If/Then, Next to Normal) taking the lead on The Tempest and Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan (King Lear, The Comedy of Errors, Proof) taking on Cymbeline. It's a season of magic and mysticism, epic rivalries, brilliant wit and dramatic love affairs.

And what could be more magical or mysterious these days than free theater? Simply enter the lottery each morning and see if you can make it in to see your favorite theater or TV star. The Tempest plays from May 27 to July 5, with Cymbeline following from July 27 to August 23.

And for the best theater tickets at the best price, be sure to check CHARGED!


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