|Donna Lynne Champlin and Oliver Platt. Photo : Joan Marcus|
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
The Public Theater's Shakespeare iin the Park
What is it all about?
When her Uncle, Duke Frederick (Andre Braugher) usurps his brother's throne, his niece, Rosalind (Lily Rabe), flees taking her cousin, his daughter, Celia (Rene Elise Goldsberry) and the court jester, Touchstone (Oliver Platt) with her to safety in the Forest of Arden. Orlando (David Furr) who previously fell in love with Rosalind, posts loves letters for her in the trees, but doesn't recognize her when he encounters her disguised as a man named Ganymede who attracts the love interest of a shepherdess, Phoebe (Susannah Flood) who herself has won the love of another shepherd, Silvius (Will Rogers). Hmmm. Sounds like a Shakespeare plot. Standing out from the ensemble also are Stephen Spinella as Jaques, an attendant of Rosalind's banished father; MacIntyre Dixon as a servant of Orlando and Andrew Hovelson as a clergyman,
What are the highlights?
Any Shakespeare in the Park, celebrating its 50th year, is well worth it (tickets are free, after all). Wonderfully staged adaptations of the Bard (and other classics -- Into the Woods is this summer's second show beginning at the end of July). This one, famous for giving us the "all the world's a stage" lines, is particularly fun with a forest recreated (John Lee Beatty, design, with excellent lighting by Natasha Katz) against the already green backdrop of Central Park with terrific, twangy bluegrass music composed by Steve Martin and performed by a strolling quartet in period costume (designed by Jane Greewood). All of the performances are solid, with Rabe, Goldsberry and Spinella doing nice work, but really knocking performances out of the park, so to speak, are Furr and Platt.
What are the lowlights?
Not sure what the point of an 1840 southern setting, along with a western fort motif evoking "F Troop" does to enhance the story except maybe to provide a setting for Martin's tunes. Unbelievably long lines for the far-from-clean women's restroom. Public Fare, the little cafe at the Delacorte Theater, has cut back on the variety of delicious sandwiches that used to be offered. Now, there's just one turkey sandwich which unfortunately comes pre-made with a mayonnaise, and several versions of a hot dog, which you can purchase from park vendors any way. Other salads and snacks are available.
As You Like It, which began performances on June 5, officially opened, according to the Public, last night, and runs through June 30. Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are free, distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park the day of the show. The Public Theater also offers free tickets through a lottery at www.shakespeareinthepark.org on the day of the show.
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Into the Woods, directed by Timothy Sheader with co-direction by Liam Steel, featuring Amy Adams (The Baker’s Wife),Jack Broderick (Narrator), Gideon Glick (Jack), Cooper Grodin (Rapunzel’s Prince), Ivan Hernandez (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf),Tina Johnson (Granny), Josh Lamon (Steward), Jessie Mueller (Cinderella), Donna Murphy (The Witch), Laura Shoop (Cinderella’s Mother), and Tess Soltau (Rapunzel), begins previews on Monday, July 23 and continues through Aug. 25.
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-- No notes. Enjoy, but note that younger kids might have a hard time sitting quietly through the two-hour-45-minute performance (one intermission).