|Maria Thayer, Patti Murin, Audrey Lynn Weston, Daniel Breaker, and Kimiko Glenn. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus|
A New Musical Based on the Play by William Shakespeare
Songs by Michael Friedman
Book Adapted and Directed by Alex Timbers
Shakespeare in the Park
Presented by the Public Theater
What's It All About?
It's Alex Timbers' vision for the bard's story turned on its ear and infused with a 21-number, catchy pop score by Michael Friedman, the composer who gave us Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (also written and directed by Timbers). Shakespeare has never been so delightful, or appealing to a younger generation. It's a lighthearted tale of the King of Navarre (Daniel Breaker) and his college buddies (Bryce Pinkham as Longaville, Colin Donnell as Berowne and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe as Dumaine) who meet at their reunion and decide to swear off women and other distractions to nurture their minds instead.
Those plans run into a glitch, however, when some old flames arrive on the scene in the form of a Princess (a terrifically funny and engaging Patti Murin) and her court: Rosaline (Maria Thayer), Maria (Kimiko Glenn) and Katherine (Audrey Lynn Weston). The gist of the Shakespeare's 16th-century comedy is there, made entertaining for a 21st century audience.
What are the Highlights?
The music is entertaining. The set (by Designer John Lee Beatty), designed to look like a resort with a courtyard anchoring a Stratford-looking lodge and a bar which houses the band, is to die for. Giving guffaw-inducing performances are Caesar Samayoa as full-of-himself Don Armado, in love with country wench Jacuenetta (Rebecca Naomi Jones), and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Rachel Dratch and Jeff Hiller as stuffy scholars. Costume Designer Jennifer Moeller also gets kudos for a variety of costumes that look period and modern at the same time (and for a pair of pajamas that are a riot). Choreographer Danny Mefford adds to the zany romp with dance steps that include tap dancing in sneakers and a kick line (again, this isn't your grandmother's Shakespeare....)
What are the Lowlights?
It runs a little long -- about one hour and 40 minutes --and should end with a joyful song that celebrates youth -- about 10 minutes before the dragged out finish.
The only other complaint -- this show, which officially opened Aug. 12 (after previews) only runs through this Sunday, Aug. 18. Let's hope for a transfer to a Broadway stage.
Tickets are free. You can stand in line at the park for distribution beginning at noon or enter an online lottery. Visit www.shakespeareinthepark.org. Performances begin at 8:30 and have no intermission.
Christians might like to know:
--God's name taken in vain