Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shakespeare Listings: August in NYC

Sorry for the silence, folks! I've been away in July, so I need an overview of upcoming Shak in New York. Here's what we've got in the back half of summer, as well as the '15-'16 season!


Shakespeare in the Park (Public Th.)
Jul 27 - Aug 23
Patrick Page is King Cymbeline,
father to Lily Rabe's Imogen at Shak in the Park

I'll call Lily Rabe a capital-g Great Shakespearean Actor, one of the few in America today; in the last five years at the Delacorte, she's played Rosalind, Beatrice, & Portia with great complexity and wit. The latter two were opposite Hamish Linklater, making for another rarity: an ongoing actorly collaboration. The duo's secret weapon is that she's the more subtle of the pair, which fits the dynamic of Shak's couples. Imogen and Posthumus, in Cymbeline, don't share much stage time but it'll be great to see what these two do with the roles. Raul Esparza (12N, '09 Delacorte) and other Off-B'way stalwarts round out the cast, under the direction of Big Dan Sullivan.


Roy Arias Stages
May - Sept 6

Twenty-something Shakespeareans do several shots and then stage a semi-improvised play. Or as they bill it, "a company of professional drinkers with a serious Shakespeare problem." A minor phenomenon in the Theater District, Drunk Shak is the sort of fun gimmick that proves NYC can find a place for hardworking thespians even when they don't have connections or a budget. It runs all summer long, a potential rainy-day alternative to free Shakespeare in the parks.


Hamlet in Bed
Rattlestick Theater
Aug 28 - Oct 5

An actor lures his birth mother, an alcoholic ex-actress, into a psychodrama involving a phony staging of Shakespeare's tragedy. Rattlestick produces shows with a darkly comic streak, and this play just may be sick-minded enough to work well in that vein. I don't know the work of actor/playwright, Michael Laurence, and no cast has been announced yet. So I don't have enough to go on for a recommendation, but I'll keep my ears cocked.

Broadway (St. James Th.)
Mar 25 - ongoing

Christian Borle's Shakespeare is a rock-musical god
in Something Rotten
Not a movie! Not a novel! This fluffy musical comedy set in the Elizabethan theater scene is notable mainly for actually being entirely original. Rotten imagines a pair of Elizabethan playwrights who anachronistically invent musical theater to compete with Will Shakespeare. Christian Borle plays that role as a swelled-head rockstar in tight leather and large codpiece; Brian d’Arcy James is his everyman opposite. They're forced to carry the show, a forgettable entry in the shticky sub-genre of musicals-about-musicals (e.g. The ProducersSpamalot). From the POV of a Shakespeare nut, Rotten is especially disappointing. The act 1 number "God, I Hate Shakespeare" wastes itself on lame potshots like 'he makes the audience feel dumb' and 'his plays are too long' instead of legit gripes like overcomplicated plots, unfunny clowns, and the ridiculous sight of epic battles on intimate stages.


Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
Jul 30 - Aug 15

The third of Parking Lot's five free Shakespeare productions this summer. That's got to be some sort of record, so it's nice to see the company bouncing back hard from its 2014 eviction. This version of the Scottish Play takes its cues from an underserved community, the embattled barrio of the LES. Most of the cast is Latino, with director Jesse Ontiveros setting the play in a modern banana republic. It's great to see casting diversity in NYC Shakespeare, and this Macbeth inaugurates a collaboration between the Drilling Company (producers of Shak in the Parking Lot) and the Clemente, an LES arts org. If you're in the neighborhood some evening, wander into the lot behind 114 Norfolk for a few minutes!



The Taming of the Shrew
The Drilling Co.
Sep 4-20
If you find yourself in Bryant Park one evening this September, check in with Kate and Petruchio

Pearl Th.
Sep 8 - Oct 31
Eric Tucker, the mastermind of Bedlam, casts 5 actors to play Puck and company

National Theatre Live
Oct 15
Everyone's favorite Cumberbatch plays Hamlet in London while you watch him in Manhattan!

BAM Next Wave
Oct 21-24
A modernist portrait of Q. Bess using a collage of her public & private writing

All's Well That Ends Well
Mobile Shak Unit (Public Th.)
Nov 2015
Shak's minor tragicomedy tours the boroughs in Oct, then settles into a short run at the Public

Atlantic Th.
Nov 2015
A musical based on Much Ado and A Hard Day's Night (!), with music by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong (?!)

Public Forum: An Evening with Cleopatra
Joe's Pub at the Public
Nov 16, 2015
Christine Baranski plays the Queen of the Nile in an inquiry with takes by Shakespeare & Shaw

Classic Stage Co.
Mar 2016
F. Murray Abraham plays a Jew; the play's a 18th-c. German response to Shylock

Classic Stage Co.
Mar 2016
CSC partners with Columbia Drama's grad students to stage Shak for younger audiences

Mar 24 - May 1, 2016
David Tennant (Doctor Who, Hamlet) is the matinee draw as Richard 2, with Antony Sher's Falstaff as ballast

Romeo and Juliet

Mobile Shak Unit (Public Th)
May 2016
The MSU stages one of drama's most familiar tragedies for the outer boroughs & the Public



Cymbeline — Carol Rosegg
Something Rotten — Joan Marcus

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