Kiki & Lala

Shakespeare In The Park

Posted on: June 19, 2010

Summertime is all about outdoor activities in this city.  Strolling, biking, running, picnics are the activities of choice for those who have spent many a winter’s night indoors keeping warm from the biting New York cold. For years now the Public Theater has been performing in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater for New Yorkers gratis.  This popular and beloved summer tradition is on most new yorkers’ bucket list…mine included!

Central Park's Great Lawn

Open air Delacorte Theater

As tickets are given away for free you can imagine the number of people that camp out early to fall in line just to score tickets.  Guess what? I was lucky enough to be invited and I didn’t have to line up for hours! Woohoo!

I took a picture of the hundreds of people waiting to enter the theater to give you an idea of how coveted these tickets are.

Every year the Public Theater invites veteran actors to star in their summer production.  Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Denzel Washington, Ed Harris are just some of the stars who graciously donated their time and talent to produce these plays.

Collage containing some of the actors that star in these plays

This summer we have none other than Al Pacino to star in the Merchant of Venice playing Shylock the Jew. How. Cool. Is. That?!

Here is another shot of him that I grabbed from gothamist.com

Rehearsing for his role as Shylock

To my pleasant surprise, the cast consisted of some fairly known yet super talented actors.  Jessie Martin, who played on the original production of Rent as well as starred in Law & Order, is also part of this production playing Gratiano.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays Nerissa to perfection.  She looked so familiar so I decided to google her.  According to IMDB, she’s done several big movies like Spy Game and 28 days.

Max Wright, who is most known playing the father in the 80’s sitcom ALF, also stars in the play as the Prince of Aragon.  His voice sounded so familiar it took me a while to figure out who he was.  Apparently this guy is quite the thespian with numerous Shakespeare plays in his resume!

The Merchant of Venice is the first Shakespeare play I read.  In fact I still have the book I bought in High School complete with margin notes.  So I was pretty excited to revisit this play through Al Pacino’s unbelievable performance.

Shylock the Jew is a reviled character and his persona is written in a way that draws out extreme emotions from you: hatred and sympathy.  Pacino does this with so much precision.  You abhor him yet you feel his pain.  The most moving moment in the play for me was when he was baptized as a Christian against his will.  It was just so painful to watch, seeing a proud proud man humbled in such a humiliating way. Pacino rocks!

I remember enjoying this play as reading material but watching these great actors give life to their characters stirred so much emotion in me (Cancer month, is that you?).  Really, I was speechless.

I wish we were allowed to take pictures because the set design was also pretty awesome.  I found a model of the set in broadwayworld.com.  It’s a clever design making efficient use of these iron semi-circle gates to shift from one scene to another. Hope this gives you an idea.

Watching an outdoor play with amazing actors on a cool summer evening while the sun was setting was just so surreal for me.  It just doesn’t get better than that!  I’m going to try to line up (online) for A Winter’s Tale which is also showing in the park. I hope the gods of chance are on my side this summer.  If not, I’m just thankful I got to see Pacino in the park this year.

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1 Response to "Shakespeare In The Park"

denzel washington is of course one of the sexiest black actors that you can ever see `*~

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