As You Like It and The Two Gentlemen of Verona will be Performed as Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater will present two productions of Shakespeare in the Park this summer, kicking off a year-long celebration for its 50th Anniversary.

The first production will be As You Like It, directed by Mark Lamos, featuring Brian Bedford, Lynn Collins, Jennifer Ikeda, Richard Thomas and James Waterston. Performances (which are free) begin June 25th and will continue through July 17th at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park.

The second offering will be the musical adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which boasts a book by John Guare and Mel Shapiro, lyrics by John Guare, music by Galt MacDermot; Kathleen Marshall will direct and choreograph. The Two Gentlemen of Verona will replace the previously-announced production of A Midsummer Nights Dream that was to have been directed by George C. Wolfe. Performances are scheduled to begin August 16th and will continue through September 11th; the production will also be at the Delacorte.

The production of Two Gentlemen of Verona will be particularly momentous for the Public Theatre, and will feature a re-imaginging of the show by the original creative team. Artistic director Oskar Eustis noted that "Two Gents, as it quickly became known, was a watershed moment for The Public, combining as it did all the great pillars of our mission: Shakespeare, music, diversity, populism, and immediacy. Revisiting this wonderful show is a terrific way to celebrate our 50th anniversary."

The original production of Two Gentlemen of Verona featured Jonelle Allen, Clifton Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jose Perez, Carla Pinza, Raul Julia, and Jerry Stiller, opening to critical acclaim at the Delacorte in the summer of 1971. It transferred to Broadway soon after, where it won 1972 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and a nomination for Best Original Score.

As was previously announced, Wolfe will direct Meryl Streep in Tony Kushner's adaptation of Brecht's Mother Courage in the summer of 2006. In addition, Wolfe, who continues to serve on the Board of the Public Theater, will be honored this summer for his leadership as Producer of The Public Theater from 1993-2004 at The Publics annual summer gala on Tuesday, July 12th.

Originally created by Joe Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Mara Manus, The Public's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through its extensive outreach and education programs. Over 250,000 people annually attend Public Theater-related events at its six downtown stages including Joe's Pub, and at Shakespeare in Central Park and Joe's Pub in the Park.

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