Breaking News: 'MUCH ADO' with Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater & KING LEAR with John Lithgow Set for The Public's 2014 Shakespeare in the Park Season

The Public Theater announced the line-up today for the 2014 free Shakespeare in the Park season, continuing a 52-year tradition of free theater in Central Park. Since 1962, over five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at the Delacorte Theater. Conceived by founder Joe Papp as a way to make great theater accessible to all, The Public's free Shakespeare in the Park continues to be the bedrock of the Company's mission to increase access and engage the community. This summer, free Shakespeare in the Park will feature a comedy and a tragedy with Jack O'Brien directing MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and Daniel Sullivan directing KING LEAR.

Beginning on Tuesday, June 3, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, featuring Lily Rabe ("American Horror Story") as Beatrice and Hamish Linklater ("The Crazy Ones") as Benedick, will run for five weeks through Sunday, July 6. Linklater most recently performed in The Comedy of Errors last summer, while Rabe was in the 2012 Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It. They both performed in Daniel Sullivan's 2010 production of The Merchant of Venice.

John Lithgow returns to the Delacorte in July to play Lear in The Public's second show of the free Shakespeare in the Park summer season. KING LEAR, not seen in the Park since 1973, will begin performances on Tuesday, July 22 and run through Sunday, August 17. Lithgow last performed at the Delacorte Theater as Laertes in Hamlet in 1975.

"This summer, Shakespeare in the Park features two of the greatest plays ever written: the magnificent comedy Much Ado About Nothing and the towering tragedy of King Lear," said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. "We are welcoming back three of The Public's most beloved Shakespeareans of the past decade, Dan Sullivan, Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater. And we are proud that one of America's greatest theater artists, Jack O'Brien, will be making his Delacorte debut and that the amazingly talented John Lithgow will be returning to the Park after an inexplicable 35-year absence. It will be a miraculous summer."

Bank of America continues its leadership sponsorship in support of The Public's mission to keep Shakespeare in the Park free.

"At Bank of America, we understand that the arts, in all its forms, so often lends vitality to a city as it inspires, transcends socio-economic barriers, and celebrates diversity," said Jeff Barker, Bank of America New York City President. "Shakespeare in the Park is one of our city's finest summertime traditions and attracts tens of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors alike each season. We're proud to return as the lead sponsor for 2014 as part of our broader commitment to create opportunities for the public to access arts and culture."

Tickets to The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park are FREE and are distributed, two per person, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park on the day of the show. The Public Theater will again offer free tickets through our Virtual Ticketing lottery on the day of the show at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West or at 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING was first staged at the Delacorte in 1972 and was directed by A. J. Antoon, featuring Sam Waterston as Benedick and Kathleen Widdoes as Beatrice. It was also performed at the Delacorte in 1988, directed by Gerald Freedman and featuring Kevin Kline as Benedick, Blythe Danner as Beatrice, David Hyde Pierce as Don Juan, and Jerry Stiller as Dogberry. It was last staged at the Delacorte in 2004, directed by David Esbjornson, featuring Jimmy Smits as Benedick, Kristen Johnston as Beatrice, Sam Waterston as Leonato, Elizabeth Waterston as Hero, and Jayne Houdyshell as Ursula. Most recently, the comedy was presented as part of The Public's Mobile Shakespeare Unit last year, bringing Shakespeare to audiences in the five boroughs who have limited or no access to the arts.

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