Jesse Tyler Ferguson Says He's Intimidated to Work with Al Pacino
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who will be appearing in both THE MERCHANT OF VENICE and THE WINTER'S TALE at Shakespeare in the Park shows this summer at the Delacorte Theatre sat down alongside costar Lily Rabe to discuss the shows and their experiences working on them.
Regarding working with Al Pacino, who will star as Shylock in VENICE, Ferguson said, "Being an untrained classical actor is already an intimidation factor. Now imagine it with Al Pacino. I don't want to get in over my head. I'm enjoying the challenge."
Ferguson continued, What's surprising about him, I found, is that with large stars you don't expect their work ethic. He's really game. He's at every rehearsal. He's up for talking about the play and doing table work. He's very invested and wants to be part of the process and he's really supportive. He laughs at jokes. He does wear sunglasses sometimes when he's not speaking." Rabe added, "I've loved every minute with him."
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The repertory company for THE WINTER'S TALE and THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, consecutively, features Gerry Bamman (Antigonus/Duke of Venice), Francois Battiste (Florizel/Lord/Salerio), Linda Emond (Hermione - The Winter's Tale), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Young Shepherd/Lord/Launcelot Gobbo), Bill Heck (Lord/Lorenzo), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Paulina/Nerissa), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Leontes - The Winter's Tale), Byron Jennings (Camillo/Antonio), Heather Lind (Perdita/Jessica), Hamish Linklater (Autolycus/Lord/Bassanio), Jesse L. Martin (Polixenes/Gratiano), Nyambi Nyambi (Lord/Prince of Morocco), Al Pacino (Shylock - The Merchant of Venice), Lily Rabe (Portia - The Merchant of Venice), Matthew Rauch (Dion/Jailer/Solanio), Richard Topol (Lord/Tubal) and Max Wright (Old Shepherd/Prince of Arragon).
Shakespeare in the Park 2010 is not The Public Theater's first foray into rotating repertory. Henry IV, Parts One and Two were performed in rep in the Newman Theater in 1991, and 20 years earlier, the Henry VI plays and Richard III were condensed into The War of the Roses which was presented in rep and then performed in one all-night marathon in Central Park.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Young Shepherd/Lord/Launcelot Gobbo) returns to the Delacorte, where he appeared in Daniel Sullivan's A Midsummer Night's Dream (2007) and George C. Wolfe's On the Town (1997). He is a series regular on ABC's "Modern Family" and has also appeared on television in "Do Not Disturb," "The Class" and "Ugly Betty." His Broadway credits include On the Town and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, for which he earned Drama Desk and Drama League award nominations.
Bill Heck (Lord/Lorenzo) made his Public Theater debut in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing (2004). He was recently seen in all three parts of Horton Foote's critically acclaimed Orphans Home Cycle at the Signature Theater Company.
Nyambi Nyambi (Lord/Prince of Morocco) appeared on Broadway in the Tony-winning revival of Joe Turner's Come and Gone. His other New York City theater credits include The Tempest at Classic Stage, Sliding Into the Beast at New York Theatre Workshop, and Ain't Supposed to Die A Natural Death and The Blacks: A Clown Show at Classical Theatre Of Harlem. His film credits include Day Night Day Night and Letters From Damascus.
Lily Rabe (Portia) is making her Public Theater debut. She has appeared on Broadway in Richard Greenberg's The American Plan, George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House for which she won the Callaway Award and was also nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award, and Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination. Off-Broadway credits include Crimes of the Heart at Roundabout and Colder Than Here at MCC. Her film credits include Mona Lisa Smile, No Reservations, What Just Happened, A Crime and The Toe Tactic. Rabe's television credits include David Milch's "Last of the Ninth" and guest appearances on "Medium," "Nip/Tuck," "Law & Order: SVU," and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "Saving Grace." Upcoming film roles include Andrew Jarecki's All Good Things; Christopher Munch's Letters From A Big Man; and the indie features Weakness and Aftermath.
The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Andrew D. Hamingson, Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals, and productions of classics at its downtown and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day onstage and through extensive outreach and education programs. Each year, over 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe's Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public has won 42 Tony Awards, 149 Obies, 40 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. The Public has brought 52 shows to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk; On the Town; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Elaine Stritch at Liberty; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Well; Passing Strange; and, most recently, the current Tony Award-winning revival of Hair. www.publictheater.org.