SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
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Phylicia Rashad Signs on for 'MIDSUMMER' at Shakespeare in the Park; More Casting Announced!

The Public Theater announced additional casting today for the 2017 Free Shakespeare in the Park season, beginning Tuesday, May 23 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, continuing a 55-year tradition of free theater in Central Park.

The rarely seen JULIUS CAESAR, directed by The Public's Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, begins previews Tuesday, May 23 and runs through Sunday, June 18 with an official press opening on Monday, June 12.

It will be followed by A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM directed by Obie Award winner and The Public's Founder of Public Works and Resident DirectorLear deBessonet, beginning Tuesday, July 11 through Sunday, August 13, with an official press opening on Monday, July 31.

The complete cast of JULIUS CAESAR will feature Tina Benko (Calpurnia); Teagle F. Bougere (Casca); Yusef Bulos (Cinna the Poet); Eisa Davis (Decius Brutus); RoBert Gilbert (Octavius); Gregg Henry (Caesar); Edward James Hyland (Lepidus, Popilius); Nikki M. James (Portia); Christopher Livingston (Titinis, Cinna); Elizabeth Marvel (Antony); Chris Myers (Flavius, Messala, Ligarius); Marjan Neshat (Metullus Cimber); Corey Stoll (Marcus Brutus); John Douglas Thompson (Caius Cassius); and Natalie Woolams-Torres (Marullus). The non-equity company will include Isabel Arraiza (Publius Clitus); Erick Betancourt; Mayaa Boateng (Soothsayer); Motell Foster (Trebonius); Dash King; Tyler La Marr (Lucillius); Gideon McCarty; Nick Selting (Lucius, Strato); Alexander Shaw (Octavius' Servant); Michael Thatcher (Cobbler); and Justin Walker White (Pindarus). Yusef Bulos replaces the previously announced Stephen Adly Guirgis who had to depart the production due to writing conflicts.

Joining the previously announced cast of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM are Vinie Burrows (Fairy); Austin Durant (Snug); Bhavesh Patel (Theseus); and Phylicia Rashad (Titania). The cast also features Annaleigh Ashford (Helena); De'Adre Aziza (Hippolyta); Kyle Beltran (Lysander); Danny Burstein (Nick Bottom); Shalita Grant (Hermia); Alex Hernandez (Demetrius); Jeff Hiller (Francis Flute); Robert Joy (Peter Quince); David Manis (Egeus, Fairy); Patrena Murray (Tom Snout); Kristine Nielsen (Puck); and Joe Tapper (Robin Starveling).

The Public Theater's Artistic Director Oskar Eustis directs JULIUS CAESAR, Shakespeare's play of politics and power, last seen in the Park 17 years ago. Rome's leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country's democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare's political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.

JULIUS CAESAR will feature scenic design by David Rockwell; costume design by Paul Tazewell; lighting design by Kenneth Posner; sound design by Jessica Paz; original music and soundscapes by Bray Poor; and hair, wig, and makeup design by Leah J. Loukas.

In July, the Delacorte Theater will transform into the most enchanted forest in all of theater in Shakespeare's beloved comedy, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. When the merry sprite Puck meddles with a magical love potion, young lovers lost in the woods mysteriously find themselves infatuated with the wrong person in this hilarious, fairytale fantasia that proves the course of true love never did run smooth. Lear deBessonet, founder of The Public Theater's groundbreaking Public Works program, brings her electric theatrical vision to the classic romance about the supernatural nature of love.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM will feature scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau, sound design by Jessica Paz, original music by Justin Levine, and choreography by Danny Mefford.

On Monday, June 5, The Public's Annual Gala at the Delacorte will present Hair to Hamilton, a star-studded one-night-only event celebrating 50 years of revolutionary musicals from The Public Theater.

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.

FREE tickets to JULIUS CAESAR and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM are distributed, two per person (age 5+), at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park beginning at 12:00 p.m. on the day of each public performance. In order to allow as many different people as possible to attend Free Shakespeare in the Park this summer, visitors will be limited to receiving free tickets to two performances only of each production. There will continue to be a separate line for accessible tickets for senior citizens (65+) and patrons with disabilities. For more ticket information, visit www.publictheater.org.

The Public continues its partnership with TodayTix, who will be offering the exclusive Mobile Ticket Lottery for Free Shakespeare in the Park. Tickets will be distributed by random mobile lottery on the TodayTix app each date that there is a public performance at the Delacorte Theater.

The Delacorte Theater is accessible by entering at 81st Street and Central Park West, or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue.

PUBLIC SUPPORTERS will be available for those who want to support Free Shakespeare in the Park by making a tax-deduction contribution (starting at $500) and receiving a reserved seat for one production during the summer. The Partners Program also offers insider access through invitations to private backstage events, talks with artists, priority reserved seating at the Delacorte, and complimentary tickets to the downtown season at The Public and Joe's Pub. To learn more, or to make a contribution call 212-967-7555, or visit www.publictheater.org.

In addition to the ticket line at the Delacorte Theater and the TodayTix online distribution, a limited number of vouchers for specific performances will be distributed, while supplies last, at locations throughout New York's five boroughs. This year's distributions will have more locations throughout the five boroughs and dates to provide New Yorkers more opportunities to obtain tickets. Each person in line is allowed two vouchers and each voucher is good for one ticket for that evening's performance. Vouchers must be exchanged for tickets at the Delacorte Theater Box Office that day from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For JULIUS CAESAR, ticket vouchers will be distributed, while supplies last, on Wednesday, May 24 in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Children's Museum (145 Brooklyn Ave); Thursday, May 25 in Staten Island at Snug Harbor (1000 Richmond Terrace); Friday, May 26 in the Bronx at The Point (940 Garrison Avenue); on Saturday, May 27 in Queens at the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th Street); and Thursday, June 15in the Bronx at DreamYard (1085 Washington Avenue).

For A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, ticket vouchers will be distributed, while supplies last, on Wednesday, July 12 in Staten Island at Snug Harbor (1000 Richmond Terrace); Thursday, July 13 in the Bronx at DreamYard (1085 Washington Avenue); Saturday, July 15 in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Children's Museum (145 Brooklyn Avenue); Friday, July 21 in Staten Island at Snug Harbor (1000 Richmond Terrace); Monday, July 24 in the Bronx at The Point (940 Garrison Avenue); Wednesday, August 2 in Brooklyn at The Center for Family Life (PS 503/PS 506 at 343 60th Street); Wednesday, August 9 in Queens at the New York Hall of Science (47-07 111th Street).

To allow as many New Yorkers the opportunity to experience Free Shakespeare in the Park, there will be an open caption performance on Saturday, June 3; a Hands On performance on Sunday, June 11; and an ADA audio described performance on Saturday, June 17 for JULIUS CAESAR. There will be an open caption performance on Saturday, August 12; an ADA audio described performance on Saturday, July 22; and a Hands On performance on Thursday, August 3 for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. More information about these performances can be found at www.publictheater.org.

Oskar Eustis (Julius Caesar Director) has served as the Artistic Director of The Public Theater since 2005. He came to The Public from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI where he served as Artistic Director from 1994 to 2005. Eustis served as Associate Artistic Director at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum from 1989 to 1994, and prior to that he was with the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco, serving as Resident Director and Dramaturg from 1981 to 1986 and Artistic Director from 1986 to 1989. Eustis is currently a Professor of Dramatic Writing and Arts and Public Policy at New York University, and has held professorships at UCLA, Middlebury College, and Brown University, where he founded and chaired the Trinity Rep/Brown University Consortium for professional theater training. Throughout his career, Eustis has been dedicated to the development of new plays as a director, dramaturg, and producer. At The Public, Eustis directed the New York premieres of Rinne Groff's Compulsion and The Ruby Sunrise, and Larry Wright's The Human Scale. At Trinity Rep, he directed the world premiere of Paula Vogel's The Long Christmas Ride Home and Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul, both recipients of the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production. While at the Eureka Theatre, he commissioned Tony Kushner's Angels in America, and directed its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Eustis has also directed the world premieres of plays by Philip Kan Gotanda, David Henry Hwang, Emily Mann, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ellen McLaughlin, and Eduardo Machado, among many others.

The Public Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. In over 10 years at The Public, Eustis has created new community-based initiatives designed to engage audiences like Public Lab, Public Studio, Public Forum, Public Works, and a remount of the Mobile Unit. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues-including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe's Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City's five boroughs. The Public's wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company's dedication to making theater accessible to all; Public Works, an expanding initiative that is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences and the community each year; and audience and artist development initiatives that range from Emerging Writers Group and to the Public Forum series. The Public's work is also seen on tour throughout the U.S. and internationally and in collaborations and co-productions with regional and international theaters. The Public is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and in October 2012 the landmark building downtown at Astor Place was revitalized to physically manifest the Company's core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences, by dramatically opening up the building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. The Public is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning acclaimed American musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lynn Nottage's acclaimed new play Sweat. The Public has received 59 Tony Awards, 168 Obie Awards, 53 Drama Desk Awards, 54 Lortel Awards, 32 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics Awards, and six Pulitzer Prizes.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride



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