Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anthony Chatmon II & More to Lead THE TEMPEST Musical Adaptation at Free Shakespeare in the Park

The production will play for a limited week-long engagement, running at The Delacorte Theater Sunday, August 27 through Sunday, September 3.

By: Jul. 11, 2023
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anthony Chatmon II & More to Lead THE TEMPEST Musical Adaptation at Free Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater has revealed the cast for the Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Public Works’ THE TEMPEST, a new musical adaptation with music and lyrics by Benjamin Velez, choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher,and directed by Obie Award winner and Director of Public Works Laurie Woolery. The production will play for a limited week-long engagement, running at The Delacorte Theater Sunday, August 27 through Sunday, September 3. THE TEMPEST will be the final production at The Delacorte until 2025 while the theater undergoes renovations over the next year.

The Equity cast of THE TEMPEST will include Tristan André (Sebastian), Brianna Cabrera (Spirit Ancestor Lead Singer), Sabrina Cedeño (Trinculo), Anthony Chatmon II (Antonio), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Prospero), Jo Lampert (Ariel), Patrick O’Hare (Spirit Ancestor Lead Singer), Joel Perez (Stephano), Edwin Rivera (Spirit Ancestor Lead Singer), and Theo Stockman (Caliban). 

The production will also feature a special cameo group performance by Oyu Oro Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble.

“Eleven years into the great experiment that is Public Works, we have thrived as a community, both locally and internationally, by centering our practice in joyful art making and also enduring grief and profound loss: loss of loved ones, jobs, opportunities, and milestone moments,” shared Director of Public Works Laurie Woolery. “For the past several years, we have all been living on our own desert islands wondering when the scales of justice are going to balance out. Our grief has turned to anger. But what happens when we pass anger, grief, sorrow, and grudges on to the next generation? Is it possible to heal and liberate our children from having to take up our pain? I read that if we can break generational cycles of trauma, we can heal the next hundred years. I like that invitation. This is how I found my way back to THE TEMPEST.”

As we continue to rebuild out of the pandemic, Public Works enters its second decade by revisiting the play that launched the program, William Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST. In The Public’s decade-long tradition of bringing together a diverse ensemble of both professional and community members from all five boroughs of New York City, this Public Works production examines what it means to be isolated and how we find our way back to one another. With music and lyrics by Benjamin Velez and directed by Obie Award winner and Director of Public Works Laurie Woolery, this ambitious work of participatory theater explores the grief of being cut off from community, the desire for retribution, and the healing power of love. 

Forced from their home, Prospero and her daughter Miranda have survived for 12 years among the ruins of an abandoned island. As Prospero grows closer to getting the justice she desires, she witnesses her daughter fall in love, listens to the wisdom of spirit ancestors, and discovers that sometimes forgiveness is the only way to break cycles and right the course for the next generation. Hilarious fools, magical spells, and ancestral spirits dance through this production as we all come together to celebrate what it means to be human. 

Public Works’ THE TEMPEST features scenic design by Alexis Distler; costume design by Wilberth Gonzalez; lighting design by David Weiner; sound design by Jessica Paz; hair, wig, and makeup design by Krystal Balleza; prop direction by Alexander Wylie; music direction by Andrea Grody; orchestrations by Mike Brun; and music coordination by Kristy Norter. Roxana Khan serves as production stage manager andJanelle Caso and Jessie Moore serve as stage managers.

"As we continue to emerge from our pandemic cocoons, I was especially drawn to the famous line from the play: 'the isle is full of noises,’” shared music and lyrics writer Benjamin Velez. “Our own island of Manhattan is brimming with so much chaos, as well as so much culture, so much spirit, and I have had the time of my life trying to channel the rhythms, the heartbeats, and the melodies of the city into a score that will really come alive with our massive community ensemble. Reimagining such a classic story for the moment we're in was a delicious, creative feast, using colors ranging from jazz manouche to R&B to classic rock, not to mention finding room in a 6-piece band for a French horn! It's truly been a thrill."

Since 1962, over six million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals at The Delacorte Theater. Conceived by founder Joseph 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. 

PUBLIC WORKS, a major artistic program of The Public Theater, aims to restore and build community by connecting people through the creation of extraordinary works of art. Public Works is animated by the idea that theater is a place of possibility, where the boundaries that separate us from each other in the rest of life can fall away. Working with partner organizations in all five boroughs, Public Works invites community members to take classes, participate in programming, attend performances, and join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater. Public Works deliberately blurs the line between professional artists and community members, creating theater that is not only for the people, but by and of the people as well. Public Works exemplifies The Public’s long-standing commitment to putting community at the core of the theater’s mission. Public Works seeks to create a space where we can not only reflect on the world as it is, but where we can propose new possibilities for what our society might be. The Public Works model continues to be adopted by theaters across the country and around the world.

The Public Works community partner organizations are Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn), Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education (Bronx), Center for Family Life in Sunset Park (Brooklyn), Children's Aid (all boroughs), DreamYard (Bronx), Domestic Workers United (all boroughs), The Fortune Society (Queens), and Military Resilience Foundation (all boroughs).

Public Works is welcoming two affiliates into Public Works National cohort—Philadelphia Theater Company (Philadelphia, PA) and National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts Weiwuying (Kaohsiung, Taiwan)—as they join the existing affiliates: Long Wharf Theatre (New Haven, CT), Pittsburgh Public Theater (Pittsburgh, PA), Theatre Under The Stars (Houston, TX), Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, RI), Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust (Tulsa, OK), and Williamstown Theatre Festival (Williamstown, MA); cohort alumnus Virginia Stage Company (Norfolk, VA); and founding Public Works national and international partners; Dallas Theater Center (Dallas, TX), The National Theatre’s Public Acts program (London and nationally, United Kingdom), and Seattle Repertory Theatre (Seattle, WA). This network of theaters gathers to share practices and help build momentum around community-based theater nationwide. Collectively, we are seeking to put theater at the heart of every community, and community at the heart of every theater.

Public Works’ THE TEMPEST (running August 27-September 3) will be the final Free Shakespeare in the Park production at The Delacorte Theater before it is temporarily closed for renovations to improve accessibility, audience comfort, back-of-house operations, and to re-clad the facade in reclaimed wood sourced from around New York City, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the project. During the renovations, The Public will offer free outdoor programming across all five boroughs celebrating Free Shakespeare in the Park's legacy, with additional details to be announced. Free Shakespeare in the Park will return to its newly renovated home at The Delacorte in 2025. For more information on The Delacorte’s revitalization, visit publictheater.org.

To support The Public Theater, become a Supporter or Partner by visiting publictheater.org/supporttoday

BIOS: 

Tiffany Rea-FISHER 

(Choreographer) is Artistic Director at EMERGE125, an NDP Award winner, Toulmin Fellow, John Brown Spirit Award recipient, seven-time consecutive AUDELCO Award nominee, and was awarded a citation from the City of New York for her cultural contributions. Rea-Fisher subscribes to the servant leadership model and uses disruption through inclusion to influence her company's culture. Her works have been on NYC stages including the Joyce, the Apollo, Joe's Pub, City Center, and New York Live Arts. She curates the Bryant Park Dance Summer Series providing free art access to thousands while exposing upcoming and established artists to a wider audience.

Benjamin Velez 

(Music and Lyrics) is a Columbia graduate (114th Varsity Show), born and raised in Miami, FL. A proud member of the BMI Workshop (2012 Harrington Award), his original musicals include Afterland and Borderline, which opened the 2019 O’Neill Musical Theater Conference. He was the 2019 Fred Ebb Award Winner and a 2020 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient. His Broadway-bound musical Kiss My Aztec, written with John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp, has been presented at Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, and Hartford Stage. Upcoming projects include the world premiere of Real Women Have Curves at the American Repertory Theater in December 2023.

Laurie Woolery 

(Director) is an Obie Award-winning director, playwright, community activist, and citizen artist, who works at theaters across the country including The Public Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York City Center/Encores! Off-Center, Trinity Rep, Goodman Theatre, Kennedy Center, Cornerstone Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, and Yale Rep, where she recently directed Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, as well as Manahatta, El Huracán, and Imogen Says Nothing. Working at the intersection of community and transformative collaboration, Woolery is the Director of Public Works at The Public Theater, where her musical adaptation of As You Like It was named one of “The Best Theater of 2017” by The New York Times and returned last summer to Free Shakespeare in the Park. Woolery also directed the rolling world premiere of Eliana Pipes’ Dream Hou$e at the Alliance Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, and Baltimore Center Stage. She produced the documentary Under the Greenwood Tree and curated the national public art project The Seed Project. Woolery has developed new work with diverse communities ranging from incarcerated women to residents of a Kansas town devastated by a tornado. She creates site-specific work that ranges from a working sawmill in Eureka to the banks of the Los Angeles River. Woolery is a founding member of The Sol Project and a proud recipient of the Fuller Road Fellowship for Women Directors of Color. Woolery has received a 2020 United States Artist recipient, 2021 Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities, and the 2022 Person of the Year Award for The National Theatre Conference. 

ABOUT The Public Theater:

THE PUBLIC continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today. Conceived over 60 years ago as one of the nation’s first nonprofit theaters, The Public has long operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public’s wide breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark home at Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, the Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City’s five boroughs, Public Forum, Under the Radar, Public Lab, Public Works, Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Joe’s Pub. Since premiering HAIR in 1967, The Public continues to create the canon of American Theater and is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Their programs and productions can also be seen regionally across the country and around the world. The Public has received 60 Tony Awards, 190 Obie Awards, 57 Drama Desk Awards, 61 Lortel Awards, 36 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, 62 AUDELCO Awards, 6 Antonyo Awards, and 6 Pulitzer Prizes. publictheater.org

FREE TICKET INFORMATION

Performances of Public Works’ THE TEMPEST begins at The Delacorte Theater on Sunday, August 27 and continues through Sunday, September 3.  (There will be no performance on Monday, August 28.) All performances are at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets to all seven performances of THE TEMPEST will be distributed in a number of ways. On the day of each public performance, free tickets may be acquired in person at The Delacorte Theater, via an in-person lottery in the lobby of The Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street, or through a digital lottery via the TodayTix mobile app or website. All tickets are subject to availability. 

The Open Caption performance will be on Friday, September 1 at 8:00 p.m. The Audio Describedperformance will be on Saturday, September 2 at 8:00 p.m. 

A limited number of tickets are also available via advance reservation by making a contribution in support of Free Shakespeare in the Park. To learn more or to make a contribution, call 212.967.7555 or visit publictheater.org.

The full performance calendar and ticket distribution details can be found at publictheater.org.  

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



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