Corrections or additions?
This article by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the June 27, 2001
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Summer Shakespeare Perfect in New York
Rain coming down in buckets on Sunday morning, June
17, does not bode well for the opening night performance of the New
York Shakespeare Festival’s "Measure for Measure." The
however, has brought clear skies and a cooling breeze to Central Park.
As we walk the winding, well-lit, and heavily trafficked paths, the
shrubs and greenery seem more alive and lush than usual. The sun
quite set by the time the performance begins. The natural light fades
gradually and our eyes become more focused on the performance than
on the park’s resident white egret that suddenly soars over the
of the awesome, storybook castle, Belvedere, a permanent part of the
park landscape. Our reserved seats are dry, our palettes satisfied
with on-site specialty food and drink, our jackets and umbrellas (just
in case) are stuffed beneath us. All is as right with us and with
this setting as it is with the Bard’s pentameter verse. And except
for the occasional roar of an SST overhead, we are indeed transported
to another world — magical, accessible, and available to all.
So don’t worry if you haven’t got $200 to spend on a pair of tickets
to you-know-which Broadway show. The best deal in the Big Apple is
the free tickets given away for each performance of the Joseph Papp
Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, now celebrating its
46th summer season at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It’s
almost too late to recommend "Measure for Measure" (it will
close June 28) which was brought to sparkling life under the stars
by Mary Zimmerman, the Chicago-based director who created and staged
the delightful and imaginative Homer’s "Odyssey" last season
at the McCarter Theater. It wasn’t an easy task to make this, one
of Shakespeare’s more difficult and dark comedies, accessible; yet
it was a pleasure to experience.
It is not too late to try to persuade you to enjoy the New York
Festival’s second and concluding free production of the summer. Mike
Nichols will be directing a new adaptation by Tom Stoppard of
"The Seagull." It is not unusual to see prominent film and
stage stars appearing in the esteemed festival’s classic plays and
this one is no exception. The star-studded cast features Meryl Streep,
Christopher Walken, Allison Janney, Kevin Kline, Debra Monk, Natalie
Portman, John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Larry Pine, and Stephen
Spinella. Previews begin July 24, and performances continue through
August 19. If I were you, I’d get on line early.
Free tickets to Shakespeare in Central Park are available on the day
of the performance, beginning at 1 p.m., at the Delacorte Theater
in Central Park, and from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Public Theater, 425
Street. Depending on the play and the cast, potential patrons should
plan to spend an hour or more prior to the opening of the box-office.
Don’t be discouraged. At last Sunday evening’s "sold out"
performance of "Measure for Measure," it looked like most
everyone who was waiting in the standby line at the Delacorte prior
to the 8 p.m. performance got a seat.
Each person may receive up to two tickets. Tickets are for reserved
seats and are good for the day of issue only. Once you have your
you need not wait in line again. The theater opens at 7:30 p.m.;
are seated at management’s discretion. In the event of rain, they
may delay the beginning of the performance, but they will perform
if and when it seems possible. If the performance is canceled because
of rain or for any other reason, tickets are not valid for reissue
The Delacorte Theater is located near Turtle Pond in Central Park.
The closest park entrance from the East Side is at 79th Street and
Fifth Avenue; from the West Side, at 81st Street and Central Park
West. It’s a lovely and safe walk to the theater with hundred of
making their way along the paths. From my own experience, parking
on the street along Central Park West (from 72nd Street to 85th
is a pretty good bet if you arrive at least an hour before show time.
For more information about Delacorte performances and tickets, the
Delacorte’s phone number is 212-539-8750; phones are open from 10
a.m. to 10 p.m. on performance days. For information about wheelchair
seating, call 212-539-8659.
One more thing: From the time when our son and daughter were in grade
school and all through high school, we took them and as many of their
friends that could squeeze into our station wagon to see two
in the Park productions each summer. As parents, you will find
accused of many things by your children when they become adults. Our
children’s memories — aside from those that have no bearing on
family entertainment — of the fantastical "Midsummer Night’s
Dream" to the historical (and complete) "Wars of the
that we all saw together, endure. Today, they give us credit for
them to great live theater and for their lifelong love of the form.
— Simon Saltzman
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