Waiting in line for tickets to the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park is a quintessential New York experience. This LeakyNews reporter has been braving the uncertain weather and overnight stays on Central Park West for a coveted ticket into the Delacorte for 15 years, but never have I enjoyed a performance there as much as this year’s installment of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. If you are in NY this summer this is a must see, and really who can say no to free theater?
As You Like It left me grinning from ear to ear. A brilliantly light production, director Daniel Sullivan brought the forest of Arden to life. With the backdrop of Central Park and original bluegrass music by Steve Martin throughout the play, the audience was transported to a different world. The atmosphere was just the tip of the iceberg. Lily Rabe’s Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke and one of the “best” female roles in all of Shakespeare, was as close to perfection as an actor can hope to be. Rabe’s every expression, every line, every movement was naturally and affective. She embodied Rosalind entirely and though I’ve been to more productions of As You Like It than I can remember, I don’t think I will ever be able to believe anyone else in that role.
The rest of the cast shone along with Rabe in an inspiring display of ensemble acting. Despite having only done the show four times, they blended as if they’d been in these roles for years. Jaques, who although one of the most famous Shakespeare characters has never been to my liking, was expertly crafted by Stephen Spinella. Spinella captured not only Jaques’ patented melancholia, but his inherent kindness. Spinella understood Jaques’ need to leave the group and let them have their fun. Spinella’s intention was magnificently simple; that type of life was just not for him. The production ended with spirits high and a lovely choreographed country dance as the unparalleled Tony Trischka played the Banjo.
The morning wait was more enjoyable than most with excellent company and specially delivered scones from Alice’s Teacup. The weather report was daunting, but by the time Charles the Wrestler had fallen stars shone in the sky. Overall, it was the perfect way to spend a summer Saturday in New York.
How to get tickets
Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater are free, but they are not that easy to come by. Here is a link to the official guidelines about getting tickets http://shakespeareinthepark.org/tickets. Here are some of my personal tips
- Go early on in the run before reviews come out. The lines tend to be shorter and less stressful
- There are more tickets distributed on the weekends since there are less seats held for corporate events. So even though the line is longer on weekends don’t be discouraged.
- Arrive before 7am. I’ve never gotten tickets if I arrive later than that.
- Bring lots of snacks and games. They will make the wait fill more like a picnic then a hassle.
- Enjoy yourself! How often to you get a chance to lie in a beautiful park for hours without the stresses of the outside world
The Public Theater celebrates its 50th Anniversary with As You Like It (through June 30), starring Lily Rabe and featuring original bluegrass music by Steve Martin and Into the Woods (July 23 to Aug. 25) featuring Amy Adams and Donna Murphy, both at the Delacorte Theater (enter at 81st Street and Central Park West or 79th Street and Fifth Avenue). Schedule of performances can be found at http://shakespeareinthepark.org/
This article is the beginning of a new series I will be doing revolving around the New York theater scene. I am striving to introduce our readers to NY in a unique way. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments.