Shakespeare in Central Park

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One of the hottest tickets in New York City each summer is not a Broadway show and is absolutely free: the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. Although the performances are free, the tickets are not easy to come by. There are only two ways to get them – (1) showing up early in the morning and waiting in line for hours at either the Public Theater’s box office at Astor Place or the Delacorte Theater box office in Central Park; or (2) entering the ticket lottery on the TodayTix cellphone app. (You can also get tickets by making a large donation to the Public Theater to support its programs – I didn’t count that option since it isn’t free.)

Because I’m not excited about waiting in line for hours at a time, we have relied on the ticket lottery instead. Last summer, we entered the lottery every day, but with no luck. This summer, we once again began entering every day, even though I had basically given up all hope after last year’s failure. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we won two tickets to last night’s performance of The Taming of the Shrew!

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Performances start at 8:00 pm, and we were told we could pick up our tickets from the Delacorte Theater box office between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. We were warned not to be late – after 7:30 pm any remaining tickets are handed out to people waiting in the standby line. We arrived in plenty of time and, after receiving our tickets found a park bench near the theater to wait and watch people. Many people bring picnic dinners, which they eat while sitting on the nearby lawn. There are also plenty of snacks and drinks (including wine and beer) for sale at the theater. The staff will even let you bring your own food and drink into the theater, although glass is prohibited.

While we waiting for the play to begin, I noticed these two bronze sculptures located next to the theater. The first is titled Romeo and Juliet, and the second is The Tempest.

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We also listened to this saxophonist play for a while.

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Soon, it was time to enter the theater! The Delacourte Theater is perfectly sized – I really don’t think that there’s a bad seat in the house. It’s open air, and we watched the sun begin to set as we waited for the play to begin. Our own seats were excellent. We were only six rows back from the stage, right at stage center. We took in the stage set with interest.

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Unfortunately, no photos are permitted during performances, so that’s the last photo I have for this adventure. But The Taming of the Shrew was amazing! While I’ve always found the play entertaining, at the same time the misogynistic plot often makes me cringe, even taking into account the fact that it is from an entirely different era in history. This version put a new twist on the original story line, however – the entire cast was made up of women! Some of the best-performed roles were those of the male characters, including the role of Petruchio, played by Tony and Olivier award winner Janet McTeer. (The comedy’s director, Phyllida Lloyd, has also been nominated for a Tony award.) The entire performance was thoughtfully, artfully done.

The Taming of the Shrew continues through June 26, but that will not be the end of this year’s Shakespeare in the Park series. From July 19 to August 14, Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, a rarely performed play, will be offered.

For those traveling to the Delacorte Theater, the website provides directions here.

(Note: TodayTix is a great app – you can get last-minute discounted tickets to Broadway shows without waiting in long lines. You have to be flexible, as not every show is available every day. And you must also be realistic. The musical Hamilton is the hottest ticket in town right now, and you aren’t going to find discounted tickets on TodayTix for it at this point.)

11 thoughts on “Shakespeare in Central Park

  1. That sounds great! We have Bard in the Botanics here (not free though) and in all the years of living practically on its doorstep we’ve never been. Why? Too worried about the weather! I have frozen at outdoor events in a British Summer 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank god they changed it–I have done more than cringed at the story line. Someone once tried to convince me that the plot showed men in a bad light too.
    A male professor. I don’t buy it. The play is from a different time as you have already pointed out. This sounds like a great production and a fantastic setting–it all came together.

    Liked by 1 person

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