Shake It Up: Summer 2013 Performances of Shakespeare's Plays Throughout NYC

Arts & Entertainment

by Patricia Tisak, 05/29/2013

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For many New Yorkers and visitors, the arrival of summer means that it's time to enjoy some wonderful outdoor performances of William Shakespeare's works in NYC. There are plenty of options—most of them free—to provide entertainment and escape. Read on for all things Shakespeare to see in the City—and don't wait too long, as "summer's lease hath all too short a date."

Macbeth on Broadway
Barrymore Theatre, through July 14
Alan Cumming plays the ambitious nobleman and his wife—and the witches three and the king and, well, everyone in this frenetic one-man tour de force. The production, directed by John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, comes to Broadway after sold-out shows at the Lincoln Center Festival and its acclaimed debut at the National Theatre of Scotland. Instead of the black moors of Scotland, however, the play is set in a psychiatric ward, with Cumming as a patient acting out the story of the thane of Glamis. Ticket prices range from $69.50 to $135; a limited number of "$30 Under 30" rush tickets are available at the box office for day-of performances. For tickets, visit

Shakespeare in the Park
Central Park, Delacorte Theater; The Comedy of Errors, May 28–June 30; Love's Labour's Lost, A New Musical, July 23–August 18
First up in The Public Theater's summer mainstay is The Comedy of Errors, an early Shakespearean farce about two sets of identical twins separated at birth whose unknowing encounters with others cause mounting mayhem. The play, which was last produced by The Public more than 20 years ago, is directed by Daniel Sullivan—an old hand at madcap Shakespearean comedies (he directed As You Like It at Central Park last summer). Next up is "a love letter to Shakespeare in the Park," with Love's Labour's Lost set to music by Michael Friedman and adapted and directed by Alex Timbers (both created the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). A majority of the tickets are offered free to the general public (two tickets per person) on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of each performance: at noon at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and through Shakespeare in the Park's online ticketing system, as well as at select locations throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit

Shakespeare in Carroll Park
Carroll Park, June 28–July 2, July 5–7, 11–14
In its fourth summer of free Shakespeare, Smith Street Stage delves into the pitfalls of power with its production of Julius Caesar. The Brooklyn-based theater company's staging, as usual, will feature contemporary dress. "Our impetus for contemporary dress really ties into one of the bedrock principles of the company, which is that Shakespeare should be recognizable, engaging and enjoyable for all audiences, and that the stories have more immediacy and relevance to our lives than many would first believe," says Jonathan Hopkins, executive director of Smith Street Stage and director of Julius Caesar. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own seating to performances. For more information, visit

Boomerang Theatre Company
Central Park Boomerang Rock, Central Park West and West 69th Street, June 22–July 14
Watch out, Hamlet—Richard III is the tragic hero of the moment. Thought by some to be a hatchet job to shore up the legitimacy of the Tudor line, Richard III explores the dark heart of a deformed usurper focused on consolidating power amid the political skirmishes of warring bloodlines. Performances, directed by Philip Emeott (who is also playing the title role), are free. For more information, visit

New York Classical Theatre
Battery Park, July 9–14, 16–21, 23–28 and July 30–August 4
New York Classical Theatre's panoramic staging of The Tempest is done so that showgoers feel as though they're woven into the fabric of the production. "Panoramic theater" places the audience at the center of the action, says Stephen Burdman, artistic director of New York Classical Theatre. The play will be set in the Victorian era during the Industrial Revolution. Considered by many as Shakespeare's final solo play, The Tempest is a mystical tale about exile and exoneration, servitude and liberation, loyalty and treachery. Open rehearsals will take place six days a week, from June 17 through July 7. Family workshops on the production will be on July 20, 21, 27 and 28. Rehearsals, workshops and performances are all free. For more information, visit

Pulse Ensemble Theatre's Harlem Summer Shakespeare
Riverside State Park Amphitheatre, 679 Riverside Drive at 145th Street, July 10–August 4
For its ninth season of Shakespearean performances, Pulse Ensemble Theatre presents The Taming of the Shrew. This outdoor production of the comedy, about the will and wiles of women and the men wooing them, will be imbued with the spirit of the Caribbean in the 1950s. Harlem Summer Shakespeare strives to bring Shakespeare to new and wider audiences, says artistic director Alexa Kelly. Tickets are free.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
Municipal Parking Lot, Ludlow and Broome Streets; Cymbeline, July 11–13, 18–20 and 25–27; Richard III, August 1–3, 8–10 and 15–17
In a twist so good it's Shakespearean, The Drilling Company is bringing Richard III back to life in a parking lot—a setting most fitting. Earlier this year, the royal remains of the Plantagenet king were found beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, near where he died at the last clash between the Houses of Lancaster and York. And earlier in the summer, tragedy (or, perhaps, romance) precedes tragedy with The Drilling Company's staging of Cymbeline—one of the Bard's later plays, based on the legends of an early Celtic king—also in the parking lot. Although some chairs are provided, audience members may bring their own for a guaranteed seat—just make sure it's ultra-portable, of course, to accommodate the cars (it's an active parking lot, after all). All performances are free. For more information, visit

Hip to Hip Theatre Company
Parks throughout Queens, July 24–28, July 31–August 4 and 7–11
For its seventh year of performing free Shakespeare in Queens parks, Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents two comedies: Love's Labour's Lost and The Tempest. A Renaissance romcom of sorts, Love's Labour's Lost examines the interplay between the sexes, a favorite theme of Shakespearean comedies. The Tempest, meanwhile, is set amid the extraordinary, but rooted in very real—and complex—human desires and emotions. For more information, visit

related venues/(6)

  1. 1
    Ethel Barrymore Theatre
    243 W 47th St
    Manhattan – Theatre District
    NY 10036
  2. 2
    Carroll Park
    President St
    Multiple Locations
  3. 3
    Central Park
    Between Fifth Ave. and Central Park West
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024
  1. 4
    Delacorte Theater
    Mid-park at 80th St
    Manhattan – Central Park
    NY 10024
  2. 5
    Battery Park
    State St
    Manhattan – Financial District
  3. 6

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