Friends, readers, city folk, lend us your ears! In February, as we reported, the Public Theater whetted our appetites for Shakespeare in the Park by announcing the two plays that it will stage at Central Park's open-air Delacorte Theater this summer: Julius Caesar (May 23–June 18) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (July 11–August 13). Now the company has fleshed out some of the central casting of those productions.
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The two principal conspirators in Julius Caesar will be played by two very fine classical actors: Brutus will be Ant-Man villain Corey Stoll, who was a superb Ulysses in last year's Troilus and Cressida; Cassius will be John Douglas Thompson, who recently starred in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's Jitney. In director Oskar Eustis's boldest stroke of casting, the pivotal role of Mark Antony, who delivers perhaps the most famous political speech in all of drama, will be played by the fearless Elizabeth Marvel. The title role—which is somewhat smaller than it sounds, since (spoiler alert!) he gets knocked off at the start of Act III—will fall to veteran character actor Gregg Henry.
Casting for A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Lear deBessonet, is also promising. Beloved six-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein (Fiddler on the Roof) will be the ass-backward Bottom; Annaleigh Ashford, fresh from her delightful star turn in Sunday in the Park with George, will be the love-starved and then love-stuffed Helena; and one of the great theater zanies, Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), will play fairy mischief-maker Puck. Among the supporting players, we are especially delighted at the casting of the unique Jeff Hiller as hapless would-be actor Flute. The Public is currently mum on who will be playing fairy royals Oberon and Titania.
In addition to the above, Julius Caesar will feature Tina Benko (Calpurnia), Teagle F. Bougere (Casca), Eisa Davis (Decius Brutus), Robert Gilbert (Octavius), Stephen Adly Guirgis (Cinna the Poet), Edward James Hyland (Lepidus, Popilius), Nikki M. James (Portia), Christopher Livingston (Titinis, Cinna), Chris Myers (Flavius, Messala, Ligarius) and Natalie Woolams-Torres (Marullus). The cast for A Midsummer Night's Dream will include De’Adre Aziza (Hippolyta), Kyle Beltran (Lysander), Shalita Grant (Hermia), Alex Hernandez (Demetrius), Robert Joy (Peter Quince), David Manis (Egeus, Fairy), Patrena Murray (Tom Snout) and Joe Tapper (Robin Starveling).
Start lining up now.