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Steve Guttenberg will do Shakespeare in Riverside Park this June

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman

RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to Shakespeare in the Park

Steve Guttenberg will be starring in Shakespeare in the Park this summer! Well, okay, not Shakespeare in the Park, but Shakespeare in a park. And okay, not starring, per se. But in June, he'll act in Hudson Warehouse's outdoor production of Henry IV, Part 1, fighting with scary-looking old weapons and delivering verse in iambic pentameter, and we want to be there when it happens.

In the 1980s, of course, Guttenberg was a sweet prince of the silver screen, bringing goofball-next-door charm to a string of hit movies: Diner, Short Circuit, the Police Academy series, the Cocoon films, a pair of 3 Men and a Baby flicks. (We'd be remiss not to also mention the camp classic You Can't Stop the Music, in which he rocked tight white shorts opposite Bruce Jenner and the Village People.) Guttenberg has had a lower profile in the quarter-century since, but he's worked on TV (Veronica Mars) and Broadway (in Woody Allen's third of 2011's Relatively Speaking). Now he's getting set to try his hand at the Bard, in a becomingly modest way.

It's not uncommon to see stars at the Public Theater's venerable Shakespeare in the Park; the 2015 productions, The Tempest and Cymbeline, feature Sam Waterston, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe. Rarely if ever, though, does one find boldfaced names in the less elaborate outdoor Shakespeare productions—a dozen or so of them, in all—that dot the city's parks throughout the summer. But on the advice of his acting teacher, Guttenberg reached out to Hudson Warehouse, which mounts alfresco classics each summer at the Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Riverside Park.

The great role in Henry IV, Part 1—indeed, one of the great roles in world drama—is Falstaff, the hard-living rascal who leads the feckless Prince Hal from the path of royal propriety. Guttenberg will not play Falstaff. Instead, he'll assay the small part of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland and father of the rebel leader Hotspur. (In the text of the play, he has about 25 lines, though the role may be expanded in this production.) "It was perfect for accommodating Steve's busy schedule," says Nicholas Martin-Smith, Hudson Warehouse's artistic director. "We are opening the show with the Battle of Holmedon, which will give Steve the opportunity to fight."

Does Guttenberg have a fighting chance at succeeding at Shakespeare? Well, why not? This relatively small-scale Henry IV sounds like a nifty way for him to get his classical feet wet—maybe even literally, since it's outdoors and the summer can be rainy. If you want to see him, head up to Riverside Park. Performances are at 6:30pm sharp, Thursdays through Sundays, from June 4 through 28. 

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