The Public Theater is shaking it up with a new, star-studded Shakespeare musical in Central Park. A tuneful adaptation of The Tempest will be the company's final show at the outdoor Delacorte Theater this summer—and casting for the much-anticipated show has now been announced.
Renée Elise Goldsberry, who won a Tony Award as Hamilton's Angelica Schuyler, will play the lead role of the exiled sorcerer Prospero, flanked by Jo Lampert as Ariel, Theo Stockman as Caliban, Joel Perez as Stephano and Anthony Chatman II as Antonio. As with other offerings in the Public's decade-old Public Works series, these professionals and others will be surrounded by a giant cast of amateur actors from all five boroughs, as well as a cameo performance by Oyu Oro Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble. Public Works leader Laurie Woolery will direct the show, which features original songs by Benjamin Velez and choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher.
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"As we continue to emerge from our pandemic cocoons, I was especially drawn to the famous line from the play: 'The isle is full of noises,’” says Velez. “Our own island of Manhattan is brimming with so much chaos, as well as so much culture, so much spirit, and I have had the time of my life trying to channel the rhythms, the heartbeats, and the melodies of the city into a score that will really come alive with our massive community ensemble. Reimagining such a classic story for the moment we're in was a delicious, creative feast, using colors ranging from jazz manouche to R&B to classic rock, not to mention finding room in a six-piece band for a French horn! It's truly been a thrill."
One of the Bard's final plays, The Tempest is the story of a magician exiled to an abandoned island, where a shipwreck leads to romance, chaos and forgiveness. As usual, the Public Works production follows the Public's annual season of Shakespeare in the Park, which is renowned for its inventive productions of Shakespeare’s works.
The Tempest will play a limited week-long engagement from Sunday, August 27, through Sunday, September 3. This will be the last production at the Delacorte until 2025, as renovations to the historic theater are slated to begin soon. If we have to forgo seeing Shakespeare in Central Park for an entire summer, at least they're going out with a banger.